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‘We’re begging you to run’ — presidential hopefuls adopt same old strategy ahead of 2023

‘We’re begging you to run’ — presidential hopefuls adopt same old strategy ahead of 2023
January 27
15:55 2022

Election cycles in Nigeria come with a mix of the serious, the incredible and sprinkles of the comical as political parties jostle to promote candidates of varying capabilities — including those who appear to have genuine intentions for service to the people, as well as aspirants who seem quite content with no more than having their faces splashed around on party banners.

It’s also the period when support groups spring up like mushrooms in the rainy season to endorse, pledge alliance or “beg” certain candidates to run for office. From purchasing forms running into millions of naira to anointing aspirants “to safeguard Nigeria’s future”, and even to filing cases in court to compel a politician to contest, the game of politics in Nigeria is almost predictable to the letter ‘e’.

Twenty-three years after Nigeria embraced democracy, another presidential election year is months away and this time, it’s a repetition of the season of “begging”.

Here are politicians who supporters have “begged” to contest the presidency in 2023:

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Bola Tinubu

In October 2021, Tinubu, a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC) was still in London, where he was recuperating from knee surgery, when a support group was launched in Lagos in his honour. The Southwest Agenda 2023 (SWAGA ‘23) it was called. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, governor of Lagos, was the chairman of the event and he declared Tinubu the best man to take over from President Muhammadu Buhari.

Just before SWAGA ’23 was launched, another group that styled itself as Disciples of Jagaban (DOJ) threatened to go to court Tinubu if he refused to run for the presidency. A new group called Tinubu Vanguard followed suit, then the Kwara State Agenda for Asiwaju (KWAGA) added its voice. Another group called Network for Tinubu claimed the presidency is the only way to repay the All Progressive Congress (APC) chieftain for his sacrifices for the country.

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In December 2021, the Northern Alliance Committee also threw its support behind Tinubu after a meeting with the former Lagos governor. Emerging from the meeting with the alliance, Tinubu had said: “I’m not going to turn them down”.

The former Lagos governor followed it up weeks later when in January 2022, he visited Buhari to inform the latter of his ambition to contest.

Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo

Despite Osinbajo downplaying his interest to succeed Buhari, several groups and politicians have asked the vice-president to contest.

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Francis Waive, a lawmaker representing Ughelli north/Ughelli south/Udu federal constituency in the house of representatives, said Osinbajo has all “the character traits of a good leader” and he is what Nigeria needs right now. In the same vein, Hafizu Kawu, a lawmaker representing Tarauni federal constituency, also declared support for the vice-president and described him as the “natural successor” of his principal.

Groups have also not been left out. On January 10, an amalgamation of 57 groups under the National Coalition of Youth and Students (NACOYS) promised to mobilise five million youths across Nigeria to support Osinbajo if he decides to run for office.

Other groups include the Ogun Youth Network, National Coalition of Women for Osinbajo, United Nigeria Ambassadors , and the Arewa Consensus Assembly, while the Concerned Citizens of Nigeria initiated an online petition asking Osinbajo to contest.

Osinbajo is, however, yet to officially declare an interest in the position.

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Yahaya Bello

Barely a week goes by without one or two support groups declaring support for Bello, governor of Kogi. The latest was on Tuesday when groups under the auspices of the Women United For Yahaya Bello (WUYABEL) organised a march in Abuja, tagged ‘One million Women March for Yahaya Bello’.

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Other groups that have declared support for the Kogi governor include the Yahaya Bello Network, a youth group in Nasarawa, which said its “5,000 youths and 2,000 women” want Bello to contest so he can replicate the “great things” he’s done in the state on a national stage.

There is also the Niger Delta youths and a coalition of northern women, as well as the Kogi State Forum of Former Political Office Holders and the Got Your Back Nigeria, while the Patriotic Nigerians Network has asked Nigerians to pray against distractions that can lead the Kogi governor astray.

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Femi Fani-Kayode, former minister of aviation, also said Bello will defeat Abubakar Atiku, former presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), “hands down” if the duo goes head-to-head in 2023.

In reaction, Bello said he’d heard his supporters, but he won’t announce his intention until after the APC national convention.

“By the mandate and calling of Nigerians, Nigerian youths and women and people all over the world that are calling me to run and build on the achievement of President Muhammadu Buhari, I will surely answer them immediately after our convention as the case may be,” he had said.

Rotimi Amaechi

Drums of support have sounded for the minister of transportation to join the list of aspirants seeking to take over from Buhari.

Amalgamated groups in the north pledged to draft Amaechi into the race because of his “unwavering loyalty to President Muhammadu Buhari, the north as well as the APC”.

“We have resolved that Amaechi should be rewarded for this act of loyalty with the nation’s presidency come 2023, and we have resolved to make it happen,” the group added.

Other groups rooting for the minister include the Southern Mandate Group, Chibuike Amaechi Crusaders 2023 and the Grassroot Mobilisers of Nigeria Foundation (GMF).

Meanwhile, Amaechi is still quiet on if he will contest.

Rochas Okorocha

In 2021, a coalition of northern groups comprising the North Eastern Patriots (CONEP), North Central Development Cycle (NCDC), Northern Youths in Politics (NYP), Public Awareness on Societal Change (PASCHI) and Arewa Supporters of Ndi-Igbo asked Rochas Okorocha, former Imo governor, to declare his interest in the 2023 presidential election.

The Arewa Progressive Front, another support group in the north, also asked Okorocha to contest because he “remains the best ticket that can guarantee the Igbo’s push for the presidency in 2023”.

On Wednesday, Okorocha, in what appeared to be acceding to the request, declared his intention to run for president.

Orji Kalu

In December 2021, a northern support group filed a case before the Bauchi state high court over the refusal of Orji Uzor Kalu, chief whip of the senate, to declare his intention to run for president. The suit, with case number BA/331/2021, was filed by Aliyu Ladan and Lawan Abdullahi because, according to the plaintiffs, “only Kalu can rescue Nigeria from the deep suffering that Nigerians are going through”.

Also, a pro-Kalu group in Abia announced a “one million-man march” to compel the senator to declare his intention to contest.

In January 2022, Kalu declared his presidential ambition, saying “I’m the most prepared presidential candidate in Nigeria”.

Bukola Saraki

In April 2021, a youth support group tagged Dr Abubakar Bukola Saraki For President 2023 was launched in Daura, Katsina. The development was followed by the launch of another youth group in Kwara, with another called the North Central Nigeria for Good Governance (NCNGG) also throwing its weight behind Saraki.

In a post on his social media handles on January 25, the former senate president said he’s heard the voices of “thousands” urging him to contest. However, he wasn’t specific on if he was interested in the presidency.

“Earlier today, I replied to a follower of mine on Twitter who, like thousands of you, has been clamouring for a united front to #RescueNigeria,” he wrote.

“As we prepare for the journey ahead, I hope we can all join hands to get the ticket of our great party, PDP, and build a nation that works for all of us.

“Join me to make our communities safer and provide real opportunities for you and your families. I have a strong record of delivering and experience in making tough decisions.”

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