There appears to be a division in the presidency over who succeeds President Muhammadu Buhari at the end of his tenure in 2023.
Independent reports that though the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its presidential candidate in the 2019 general elections, Atiku Abubakar, is seeking to upturn the declaration of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) at the tribunal, members of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) have expressed confidence that President Buhari would complete his tenure and hand over to a successor in May 2023.
However, there is disquiet in the presidency over which region will produce the president after Buhari completes his second term.
While some gladiators in the APC are insisting on the zoning arrangement, saying the presidency should rotate to the South, some are insisting that a northerner should emerge as the party’s flag bearer while a southerner would become the running mate.
Although a lot of Nigerians are talking about the rumoured presidential ambition of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu in 2023, a presidency source on Monday said the former governor of Lagos State and national leader of APC was not in President Buhari’s plans.
According to him, President Buhari, who had laid a foundation for a prosperous Nigeria and desired a continuity of what he had started, was already grooming Vice President Yemi Osinbajo to succeed him.
He said the fact that President Buhari believed in continuity and would want to handover to Osinbajo was evident in the appointments he had made so far in his second term where he reappointed the Chief of Staff, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), and his personal aides, while some ministers who were reappointed by him also retained their portfolios.
Describing Osinbajo as a capable, trusted, and diligent deputy, the source said since his election as vice president to Buhari, Osinbajo has avoided what usually caused frictions between presidents and their deputies by not disagreeing with Buhari on the issues of policies and appointments.
“If you have been following events since President Buhari was sworn-in for a second term, you will know that this is a president who believes in continuity.
“He has laid a solid foundation for the future of the country and will want to ensure its continuity. That is why, during his speech, he talked about lifting 100 million Nigerians out of poverty in the next 10 years.
“I don’t think Asiwaju Tinubu is in his plans. His preferred candidate is Vice President Yemi Osinbajo who has proven to be a fiercely loyal, capable, and dependable deputy. Go and read what the president said to Osinbajo when he survived the helicopter crash and also what he said when members of the Buhari Media Organisation (BMO) paid him a visit. That is when you will know the mind of the president.
“Osinbajo has never disagreed with the president on any issue, be it on policies or positions. He has never lobbied to put anybody in any position except if the president tells him to look for any qualified person to fill a vacant position.
“Even when he was acting president, he remained loyal to the president and never took any decision on his own without consulting the president.
“Whenever he was acting on behalf of the president, he always performed excellently well and will never take the credit for himself. Rather, the credit goes to President Buhari.”
On whether Osinbajo may decline the offer if presented to him on account of his loyalty to Tinubu, our source said Osinbajo was also loyal to President Buhari and would choose the interest of the country above loyalty to an individual.
However, another presidency source disagreed with the above position, saying neither Tinubu nor Osinbajo were in President Buhari’s plans. He said the APC caucus was preparing to field a northern candidate in 2023.
“Anyone saying President Buhari will choose Osinbajo as his successor is not correct. Ask yourself the question: why will all ministers report to Abba Kyari, the Chief of Staff, and not the vice president who is the number two man in this government?
“Why the aggressive investigation of Fowler, the FIRS chairman? All these are anti-Osinbajo moves, not even anti-Tinubu.
“The truth is that the APC caucus and the inner circle are preparing to field a northern candidate in 2023. As it stands, Tinubu and Osinbajo are not in the picture at all”.
Speaking further, he said Ambassador Babagana Kingibe, former running mate to the late MKO Abiola in the June 12, 1993 presidential election, was highly favoured to replace President Buhari if the inner caucus has their way.
According to him, Kingibe, a former Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) during the late Umaru Musa Yar’Adua administration, enjoyed the strong support of President Buhari’s kitchen cabinet.
“As it stands, Babagana Kingibe is looking very strong to run in 2023. From the feelers we are getting, he is already looking for a running mate in the South-West.
“The likely choices are Senator Ibikunle Amosun, Governor Kayode Fayemi, Babatunde Fashola, and Kola Abiola, the eldest son of late MKO Abiola.
“But among these, Kola Abiola seems to be the favourite. Maybe it is because Kingibe wants to use it to honour his late political associate, MKO Abiola, with whom he ran on the platform of the Social Democratic Party (SDP),” the source said.