Neither Aregbesola Nor Tinubu Will Be President In 2023


Rauf Aregbesola and Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu

Since it appeared that the northern power bloc in the ruling All Progressives Congress, had given the South-westerners a nod, that they will produce the next president in the year 2023, many pretenders have been availing themselves. They probably think being the president of Nigeria is a joke. Bode George who failed to be the Peoples Democratic Party national chairman has been indicating interests on the pages of newspapers.

One Olusegun Bamgbose has also signified interest in the number one seat, and in a show of comical skills, he has decided to make President Muhammadu Buhari's son - Yusuf Buhari, his running-mate.

Since the birth of the APC in 2013, the name of the Lagos state political godfather - Asiwaju Bola Ahmed has been popping up. According to the account of a former senate president, Bukola Saraki, Tinubu wanted to be Buhari's running-mate in 2015, but he opposed to it due to the fact that both aspirants are Muslims. Since politics in Nigeria has religious undertones, that move would have been counterproductive in the 2015 general elections. Since Buhari won a second term in office, there are talks that Tinubu will be the next president. Just as we thought the issue of the 2023 presidency had taken the back seat, with coronavirus taking its space, another name surfaced again.

This time around, it is the former governor of Osun State and Minister of Interior Rauf Aregbesola. According to an interesting report by TheCable newspaper, a marabout close to Aregbesola had told him he would be president without attaching a time-frame to it. Since the words of religious rulers in Nigeria are held in high regard, Aregbesola fell for it. He must have been sizing up his boss, Tinubu and imagining the future political battle with him in his mind. He would have been envisioning the success and his acceptance speech on the day of his glory. But these are just mere wishes. If wishes were horses, beggars will ride, the popular saying goes. In order to actualize his imaginations, he reportedly started putting political structures in place, before Tinubu's intelligence team got wind of it, and the moves were thwarted.

While it is within the rights of Tinubu and Aregbesola to nurse presidential dreams, their emergence isn't feasible. Aregbesola's rumoured interest in the presidential race of 2023 is close to the funny joke Bamgbose cracked. The only relevance Aregbesola has presently is the fact that he is in Buhari's cabinet, manning a portfolio which doesn't entail much pressure. He seems to be in a safe place as he regularly announces public holidays to the delight of all Nigerians. The national appeal or popularity is absent. The state of the economy of Osun State under his watch was nothing to write home about. For months, the salaries of the workers were not paid.

Aregbesola introduced the idea of half salaries. The excuse was that he invested in capital projects targeted at boosting the economy of the state. Who would enjoy these infrastructures and the benefits when the citizens die of hunger? Osun State over-borrowed and became one of the most indebted states in Nigeria. Under his administration, healthcare also suffered and the sight of medical doctors protesting on the streets over unpaid salaries and allowances was a common sight. The frustration pushed the people of Osun to opt for a 'certificateless' dancer presented by the Peoples Democratic Party instead of Isiaka Oyetola, Aregbesola's anointed successor. Till date, the Internally Generated Revenue of Osun State isn't impressive. The rot left behind by Aregbesola has been so hard to clean up and Oyetola has been struggling to make giant strides due to debts. This has put him at loggerheads with his benefactor and he has been slowly reversing his policies to his dismay.

In the next governorship election in Osun State, there might be a showdown between the godfather and the protege, just like the Oshiomhole-Obaseki scenario. The gory details of Osun State are in the public domain. When Aregbesola joins the presidential race officially, the tape of the graphic details of his 8-year administration will be played by those who want him out of their way. 

Aregbesola might be competent enough to fill the shoes of Buhari who seems to be holidaying in office, but he isn't what Nigeria needs. The economy is in shambles and there is a need to put food on the table of the teeming population totalling over 200 million. If Aregbesola repeats the Osun gamble again as president, Nigeria might head the Venezuela way. There will be a refugee crisis and Nigeria will become a real problem to its neighbours.

What about Tinubu? Tinubu helped build Lagos and cement its stand as the financial capital of Nigeria. But Lagos isn't working anymore. The state only looks good on the pages of newspapers after pictures might have been carefully taken and edited. There is the challenge of dilapidated infrastructural facilities, overpopulation, housing gap, economic/social inequality, high cost of living, security challenges, poor healthcare, terrible transport system, disease outbreak and all manners of challenges associated with major cities across the world. Tinubu has maintained a tight grip over the state and he decides who the next governor will be. 

Lagos State is jokingly called his 'business enterprise' on the streets of Lagos. Truth be told, he is stupendously rich and this is why he appears to have the best team money can buy. But something is missing, a good reputation. From the bullion van scandal to the Alpha Beta story, the Toronto certificate scandal and the ruthless ouster of the former Lagos State governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, there are several questions of integrity concerns begging for answers.

Tinubu is a very intelligent and well-read leader. He will improve the economic fortunes of Nigeria with fantastic policies, but the vacuum of public trust will be a challenge. The signal of his political strength is only very strong in Lagos State. Outside the state - within the South-west geopolitical zones, the election victories have been forced and controversial. He might be what Nigeria needs in 2023, at least, in the area of fixing the ailing economy, but nobody will give him a chance over fears of the fate of the state treasury. Nigerians are scared of the PDP days of massive looting because, in actual sense, there isn't much to steal again. Oil prices have been falling; any kleptomania leader emerging now will apparently be stealing the flesh and blood of the poor masses. They can't take that risk, they have seen enough over decades. Tinubu might have the funds to buy the entire Lagos, but can he buy the entire country? That is impossible!

Lastly, promises mean nothing in the political space in Nigeria. It is a cold-hearted game of series of betrayals and traitors. The APC northern bloc might not stick to the unwritten power-sharing agreement in 2023. Tinubu might be left in the cold without any clothing. Even if the agreement is honoured, will the PDP also honour the agreement they know nothing about? They would have been out of power nationally for 8 years by then and they will be ready to latch onto any opportunity to win the presidential seat. They will field a northern candidate who will overrun the territory of any South-westerner in the presidential election of 2023.

The northerners have the numbers and their citizens have the political will to participate in elections. They are different from the Southerners who hide behind social media, business engagements and expensive TV sets on election days.

A former Vice President Atiku Abubakar might also be coming back. At least, his son has said it and the father hasn't debunked the statement. Atiku's candidacy will worry any Southern politician. He is very popular, experienced, wealthy and has a long-term political structure to successfully prosecute any presidential election.

Even if Buhari endorses Tinubu or any other Southerner, the present economic realities in Nigeria amid the coronavirus pandemic will reduce the weight of the endorsement. Nobody takes the president serious anymore. His June 12, democracy day spread was accompanied by degrading trends on social media. Buhari isn't making efforts to impress anyone, he is simply living his life and probably appreciating God in his heart, for a life well-lived.

In conclusion, Tinubu and Aregbesola's presidential ambitions might just be mere entertainment articles for the Nigerian audience, who need something to pass time with. 

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About Osahon

I'm a journalist and a Political Scientist undergoing a doctoral programme focused on media, democracy and governance in Africa. My mission is to uphold the role of the media as the 'fourth estate of the realm' and also tell the Nigerian Story to the world. You can contact me on Phone number: +2347053302356.
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