FORMER president Chief Olusegun Obasanjo has mooted fielding the current head of the African Development bank (AfDB) Dr Akinwumi Adesina as presidential candidate in the 2023 Nigerian elections.
Dr Adesina, 61, who served as Nigeria’s agriculture minister between 2011 and 2015, was elected as the AfDB president in 2015 and was e-elected for a second term in 2020. He is a member of Nigeria’s main opposition the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and it appears that Chief Obasanjo is pushing for him to become the presidential candidate with either Governor Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto State or Senator Rabiu Kwankwaso as his running mate.
Both Governor Tambuwal and Senator Kwankwaso, who is a former governor of Kano State are said to be eyeing running themselves but under Nigeria’s informal rotational principle, the next president has to come from the south of the country. Although not constitutional, Nigeria’s component parts have a gentleman’s agreement that the presidency will rotate between the north and the south of the country.
President Muhammadu Buhari’s tenure will end in 2023 and being a Fulani northern Muslim, it is expected that the next president will come from southern Nigeria. Since the return to democracy in 1999, the southwest has produced President Olusegun Obasanjo and the south-south President Goodluck Jonathan, so ideally, come 2023, the presidency should automatically go to the southeast.
Chief Obasanjo, popularly known as Baba, apparently spent last week in Sokoto State, where he was commissioning projects, trying to reconcile Governor Tambuwal and Senator Kwankwaso. However, it appears that the two of them remain at loggerheads, which each trying to claim to be the PDP leader in northern Nigeria.
One of Chief Obasanjo’s close allies said: “Last week Baba was in Sokoto under the guise of flagging off some projects completed by Tambuwal but the real intention was to reconcile Governor Aminu Tambuwal with Engineer Rabiu Kwankwaso ahead of 2023 because two of them, who are his political sons, are keen on the presidency. However, it is also clear that Baba is trying hard to put up structures for another political son of his, that is the current African Development Bank President, Adesina, under the Peoples Democratic Party since it is clear to him that the north would not support his candidates for the posts.
“It is obvious to him that the reconciliation that the former leader is pushing is not in the interest of the north and he might jettison his current party and push for the formation of a hybrid party that will weaken both the PDP and the APC and strengthen the new one with a view to winning the presidency in two years’ time. Baba’s backing for the AfDB president is predicated on his sound educational, economic and leadership pedigree that he believes can guaranty him easy victory over other recycled politicians with some baggage.”
However, it is believed that two former heads of state have kicked against an Adesina presidency which they believe would scupper the political arrangement, which favours an Igbo presidency. Also, the former Lagos State governor Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, is also thought to be in the running for the job.
Apparently, the two former heads of state are reported to have told Chief Obasanjo to first confide in President Muhammadu Buhari since the president would still be a key factor in the current and future security and political dispensation. It is believed that Chief Obasanjo is now planning to sell his idea to the former head of state General Yakubu Gowon, hoping to get his support.