AT least eight out of 36 incumbent governors in Nigeria are working to succeed President Muhammadu Buhari.
Buhari’s constitutionally-permissible two terms, of four years each, end on May 29, 2023, and the nation will elect his successor three months before he leaves office.
By the time the president bows out, the governors eyeing his office would have spent eight years leading their respective states.
Nigeria comprises 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT)Abuja, grouped into six geo-political zones, namely the North-West, North-East, North-Central, South-South, South-East and South-West.
Buhari is from the North-West. He defeated incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan, who is from South-South, in 2015, and the South believes it is its turn for the presidency.
Notwithstanding the agitation, there have been contenders for the office in the country’s North and South and from the two leading political parties in the country – the governing All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP).
Currently, there are three governors from the North contending for the office, while five are from the South.
In the North, Yahaya Bello, Bala Mohammed, Aminu Tambuwal of Kogi, Bauchi and Sokoto states, respectively, are eyeing the presidency. While Bello belongs to the APC, Mohammed and Tanbuwal are with the PDP.
In the South, Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike, Akwa Ibom’s Udom Emmanuel, Ebonyi’s Dave Umahi are pulling their weights to assume the nation’s leadership after Buhari bows out.
Cross Rivers State Governor Benedict Ayade is among the contenders, and feelers from Ekiti State suggest Governor Kayode Fayemi is on the verge of joining the race.
In recent weeks, the governor has stepped up his consultations with stakeholders.
Umahi, Ayade and Fayemi are APC stalwarts.
In Nigeria, most governors who complete their two terms settle with a seat in the Senate. About 21 governors in the country will quit office next year after serving for eight years.
Except for Buhari in 2015, all successors to former President Olusegun Obasanjo, who took over from the military in May 1999, have been former governors.
The late Umar Yar’Adua led Katsina for eight years before taking over the mantle to lead the nation in 2007.
Similarly, his Vice, Goodluck Jonathan, was a serving governor in Bayelsa before becoming the Vice President.
While Obasanjo is from the South-West, Yar’Adua is from Buhari’s state – Katsina.
Cabinet members seeking to be Buhari’s successors too
Meanwhile, some cabinet members of the Buhari administration are also plotting to become the next president.
They are Minister of Labour and Employment Chris Ngige, Minister of Transportation Rotimi Amaechi, and Minister of State for Education, Emeka Nwajiuba.
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo had, on April 11, declared for the presidency.
Multiple reports have also indicated that Senate President Ahmed Lawan will declare for the country’s highest political seat this week.
With the inclusion of former Lagos State Governor Bola Tinubu, a chieftain of the APC, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, former Senate President Bukola Saraki, and former Anambra State Governor Peter Obi, all stalwarts of the PDP, the race for the presidency in the 2023 general elections could be the most keenly contested presidential poll in the nation’s history.