AFTER a three-day official visit to Spain, President Muhammadu Buhari will be back in Abuja this afternoon, with 10 top government officials who travelled with him.
This weekend, Nigerians expect the president to announce his preferred successor to his governing party, the All Progressives Congress (APC).
If he succeeds with the nomination, the nominee will fly the party’s flag in the 2023 presidential election.
The APC has scheduled its presidential primary for Monday, June 6, in Abuja, after rescheduling it from May 29.
The party has cleared 23 aspirants for the exercise.
They are Governors Badaru Ababukar, David Umahi, Kayode Fayemi, Ben Ayade, and Yahaya Bello, former ministers Emeka Nwajiuba, Rotimi Amaechi, Godswill Akpabio and Ogbonaya Onu.
Others are senators Robert Boroffice, Ken Nnamani, Ibikunle Amosun, Bola Tinubu, Rochas Okorocha and Ahmed Lawan.
The list also includes former Speaker Dimeji Bankole, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, Mrs Uju Ken-Ohanenye, Nicholas Felix, Pastor Tunde Bakare, Tein Jack-Rich, Ahmad Sani, and Ikeobasi Mokelu.
The President may announce his preferred candidate among the contenders after receiving the party’s presidential screening committee’s report and the candidate(s) chosen by the APC governors.
Buhari had met with the APC governors on Tuesday and pleaded that they allow him to pick his successor before jetting off to Spain.
He told the governors to agree on a candidate of their choice as well.
The President may be seeking a consensus candidate as he did during the APC’s convention, where he succeeded in getting a consensus candidate for the party’s chairmanship.
Abdullahi Adamu, a serving senator and former Nasarawa State governor, emerged as the party’s chairman unopposed.
It is unclear if Buhari will pick his preferred candidate from the South, following agitations on power rotation.
Senate President Ahmed Lawan has been a leading aspirant for the presidency in the North.
The South has more aspirants, giving more room to conjectures on the president’s possible choice.
Buhari allies, Emeka Uwajiuba and Ogbonnaya Onu, are from the South-East.
The former Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, another ally of the president, is from the South-South.
The South-West appears more unpredictable with three key aspirants who pundits believe could emerge as the APC candidate.
Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, Bola Tinubu and Governor Kayode Fayemi are leading the pack the in region.
Osinbajo has enjoyed seven years of smooth working relationship with Buhari, and the wives of both men have lived and worked together cordially.
Fayemi may enjoy the camaraderie of his fellow governors as the Chairman of the Governor’s Forum since returning to lead his state, Ekiti, for the second and final term of four years in 2018.
His positions on national issues and his wealth of knowledge in foreign relations may win him Buhari’s heart as a possible successor.
On Wednesday, Tinubu claimed he brought Buhari out of political retirement and made him the president in 2015.
He made a similar claim on the Vice President and the Governor Dapo Abiodun of Ogun State, where he made the allegations while canvassing for delegates’ votes.
With his outburst, it appears Tinubu is not in Buhari’s book as the President’s anointed candidate.
Nevertheless, pundits believe that the spectrum of his political networks, immense wealth and scores of politicians he has raised could fetch him the party’s ticket.
Whoever picks the APC ticket on Monday faces the candidate of the opposition Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar and Peter Obi, of the Labour Party.
They will also confront other contenders for the highest office in the country from other 16 political parties who are expected to field candidates at the poll.
The ICIR reports that Buhari’s nomination of a preferred candidate may cause an upset in the APC as many party stalwarts, including governors, have opposed the plan.