As the 2019 general election draws nearer, should President Muhammadu Buhari decide to run for a second tenure, which is all but certain to happen, he would have not just conventional politicians to contend with but also persons who, though considered political neophytes, could give him a good run for his money.
Already, the likes of Abubakar Atiku, former Vice President; Sule Lamido, former Jigawa State Governor; Ayodele Fayose, Ekiti State Governor, have all declared their intention to challenge Buhari for Nigeria’s number one political office. Rabiu Kwankwaso, former Kano State Governor, is also interested in running for the presidency.
But it is becoming increasingly clear that new arrivals are not intimidated by the challenge of supplanting Buhari. Whether they intend to merely test the murky waters of politics, or they are really convinced of a fighting chance, this is left to be seen.
A graduate of Computer Science with Economics from the University of Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University), FD, as he is fondly called by friends and associates, also has a master’s in Business Administration from the same university.
Having cut his teeth in private practice as a business consultant, leadership coach and motivational speaker, the 49-year old surprised not a few people when he declared his intention to run for president in the next election on the platform of the Alliance for New Nigeria (ANN).
“In line with our values, one of which is to ‘be a role model worthy of emulation’, I had to decide to get involved in the political arena rather than staying on the sidelines and only challenging others to go in,” Durotoye said.
He also re-echoed the sentiments already expressed by ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo and Oby Ezekwesili, former Minister of Education, that neither the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) nor the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) “with their old ideology of God-Fatherism also known as Selectocracy, Rulership, Money Politricks, would be able to deliver to us a New Nigeria”.
Though a newcomer in politics, Durotoye’s candidature cannot be waved aside, as youth, who constitute the highest voting population, are his for the taking.
Sowore, Publisher of Sahara Reporters, Nigeria’s topmost whistle-blowing newspaper, is another candidate that could leverage heavily on the youth population in Nigeria, if his presidential ambition would be realised.
Renowned for his student activism during his time as the Student Union Government (SUG) President of the University of Lagos, Sowore, who currently resides in the USA, says he has done his homework and is confident of victory.
He is counting on the support of at least 100,000 Nigerians who are willing to donate $200 each in order to raise funds to oust the current “under-performing” Federal Government.
“We will be sourcing funds directly from the Nigerian people. Nigerians have demonstrated a capacity to devote their resources to projects that they believe in,” Sowore said.
“The recent team that represented Nigeria in bobsledding at the Winter Olympics raised almost $200,000 – a lot of it from Nigerians. We are already seeing and receiving commitments for support.
“Barack Obama raised millions of dollars from Nigerians in the US alone in 2008/2009 and subsequently after.
“100,000 Nigerians contributing $200 per person can help fund a clean election devoid of dirty money. With that, we can win the Presidency and bring them back a lot of change!”
A former Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Muoghalu says he is in the presidential race because the so-called ‘career politicians’ have failed.
“It is the turn of any competent Nigerian to aspire for the post of presidency because career politicians have failed Nigeria,’’ Moghalu said.
“The future of Nigeria rests in technocratic interventions. We need thinking people who will take Nigeria from the politics of stomach infrastructure to politics of mental infrastructure.”
Aside being a former CBN Deputy Governor, the 55-year-old Moghalu, who graduated from University of Nigeria Nsukka before proceeding to the London School of Economics, is also a Professor of Practice in International Business and Public Policy at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University, Massachusetts, US.
An Engineer by training, Mathias Tsado, 40, is contesting on the platform of the Action democratic Party (ADP).
Tsado, like Sowore, is banking on a 20-year experience of political activism dating back to his years as an undergraduate.
“My motivating factor is the need for this country to experience something new… the desire to see a country that is up there in the world,” Tsado said during an interview.
“Nigeria should be in the same league with the United States of America, same league with China, Russia and Germany.
“I have decided that whatever it takes I would put myself on this platform and present myself to Nigerians. We have an alternative. We have an option.”
Gaskia is a fairly popular name in the Nigerian civil society space. He declared his intention to run for president in a statement issued on New Year’s Day.
According to Gaskia, Nigeria has been brought to its knees by “decades of incompetent, selfish, greedy and light-fingered leadership” and needs “fresh ideas and fresh individuals and platforms” to move the country forward.
“This is one of the fundamental reasons why I am running for office as President of Nigeria, alongside the determination and conviction, that we can only build a prosperous nation, when we deliberately promote and build a common citizenship,” he stated.
A Professor of French Language and Applied Linguistics at OAU, Sonaiya does not exactly qualify as a political neophyte, as she was also a presidential candidate during the 2015 election, on the platform of KOWA Party.
Having finished in 12th position in 2015, with just above 13,000 votes (representing a paltry 0.5 percent of the total votes cast), Sonaiya has again declared her intention to have a second shot at the position.
Sonaiya, a vocal human and women rights activist and fierce critic of the Buhari administration, affirmed her intention to run again during a radio interview to mark this year’s International Women’s Day.
“Yes, I am coming out. I am planning to run as one of the aspirants in KOWA Party. Four other people have indicated their interest in the ticket, so let’s see what happens after our primary,” she said.
“By leaving the leadership position to men alone, we have denied ourselves our rights. I really hope that women will be determined and stand; not just to talk about the situation of things but to assume responsibilities.
“We should not be begged to take charge. We cannot have a developed nation without women’s involvement. We have the skills and abilities to prepare for leadership.”
It is already clear that even politicians are becoming aware that given a chance, women could outperform men in public office, and if Sonaiya is able to leverage on the renewed clamour for more women to run for elective positions, she could pull an upset in 2019.
There are other young Nigerians eyeing the number one position; such as Tope Fasua, a chartered accountant and entrepreneur.
Many, however, say it would require more than mere rhetoric and eloquent speech to bring about a major electoral upset like in 2015 when a sitting President lost power to the opposition for the first time in Nigeria’s history.