President Muhammadu Buhari is said to be interested in who gets sworn in on May 29, 2023 to succeed him as president, contrary to his reported claim in a section of the media earlier in the year that 2023 politicking was not his problem.
THE CONCLAVE can now report on Buhari’s list of aspirants in whom he has interest as likely successors on the platform of the All Progressives Congress, APC.
The list of options has grown more that the three earlier reported by this medium.
The list had, as of the time of this report on Wednesday, May 4, 2022, six okay aspirants.
Perhaps the new entrant into the list is a former Bayelsa State Governor and Minister of State for Petroleum, Chief Tmipre Sylva, who had not, until now, been mentioned in the media in connection with the 2023 presidential race.
But THE CONCLAVE learnt on Tuesday night that Sylva had been penciled down as one of those being considered as a likely successor to President Buhari.
Remarkably, he has yet to indicate interest let alone make a formal declaration even as the party has begun the sale of expression of interest and nomination forms at a whopping cumulative sum of N100 million.
A source close to the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources neither denied nor confirmed the development on Tuesday night.
The source only promised to let THE CONCLAVE know when the arrangement for declaration of interest in the presidential race was finalized.
The declaration may be in the next hours, going by the timetable for the sale and submission of filled presidential nomination form.
The sale of forms had begun on April 26 and would end on May 6, 2022.
Last Day for submission of completed forms and accompanying documents is Tuesday, May 10, 2022.
Meanwhile, five others in the list of okay aspirants, namely Vice-president Yemi Osinbajo, Minister of Transportation, Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, Minister of State for Education, Hon. Chukwuemeka Nwajuiba and Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) governor, Mr Godwin Emefiele had either already declared and bought or had yet to declare or bought the presidential nomination forms.
Advocacy for Emefiele-for- president has been on even as he has yet to formally declare interest in the 2023 presidency.
Remarkably he (Emefiele) and others have significantly featured in the list of okay aspirants by the Presidency.
Osinbajo and Amaechi have intensified their nationwide consultations ahead of the critical scramble for the presidential ticket of the party.
Nwajiuba has yet to do more open consultation even as the presidential primary election has been fixed for Monday, May 30 and Wednesday, June 1, 2022. Nwajiuba has already bought his form.
The last day for political parties to conclude their primary elections in accordance with the timetable by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is June 3, 2022.
The okay aspirants and other aspirants in the loaded field, as believed, are conversant with the schedules of activities as released by the electoral body.
In another development, the aspiration of a former president, Dr Goodluck Jonathan, who is said to be among those being considered by President Buhari’s presidency as it appears may be caught by effluxion of time if necessary steps are not expeditiously taken.
THE CONCLAVE reports that Jonathan who has been subject of media speculations as the most favoured by President Buhari had yet to announce, as of press time, that the “ongoing political process” he referred to about two weeks ago had been concluded.
That was his terse response when loyalists and supporters stormed his private office in Maitama District of Abuja to call on him to throw his hat in the ring for the 2023 presidency.
THE CONCLAVE learnt that President Buhari was very much interested in having Jonathan succeed him. It is, however, not clear if Buhari’s interest is as intense as it was originally.
A source said that “so much water has passed under the bridge between then and now.”
Besides, it was learnt that the removal of the caretaker and convention planning committee headed by Yobe Governor, Mai Mala Buni caused a significant setback to the Jonathan-for-President project.
Credible information at the disposal of THE CONCLAVE said that Buni was at the head of the group that capitalized on Buhari’s avowed preference for Jonathan to privatise the project and run with it.
It was learnt that Buni was actually positioning himself for the position of a running mate to the former president.
But his initial pole position was upended with the dismantling of the caretaker and convention planning committee.
Regardless of the development that appeared to have set back the Jonathan project, THE CONCLAVE learnt that those factors that Buhari considered for originally settling for Jonathan have remained unchanged.
It was learnt that Buhari is still excited and surprised that Jonathan could easily hand over power to him without causing political disruptions in Nigeria in 2015.
Buhari is said to be so impressed with Jonathan’s nationalism, which he believes that a vast majority of those jostling to succeed him lack.
Recall that Jonathan’s electioneering mantra was that his ambition was not worth the blood of any Nigerian.
Jonathan lived up to his words and is considered to ahead of Buhari and the rest in terms of nationalism, peace pursuit and love of country.
Rewind to 2011, when President Buhari himself, out of frustrations and anger at the serial rigging of successive presidential elections, had said that if what happened in 2011 repeated itself in 2015, the dog and the baboon would be soaked in their blood.