FELIX NWANERI reports on the bid for the presidential ticket of the All Progressives Congress (APC) by a former governor of Ogun State and senator representing Ogun Central Senatorial District at the National Assembly, Senator Ibikunle Amosun
It is a crowded race for the 2023 presidential ticket of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) but there is no doubt that the contest has more pretenders than contenders given unfolding developments ahead of the party’s presidential primary election. Among the major contenders is the immediate past governor of Ogun State and incumbent lawmaker representing Ogun Central Senatorial District, Senator Ibikunle Amosun.
Despite the array of politicians in the race, most of them with huge financial war chest, the former twoterm governor believes that he stands a better chance of picking the ticket of the ruling party because he has what it takes to turn around the fortunes of Nigeria. While it has been a season of promises by presidential aspirants, who have been criss-crossing the country, consulting with delegates and other stakeholders ahead of the primaries, many who listened to Amosun’s presentation during his formal declaration for the Office of the President on May 5, had no option than to agree that he has one of the best programmes.
The former Ogun State governor, who addressed APC faithful as well as supporters, who thronged the Shehu Musa Yar’Adua Centre, Abuja, not only declared his readiness for the job but unveiled an eight-point agenda, which according to him, will transform the country within the shortest possible time. Noting that his wealth of experience in both the public and private sectors has prepared him well to lead Nigeria, the former governor reeled out his campaign manifesto to include improving the nation security architecture in order to tackle insecurity, creating enabling environment for businesses to thrive and grow the economy, and provision of infrastructural facilities for the teeming Nigerian populace. His words: “Today, I am formally announcing my candidacy for the Presidential ticket of our great party, the All Progressives Congress and the presidency of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
I do so conscious of the immensity of the task ahead in our country and the magnitude of the sacrifices that anybody who wishes to lead our country into the next phase must make. “This is to honour a historic call and duty to lead the next phase of our collective journey to national glory. It is a duty to re-energise our faith in the future of this country even in the face of the threats to our national sovereignty by insurgents and terrorists; a duty to renew hope in our collective destiny even in the light of some doubts expressed and mobilised in some quarters about our shared fate.
“I am convinced about my capacity in leading the country to national glo-ry. I offer myself to serve as national revival and rejuvenation in providing comprehensive audit of security architecture and accelerate economic growth in the country.” On issues of insecurity and economy, which according to many should shape the debate ahead of the 2023 presidential election, Amosun declared that he will tackle them headlong.
He said: “Putting human security at the forefront and approaching human security as the directive principle of state policy would imply that the two dominant goals of my leadership would be national security and economic development.
“The two pillars of the agenda that I will elaborate in the weeks ahead are national security and economic development. Upon these two pillars, we will create a national architecture for human flourishing that is unprecedented in our national history.
“Based on these two pillars, we will erect a national agenda which, apart from national security and economic development, will include healthcare, education agriculture and food security, infrastructural rural and urban development, technology, innovation and digital economy, and nation building. “Guided by the unprecedented investment in human security, the integration of the eight areas of this carefully planned agenda for national reawakening will, within four years, unleash unparalleled human resource that will make Nigeria proud of their motherland. “It bears repeating that Nigeria has the required manpower, both at home and abroad to accomplish this agenda.
Under my leadership, we will mobilise Nigeria’s immense human and natural resources to rebuild our education sector, healthcare, infrastructure, including electricity, roads and water supply.” But as inspiring as Amosun’s declaration speech was, to some who have listened to manifesto presentation by other presidential aspirants, the question is: Can the former governor of Ogun State scale the hurdles to become the APC presidential candidate in the much anticipated election given the array of aspirants vying for the party’s presidential ticket? One of the former governor’s support groups, Progressives Agenda Movement, which believes that he has what it takes to win the forthcoming presidential election, appealed to the leadership and members of the APC to consider him as the flag bearer of the party because he is the most preferred person to succeed the President Muhammadu Buhari.
The Director-General of the group, Olawale Balogun, who described Amosun as a healthy and highly cerebral person, said they will mobilse Nigerians to support his aspiration as he will save the country from insecurity and economic challenges. His words: “This movement is a conglomerate of like minds across the country with a mission to support, campaign and mobilise voters nationwide for our great party, APC and our preferred candidate ahead of the 2023 election. “Our political movement will serve as a formidable support group for our party and our preferred candidate is no other person than a former governor and current senator, Ogun Central Senatorial District, Senator Ibikunle Amosun.
“We have seen his leadership prowess, his antecedent and achievements as a two-term governor of Ogun State, which speak volume and authenticity of the fact that he is the leader Nigeria needs at the moment. “Progressives Agenda Movement is using this opportunity to appeal to the leadership and the entire members of our great party to consider Senator Ibikunle Amosun as the flag bearer of our great party, as we pledge to mobilise massive votes for our party in the coming election.”
A public affairs analyst, Kemi Muritala, who spoke on Amosun’s chances, said: “Some of the presidential aspirants have been promising to fix Nigeria, some hope, some unity, some better life and so on, but stakeholders across the political divides testified on May 5, when Amosun declared that we need a trail blazer and someone that Nigeria would be safe in his hands.
“Testimonials from distinguished Nigerians, who graced the event, testified to the fact that Amosun is the competent leader Nigeria needs. I quite agree with Amosun in his priority of human security and accelerated economic growth and development as a way out of the doldrums we are in the country, “Going by the overwhelming felicitations and support received by Amosun across the divide as well as full representation from the Alake of Egbaland, Oba Adedotun Gbadebo; former President Olusegun Obasanjo and a former governor of Oyo State, Rasheed Ladoja; federal lawmakers, youths and women groups in the country as well as religious leaders, the signs are clear that the pains of Nigerians are over.” However, despite the optimism in Amosun’s camp, some cynics are of the view that the former governor is among the presidential aspirants who should not be taken serious.
While those who hold this belief are of the view the Amosun is using the presidential contest to negotiate his return to the Senate. They also claimed he had already secretly purchased the senatorial form to return to the Senate and even attended the screening for senatorial aspirants last weekend. There are members of another political school that claimed that the former governor will soon collapse his structures in order to form an alliance with Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, another presidential aspirant on APC platform. However, Amosun has not only dismissed these claims, but declared that he is in the race to secure the APC presidential ticket.
He maintained that alignment with any other presidential aspirant is not part of his plan. In a statement at the weekendby his media aide, Bola Adeyemi, Amosun urged Nigerians to the disregard the report that he attended the screening exercise for senatorial aspirants. He said he was never at the screening exercise because he didn’t purchase nomination and expression of interest forms for the senatorial election. The statement read in part: “The attention of Senator Ibikunle Amosun has been drawn to two news stories trending in the social media.
The first falsely claims that Senator Amosun has been cleared to contest for the Senate. “The second claims that Senator Amosun is set to align with a named presidential aspirant for the presidential contest. The two news stories are false.
They are instances of the brand of politics that responsible Nigerians abhor “For the avoidance of doubt, Senator Amosun procured only the forms for the presidential ticket of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and did not attend the screening exercise for senatorial aspirants because he is not one. Also, Senator Amosun is in the race for the presidential ticket of the APC and has no plans to align with any politician in the race. The false news stories should be dismissed.”