The choice of who emerges as All Progressives Congress Presidential candidate in the forthcoming 2023  election will go a long way in determining the fortune of the party at the polls.

More importantly, the quality of leaders who emerge in the forthcoming 2023 presidential election, will determine whether Nigeria will make good progress or otherwise.

So as concerned Nigerians who have followed political developments in the last eight years, we should be interested in who the political parties put forward. For this piece, let us look at the APC, some of its potential candidates and their chances.

We are not in  doubt that putting forward a Northern candidate to succeed Muhammadu Buhari is a bad idea that will backfire and sink the APC. On the other hand, a presidential candidate of Southern extraction will go a long way in dousing the tension in the country, help promote “One Nigeria” project and as well change the notion that the APC is out to pursue northernization agenda.

Of course, all eyes are on APC leader, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu to succeed Buhari. It is true that Tinubu is a political genius who has contributed inmensely to APC and helped Buhari’s emergence as President. As such,  he stands in a good position to be considered as a good successor.

But, in reality, the office of a President requires much energy and vitality, which as a result of age Tinubu cannot offer.  Tinubu, 68, cannot cope with the stress and huge demands of the first office. Nigerians have learnt a good lesson from Buhari’s presidency. It is not a good road to take again in 2023. Tinubu is better off as a chieftain and strategist, who should anoint or endorse a younger candidate.

Also, Tinubu as APC Presidential candidate will put APC in a dangerous and tight corner of Muslim/Muslim ticket, a decision that would finally confirm public suspicion that the APC is out for an Islamic agenda. Nigeria of today is not the one of 90s when late Moshood Abiola and and Kingibe ran on a Muslim/Muslim ticket and were voted for.

With the level of religious division in the country, it will be easier for a camel to passs through an eye of a needle than for any political party to win a presidential election with an all Muslim or all Christian ticket. This same factor knocks minister of works, Babatunde Fashola, and minister of interior, Rauf Aregbesola out of the winning formula. 

Ekiti State governor Dr Kayode Fayemi, however, looks like the perfect candidate for APC in 2023. This is not out of sentiment. In Dr Fayemi, APC has the political genius of Tinubu, the energy and competence to drive good governance of Fashola, a sellable candidate to Nigerian across divides.

As the chairman of APC 2015 primary election, Dr Fayemi displayed a high sense of organisation, coordination, fairness, and transparancy that endeared the APC to many Nigerians. The biggest spenders could not buy or manipulate Dr Fayemi as he conducted the primaries that produced Buhari. Without leaving the party in rancour or division after the primaries, Dr Fayemi displayed quality leadership.

With this in mind, Nigerians ( we northerners) have nothing to fear with a candidate like Dr Fayemi. He is not a bigot or a leader attached to regional interest. From his early days, his interest has been Nigeria. His tactful management of herders/farmer crisis in Ekiti State and his intervention on divisive call for state collection of VAT makes him stand out as a national leader.

With a bridge builder and devoted party man like Dr Fayemi, APC will have no problem at the polls. His exposure and understanding of internal party politics and national politics will help in stabilising the APC and the country. Dr Fayemi is that  candidate that can win for APC and more importantly win for Nigeria and Nigerians.

Ahmad Ashir writes from Kaduna

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