2023 Nigerian Elections: Meet the Politicians Vying For The President’s Job

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When Shakespeare wrote in As You Like It that “all the world’s a stage,” the Bard may as well have been referring to Nigerian politics, that most grand stage. As the 2023 general elections draw near, the past few weeks in the Nigerian political sphere have been a theatre of declarations, as one politician after the other announces his intention to compete in the 2023 presidential election, which has been slated for 18 February next year.

In this piece, we look at the various Nigerian politicians who have declared interest in contesting the election:

Bola Ahmed Tinubu

The possibility of Bola Ahmed Tinubu contesting the 2023 presidential election has been the worst-kept national secret since 2015. “I have never seen where it is written in the rule book anywhere in any country that a kingmaker cannot be a king,” Tinubu said to a throng of reporters at the presidential villa last month, as he officially declared his intention to run for president.

Tinubu played a big role in the electoral campaign of incumbent president Muhammadu Buhari, and nominated Yemi Osibanjo for Vice President, as the latter publicly admitted in 2016. Although VP Osinbajo is yet to officially declare an interest in contesting for the presidency, various support groups have already begun mobilising for his candidacy. When asked about a potential faceoff for the APC ticket between him and his political protégé, Tinubu shrugged off the question. “I don’t want to discuss individuals now,” the former Lagos State governor said.

When pressed on what he hopes to achieve if he becomes president, Tinubu told reporters at the presidential villa in January that he wasn’t ready to disclose that yet.

Tinubu is the current national leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), and was Lagos State Governor from 1999 to 2007.

David Umahi

Umahi, the governor of Ebonyi state and a member of the ruling All Progressive Congress (PAC), declared his presidential ambition on the platform of the APC barely 24 hours after Bola Ahmed Tinubu had done so. Like Tinubu, Umahi made the revelation at the presidential villa in Abuja, adding that he was not fazed by Tinubu’s entry into the race.

Umahi, during an interview with State House correspondents, said that he has told the president about his ambition to contest for the seat if the party zones the ticket to the Southern region. He promised that, if he wins the party ticket and is elected to the nation’s highest seat of office, he will replicate his feats as a governor.

With Umahi’s declaration, he may be locking horns in the primaries with Tinubu and the Kogi State Governor, Yahaya Bello, both of whom have declared their intention to contest the presidential election via the APC platform.

Umahi will round off his second term in office in 2023. He was one of the three Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governors that defected to the APC between late November 2020 and June 2021, a move he has claimed has nothing to do with the 2023 presidential ticket.

Khadijah Okunnu-Lamidi

Okunnu-Lamidi is the first and only female to, in the words of Kemi Adetiba’s titular King of Boys character, “throw her gele” into the 2023 presidential election. She declared her interest in contesting for the presidency last month, and so far has been greeted with widespread applause across social media.

Her presidency, she said, would be focused on resolving poverty, hunger, insecurity and unemployment, among others. Responding to criticisms pointing to the lack of her political experience, the 38-year-old claimed that she has been in politics for at least 20 years. In an interview with The Punch, she describes herself as a marketing professional, political organiser, and social rights advocate.

Okunnu-Lamidi is the daughter of former Minister of Works, Alhaji Femi Okunnu. She has expressed her suspicion of political parties, and as of now belongs to no political party. Since the nation’s 1999 Constitution does not allow for independent candidacy, Okunnu-Lamidi has said that she is open to joining a political party in order to compete for the presidential seat.

Peter Obi

The former Anambra State Governor has come out to say that whether or not he joins the presidential race depends on if his party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), zones its ticket to the southern region of the country. If it is zoned to the south, Obi has said that he would contest the election. He also made it clear that he would accept the decision of his party regardless of where it swings.

Obi, who was the running mate of Atiku Abubakar in the 2019 presidential election, has advised the citizenry to emphasise the integrity of a candidate as they cast their votes, because a president with integrity will “reduce stealing by 50 to 70 per cent.” According to Obi, educational qualification does not guarantee integrity.

Rochas Okorocha

The senator of Imo West District in the 9th Senate, and former Imo State Governor, has officially declared his intention to run for the 2023 presidential election. This makes it the fourth time that the head of the All Progressive Congress party will compete for the presidency, the previous times being 2003, 2005, and 2015. In an ironic twist, on the day that he made his declaration, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) filed 17 charges against him on allegations of conspiracy to steal N2.9 billion from public coffers.

Okorocha has promised that, if elected, he would institute free education for primary and secondary school students. He has also promised to create more jobs, and that he plans to approach his presidency like a “radical businessman.”   Okorocha has not only dismissed the view that the current presidency is corrupt, he has also said that the incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari has done well for Nigeria and Nigerians, and that he intends to “beat his record” if elected president. The lawmaker noted poverty as the main cause of the country’s woes, and said that he will resolve it using his New Nigeria Agenda.

Orji Uzor Kalu

The 61-year-old politician and businessman has expressed his desire to compete in the 2023 presidential election, barely 24 hours after former governor of Lagos State Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, declared his interest in the job. Kalu is the Abia North Senator and the chairman of SLOK Holding, the Daily Sun, and New Telegraph newspapers. He was also the Governor of Abia State from 1999 to 2007.

A member of the All Progressive Congress party, Kalu has declared himself as “the most prepared presidential candidate in Nigeria,” adding that “I am capable health-wise.” He has since appealed to APC to consider a president of South-East extraction in 2023. In his words, as reported in The PUNCH, “It’s overdue for an Igboman to become a Nigerian President, I believe the South-East should produce the next President and it’s going to happen.”

Kalu has said that those against the Igbos from producing the next Nigerian president are being unfair to the Southeast and Northeast geopolitical zones which have not produce the president since 1999.

Doyin Okupe

The former presidential spokesman has, since October last year, officially declared his intention to contest the 2023 presidential election on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party. His announcement was made in a statement titled, “2023: Doyin Okupe promises a government that prioritises the needs of the poor as he officially declares presidential ambition.”

If elected, Okupe promised that his presidency will focus on eradicating poverty and safeguarding lives and properties. He vowed to radically revise the budgeting process, so as to make it more people-oriented. 30 percent of the national budget, he said, would be devoted towards social welfare. He also pledged to increase electricity generation to 30,000 megawatts in three years, reduce youth unemployment, and revamp the national economy.

Okupe has argued that the PDP should field a southern candidate for the 2023 presidential election. However, during an interview on City 105.1 FM with Reuben Abati, he said that he will voluntarily step out of the race if there’s a concession from the PDP to give the South-East the Presidency in 2023.

Beyond politics, Okupe is a physician, co-founding Royal Cross Medical Centre. He was Special Assistant on Media and Publicity to President Olusegun Obasanjo and Senior Special Assistant on Public Affairs to President Goodluck Jonathan.

Chukwuka Monye

The  43-year-old technocrat, on January 15, declared his intention to contest for the Presidency in the 2023 general elections. He made his intention known in Asaba, Delta State, where he hails from. Basing his presidential bid on his ‘young’ age, Monye said that he will tackle insecurity, crime, employment, and make institutional reforms if elected.

According to Monye, there is the need to eke out a global economy out of things such as music, arts, and technology.  Monye has lamented the state of affairs: poverty, and institutions such as justice, education, health, and security, on the brink of collapsing. According to Monye, what Nigeria needs is “impactful leadership,” claiming that he has both age and the political experience necessary to revamp the nation.

Monye, who hails from Delta State, is yet to state the political party through which he intends to contest for the presidency. He graduated from Warner University where he earned a B.A. in Business Administration. He also has a Postgraduate Diploma in Strategy and Innovation, as well as a Masters of Business Administration from Oxford University. He is currently the managing partner of Ciuci Consulting.

Dele Momodu

The newspaper columnist and CEO of Ovation International has informed the PDP of his intention to contest the presidential ticket of the party. He has publicly stated that he believes he is the most capable of realising the Nigeria envisioned by the late Chief Moshood Abiola. Momodu, in 1988, got his first job as staff writer with African Concord magazine, owned by late Chief Moshood Kashimawo Abiola. Momodu was a member of the Labour Party (LP) and National Conscience Party (NCP), becoming the latter’s presidential candidate in 2011 and, with 26,376 votes, placing 11th in the INEC results.

In 2015, the 61-year-old was actively involved in drumming up support, both online and offline, for the incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari and the All Progressive Congress. Last year October, however, he apologised for the role he played in the election of Buhari, and joined the PDP in the same month.

He wishes to actualize his ambition on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party, made official by his letter of interest which he handed over last year October to the national chairman of the PDP, Iyiorchia Ayu. Momodu has said that he is better prepared than his first rodeo in 2011, while also stating that he will not accept any form of bullying from richer politicians in the course of the race.

Ayim Pius Ayim

The former Senate president has expressed his desire to contest the 2023 presidential election under the aegis of the Peoples Democratic Party. He has, reportedly, taken his campaign to ex-Presidents Olusegun Obasanjo, Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, and former military presidents, General Ibrahim Babangida, and Abdulsalami Abubakar. The PUNCH reports that he also had meetings with the former Minister of Defence, General Theophilus Danjuma, Chief Arthur Eze, and Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu as well as some influential Northern Emirs like the Emir of Lafia, who have endorsed his presidential aspirations. The Governor of Abia State, Okezie Ikpeazu, has also endorsed Mr Anyim’s presidential bid.

Ayim has urged political parties to zone their presidential tickets to the Southeast, vowing to contest whether or not the presidential slot is zoned by the PDP to the Southeast or not. In his World Igbo Congress lecture delivered at Gregory University, Uturu, in 2020, Anyim made a case for an Igbo President from the  Southeast region, the only zone in the South that had not produced a Nigerian President. He then listed the political and social benefits of a South East presidency.

Anyim said the next president should be able to rebuild, protect lives and property, revive the economy, create jobs, and rehabilitate the education system. According to Anyim, the task ahead calls for a candidate who possesses the political pedigree, vision, and credentials to lead the PDP to accomplish the tasks.

Aminu Tambuwal

The Sokoto State governor has declared his intention to run for the presidency in 2023. Making his announcement after a PDP stakeholders’ meeting, the former Speaker of the House of Representatives explained that his decision is based on calls by the state chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party. Tambuwal had initially tried to run for presidency in 2018, but came second to former vice-President Atiku Abubakar at the PDP Presidential primary.

The 56-year-old is a member of the People’s Democratic Party and served as the 10th Speaker of the House of Representatives of Nigeria, also representing the Tambuwal/Kebbe Federal Constituency of Sokoto State as an honorable. On 28 October 2014, Tambuwal formally defected from the ruling PDP to the opposition APC. He defected from APC back to PDP on 1 August 2018. In October 2018, as he ran for president, he claimed to be on a quest to “revive the [nation’s] dying economy.” Tambuwal has said that he would immediately begin consultation on whether to contest the 2023 presidential election or not, a consultation he said will last until February ending.

Sam Ohuanbunwa

The renowned pharmacist and former Chairman of the Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG) has notified the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) of his intention to run for the 2023 presidential election under the party’s platform. Ohuanbunwa said the urge to create a country free of injustice spurred his desire to run for president. He has also said that his presidency would put an end to nepotism in government appointments. Ohuabunwa has also acknowledged that the Southeast zone has been marginalised, stating that the 2023 presidential election is the best opportunity for the region to claim the nation’s highest office.

Yahaya Bello

The Kogi State governor has declared his interest to compete in the 2023 presidential election on the platform of the All Progressives Congress. The 46-year-old has since cautioned Nigerian youths against casting their votes in favour of “retirees.” Bello has also said that he is not in support of a rotational presidency, adding that the best person with the capacity to unite Nigerians should be the one to rule. According to him, he wishes to build on what incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari has accomplished.

*This article will be updated as more candidates declare their presidential ambitions.

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