Africa-Press – Gambia. Not long after the sale of 2023 presidential forms began, the race became somewhat crowded in the All Progressives Congress (APC).
In the days that followed a barrage of declarations took place, with aspirants posturing as having all the answers to the pressing problems in Nigeria.
Former two-term governor of Ogun state and incumbent lawmaker representing Ogun West senatorial district, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, also joined the race.
On May 5, he formally declared his intention to vie for Nigeria’s number one political office in the 2023 general elections.While some argued that his manifesto, brilliant as it is, would turnaround the fortunes of Nigeria, others argued that his ability to survive the primaries would be critical. This is regardless of his perceived closeness to President Muhammadu Buhari.
However, addressing the gathering at the Shehu Musa Yar’Adua Centre, Abuja, Amosun, who unveiled an eight-point agenda, said his robust public and private sector experience prepared him to emerge as Buhari’s successor.
His campaign manifesto included improving the security network of the nation, creating an enabling environment for business to grow the economy and provision of infrastructural facilities for the teeming Nigerian populace.
“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 tasks that lie ahead in our country and the magnitude of the sacrifices that anybody who wishes to lead our country into the next phase must make.”
He continued, “I am convinced about my capacity in leading the country to national glory. I offer myself to serve as a national revival and rejuvenation in providing a comprehensive audit of security architecture and accelerate economic growth in the country.”
He also promised to give priority to the two major issues that require urgent attention in Nigeria today: insecurity challenges and revamping the economy.
“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 resouces to rebuild our education sector, healthcare, infrastructure, including electricity, roads and water supply.”
He got accolades for his presentation from co-aspirant and Ekiti State governor, Kayode Fayemi, who, in paying back the favour, attended his declaration.
Fayemi, described Amosun as a complete Nigerian having similarity in ideological orientation like him, hence his decision to attend his declaration”.
“You can be sure that between us, whichever way, we will be in the tent and not outside the tent”, Fayemi assured supporters.
Senate Leader Abdullahi Yahaya said Amosun is “exceptionally good, a person of courage and generous and Nigeria will be safe in his hands”.
Speaking also, Kemi Muritala, a public affairs analyst has this to say “Others have been promising to fix Nigeria, some promises hope, some promises unity, some promises better life and so on, but stakeholders across the divide testified on Thursday May 5, when Amosun declared before the mammoth crowd at Shehu Musa Yar’adua Centre, Abuja that we need a trail blazer and someone whose Nigeria is safe in his hands like Amosun”.
“Testimonials from distinguished Nigerians such as Amb. Fatimat Bala Abubakar, Senator Isa Dansadau, Senator khairat Gwadabe, Senator Iyabo Anisuluwo, Senator Lawan Shuaibu, Senator Abdullahi Yahaya, Kayode Fayemi, Mrs Rukaiyah Wiran, Amb. Jerry Ugbokwe, among others in attendance testified to the fact that Amosun is a straight forward, frank, a good leader, a cheerful giver, a detribalised Nigerian and the competent Nigerian the country needs now”.
“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, former Oyo state Governor, Rasheed Ladoja, Amb. Sarafa Tunji Ishola, Nigeria High Commissioner to UK, who was physically present as well as federal lawmakers, youths and women groups in the country as well as religious leaders, the signs are clear that Nigerians’ pains are over and our reliever is definitely here” Muritala said.
However the accolades tell half of the story as Amosun has to battle the deluge of presidential aspirants in his party for the ticket. What’s worse, he has to fight for a good share of delegates from his state, Ogun, with vice president Prof Yemi Osinbajo and Pastor Tunde Bakare. They are equally top contenders from his state.
This scenario has put in a position where he is being grouped among those that might step down from the race eventually, hence the claim that he had already secretly purchased a senatorial form to return to the Senate.
Amosun however disregarded the claim, saying he is in the race to secure the APC presidential ticket. He said he is not cut out for aligning with any other presidential aspirant.
In a statement signed, Sunday, by his media aide, Bola Adeyemi, Amosun disregarded rumours that he attended the screening exercise for senatorial aspirants held on Sunday.
He said he was never at the screening exercise because he didn’t purchase nomination and expression of interest forms for senatorial election.
The statement reads partly, “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.”
With May 29 in sight for the party’s presidential primaries, and as he and others battle for delegates, how he will fare outside the South West region might be critical as the delegates in his region are already split among the aspirants from the zone.
Whether his All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) roots (which earned his political allies in the North) and his Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) connections with which he joined the APC would work in his favour ahead of the primaries is a different matter.