Presidency sources have stated that President Muhammadu Buhari would “definitely have a say in who his political party would pick” as his successor in the 2023 general elections.  

Confidants of President Muhammadu Buhari are currently waiting for him to reveal his preferred aspirant among the presidential hopefuls in the ruling All Progressives Congress, PUNCH reports.

This, according to findings, explains why the confidants, comprising serving ministers, close aides and his kitchen cabinet, could not make any open commitment to any of the aspirants as they are waiting to hear from the President the direction he would want them to go.

At the moment, the top contenders for the presidency in the APC are the National Leader of the party and former governor of Lagos State, Bola Tinubu; Vice President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo; Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi State and the governor of Ebonyi State, Dave Umahi.

A former governor of Abia State, Senator Orji Uzor Kalu, has also voiced his intention to join the presidential race.

Tinubu and Umahi have openly declared their intention to contest the coveted seat after their separate meetings with the President, while Bello said he would formally declare after the party’s national convention scheduled for February 26.

For Osinbajo, he has neither declared interest nor said a word on the matter, even though groups loyal to him have been clamouring for his candidacy.

At different fora where the vice-president was present, the latest being the Sardauna Memorial Foundation lecture in Kano, influential Nigerians like traditional rulers, governors and former governors had touted him as suitable for the presidency in 2023, without him denouncing the proposal.

Others rumoured to also have presidential ambition in the APC but have yet to declare include the governor of Ekiti State and Chairman, Nigeria Governors’ Forum, Kayode Fayemi; and the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi.

A reliable source in the presidency said the ministers and other top government officials believed to be close to the President were watching from close range and waiting to hear from the President the direction that he would want them to follow.

The source said, “You know the President is a man of few words. You could also see the way he answered when asked who his preferred candidate was during his recent television interview.

“Definitely, there is no president or even governor who will not be interested in who his party would pick as his likely successor. He may not have a hand in who the opposition political parties would pick as their presidential candidate, but the President will definitely have a say in who his political party would pick.”

Buhari had said during his interview on Channels on January 5, 2022 that the name of his preferred candidate was a secret because the person might be eliminated if he mentioned it. When asked if he was interested in who eventually succeeds him, he responded, “No. Let him come, whoever it is.”

Asked further if he had any favourite in his party, he said, “I wouldn’t (name him) because he may be eliminated if I mention it, I better keep it as a secret.”

Meanwhile, a governor, who didn’t want to be named, said the President, being a retired army general, would always keep his plans to himself and would not want to speak now so that people do not accuse him of favouritism.

He said, “When former President Olusegun Obasanjo, also a retired army general, was completing his second tenure, many politicians, including governors, were going round the country, claiming endorsement of the President. Obasanjo did not say anything.

“He remained silent until a day or so before the PDP convention at Abuja when he called the leaders of the party and other stakeholders. It was there he introduced the late Governor Umaru Yar’Adua to them as the preferred candidate. Those who presented themselves as the preferred candidates had no option but to toe the party and the President’s line.”

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