Nigeria Politics In 2022

The year 2022 is not a general election year, but many political activities that would precede the next general elections would reach a crescendo in the next 52 weeks. Two off-cycle governorship elections are also scheduled to take place. The political activities that will come up would give a foretaste of what is likely to happen in next year and beyond. Assistant Editor EMMANUEL BADEJO gives an overview of the events that would shape politics during the year

 

No doubt, the tempo of political activities this year will be high, as the country enters political campaign season. Many political activities are scheduled to take place, going by the timetable of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), which mandates political parties to do one thing or the other in accordance with the electoral code. Some of these events are already generating discourse in the nation’s political space.

 

A series of events is already lined up: from the party primaries to governorship elections in both Ekiti and Osun states to the All Progressives Congress (APC) national convention slated for February, and party nominations for the next general elections, stakeholders are looking forward to them with keen interests.

Certainly, there will be realignments of forces, including mergers and, or formation of new political parties, as well as defections from one political family to another. Similarly, issues like zoning, restructuring, security and the economy are likely to play major roles in the events that will eventually determine where the political pendulum will swing. Generally, it will be an interesting year, as far as politics is concerned.

 

Ekiti governorship race:

Ahead of June 10, 2022 governorship election in Ekiti State, the various political parties would conduct primaries to pick their candidates. This would be followed by the electioneering campaign.

Although many political parties will be taking part in the contest, it is obvious that the battle will be between the two major contenders – the APC and the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP). In both the APC and the PDP, it may be a tough goal to pick a consensus candidate, as many political heavyweights have already indicated an interest in the race.

Those believed to be eyeing the coveted seat within the APC include a former minister, Senator Dayo Adeyeye; a Special Adviser to Governor Kayode Fayemi, Prof Bolaji Aluko; House of Representatives member, Femi Bamisile; Commissioner for Public Utilities, Bamidele Faparusi, and Special Adviser to Fayemi on Federal Matters, Makinde Araoye.

The list also includes Senator Opeyemi Bamidele; Kayode Ojo, Reuben Famuyibo, Segun Agbalajobi, Demola Popoola and Biodun Oyebanji who recently resigned as the Secretary to the State Government.

In the PDP, the senator representing Ekiti South in the National Assembly, Biodun Olujimi and former Governor Segun Oni are contestants to look out for in the race. Another major contender under the PDP platform is former chairman, Chief Bisi Kolawole who is also known to be the preferred candidate of former Governor Ayodele Fayose.

But, a twist is being introduced into the political ring, as stalwarts from Ekiti South across various political parties are demanding the governorship slot. They said since the creation of the state, the zone has not produced the governor and that the best it got was the deputy governorship slot.

Since the return to civil rule in 1999, Ekiti North has produced governors in the person of Oni and Dr. Fayemi. By October when Fayemi’s second tenure would expire, the zone would have occupied the seat for 11 years. Ekiti Central within the same period has also had its chance through Niyi Adebayo and Ayodele Fayose, who governed the state cumulatively for 11 years, while Ekiti South is yet to occupy the position.

But, if feelers from the government circle are anything to go by, Ekiti South may not clinch the ticket, as Fayemi’s loyalists in the APC are tilting towards supporting Oyebanji’s aspiration. The immediate past SSG is from Ekiti Central.

Before the end of February, all the political parties would have picked their candidates, going by the INEC timetable, which mandates them to do so four months before the election scheduled to take place on June 18.

 

Osun governorship battle:

The battleground will shift to Osun State immediately after the Ekiti governorship election. INEC Secretary, Rose Oriaran said preparations for the election would begin on February 15, 2022. She said that the collection of Expression of Interest Forms for the election by aspirants is fixed for February 16 and that between February 16 and March 12, political parties are expected to conduct their primaries and resolve disputes that may arise from them.

The last day for withdrawal by candidates and replacement of withdrawn candidates by political parties will end by April 8, 2022. Election campaigns by political parties and their candidates will begin on April 17 and end on July 14.

Already, the announcement of the date of the election by INEC has stimulated a series of actions and reactions. Caucus meetings across party divides are already taking place and governorship aspirants, most of who have not made their intentions known to the public, are already set for a race that will determine who succeeds the incumbent governor.

There is no denying the fact that Governor Gboyega Oyetola is constitutionally entitled to a second term of four years, after his first tenure that ends on November 26, 2022. Political analysts and watchers of political developments in the “State of Living Springs”, as Osun is called, believe the election will be a two-horse race between the candidates of the ruling APC and the PDP.

Sources close to the incumbent governor hinted that the Iragbiji-born politician will contest the election. But, the APC in Osun is polarized between the faction backing Governor Oyetola and that of his immediate predecessor, who is now the Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola. Those up in arms against the governor include Alhaji Moshood Adeoti; a former Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Lasun Yusuf; a former Speaker of the State House of Assembly, Najeem Salam and Comrade Gbenga Awosode.

While those loyal to the governor have said Oyetola would win the election, others have warned of the need for the gladiators to sheathe their swords to ensure that the party wins.

Unlike the APC, the opposition PDP is not lacking in willing chieftains interested in the party’s 2022 ticket. Ademola Adeleke, a former senator representing Osun West and the 2018 governorship candidate of the party, has already declared his readiness to contest once again.

 

Akin Ogunbiyi, Chairman of Mutual Benefits Assurance and similarly a 2018 governorship aspirant of the party is also interested in the ticket. There are also indications that the lawmaker representing Ijesa-North Federal Constituency at the National Assembly, Wole Oke is interested in the party’s ticket.

Similarly, Senator Akinlabi Olasunkanmi, former Minister of Youth Development and another 2018 governorship aspirant is warming up for the ticket. Fatai Akinade Akinbade, former Secretary to the State Government and 2018 African Democratic Congress (ADC) governorship candidate is also aspiring for the PDP ticket this time. Prince Ayoade Adewopo, the Convener of “Ayombo Si Ipinle Osun Movement”, is another PDP chieftain in the race.

 

APC convention:

A few weeks ago, President Muhammadu Buhari approved February 2022 for the APC national convention. However, no specific date was chosen for the convention. This has created room for speculations on whether the ruling party would hold the convention as proposed or not.

Those who believe that Mai Mala Buni-led APC Caretaker and Extra-ordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC) has overstayed its welcome received the announcement with glee, but others are still in doubt about the commitment of the CECPC to hold the convention in February.

The Buni-led committee, which currently pilots the party‘s affairs, was inaugurated on June 25, 2020, to among other things conduct a national convention for the election of new National Working Committee (NWC) members to manage the party‘s affairs. While some members have resolved to sit and watch unfolding events in the party, others believe that conducting the convention in February will help douse the tension arising from the party’s congresses.

Even as agitation mounts on why the national convention must hold, the Chief Whip of the Senate, Sen. Orji Uzor Kalu, in a recent letter to Buni, urged the committee and its members to consider postponing the convention. To him, holding the convention in February without sorting out issues of disagreements that came up during the party‘s congresses will lead to implosion.

In reacting to Kalu‘s suggestion, a group within the party, the Concerned APC Stakeholders said the former Abia governor has no right to call for the postponement of the party’s national convention because he was not a founding member of the APC. Spokesman of the group, Alhaji Abdullahi Dauda said holding the party’s national convention is critical to avoid issues within its ranks and files.

Dauda said his group would ensure that only individuals with requisite pedigree emerge as new leaders of the APC. He appealed to members of the Buni-led committee to resist further temptation to postpone the convention in the interest of larger party members. Dauda equally appealed to President Buhari to call the committee to order before it becomes too late.

Notwithstanding the internal squabble, sources said the party is committed to holding the convention in February and that it may zone its chairmanship ticket to the North. If the proposed date comes to fruition, members of the ruling party will be electing its third set of NWC members.

Though, there is no official statement from the party on zoning arrangement, aspirants that have shown interest in the coveted position are from the North, confirming feelers that the party is likely to zone its chairmanship slot to the North.

At the moment, eleven gladiators are jostling for the chairmanship seat. They include former Deputy National Chairman of the defunct Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), Saliu Mustapha; former Governor Tanko Al-Makura (Nasarawa State); former Governor Ali Modu Sheriff (Borno State); current senator representing Niger East, Mohammed Sani Musa; former Governor Abdulaziz Yari (Zamfara State); and former Governor Isa Yuguda (Bauchi State).

Others include Minister of Special Duties and Inter-Governmental Affairs, Senator George Akume; Sunny Moniedafe; former Governor Kashim Shettima (Borno State); former Governor Danjuma Goje (Gombe State); and Mohammed Saidu Etsu.

 

Presidential zoning:

Another issue that will shape the political space in 2022 is the zoning conundrum, as there will be intense lobbying and politicking on which zone should produce the next president in 2023. After President Buhari who is from the Northwest completes his tenure in 2023, it is generally expected that power will shift to the South, going by the unwritten rule of power rotation in the country.

The South has insisted on power shift, for the sake of equity and justice. The declaration was made following a meeting of the Southern Governors’ Forum in Asaba, the Delta State capital; with a follow-up meeting in Lagos and Enugu.

Though their northern counterparts have frowned at the demand by the southern governors, indications are that the two major parties may likely present southern candidates for the 2023 presidential election.

 

Party primaries:

On the dates for primaries, Rotimi Oyekanmi, the Chief Press Secretary to INEC chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, said: “The electoral commission will soon announce the schedule of the 2023 elections, including timelines for primaries. You know there are 14 items for the elections and a schedule will soon be released for each item.

“The commission will be guided by the provisions of the Electoral Act in issuing the schedule. By the principle established by the commission, the 2023 general election will hold on Saturday, February 18, 2023, which is exactly one year, one month, two weeks from now.”