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Fashola as silver bullet in APC’s armoury


Ahead of the next national elections in 2023, it is expected that there will be a lot of drama and politicking amidst the various political parties in Nigeria, as they all try to fix the jigsaw puzzle which sets up the list of final contenders at the presidential polls. In the meantime, the party primaries take centre stage and that is where each power house is supposed to shuffle their varied mix of cards in a bid to come up with that joker – the leading candidate who eventually wins the presidential ticket as one who will serve as the party flag bearer for each party at the main polls.

With less than one year exactly to the main elections, the drama is expected to be much further heightened within the ruling party – the All Progressive Congress (APC), especially because of the prevalent belief in this clime, that the incumbent party always enjoys certain advantages, due to the leading position they occupy. Naturally, they would seem to be the focus and darling of everyone’s attraction because of their pivotal role and the fact they have the sitting president who serves more like the midwife delivering the next set of elections.

I recently read a tweet the other day from a Twitter user @femitobadt “Seriously, I always wonder why Fashola hasn’t declared his presidential intentions after achieving so much as a governor. Don’t we need someone like him???”(Sic) he wrote. Apparently this was in response to seeing another of the myriad of candidates declare, and this blew up into a conversation which went on for hours on Twitter, making Fashola trend.

Another user @AdaMbano opined: “With so many individuals fighting for the APC Presidential ticket, I’m surprised no one has mentioned Babajide Raji Fashola.” Well, such is the peculiarity of the so-called drama around the throne which APC occupies at the moment.

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In the same vein, one must give credit to the main opposition – the People’s Democratic Party (PDP)  – as they continue to up the ante with their own internal permutations, equally geared towards fielding that candidate strong enough to wrest power from the ruling party. As at the last count, they have had at least17 candidates declare their interest in contesting the presidential primaries on their platform, with two disqualified making it 15 for now.

In the APC, at least 15 candidates have so far declared their interest to succeed President Muhammadu Buhari, although the front runners remain former governor of Lagos State, Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu and the current vice president Professor Yemi Osinbajo. The others are senators and some current serving ministers, some of whom have previously served as governors. They include the minister of transport, Rotimi Amaechi, the minister of Labour, Chris Ngige, the former governor of Ogun State, Ibikunle Amosun, the former governor of Abia State, Orji Uzor Kalu and a number of others who have held significant positions at one time or the other.

We cannot afford to forget that there is also the clause in the electoral Act which allows for the choice of a consensus candidate, if it is something a party chooses to adopt without rancour or contest. The ruling party APC incidentally has fixed its primaries for May 30 and 31, as INEC earlier indicated that parties pick their presidential candidates on or before June 3. The million dollar question now remains, which candidate is strong enough, credible and fitting for the job amongst all of these candidates who have declared their interest so far or even those who might yet declare. Interestingly, a wise man recently said the kind of candidate who would fix Nigeria’s problems effectively is someone who doesn’t crave power yet has the competence to do the job based on experience and know-how. The person would fit the delicate balance of being a proper party man and also a technocrat, able to navigate party politics even while being competent enough to capably occupy the office of the President of the Federal Republic.

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At this juncture, it becomes pertinent to note that that ruling party might just have that “hidden silver bullet” in their armoury – a candidate who fits all of these earlier mentioned criteria and one who could easily come through as a general consensus, everyone could agree to. Hidden in the sense that he hasn’t even declared an interest, but that again fits that part of him not craving power. Step in Babatunde Raji Fashola, two term former governor of Lagos state, former Minister of Power, Works and Housing and currently serving as Minister of Works and Housing in the Federal cabinet. If there is anything these former and current positions have in common, it is that they are very complex models to navigate. It is virtually common knowledge that if you can govern Lagos successfully, you can easily take on the behemoth called Nigeria.

Having being in charge of three very pivotal ministries at once, especially with the ministry of power in the same equation, it can be one of the most tasking and challenging positions anyone serving in the Federal cabinet can find themselves. Yet he has acquitted himself quite well, and even now while in charge of the ministry of works and housing, his achievements are more than laudable. This is a man who seeks to get the job done no matter what. He knows his numbers, employs the right expertise and is individually savvy enough to know how to navigate tricky paths and ultimately deliver the goal.

Like everyone else, he comes with his own baggage, but if there is someone who might tick all the boxes for the ruling party and also be able to pull off the challenge of winning the elections with great acceptance from the voting electorate, it would be Babatunde Raji Fashola.

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If the ruling party knows what is best for it, and in all truth they are in an extreme need of someone who can unite the field, appeal to everyone’s better angels, be competent enough to execute the job of being president of such a complicated terrain like Nigeria and most importantly be relatable enough as a candidate to win the elections and secure the mandate. The party bigwigs therefore have a job on their hands to convince this man to join the race because he represents their best shot at winning the elections in 2023.

To have a fighting chance, APC may need to appeal to Mr. Babatunde Raji Fashola see reason and want to throw his hat into the ring, especially for the sake of posterity and patriotism, knowing that Nigeria definitely could be the better for it.