The drumbeat of politics has begun to sway the political atmosphere ahead of the 2023 elections in Nigeria. ‘Who becomes Nigeria’s president in 2023?’ is the frequently asked question everyone is itching to find answers to. Former Lagos State Governor Bola Tinubu, incumbent Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and President of the African Development Bank, Akinwumi Adesina, are some of the names coming up as viable prospects.
While Tinubu has officially declared interest in the top office, Osinbajo and Akinwumi’s possible candidacy remains a result of ongoing political permutations, one which many Nigerians are inclined to.
Several political players have begun consultations for different positions all over the country. Political parties are now strategizing and repositioning themselves to gain a considerable advantage over their rivals. Nigerians have a strong interest in purposeful and competent leadership as past and present administrations have failed to meet the people’s yearnings. This reality is why many Nigerians are receptive to the idea of a possible Yemi Osinbajo or Akinwumi Adesina presidency over Bola Tinubu, whom some Nigerians believe was part of the political set that brought the country to its knees.
Nigeria is a nation whose democracy is often used as a springboard for other African countries. Nigeria is Africa’s most populated nation and is the biggest economy on the continent by Gross Domestic Product (GDP), yet struggles with meaningful development due to corruption and selfish leadership.
As the average Nigerian bears the brunt of the present economic hardship, insecurity, poverty and unemployment, the citizens, especially the young population, demand technocrats in leadership positions in 2023.
However, while certain indices like age, level of education, perceived integrity, and economic knowledge favours Yemi Osinbajo and Akinwumi Adesina, Bola Tinubu is unbeatable in other qualities. Political pundits believe that Tinubu’s grounded political experience, robust national network and intelligence in government matters may be the essential qualities of anyone who intends to become the President of a complex nation like Nigeria.
Let’s take a closer look at the individual profiles of the men Nigerians are rooting for in 2023.
Bola Ahmed Tinubu
Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu, popularly known as Asiwaju of Lagos and Jagaban of Borgu Niger state, was born on March 29, 1952 (69 years) in Lagos state. He had a bachelor’s degree in Accounting from Chicago State University and graduated in 1979.
He was privileged to work for a few American companies before returning to Nigeria in 1983 to join the executive staff of Mobil Oil Nigeria. He was elected into office as a senator in the third republic, representing Lagos West. He was one of the founding fathers of the Alliance for Democracy, on whose platform he was elected as governor of Lagos State in May 1999.
After eight years as a governor, Bola Tinubu was trialled in April 2007 for corruption, money laundering and asset declaration. The suit was later squashed after there was no clear evidence against him.
He spearheaded the merger between the Action Congress of Nigeria, Congress for Progressive Change and All Nigeria People’s Party in 2014. The coalition formed the present ruling party, All Progressive Congress, which defeated the then PDP government led by Goodluck Jonathan in the 2015 election.
Bola Tinubu has been accused of many malpractices, among which was election racketeering. On the eve of the 2019 elections, two bullion vans were seen entering his house with money allegedly meant to sway the elections in his party’s favour. Although he has since denied many of the allegations brought against him, the ‘dirty politics man’ perception continues to hang over his head.
Bola Tinubu is a national leader of the APC and enjoys a good political influence in South-west Nigeria and several other states.
Professor Yemi Osinbanjo was born on March 8, 1957 (64 years) in Lagos. He studied Law at the University of Lagos in 1975, and after that, in 1980, he went on to the London School of Economics, where he had his master degree in Law (LL.M). He started his career at 23 as a lecturer at the University of Lagos and later became a Professor of Public Law in 1997.
Yemi Osinbajo later became a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) and was appointed by the Bola Tinubu-led administration as the Attorney-General and Commissioner of Justice in Lagos state from 1999 to 2007. Osinbajo is a pastor in the Redeemed Christian Church of God, Lagos Province 48.
In 2015, he was chosen to become President Muhammadu Buhari’s running mate. He has become Nigeria’s vice president since 2015 till date.
Nigerians became endeared to Yemi Osinbajowhen he became the Acting President of Nigeria during president Buhari’s medical leave to London. He has since then enjoyed the goodwill from a large number of Nigerians, who commended his leadership posture and style while he was the acting President. Although Osinbajo is Bola Tinubu’s ally and protege, some media reports suggest that he might be independently mapping his own political future and contesting for the 2023 presidential ticket is an option on his table.
Akinwumi Adesina was born on February 6, 1960 (62 years) in Oyo State, Nigeria. He studied Agricultural Economics with First class honours at Obafemi Awolowo University in 1981. He pursued his academic career and obtained a PhD in Agricultural Economics at Purdue University in Indiana in 1988.
Akinwumi Adesina has worked as an economist for several organizations within and outside Nigeria. From 2010 to 2015, he served as Nigeria’s Minister for Agriculture. He was praised for his reforms and transformation in Nigeria’s agricultural sector, which earned him the Forbes African Man of the Year award.
In 2010, Adesina was appointed as one of the 17 global leaders to lead the Millenium Development Goals (MDGs) by the United Nations. On May 28, 2015, he was elected President of the African Development Bank (AfDB), the first Nigerian to hold such a prestigious position. On August 27, 2020, he was re-elected for another 5-year tenure as the bank president.
Akinwumi Adesina was accused of corruption by the United States over some shady deals in AfDB, but the bank board later squashed the allegations. Akinwumi possesses vast public and private sector experience within and outside Nigeria.
The trio, Bola Tinubu, Yemi Osibanjo and Akinwumi Adesina, possess the wealth of experience and capacity to be Nigeria’s President come 2023, even though their credibility differs. But as it stands, if Nigerians are given the opportunity to choose their President in 2023 fairly, Yemi Osibanjo and Akinwumi Adesina will enjoy better goodwill and support than the seasoned politician and kingmaker Bola Tinubu.