The build up to the 2023 general elections is rapidly gaining momentum even when principal political actors and potential presidential aspirants are still confined to their shadows on their intentions and aspirations. There have been denials or hazy public comments by potential presidential aspirants on their real ambitions but their political jobbers, supporters and loyalists have brazenly electrified the political space with mobilization of support for their respective political principals for the 2023 presidential and other elections.
A coalition of supporters and ad hoc campaign team set Campaign Office for Vice President Yemi Osinbajo SAN in Abuja to consolidate the mobilize and galvanize members of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) to support their political principal, the Vice President, Prof. Osinbajo SAN, for the party’s presidential ticket in the 2023 general elections. The emergent campaign structure sent a strong signal that Vice President Yemi Osinbajo is set to battle the APC national leader, Asiwaju Ahmed Tinubu, for the APC 2023 presidential ticket, in the first instance, then, the party’s candidate in the general elections.
Inaugurating a presidential campaign office in Abuja last weekend, the Osinbajo support and mobilization coalition is tacitly asserting to the public that their principal is in the race for the successor of President Muhammadu Buhari at the end of the incumbent’s second tenure of eight years in 2023.
The APC national leader, Asiwaju Tinubu, had also been playing in the shadow of undecided ambition in the guise that he has not told anyone that he is in the presidential race. However, his support groups have been on national duty promoting his presidential ambition and mobilizing support for securing the APC presidential ticket, in the first instance.
However, the Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, had earlier this week said that Tinubu will speak on his presidential ambition in January 2022. The minister affirmed that the APC national leader, himself, issued a statement that he will speak in January on his intents for the 2023 presidential race.
Apparently, all the political fortes are being activated in the ruling APC for power show in the contest for the party’s presidential ticket. No forte or coalition wants its voice to be less loud than the voices of the rivals.
The support and mobilization coalition, opened the campaign office for the vice president last Saturday at 15b, Buchanan Crescent, off Aminu Kano, by Emab Plaza, Wuse 11, Abuja. They symbolized the office with a large banner of Vice President Osinbajo, which is transmitting a strong message of “Face of Hope” to Nigerians.
Emmanuel Pippa, Publicity Secretary of the Support Coalition, in a statement on Sunday, affirmed that the campaign office is solely a structure of the support group.
“Our attention has just been brought to online publications, which allege that the vice president, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, has opened a campaign office in Abuja ahead of the 2023 elections.
“We wish to clarify that the said office belongs to our coalition of support groups, which strongly believes in Professor Osinbajo as the leader Nigeria needs in 2023 and is determined to get him to declare an interest in running for the office of President as early as possible,” the statement read in part.
The Special Assistant to the Vice President on Media and Publicity, Laolu Akande, was said to have also disputed that his principal has set up a campaign office, saying any such report is “fake news”.
Pippa had further defended the emergent campaign structure, saying that the coalition is yet to notify the vice president on their mission, revealing that the members will create additional structure – The Progressive Project (TPP) – to galvanize the women, youth, and other social segments across the country to support the vice president to succeed President Buhari in 2023.
According to the statement: “Ours is, therefore, not a campaign office but a venue for coordination, handling of increasing volume of correspondence, and meetings in readiness for the time, when Vice President Yemi Osinbajo accedes to our request for him to run and consolidate gains made under President Muhammadu Buhari.”
The coalition disclosed that party stakeholders are available to coordinate the main campaign at the appropriate time. The coalition added that many APC members have been mounting pressure on Prof. Osinbajo to join the presidential race for Buhari’s successor in 2023.
The mobilization groups of the vice president and the APC national leader were earlier in the year engaged in verbal confrontation, arguing for the ascendancy of their principals in the 2023 presidential race. Many, however, perceive Tinubu as political godfather of Osinbajo.
Tinubu had in 2015 aspired for the vice-presidential ticket of the APC to pair Buhari, lost the opportunity over resistance against Muslim/Muslim joint tickets. Committed to retaining the vice president in the southwest to balance power sharing in the emergent APC, Tinubu nominated Osinbajo for the vice president to pair Buhari in the 2015 elections. The General Overseer (G.O) of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG), Pastor E.A Adeboye, was said to have witnessed Tinubu’s nomination of Osinbajo for vice president.
While Tinubu has indicated he will make formal statement in January on the 2023 presidential project, Vice President Osinbajo is also yet to make formal declaration for the 2023 presidential race.
The above compendium does not, however, disqualify the activities of the support and mobilization coalitions as representing the interests of their respective principals. Ad hoc campaign groups often go ahead of aspirants for significant political offices like the president, governor, etc. the groups test the popularity of their principals before their official entrance into the race.