By ETIM ETIM
President Muhammadu Buhari has given the clearest indication yet that he intends to endorse Vice President Yemi Osinbajo as his successor during the National Convention. The President spoke at a meeting with the 22 APC governors this afternoon at the State House, just before he travelled to Spain on official visit. APC’s National Chairman, Senator Adamu Abdullai, was also at the meeting. Buhari told the governors that the party had always encouraged second-term governors to implement a succession plan and promote a successor; and so he too had picked his preferred successor, as part of his exit plan. ‘’In keeping with the established internal policies of the Party and as we approach the Convention in a few days, therefore, I wish to solicit the reciprocity and support of the Governors and other stakeholders in picking my successor, who would fly the flag of our party for election into the office of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in 2023’’, President Buhari said.
The President noted that it is essential for him to pick a successor so as to ensure victory at next year’s election and continuity of his administration’s agenda. He said: ‘’Our objective must be the victory of our party and our choice of candidate must be someone who would give the Nigerian masses a sense of victory and confidence even before the elections’’. I understand that as soon as he returns to the country on Friday, June 3, President Buhari will meet with other stakeholders to ‘’make his choice well known’’.
Although many Nigerians, especially APC members, have always suspected that the President would be supporting the Vice President, this is the first time he has given such a hint publicly and unmistakably. It is also instructive that of all the over 22 presidential aspirants in the party, it is only the VP that has been campaigning on the theme of continuity of this administration’s policies and programmes. In fact, most other aspirants are obliquely distancing themselves from the administration. Notably, Alhaji Bola Tinubu has even lampooned the President at a rally in Lagos for what he termed ‘’disappointing performance’’.
Conscious of these internal disaffections, the Nigerian leader urged the governors to stay united, focused and determined to win the election. His words: ‘’As we approach the Convention, I appeal to all of you to allow our interests to converge, our focus to remain on the changing dynamics of our environment, the expectations of our citizens and the global community. Our objective must be the victory of our party and our choice of candidate must be someone who would give the Nigerian masses a sense of victory and confidence even before the elections’’.
There have been celebrations among supporters of the Vice President since the President’s speech this afternoon. ‘’It has always been clear to us that the VP is Baba’s preferred choice. Osinbajo has sterling qualities; has been a loyal partner to the President and he will easily defeat the PDP nominee’’, said Dr Uduak Umoh, a university professor in Uyo, to this writer.