While the winners in the general elections are making plans for their swearing-in ceremonies, how to form their governments, and fine-tuning policies and programmes, the losers will be counting their losses and mapping out plans for escaping from looming political wilderness
By Temidayo Akinboyo
The 2023 general elections are over, save for some supplementary polls arising from inconclusive elections that have been scheduled for 15 April by INEC. The country has a new president-elect and a vice president-elect on the platform of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC). They will be sworn into office on 29 May, thus drawing the curtain on the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari.
Those who want to be principal officials of the 10th National Assembly have started declaring their intentions spinning all kinds of permutations and making subterranean alignments and realignments even when the APC is yet to decide which of the geopolitical zones will produce the principal officials, especially the Senate President and Speaker of the House of Representatives. The ruling party has simple majority control in the two chambers.
At the sub-national level, 26 new governors-elect and deputy governors-elect as well as state lawmakers in all the 36 states of the federation have also emerged. Two states, Adamawa and Kebbi, have inconclusive governorship elections, which are among those to be settled on 15 April.
Former senate president, Senator Bukola Saraki.
By the time the results of the 2019 elections were announced, the PDP was swept out of power by the APC, leaving nothing for Mr Saraki, who is the leader of the dynasty, bequeathed to him by his late father, Olusola Saraki. Again, ‘Otoge part two’ also reaffirmed what happened in 2019 in the just concluded 2023 general elections as the APC again proved its mettle as the ruling party in the state.
There are commentators who say that is the end of the Saraki dynasty in the state as new forces have completely taken over the leadership of the state. As far as the moment is concerned, they are correct but the dynasty may yet make a comeback through another Saraki in the future.
While losing at home may be considered a temporary setback, the PDP also lost out in the presidential election, which implies that Mr Saraki, a former two-term governor of Kwara State, has no secure political future in the interim and some time to come. It may also be the beginning of the end for him as far as partisan politics is concerned.
The immediate past minister of transportation has been holding one political office after the other since the country returned to civil rule in 1999.
He was speaker of the Rivers State House of Assembly for two terms and also became governor of the state for two terms of eight years, succeeding his erstwhile godfather, Peter Odili, who facilitated his entry into partisan politics.
Just while he was about to serve out his second term in office, he teamed up to form the APC, which cruised to power in the historic 2015 elections which saw Muhammadu Buhari defeating the then-incumbent President, Goodluck Jonathan of the PDP.
Mr Buhari tapped Mr Amaechi to be his transportation minister, a position he held until 2022 when he resigned to participate in the APC presidential primaries, which he lost to Mr Tinubu.
From 2015 till date, the APC under his firm control has been playing second-fiddle to the ruling PDP in Rivers State. The APC failed to fly in 2019 and was also rolled over by the PDP in the 2023 general elections.
His preferred candidate, Tonye Cole, the governorship candidate of the APC, came a distant second to the winner of the election, Sim Fubara, the candidate of the PDP, backed by the outgoing governor of the state, Nyesom Wike.
Mr Amaechi, who was the DG of the Buhari campaign in 2015 and 2019 respectively, however, glaringly stayed away from the presidential campaign of the APC in 2023 and has also made utterances that could be taken as a shot fired at Mr Tinubu.
He has no immediate political future either at home or at the national level as it does not appear he will have a role to play in the Tinubu presidency. His followers back in Rivers may also begin to find new alignments or nests to pursue their political ambitions.
The APC may also begin to find a new rallying figure for its faithful in the oil-rich state as Mr Amaechi does not seem to have the necessary gravitas to make the party a winning platform in the state.
Credit must be given to Sule Lamido in a way because he has remained consistent with the PDP since its inception, even when it was tempting to jump ship, especially in 2014.
However, there does not seem to be much left for him to mine politically again as he failed on 18 March to install his son as the governor of Jigawa State, a state he ruled for two terms as governor.
His son, Mustapha Lamido, lost to the candidate of the ruling APC in the governorship election in the state. The older Lamido will also not find any refuge at the national level after Atiku lost the presidential election.
He may just have to resign to being an ‘elder statesman’ even as his time in the political limelight begins to dim.
Although he made a last-minute face-saving effort to campaign for the reelection of Babajide Sanwo-Olu as Lagos State governor, Rauf Aregbesola, interior minister, will find it difficult to regain his pride of place in the inner caucus of the president-elect, Bola Tinubu, his estranged political mentor and leader.
Mr Aregbesola, a former two-term governor of Osun State, was a strong ally of Mr Tinubu for years until their relationship went south because of former Governor Gboyega Oyetola, a nephew of the president-elect.
The interior minister did not campaign for Mr Tinubu during the electioneering and was even in Saudi Arabia to perform a lesser hajj when the presidential election was held.
Although efforts have been made to reconcile the erstwhile political jolly good fellows, it does not appear their relationship will ever be the same again because so many waters have passed under the bridge between them. Anyway, in political relationships, never say never.
In Osun, the APC is polarised between Mr Oyetola and Mr Aregbesola. In fact, the in-fighting between the two political gladiators, observers said, contributed significantly to the dislodgement of the party from power by the PDP.
For now, Mr Oyetola is the leader of the dominant faction of the party in Osun even as he is in court to retrieve his mandate which he claimed was stolen by the PDP. It is believed the president-elect will relate more with him than Mr Aregbesola when he is sworn in as president.
In the same vein, party leaders in Lagos will also find it difficult to re-embrace Mr Aregbesola who was until recently considered the second-in-command to Mr Tinubu in the leadership hierarchy of the party in the state.
The only way Atiku can make a quick political comeback is if he succeeds in his challenge of the victory of the president-elect, Mr Tinubu, in court.
Anything short of that may end his political career spanning over three decades and his long quest to become Nigeria’s president completely eclipsed.
Other things being equal, by the time Mr Tinubu would have completed his tenure, Atiku may just be somewhere outside the country or within tending to his chain of businesses with politics no longer on the card for him.
The outgoing Abia State governor faces a gloomy political future at the moment as far as the PDP is concerned. Will he port to the APC to at least find some respite? No one knows what his options are as of now.
Governor Okezie Ikpeazu, outgoing Abia State governor
Governor Okezie Ikpeazu, outgoing Abia State governor
He lost his attempt to go to the Senate and also failed to install a successor as the state fell to the Labour Party in the 18th March election.
He is one of the biggest losers in the G-5, a group of PDP governors who were against the presidential candidate of the party in the 25th February election. Samuel Ortom of Benue State shares a similar fate with him. That of the Enugu Governor, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, is a bit different. Although he lost his senatorial bid, he was able to retain the state for the PDP at the governorship level. The result is being contested by the Labour Party in any case.
It will take a while before the PDP can recover in Abia State, given the way it was battered in the general elections. Unfortunately, Mr Ikpeazu has the ill luck of being the governor under whose watch the PDP slipped out of dominant control of the political leadership in the state.
He will probably be having a multitude of ideas running riot in his mind on how best to move on from his colossal loss at the polls.
The outgoing senator for Ogun Central District tried all he could, just as he did in 2019, to ensure Dapo Abiodun did not win the 2023 governorship election.
Despite being in the APC as Mr Abiodun, Mr Amosun, a former two-term governor of the state, campaigned openly and vehemently against the governor seeking reelection.
The former governor threw his weight behind the candidate of the ADC, Biyi Otegbeye, who hails from Ogun West, and who came third in the election.
Although he supported and campaigned for Mr Tinubu who later emerged as the president-elect, he is not considered one of the major power brokers who will have the ears of the president post 29 May.
He has been governor and senator and attempted to become president. What else will he consider doing now when the current political variables do not seem to be favourable to him? Hang up his boots and call it quits with politics? Only he will decide.