The Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi. has finally announced his intention to try and succeed President Muhammadu Buhari in 2023. He, along with Vice President Yemi Osinbajo — who has just announced this morning that he will run — and Ekiti State’s Governor Kayode Fayemi who has not yet done so, may have Buhari’s support. Amaechi’s entry has raised the stakes in the race to succeed the president.

Amaechi was a key figure in Buhari’s victory in the 2015 national elections. His defection from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to the then-opposition All Progressives Congress (APC), along with four other governors, played a critical role in strengthening the APC and ultimately led to its victory. He and the APC’s current national leader, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, were also the Buhari campaign’s main financiers in 2015 and this support has now earned him the title of ‘the trusted one’ in Buhari’s Katsina State hometown of Daura.

Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, announces that he will run in 2023

Amaechi is, however, not as well-liked in the South as he is in the North. He is widely regarded as having betrayed former President Goodluck Jonathan in order to support Buhari in 2015. He has also been unable to exert any significant influence on local elections in Rivers State where he had been governor in 2007-2015. If he is given the APC’s presidential ticket he will have to work very hard to gain southern support.

Amaechi’s entry into the race to succeed President Buhari — and Osinbajo’s announcement this morning which we will discuss next week — poses a direct threat to the ambitions of Tinubu, who had been widely regarded as the frontrunner for the APC’s presidential ticket. Besides Tinubu, he is the only other candidate who can claim to have played a key role in Buhari’s 2015 victory, and they can therefore argue that they deserve to be rewarded for their efforts. 

Tinubu is already said to be in talks with the Social Democratic Party (SDP) about using its platform to pursue his presidential ambitions if the APC rejects him. Although his close associates deny this, Tinubu is almost certainly considering his options as it becomes increasingly unlikely that he will be offered the APC ticket.

In this week’s Presidential Election Tracker, the PDP is still undecided about whether to zone the party’s presidential slot to the South or leave it open. This very tricky decision is likely to put the party’s unity to the test and could fracture it before 2023.

On the security front, President Buhari has sent a letter to the House of Representatives in which he reduced the government’s forecast for 2022’s average oil production target from 1.883 million b/d to 1.6000 million b/d. This is largely because of the current massive scale of crude oil theft in the Niger Delta, which the authorities have been unable to stop. Unless it can do so the Federal Government will lose billions of dollars in potential oil export revenues just at the same time as oil prices have risen to over US$100 a barrel. 

This excerpt is taken from Nigeria Politics & Security, our weekly intelligence report on Nigeria. Click here to receive a free sample copy.