The race for Nigeria's presidency might begin sooner than expected, as major actors have started aligning their interests for the role ahead of the next general elections in 2019.
This would be so if the rumours making the rounds that President Muhammadu Buhari might not contest for another term in office.
Though some of these politicians have not openly made their interests known, there are strong indications that they may be discreetly melting loose wall with foes and strengthening existing relationship with friends and allies.
NAIJ.com brings you the 6 Northerners who may replace Buhari in 2019:
1. Atiku Abubakar (a former vice-present of Nigeria and a former presidential candidate)
Abubakar was the second elected vice president of Nigeria from 1999 to 2007, on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) under the administration of former President Olusegun Obasanjo.
The former vice president left PDP to join the All Progressives Congress (APC) on February 2, 2014. There are reports that Atiku will be seeking to contest for the Nigerian presidency in 2019, on the party's platform.
This would be making it his fourth attempt as he had contested for presidency 3 times in 1992, 2006 and 2011.
2. Nuhu Ribadu (a former EFCC chairman and a former presidential candidate of the ACN)
Ribadu was the former chairman of the Economic Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and former presidential candidate of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN).
He lived in exile until 2010 when he returned to Nigeria and declared his intention to run for president 2011.
The former EFCC boss defected to the opposition, PDP, in 2014 with the intention to run for governorship of Adamawa state.
3. Nasir El-Rufai (a former FCT minister and the current Kaduna state governor)
The incumbent Kaduna state governor is rumoured to be the unofficial vice president of Nigeria.
A member of the APC, El-Rufai was the former director general of the Bureau of Public Enterprises. He was reportedly in self-exile during the administration of former President Umaru Yar'Adua.
El-Rufai was with President Buhari during the days of struggle in the now defunct Congress for Progressive Change (CPC). He is a close ally of Buhari. During the build up to the 2015 general election, it was learnt that the president practically forced him on Kaduna APC as there were other candidates in the party that could have clinched the ticket.
4. Sule Lamido (the two-time governor of Jigawa state)
The former Jigawa state governor served as the foreign minister of from 1999 to 2003 under the administration of former President Olusegun Obasanjo.
He was elected the governor of Jigawa state in April 2007. He is a member of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). He ran successfully for reelection on April 26, 2011.
5. Rabiu Kwankwaso (the two-time governor of Kano state and the current senator)
Kwankwaso served as the governor of Kano state from 1999 to 2003 and from 2011 to 2015. He lost his re-election bid to Governor Ibrahim Shekarau who was in office from 2003 to 2011.
In 2015, he ran for president on the APC platform but had lost the party’s presidential ticket to Muhammadu Buhari, ending in second place.
He then successfully contested the senatorial election to represent Kano State Central Senatorial District at the expiration of his tenure.
6. Aminu Masari (the current Katsina state governor)
He is quiet politician but very effective. Masari is a very experienced in the intricacies of the Nigeria’s political firmament. He is President Buhari’s kinsman and the present governor of Katsina state. He is also a former speaker of the House of Representatives. The governor was able to lead the house successfully without rancour between 2003 and 2007.
In the build up to the 2011 general elections, he ran unsuccessfully for his present position on the platform of the defunct CPC. Being President Buhari kinsman might be an advantage for him if he decides to launch his presidential ambition. He may through his calm disposition win the heart of Nigerians in the run up to 2019 general election.