By Emmanuel Aziken
The inauguration of Senator Joseph Biden as the 46th president of the United States of America came at a momentous point in the history of the country.
It came when a plague with a yet controverted pathway was ravishing the country. So remarkable has been the COVID-19 pandemic that for his inauguration, the 46th president had to wear a facemask throughout the ceremony.
In 100 years to come if the Lord tarries, the world at that time would be agape as to why people covered their faces at that important ceremony.
Biden’s inauguration also broke so many grounds.
Besides being the oldest person elected to the office, Biden became the second Roman Catholic to be inaugurated as president of the United States after President John Kennedy.
So buried is the issue of religion in America today, that unlike 1960 when Senator Kennedy emerged as Democratic presidential nominee, that his religion and potential inclination to the Vatican were not issues for the campaign.
It was also the second time in a generation that two senators were elected as president and vice-president of the United States. It followed the landmark election of Senators Barack Obama and Biden as president and vice-president in 2008.
Indeed, before Obama, the last senator to have been elected as president was Senator Richard Nixon in 1968.
In the period from Kennedy, five governors including Lyndon Johnson,1964; Jimmy Carter, 1976; Ronald Reagan, 1980; Bill Clinton 1992 and George W 2000; were elected as president.
Biden’s election was also remarkable in being the first vice-president after President George Bush Snr to win a presidential election at the first attempt. Nixon, also a former vice-president, was before now the last person to have won the presidency after leaving office as vice-president.
President Bush Snr remains the only vice-president in memorable history to have won a presidential election as an incumbent.
Until George Bush Snr, the vice-presidency was seen as a curse where climbing on to the presidency was seen as almost impossible.
In Nigeria, it is the same snare that has also dogged the likes of Atiku Abubakar and presently, Yemi Osinbajo.
Biden could have followed President Bush Snr. in the path of history, but had to sit out the 2016 election because of the death of his son, Beau in 2015 just before that election session.
His election as president coming after nearly 40 years as a senator and without holding office as governor further consolidates the fading influence of governors in presidential elections. Senators had in the past sought out powerful governors with strong local election machines in states with high electoral college votes to help them win.
That was the wisdom in Senator Kennedy in 1960 pairing with the powerful Texas governor, Lyndon Johnson. Kennedy was from Massachusetts, a state with modest electoral votes.
In 2008 Senator Barack Obama with his oratory picked Biden to ride over Senator John McCain. What was perhaps McCain’s Achilles’ heel was perhaps picking a woman governor from the very remote state of Alaska who could only add conservative flavour to the ticket.
Despite her high flying successes as a mother, conservative icon, athlete, and governor, Mrs Sarah Palin was unable to add much in terms of votes given her state’s sparse electoral college votes.
The ascent of Senators Biden and Kamala Harris as president and vice-president draws parallels with the difficult situation of Nigerian senators who under existing situations would find it difficult pulling such feats.
Indeed, Nigerian senators are today at the beck and call of their governors. Any senator, who even if qualified, tries to run for the presidency would be seen as trying to overreach himself and be properly given enough political troubles at home to discomfit such an aspiration.
Also, because of the way money is pulled into campaigns, senators who do not have multi-billion naira votes are essentially disadvantaged and overwhelmed by incumbent governors and former governors.
However, as of today, there are a few exceptions to this rule. Senators Ibikunle Amosun, Ahmad Lawan, and Kasshim Shettima are three prospective presidential hopefuls whose names are mentioned in the background among possible 2023 presidential hopefuls.
Amosun who is arguably the closest Yoruba politician to President Muhammadu Buhari is yet to make his move. Sources say that the only thing that may be a challenge to Amosun is the matter of religion, him being a Muslim. Even though married to a Christian and with little evidence of religious bigotry in his politics, your correspondent understands that his friend Buhari, may have dissuaded him on account of the reported search for a Christian to be at the top of the APC 2023 ticket.
Senator Shettima who performed creditably as governor of Borno State also has the advantage of helping Buhari pull off millions of votes in 2015 and 2019 (despite the insurgency) and also of installing one of the best governors of the present dispensation in the person of Babagana Zulum.
Senator Lawan, who is about the longest surviving member of the National Assembly, having been in the National Assembly since 1999, has the influence of the office as Senate President as a catapult. For Shettima and Lawan, the opportunity for them could come as speculated in the last minute if the party succumbs to pressure to open up the All Progressives Congress, APC primary to zones that have not produced the presidency.
With many in the PDP looking towards Atiku Abubakar, what better reason would Buhari have to back a Northern candidate in pushing forward an APC candidate from the Northeast to stop Atiku.
But it would most certainly neither be Lawan nor Shettima who are far from the family and the cabal.