By ETEBONG AKPAN
Barring any last minute change, the campaigns for the 2023 elections begin today all over the country. A release by the chairman, Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Prof Mamamud Yakubu says campaigns in public by political parties would officially commence 28th September,2022 (today) as provided by Sec.94(1) of the Electoral Act 2022. A total of 18 political parties have presented candidates for the election with former Lagos State governor, Bola Tinubu, former vice President, Atiku Abubakar, former Anambra State governor,Peter Obi and former Kano State governor, Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso as potential front runners.
Tinubu, the emi lokan ambassador is the candidate of the ruling All Progressive Congress, APC while former vice president Atiku Abubakar who will be on the ballot for the fourth time and twice on the PDP platform is the candidate of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP candidate. Dr Peter Obi,; the social media sensation is contesting on the platform of the Labour Party while Rabiu Musa kwankwaso is the standard bearer of the little known New Nigeria Peoples Party, NNPP. Others are there probably to fulfil their long term desire of being addressed as ‘presidential candidates.’ This analysis will however focus on the real three front runners of BAT, Obi and Atiku.
Former vice president Atiku Abubakar served as the number two man to the then President Obasanjo from 199 to 2006. He however did not succeed his boss as it would have been due to the intractable politics that characterised the end of their tenure. In short he survived being impeached because the lopsided political geography of Nigeria. During the Obasanjo transition, he went into alliance with the then Lagos state governor , Bola Tinubu . The alliance offered him the presidential ticket of the Action Congress, AC but it was not enough for him to defeat the then preferred PDP presidential candidate , Umaru Musa Yardua. He made another attempt in 2011 but was brushed aside by Yardua’s successor, President Goodluck Jonathan but he never relented. He ganged up with some northern elements in the PDP led to the formation of a faction out of the PDP called nPDP, an acronym for new PDP. Members of the rebellious factions apart from himself were, Sule Lamido, Babangida Aliyu, Musa Kwankwaso, Rotimi Amaechi, Aminu Tambuwal, Yakubu Dogara, Bukola Saraki and Buba Galadima . They negotiated and emptied themselves into the newly formed APC though LAmido And Aliyu stayed back to see to the defeat of President Jonathan at the poll. Their romance with APC however was short lived as Atiku’s attempt to grab the party’s presidential ticket was rebuffed by his former ally; Tinubu who preferred the serial presidential loser; Mohammedu Bauhari as the party’s standard bearer for the 2015 presidential election. Buhari went on to win the election but Atiku was soon dumped. Saraki had a tough road to the senate presidency and only survived for the four years he held sway by pure political brinkmanship. Not done , Atiku returned to his vomit , the PDP to seek the 2019 presidential ticket where he flocked his former ally, Aminu Tambuwal who by now has returned to the PDP as the governor of Sokoto state. He again lost to Buhari and the APC ,.not done with his desire to govern Nigeria, Atiku returned again this year to pulled a stunt on the Rivers State governor, Nyesom Nwike . The palace coup against Wike at the PDP presidential primary has turned out to be one of the greatest undoing of the PDP as the presidential campaigns kicks off today across the country. At the moment, the PDP is going into the campaign with a divided house with the Wike group insisting that the national chairman of the party, Iyorchia Ayu must resign to complement the north south divide that governs the activities of the PDP. But the Atiku’s camp is adamant insisting that Ayu can only be removed through the normal legal process. So far, chieftains of the party in the Wike’s camp have withdrawn their membership from the PDP presidential campaign council.
BOLA AHMED TINUBU
The emi lokan exponent trashed notable names like Ahmed Lawan, Yemi Osibanjo, Rotimi Amaechi, Rochas Okorocha anda host of others to clinch the ruling APC presidential ticket. His emergence though transparent has not gone down well with some members of his party. But the Jagagban who is touted as the candidate to beat in the race for Aso rock is unperturbed even with the poor showing of APC in the Ogun governorship election. BAT as he is fondly called has chosen not to talk much after surviving a tsunamic like backlash from the Christian community in the country following his choice of Kashim Shetima , a former Borno state governor as his running mate. Shetima like BAT is a Moslem from the North East though Tinubu hails from the South West. The Muslim/Muslim ticket is seen as an aberration in certain quarters across the country but the so far it seems the APC is not concerned about it. This has caused serious rancour among Christians in APC especially from the north east who feels not only marginalised but relegated to the background both in the party and the region.
The APC campaign council which was supposed to be unveiled yesterday was cancelled with no cogent reason. On Monday, Afenifere, a pan socio cultural Yoruba group openly endorsed the candidate of the Labour Party, Peter Obi instead of Tinubu. The group through its spokesperson hinged their support on the grounds that it was only the Labour Party candidate that has explained in detail what it intends to do if voted into power especially on the issue of restructuring which Afenifere holds so dear.
BAT however is having a roller coaster as APC governors up north are at least in the surface have identify with his candidature. The support of the APC governors and the presidency therefore means that funding will not be the headache of APC in this election. However, the snag is that the party has created more poor people in Nigeria than what it inherited from the PDP administration in 2015. Almost all the promise of the APC have gone south with the dollar it inherited at N197 is now closing in on N800. The only thing that is real about the APC and its government is the top to bottom promised General Buhari vowed to put Nigerians into.
The seeming lack of sincerity in the PDP as it concerns the zoning of the presidency to the south east is what forced Obi to leave the party he joined on the eve of former President Goodluck Jonathan second term bid. He changed the political narrative in the country when he dumped the PDP for the LP. Nigerians who were complaining of the known PDP and the failed APC heaved a sigh of relieve when he offered the needed alternative. Therefore from the usual two horse race , Obi has offered the third leg of the alternative making the battle more competitive . The Labour Party candidate apart being the third force has taken over the social media space though elements of the two major political parties seem to have dismissed his popularity with the wave of hand. But the more they try to dismiss his chances, the more LP is driving them crazy.
Initially, he was dismissed on the ground that the party has no structure but it has demonstrated over the months that people are the major structures needed for an election. The mass influx of new young voters during the last continuous voter registration exercise by INEC has rubbished that claim that elections are not worn on the social media. At the moment the federal government is doing everything it can to deny the party of funding as it has threatened to sanction it for receiving funding from overseas. The party has however come out to deny soliciting for funding from the Diasporas. It however admitted going outside the country to present its manifesto to Nigerians in the Diasporas stressing that this did not amount to soliciting for funds to execute the campaigns.
The position of the federal government has however strengthen Nigerians outside the country to increase their moral support to the OBIDIENT MOVEMENT which has penetrated every part of the country especially the urban areas.
The only snag about the Obidient movement is that everything seems to revolve round the presidential and vice presidential candidates of the party. Most of others contesting for one office or the other on the party platform do not really have much to add to the movement rather they are gaining by association.
The New Nigeria Peoples Party, NNPP candidate is only a distraction to the Atiku ticket. The former defence minister is suffering from a superiority complex that is why he refused to deputised for Obi in the Labour Party. The Fulani born former Kano state governor through his Kwankwasiya Movement is having an illusion of being the darling of the northern mob. But election results over the years have shown that the bulk of northern votes most of the times usually go to General Buhari especially in the north west . kwankwaso was only popular in his native Kano but since the coming of Abdullahi Ganduje , his former deputy as the state governor, his influence in Kano politics has paled in significance.
I So many factors will determine the outcome of this election. The normal Nigerian political fault lines of religion, ethnicity and class will be exploited to the fullest. The bulk of votes from the North West will go to Tinubu because of the Buhari influence but it is too early to predict the final outcome as the North Westhas suffered the worst form of insecurity under the Buhari led administration. One thing is however sure, the uninformed northern masses will still rally round the candidate that Mallam Geskia will direct them to vote for .To them the Moslem/ Moslem ticket is a plus and a continuation of the Islamization agenda of the north. But the educated class may be swayed by logic to go for Obi because of his running mate, Baba Ahmed Datti who incidentally comes from the North West like Buhari, Datti and Kwankwaso. Kasshim Shetima on the other hand will corner the bulk of the Kanuri votes in Borno and Yobe and pick the necessary spread in other north east states to skim out Atiku.Tinubu on his own will corner more than 65 per cent of the south west votes with inroads in places like Cross River and Edo,while the south east which Atiku has banged on may likely go OBIDIENT including Lagos because of the Igbo population there. And because of the new voting arraignment by INEC and the unresolved problem in PDP, Peter Obi could encroached reasonably into Rivers State , Benue and Oyo states thus forcing a rerun which may not include PDP.