There are 177 days until the general election of 2014, which will be preceded on Saturday, February 25, by the presidential primary. Even though the actual start of the presidential campaign has not yet occurred, the current standing of the major contenders and their parties, as determined by the public’s view, is still too close to call.
Eight candidates emerged and are expected to appear on the ballot in the 2019 presidential election after the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) deadline of June 9 for political parties to choose their standard bearers.
They are Omoyele Sowore, African Action Congress (AAC), Peter Obi, Labour Party (LP), Adewole Adebayo, Social Democratic Party (SDP), Kola Abiola, Peoples Redemption Party (PRP), Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP), Malik Ado-Ibrahim, Young Progressives Party (YPP), Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, All Progressives Congress (APC), and (PDP).
Three of the eight candidates listed by INEC have distinguished themselves from the rest, and they have subsequently taken the lead in networking, crowd-pulling, and awareness-raising—if only temporarily.
Atiku of the PDP, Tinubu of the APC, and Obi of the LP are the three candidates, but Kwankwaso of the NNPP is on the outer rim and might assist determine the fate of any of the candidates if he ultimately decides to align or make alliances.
The scorecard of the APC administration, which includes the continuing insecurity, the subpar economic performance, and the growth in corruption, are some of the issues that could count, shape, and swing the equation in favor of the contenders. Sadly, they were the key campaign themes and the three things that helped the APC administration win the 2015 election.
While the candidates’ ages are also an important consideration, Tinubu and Atiku have a backup plan in their running partners. In other words, Ifeanyi Okowa and Kashim Shettima would be considered as major assets to the joint ticket by anyone voting for Atiku or Tinubu, respectively.
According to the timeline and calendar of events provided by INEC, the official campaign kickoff is still a few days away. The three most well-known contenders have not yet begun focusing their debates on the pressing challenges facing the country right now.
It’s interesting to note that the 2023 election is starting to resemble the 1979 election, which resulted in regional champions for parties like the Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN), National Party of Nigeria (NPN), Nigerian Peoples Party (NPP), and the Great Nigerian Peoples Party (GNPP).
There were just 19 states in 1979, but there are now 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT). The nation’s six geopolitical zones were likewise nonexistent in 1979.
In the 1979 election, the North and the South were two separate entities. However, the geopolitical zones, which now vote differently, albeit with mostly predictable patterns, have drastically altered the calculations. However, there is a lot of regional champion support in this election, which many people feel is bad for maintaining the country’s unity.
When Atiku recently suggested that, if elected president, he may consider a Government of National Unity (GNU), which appears to be the only solace after the general election in 2023, he may have recognized this threat.
However, given the difficulties of winning the presidential election as well as the mechanics of the current party-based campaign institutions, it is still too early to declare a winner. This suggests that a decisive win might not be attainable. A unity administration could finally prevent the impending political inferno.
For instance, APC and PDP are at odds in the North-West. With the exception of Zamfara, which is essentially the only APC state that is currently well-organized and where the warring groups have reconciled, the region appears secure for PDP, but the current internal problems in APC would play the ruling party against itself.
This suggests that there could be a three-horse race in Kano, with Kwankwaso likely to support Tinubu or Atiku in the historic city. Kano believes that Kwankwaso is the stunning bride. However, with the scenario reports, other states like Kebbi, Jigawa, Katsina, Sokoto, and Kaduna are already pitching for the PDP.
In addition to internal inconsistencies, Tinubu’s pick of a Kanuri man as his running partner is undoubtedly another element that could impact the North-West election, despite the Kanuri’s very low voting percentage in comparison to the Hausa/Fulani in the region. The issue might not lie with the APC Muslim-Muslim ticket. However, the LP has no doubt had a negligible impact here, but the NNPP would have helped shape the Kano battle.
Due to the Kashim Shettima factor, even though they are primarily from Borno, his state, the APC may be able to secure all of the Kanuri votes in the North-east, where the PDP may also accept the number one position instead of the number two the ruling party is proposing. The Hausa/Fulani community, however, might disregard this voting tendency in other states in the zone.
For instance, PDP states include Bauchi, Adamawa, and Taraba. The only time Bauchi turned around was in 2015, when Isa Yuguda, a former governor of the state, is said to have engaged in anti-party actions. Both LP and NNPP are unimportant in this situation.
Although the Middle Belt, notably Benue, is now grudgingly anti-APC due to the heat of insecurity it has experienced in almost eight years of the current administration, the North-central region is expected to be the swing region.
Intriguingly, Rev. Fr. Hyacinth Alia of the APC is apparently the most well-liked candidate for governor of Benue, which presents a challenge for the PDP in the state. However, some of the states in the zone, including Kwara and Niger, might go either way, with the majority swinging in the PDP’s favor. Both the LP and the NNPP have no chance in this situation.
APC’s strongest region and Tinubu’s main base is in the south-west. However, all the states in this zone, including Lagos, where the LP is anticipated to pull some surprises, will either have a three- or two-horse race. The PDP will adamantly assert itself, while Tinubu will undoubtedly maintain his control on the South-west. However, the Obi factor could limit his advances.
For instance, while the younger generation, who are essentially the children of the elite, will probably vote for Obi, their parents, who belong to the elder generation, will probably support the APC or PDP. However, because rural residents are familiar with the PDP and the APC emblems, their voting behavior will not be reproduced there.
Regarding the South-South and the South-East, these are certainly traditional PDP regions, but regrettably, they have been infiltrated by the OBIdient movement and support for an Igbo president.
This implies that there will only be two contenders in the South-South and South-East battles, with the APC guaranteed to fall to the bottom.
Since the APC frequently downplays its voter strength, particularly that of the South-east, it is possible that it won’t even bother to consider the two zones.
However, given that Nyesom Wike, the governor of Rivers State, is thought to have influence in some of the states, it is crucial to consider how the conflict between Wike and the PDP leadership may affect the two zones outside of Rivers.
If the loose ends are not tidied up and ranks are not closed to attain one house before the elections, this could indicate an unforeseen opportunity for APC in the region. Of course, this does not ignore the fact that many PDP stakeholders have written off Wike’s situation as isolated and unlikely to harm the party’s chances, unless he pushes too far.
Overall, depending on how much harm the OBIdient movement or the NNPP incursion does to either of them, Atiku or Tinubu would likely win the general election next year. Additionally, it is anticipated that the existing interpretation will change once the presidential campaigning gets underway and the pitch in each camp reaches a clear conclusion.
Pathway to Their Victories
The PDP presidential candidate and former vice president has been in the public eye for a while, thus concerns about his experience, aptitude, and ability do not apply to him. But “time and chance” are impeding what seems to be his final bid for the presidency.
Atiku won the PDP nomination at a time when all southerners agreed that after President Muhammadu Buhari’s eight years in office, the presidency should go back to them. The south would still be dissatisfied with an Atiku candidacy, despite the fact that the claim that zoning is solely a party issue is true and that extrapolating the PDP’s time in power does not truly eliminate it from the race.
To that end, among other things, the PDP candidate will go above and beyond what he is now doing to appease the south and reassure the zone that they would not be demoted in the grand scheme of things. To be able to gain the angry south’s trust, he must not only make promises that speak to his authenticity and integrity but also ones that they can personally attest to. If Atiku is successful in genuinely appeasing the South and they remain appeased, the election may be his to lose.
It is well known that Bola Tinubu, the APC candidate, has baggage from his personal life. But that isn’t the obstacle in his path. Tinubu must first rid himself of the attitude of entitlement known as “emi lo kan.” It is very egotistical. No one person or group of people has exclusive rights to the President of Nigeria. Many people already find such claim to be offensive.
The person who, in a fit of rage, introduced those words into the political lexicon of the country—albeit in the Yoruba language—must be making a conscious effort on his part to put an end to the offensive interpretation of it, despite the fact that his handlers are doing a good job of trying to soften the manner in which it was said and quickly turn it into some sort of joke.
But more importantly, he hasn’t provided a strong justification for his preference for a Muslim-Muslim ticket. The fact that he chose the same faith ticket based on ability and competence is even more disrespectful to Christians in the North specifically and to the Christian community as a whole. That was a poor justification for a decision that many regarded as being insensitive to the mood of the country and her present circumstances.
Another equally important and mandatory step on Tinubu’s path to victory is to unify the party across all the states of the federation and win one house before to the election. The APC family is in crisis and disorder nationwide, which is why the party is seeing impossibly high defection rates virtually every day. Hurt people exist. While the majority of National Assembly members who were not re-elected are so enraged that many of them purposefully stayed back to destroy the party, former governors are fighting with their successors. Before the elections, he needs to move rapidly, form a tight group, and make sure everyone is well. It is crucial to him. At the present, APC is not one.
Last but not least, the APC name is currently in ruins. The first man who operated the vehicle is on the verge of immobilizing it. The party needs to seriously clean up its image. Yes, the Buhari administration has made significant progress in the building of infrastructure, but what good are these things in light of the rising levels of institutional corruption, horrible economic conditions, and rising insecurity? The platform must be saved, and Tinubu cannot disassociate himself from the Buhari name. The worse things go, the more he does that. At the very least, he must inherit it, explain their difficulties, and provide hope. It is the best course of action.
With the exception of a few urban areas where social media savvy Nigerians can wreak havoc from their keyboards, Obi is not well known in many rural areas of the country, away from the clamor of the OBIdients cascading the political firmament of the nation. National politics, however, rely primarily on a system that has been tried and tested through time and is resilient enough to endure a barrage of unanticipated events.
Obi found it interesting and encouraging that Nigerians at home and abroad had decided to fundraise for him, with proposals to raise $150 million and N100 billion for his campaigns. The LP candidate and his team would only need to properly organize, build up structures across the more than 8,809 wards in the nation, and be prepared to staff the more than 119,973 polling places there.
This is not something that can be accomplished easily and calls for working practically nonstop. Otherwise, Obi is not a household name in the country’s primary vote-producing regions, which is what sets a federal election apart from a regional or provincial one. The OBIdients shouldn’t be misled into thinking that the sparse crowding in a select areas is some sort of popularity test. In light of Buhari’s movement in the run-up to the 2015 elections, theirs is a child’s game.