Attacks on opposition, sadly, have continued to be a feature of political campaigns in the country. On Saturday February 11, Labour Party did its mega rally and unknown hooligans from opposition party caused a fracas few kilometers to the venue of the rally. Supporters of Peter Obi, the party’s presidential candidate, were attacked with four persons reportedly injured. The attack was confirmed by the spokesperson for the Obi-Datti Campaign Committee, Tanko Yunusa, in a voice note.
A few weeks ago, the convoy of Atiku Abubakar, presidential candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) was attacked on two different occasions. The first time was in Kaduna. Thugs had invaded the PDP campaign rally and attacked his supporters, many of whom were injured.
The second time, himself and his campaign team were on their way to Ramat Square in Borno when they were attacked by suspected political thugs. In a report given by his campaign spokesperson, Senator Dino Melaye, one person was killed, 74 persons were injured and over 100 cars were vandalized. All these happened in APC governed states and as expected Atiku’s campaign team blamed the opposition party, claiming that APC sponsored the thugs.
The presidential candidates of the three major political parties are friends behind closed doors. An ex-governor of a state once said politicians are friends who fight in public, but shake hands in private. The logic is simple, their feud is mainly for the seat of power, not deep-rooted, and with no malicious intents.
It is therefore unreasonable for innocent supporters to create enemies over their choice candidates, or allow themselves to be used as thugs.
The least among the three have held political positions for at least eight years, have successful businesses and are billionaires. Whatever the outcome of the election they have nothing to lose. So why the needless fights!.
The general elections will commence on the 25th of February 2023, and will kickstart with the presidential, national assembly elections. That is in few days time. Nigerians will decide their president for the next four years.
Eighteen candidates are contesting for the seat of the president. Among the candidates there are three leading contenders, Bola Ahmed Tinubu of the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC), Abubakar Atiku of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Peter Obi of Labour Party (LP). The baton is obviously among these three.
The three candidates have the capacity in terms of political experience, educational qualification and financial capacity to lead Nigeria for the next four years. However there are underlying factors that will determine the victory of one of the three leading contenders and the number of votes each will amass.
Tinubu is 70 years old while his running mate Shettima Kashim is 55 years old. Abubakar Atiku is 75 years old while his running mate Okowa Arthur Ifeanyi is 63 years old. Peter Obi is 61 years old while his running mate Ahmed Yusuf Datti is 53 years old.
Age they say is justnumbers, but the fact that Peter Obi and Yusuf Datti are the youngest team contesting for the presidency remains valid, while Abubakar Atiku and Okowa Arthur Ifeanyi are the oldest team among the three leading contenders. Tinubub is 70 years old on paper which makes him and his running mate, Shettima, the second oldest running team.
Tinubu is 70 years old on paper even though he appears older. His actual age has continued to generate controversy from different quarters. However the controversy seems to be dying down after he emerged the presidential candidate of his party. Being a political godfather, Tinubu’s candidacy has created a lingering suspense as to who will win the presidential election among the three leading contenders. However his candidacy has some flaws which is obvious to the electorate.
Poor performance of the APC in the last 8 years
Tinubu is APC’s national leader, and the party has failed in aspects of economy and security, even though it achieved some feats in infrastructure. Nigeria is being ruled by APC in the last eight years and the economy has experienced ground breaking setbacks.
As at 2015 a dollar exchanged for N181 at the official market. But in February 2023 a dollar exchanged for N460. The prices of commodities have more than doubled in the last eight years. The cost of a bag of rice ranged between N8,500 to N9,000 in 2015. Whereas in 2023 a bag of rice cost N36,000 to N40 000. ‘Premium Motor Spirit’, petrol was sold at N65 per litre in 2015, it is now sold at N290 per litre.
Another flaw of the outgoing government is that it does not toerate criticisms. Countless times citizens have been arrested for complaining about President Muhammad Buhari’s administration.
An example is the arrest and detention of Mr Omoyele Sowore in 2020. He was arrested for initiating the #RevolutionNowProtest, through which he mounted pressure against Buhari’s political dictatorship, insecurity, economic hardship among others. He was charged to court for treason, and his case was prolonged.
The ruling APC government has no regard for the rule of law and court order. A typical example is the mass murder of EndSARS protesters; young Nigerians who protested against police brutality in the country. Court judgements have been disobeyed a couple of times. All these are happening under the ruling APC government and Tinubu is contesting on this platform. This will affect his chances of winning. It is hard to convince the electorate that someone contesting on the APC platform won’t extend the current hardship if elected.
Delay in finding a running mate/Muslim-Muslim ticket
When Tinubu firstly made public his intention to run for president he didn’t reveal his running mate. The weekend selection of kashim Shettima as his running mate was made by party leaders. Tinubu and Shettima are Muslims though the latter is a Northerner.
This has led to suggestions a from Nigerians that their candidacy might be a ploy to islamize Nigeria if elected. Tinubu however, raised a defense that his wife is a practising Christian, stating that there is no hidden intention. Nigeria is a multi-religious state, with nearly even Christian and Muslim population. The Christian faction may not want to vote for a muslim-muslim ticket.. The North is dominated by muslims. It is therefore possible to amass votes from there riding on the indigenity of his running mate.
Irrespective of the defects of his candidacy, there are still chances of him winning. They include:
Power of Incumbency
It is uncommon for an opposition party to unseat a ruling party. Tinubu is contesting on the platform of the ruling APC and he can ride on the power of incumbency to amass votes. The APC is in charge of 22 states in Nigeria, has the majority in the national assembly and state houses of assembly and they will likely protect their mandates in the presidential election. They will want to maintain their offices as such support Tinubu their party leader. This is because if an opposition party should win, their chances of remaining in offices are slimmer.
Besides, Tinubu is widely accepted with a big network of politicians and political stakeholders accross the country who are working tirelessly to ensure his victory at the polls. His win at the party primary is a reference point. Many of his contenders at the primary backed down few days to the party’s primary and supported him. In short they transferred their delegates to Tinubu. He seems to have wide acceptability in his party and this is a ticket to buy supporters among electorates to his side.
Money has an high influence in Nigerian politics. Despite the campaign against vote ‘buying and selling’ it continues to be a feature of elections in the country. Corruption can only be reduced, it can’t be eliminated. Tinubu has a very deep financial capability to influence votes and fund campaigns. His victory at the APC primary was influenced by money, delegates and opponents were wooed with money. The same routine might be repeated in the presidential election.
Abubakar Atiku’s Chances
The PDP ruled Nigeria from 1999 to 2015.. Atiku was the vice president for 8 years under Chief Olusegun Obasanjo from 1999 to 2007. Late Umar Musa Yar’adua became president in 2007 but was unable to complete his tenure after he died in 2010. The then vice president, Goodluck Ebele Jonathan completed his term in 2011. Jonathan contested for president in 2011 and won under the flagship of the PDP. He, however, lost his second term bid to President Muhammadu Buhari in 2015. Atiku chances can be affected by:
For 16 consecutive years PDP ruled Nigeria non-stop and Atiku was an integral part of this. He contested in 2019 but lost to APC. He had joined the APC in 2014 and contested in the party 2015 primary but lost to President Muhammadu Buhari. In the last 24 years of being in the PDP, Atiku have amassed followers across the six geopolitical zones, largely due to the influence of his party, PDP. This will boost his portfolio and might make people prefer him.
Atiku hails from Adamawa one of the states in the north, the north comprises 19 out of the 36 states in Nigeria. The north constitutes a major percentage of the country’s population. This deepens his chances of making headway at the polls since he is widely accepted by northerners though his running mate being an Igbo might decimate his chances of winning.
Experience in Politics
Atiku began his political career officually in 1989 with the Peoples Front of Nigeria (PFN). Before then he had worked with the Nigeria Customs Service for twenty years and rose to the position of Deputy Director. He resigned in 1989 and joined active politics.
In 1990 he contested for the governorship seat of Adamawa state but lost. He contested subsequently in 1997 and 1998, and was on the verge of becoming governor when he was poached by Obasanjo to be his running mate. Obj contested in 2003 and Atiku was his running mate. They were re-elected as president and vice president. Since his entry into politics, Atiku has unsuccessfully contested five times for the office of President, He contested in 1993, 2007, 2011, 2015 and 2019. In the 34 years of his political career, Atiku has garnered a lot of experience and possesses some maturity in the politics which is obvious. This might give him an edge above other contenders.
Being the youngest contender, Peter Obi is widely accepted by youths who are tired of old men ruling them. Thus Obi has garnered wide support and acceptability among youths. His chances of winning are high if election is exactly what it is, ‘free and fair’. There are however, underlying factors that may either influence or contend with his win at the polls. They include:
Obi has a well structured financial background. He is an astute businessman and was into banking before he joined politics. He held many high-ranking executive positions at banks before he resigned in 2000 and joined politics. Obi no doubt has been in the finance industry for over a decade and is in a good position to handle a declining economy like that of Nigeria.
Lack of Political Structure
Peter Obi was the Governor of Anambra State from 2006 to 2014. He contested as Atiku’s running mate in 2019 presidential election which brought in President Muhammadu Buhari for the second term. Obi left office as the governor of Anambra State in 2014, and decamped to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). In 2022, Obi contested in the PDP primary election for the position of presidency but opted out of the race before the primary which was eventually won by Atiku. He thereafter decamped to Labour Party on which platform he is contesting. Obi entered politics in 2000 but has only held political position as a governor. This is the first time he would be contesting at the federal level, he doesn’t have the broad knowledge or experience to rule at a federal level.
Peter Obi defected to labour party because he did not stand a chance of taking PDP ticket. This is common among politicians whenever they are seeking for an opportunity to contest by all means. Most of the times whenever they win they decamp to their original party. This might be the aftermath in Peter Obi’s case.
Unpopular Party Platform
The Labour Party gave him an express ticket to run for president. This was simply done to boost the force the party has in Nigeria. This is because LP doesn’t have a strong foot in Nigeria especially at the federal level and is not governing any state. The party has few representation at the state houses of assembly and National assembly. The LP can be compared to a youth movement rather than a political party. It’s footing is mostly on social media. The LP is not popular in Nigeria, they recently gained popularity because of Peter Obi’s contest. Party plays a prominent role in winning an election. Obi may not be able to win this presidential election on the platform of the Labour Party but he will make an impact.
By Adebimpe Adeleke
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