…as TINUBU, ATIKU, OBI go for broke
A few hours to the commencement of the conduct of the 2023 general elections, political parties and their candidates have become more apprehensive and desperate, having ramped up their campaigns and put final touches to their strategies for winning today’s presidential and National Assembly elections.
The campaigns by all the presidential candidates became more intense as the February 25 election date inched closer. Already, presidential flagbearers of the leading parties have crisscrossed all the states to sell themselves to the electorate in their bid to get their votes in today’s presidential and National Assembly elections.
Each of the leading presidential hopefuls, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu of the ruling All Progressives Congress, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar of the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party and Mr Peter Obi of the Labour Party is now making last minute efforts to record victory at today’s polls and occupy the nation’s highest political office on May 29, 2023, when President Muhammadu Buhari’s tenure ends.
But each of the presidential candidates has very high hurdles to cross before they can secure the keys to occupy the nation’s highest seat of power at the Aso Rock Presidential Villa in Abuja after the current occupant, Buhari leaves.
Of course, the leading candidates, in their desperate bid to secure the votes of the majority of the voters in the today’s presidential poll, raised the stake with their foot soldiers increasing the tempo of their activities at the grassroots as a follow-up to their campaigns at the different state capitals and cities.
There’s no doubt that both the ruling APC and the main opposition PDP have continued to consolidate on the massive support of Nigerians inspite of the incursions being made by Peter Obi’s Labour Party.
With the North parading the highest number of registered voters in the country, each of the presidential candidates through their foot soldiers and party leaders desperately worked on the strategies and moves to corner the 49million votes in the region. According to the statistics released by the Independent National Electoral Commission, a breakdown of the 49 million votes in the region indicates that the North-West has the highest number of registered voters with 22. 67million, the North-Central, 14. 1million and North-East with 12. 8million.
This accounts for the desperation and frenzy with which each of the leading presidential candidates made the efforts to gain control of the entire North in the run-up to today’s presidential poll.
The scramble for the coveted Northern votes saw the APC presidential flagbearer holding meetings with religious leaders from the region, where he has picked a fellow Muslim, Kashim Shettima, as his running mate, to secure the support of the North ahead of today’s presidential poll.
Tinubu’s running mate on his own part, visited the powerful and influential Northern Emirs as part of the efforts to secure the support of the traditional institutions in the region for the APC presidential ticket.
Similarly, the main opposition PDP reportedly made stealthy overtures to some powerful chieftains of the ruling APC in the North to rally support for the party’s presidential flagbearer, Atiku, who also hails from the region.
Strong indications have already emerged that states like Kaduna, Katsina, Jigawa, Zamfara, Sokoto, Kebbi will be the battle ground for Northern votes between the APC and PDP presidential candidates in today’s presidential election.
Political analysts are of the opinion that Kwankwaso and Obi only have a marginal presence in the North West and would not make much impact during today’s presidential poll. Obi is said to have support in Southern Kaduna because the Labour Party governorship candidate in the state, Hon Jonathan Asake is an indigene of the area. Kwankwaso, on the other hand, has an appreciable following in both Kano and Jigawa states.
Peter Obi is, however, believed to have a strong following in the North-Central because of the large number of Igbo residing in in Benue, Nasarawa, and Plateau states, who are also the main promoters of the Obidient Movement in these states.
Borno and Adamawa states in the North-East are crucial for both the APC and PDP because both Shettima and Atiku hail from the two states, respectively.
It is also believed that Obi and Kwankwaso could garner some votes in Bauchi and Gombe, but General Theopilus Danjuma’s influence could secure Taraba for Obi.
But analysts have continued to argue that the presidential candidate and political party having control of the majority of the state governors are sure to carry the day in today’s presidential election.
Going by this permutation, the Asiwaju Bola Tinubu will definitely have an upper hand in the North where his party, the APC, controls 15 of the 19 states.
These states and their governors are as follows: Borno, Babagana Zulum; Gombe, Inuwa Yahaya; Jigawa, Badaru Mohammed; Kaduna, Nasir El Rufai; Kano, Umar Ganduje; Katsina, Aminu Masari; Kwara, Abdul Razaq; Nasarawa, Abdulahi Sule; Niger, Abubakar Bello; Plateau, Simon Lalong; Zamfara, Bello Matawalle; Kebbi, Atiku Bagudu; Yobe, Mai Mala Buni and Kogi, Yahaya Bello.
Recall that 13 of these Northern APC governors effectively backed and worked for Tinubu to be elected the party’s presidential candidate during the presidential primary at the Eagle Square in Abuja. All these governors, including Yahaya Bello of Kogi, who was one of those who contested the APC presidential primary against Tinubu, are solidly behind the APC presidential flagbearer and they all remain united in delivering him as the successor to President Buhari.
As the situation stands in the APC today, it’s almost totally impossible for the PDP presidential candidate or Obi of the LP to break the rank of the Northern APC governors. It is very clear that neither Atiku nor Obi can win in any of these 15 Northern states without the support of the sitting governor. Atiku is expected to also make impressive showing in some of the Northern states, particularly in the North-East where he hails from, but he also has Tinubu’s running mate, Kashim Shettima to contend with.
Similarly in the South-West, Tinubu is highly favoured to floor both Atiku and Obi and win, as his party, the APC controls four of the six states in the geo-political zone, and the four APC governors are favourably disposed to him winning the presidential election. The four APC states are Lagos, Ogun, Ondo and Ekiti. This is aside from the fact that Tinubu, a former governor of Lagos State, hails from the region. It is also believed that Tinubu will have Oyo, to boot, with Governor Seyi Makinde of the PDP opposed to his party’s presidential flagbearer, Atiku. But the votes in Osun are expected to be shared between the PDP and the APC in the state.
It is, therefore, crystal clear that it will be an uphill task for any of Atiku, Obi or Kwankwaso to snatch victory from Tinubu in any of these states. Of course, the APC and its presidential flagbearer are not leaving anything to chances.
Obi’s candidacy in the South poses serious threat to Atiku’s victory in the region. PDP is the dominant party in the South-South and South-East, but the enthusiasm about Obi and the snatching of three of the states by the APC will no doubt affect Atiku’s chances at the presidential poll.
The perennial and intractable crisis rocking the PDP can also prove to be an impediment on Atiku’s path to victory in the presidential poll. While the ruling APC has remained intact, the opposition PDP has been wracked and debilitated by a needless crisis now threatening to cost it victory at today’s presidential election. In the first place, the defection of Obi and Kwankwaso has left the party fragmented. On the other hand, the insistence of the aggrieved G-5 governors not to support Atiku in the presidential election has further opened the flanks of the party. The G-5 governors are likely to work for either Tinubu or Obi in today’s poll. This decision by the G-5 governors will deal a deadly blow to Atiku’s chances at today’s poll. Analysts are of the opinion that the crisis rocking the PDP has assumed a dangerous dimension for the party as it has boiled over to become one of the defining issues of today’s presidential poll. The main opposition party will be going into today’s election as a divided house, thus re-enacting the 2014 scenario when seven of the PDP state governors defected to the newly formed APC in protest against the re-nomination of incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan as the party’s flagbearer for the 2015 presidential election. Jonathan was defeated at the polls by Buhari and the PDP lost out. But this time round, Wike and his G-5 colleagues have vowed not to leave the PDP but fight from within. This stance of the G-5 governors will definitely cost the PDP huge electoral fortunes.
Unless the APC governors decide to sell out and withdraw their support, a situation that is very unlikely, Tinubu is set to coast home to victory in today’s presidential election.
Tinubu is also likely to reap bountifully from the incumbency factor. His party, the APC has been in power since 2015 when Nigerians elected President Muhammadu Buhari, who defeated incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan of the PDP. Although the Naira crisis recently foisted on hapless citizens by the Buhari administration may cost the ruling APC votes, Tinubu’s outbursts and consistent criticisms of the CBN policy can earn him a lot of sympathy votes from the electorate, who see him as the target of the policy allegedly aimed at causing his defeat at today’s poll.
On the other hand, the odds may still not favour Atiku as the majority of the electorate in the South may not be disposed to having another Northerner as Nigeria’s president after Buhari’s eight-year tenure. Going by the disposition of the Northern elite to the APC presidential flagbearer and the desire by the political leaders of the region to respect the North-South power rotation arrangement, Atiku may not stand the chance of appropriating the sentiment of one-North at the presidential poll.