In previous elections, presidential elections in Nigeria are a straight fight between the candidate of the ruling party and that of the leading opposition party. But not any longer.
What many thought would be a head-to-head battle between Bola Ahmed Tinubu of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) suddenly took a different turn when Peter Obi of the Labour Party (LP) joined the fray, and Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso of the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP) soon spiced things up.
Will Tinubu, whose party controls 21 of the 36 states, retain the presidency for the APC? Will Atiku, who is believed to be the strongest northerner in the race, harvest the homeboy factor to upstage Tinubu? Will Obi, who has enjoyed the goodwill of vocal youths, upset the apple cart? Or will Kwankwaso, seen as the weakest of the four, pull rabbits out of his hat?
AHMED BOLA TINUBU
There is a sense in which it can be argued that Tinubu should be the leading presidential candidate: his party currently has the highest number of elected officials in the country and has been in control of Aso Rock since 2015. If only it were that easy. As the ruling party, APC is the one Nigerians have recent memory of when it comes to economic hardship and insecurity. If they choose to vent their spleen at the party, Tinubu would be the collateral damage.
Nevertheless, he is banking on a number of factors to win. One, a good majority of votes from his base, the south-west, which has the second largest voting population among the six geopolitical zones. Two, good dividends in the core north for picking a fellow Muslim as his running mate. Three, the fidelity of APC governors to a gentleman’s agreement reportedly struck in 2015 to rotate power to the south after eight years. Four, his longstanding political relationships with key players across the country.
AS THINGS STAND: Until the recent currency scarcity, petrol shortage and internal crisis in the APC, Tinubu looked like a shoo-in for the presidency, mainly because of a divided opposition. It remains to be seen what impact the various crises will have on the outcome of the election. However, Tinubu, as the front runner, will do very well in the south-west and secure the required 25 percent of votes cast in at least 24 states of the federation.
The former vice-president has never hidden his desire to be president of Nigeria and he most probably would have been the PDP candidate in 2007 if he had not fallen out with President Olusegun Obasanjo, who opted to anoint Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, who went on to win. As far back as 1993, Atiku had pitched for the job and is believed to be one of the most prepared presidential candidates in the history of Nigeria.
Atiku, who has one of the widest political networks in the country, has name recognition and is expected to benefit from the homeboy factor in the north. While southerners may be complaining that his victory would mean another possible eight years of power staying in the north after Buhari’s two terms, it is this same prospect that may push many northern voters to support him. Atiku will need to reverse some of the losses suffered by the PDP in the north since 2015 as well as the dent caused by the G5 governors.
AS THINGS STAND: Atiku will benefit from the recent economic crisis that has hurt APC and Tinubu. He is projected to secure the required 25 percent of votes cast in at least 24 states. His major underbelly is the gain made in traditional PDP strongholds by Obi, his running mate in 2019. If the APC governors fail to deliver for Tinubu, Atiku will be the major beneficiary. This could happen if the voters think differently, or because the governors have not done well, or even because of local factors.
No Nigerian presidential candidate in recent memory has enjoyed a meteoric rise as much as Obi. Since leaving the PDP in May 2022, he has become a phenomenon. Obi had endeared himself to many Nigerians after making an appearance at The Platform, a televised public forum organised by the Covenant Nation in Lagos, four years ago. His life of frugality is well celebrated and he is seen as a man of integrity in a nation desperately in need of role models.
Several pre-election polls have tipped Obi as the likely winner of the presidential election. Although these polls are disputed by his opponents, he has continued to generate excitement among the youths and his support base has expanded beyond Anambra state, where he was governor from 2006 to 2014. Some Christians also feel aggrieved by the fact that except Obi wins, no Christian would be president of Nigeria until possibly 2031. Christian leaders have been galvanising support for him. He has also been endorsed by former President Olusegun Obasanjo, Ayo Adebanjo, a respected Yoruba leader, and Edwin Clark, an Ijaw leader.
AS THINGS STAND: Obi will challenge in most of the traditional PDP strongholds in the south and Christian north, where he has made an appreciable in-road. Many southern youths have also been very vocal in his support. His major constraint would be getting the required national spread.
RABIU MUSA KWANKWASO
Despite the general belief that the 2023 presidential election is a three-horse race involving Tinubu, Atiku and Obi, the former governor of Kano state has continued to insist that he is on the turf to win. He says he has his supporters all over the country and is ready to pull a surprise. His party, the NNPP, has candidates running for elections in all the states of the federation. Not many people are convinced he has what it takes to clinch the ultimate trophy on February 25.
Many would consider his bid as a rebellion against the PDP, a party he left when it became obvious that he was not going to get the presidential ticket. Obi also left for a similar reason. There were expectations that when Obi’s candidature began to gain ground, Kwankwaso would team up with him for the necessary foothold in the core north. The issue became who would step down as Kwankwaso believed he was politically senior to Obi.
AS THINGS STAND: Although he is not realistically expected to win the presidential race, he will be a major factor in states like Kano, Jigawa, Katsina, Bauchi and Gombe where his votes may affect the overall scores of the top two candidates.
Imo LP gov candidate, supporters storm INEC, demand poll true certified copy
Athan Achonu, Labour Party governorship candidate for Imo, and scores of his supporters on Thursday stormed the national headquarters of the Independent National Electoral Commission in Abuja to demand the true certified copy (CTC) of the just concluded poll in the state.
Achonu, who was accompanied by the National Youth Leader, Kennedy Ahanotu, also accused the electoral umpire of playing a double standard in the November 11 off-cycle election.
The protest came two weeks after INEC declared Governor Hope Uzodimma of the All Progressives Congress winner of the election.
The APC candidate polled 540,308 votes to beat Samuel Anyanwu of the Peoples Democratic Party who scored 71,503 votes and Achonu who could only secure 64,081 votes.
However, the two opposition candidates rejected the result and declared that the election was marred by electoral irregularities.
The long procession, which saw the demonstrators chanting solidarity songs and displaying various banners that read “INEC Give Us Our CTC” “Respect Our Law” and “INEC Has Become Headache to Nigerian People” caused a mild gridlock.
Addressing newsmen in front of the INEC building, Achonu accused the commission of deliberately refusing to give him a copy of the Imo poll CTC because they had something to hide.
The LP candidate stated that unlike what transpired in Bayelsa where it took three days to round up the election process, INEC collated Imo ballots and hurriedly announced the result in two hours.
He said, “When collation started after the voting, our state election agent duly asked INEC not to announce any result that collation started very early that day even when voting was going on. They were even uploading results on iREV when voting was taking place. So how did that happen? They were told to go to their backend server and confirm the result they were about to announce. But INEC refused to do that. The returning insisted they should go on because they had a hidden agenda.
“Meanwhile it took Bayelsa which has just eight local governments almost three days to announce their result. But in Imo which has 27 local governments, it took them just two hours to announce the result that was already uploaded.
“So we duly wrote to INEC asking them to review the election. They hurriedly announced the result, even before the seven days allowed for review lapsed. Up till today when we are speaking, we have not received the certified copy of that result despite writing them officially. We will not leave here today until we collect the CTC since INEC has refused to come out and address us.”
While the demonstration was ongoing, two INEC national commissioners, Mohammed Haruna and Prof Abdullahi Abdu Zuru, came out to address the group.
While urging the protesters to exercise patience, Haruna promised them their grievance would be addressed by the commission in earnest.
“We understand you have come here with a petition. The national chairman (Prof Yakubu Mahmood) asked the two of us to come here on his behalf on behalf to receive your petition. And I assure you (it will be addressed because this is your right.
“The CTC you requested is always collected at the state level. So we have a copy of your letter here now, I assure you it will attended to,” he stated.
Kano gov poll: Abba Yusuf takes battle to Supreme Court
Abba Yusuf, Kano State Governor, whose sacking by the electoral tribunal was upheld by the Court of Appeal on Friday, has vowed to reclaim his mandate at the Supreme Court.
The appeal court sitting in Abuja upheld the ruling of the tribunal that sacked Yusuf and declared Nasiru Gawuna of the All Progresives Congress the winner of the March 18 election.
In a broadcast on Friday night, Yusuf said he had instructed his legal team to challenge the appeal court-s ruling at the Supreme Court.
“We have consulted all stakeholders and resolved and decided that our lawyers should challenge the Appeal Court kudgment at the Supreme Court.
“We believe and have the confidence that the Supreme Court will reclaim the mandate of the Kano people who voted for us,” he said.
He urged the people to continue to go about their lawful activities as security agents have been directed to ensure law and order prevail in the state.
Earlier while reacting to the Appeal Court judgment, the National Chairman of the APC, Abdullahi Ganduje, said his party was waiting for Yusuf and the New Nigerian Peoples Party at the apex court.
He said, “I thank Allah for this important judgement. We have to thank the judiciary for providing good administration of justice despite all the distractions that took place since the beginning of the case.
“We have to thank the judiciary. There is no doubt this is a victory for democracy. It is a victory for APC and a victory for Kano State. This is an indication that democracy has come to stay in Nigeria. Democracy we can say is matured in Nigeria. We have to thank all those stakeholders, the political parties, even the NNPP that took us to the Appeal Court.
“For Kano State, this victory is for all of us. We are fully aware, we know what happened during the election; a lot of malpractices and we took the issue to the tribunal and by the grace of God, we got a fair judgement in favour of our great party, APC.
“Now, the government in power, the NNPP decided to go the Court of Appeal and this morning , by the power of God, the Court of Appeal affirmed the judgement of the lower court. And by so doing, our gubernatorial candidate, Dr. Nasiru Gawuna is the duly elected governor of Kano State.
“But in all, probably, they will go to the Supreme Court which is part of democracy. There is nothing wrong for them to go to the Supreme Court. We too, we are ready to meet them in Supreme Court. And Insha Allah, we will win at the Supreme Court as well.”
Guber elections: Tinubu congratulates APC’s Uzodinma, Ododo, PDP’s Diri
President Bola Tinubu, on Monday, congratulated the winners of the governorship elections in Bayelsa, Kogi and Imo states.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) conducted off-cycle elections in the three states to elect governors last Saturday.
In Imo, Hope Uzodinma, won a re-election while Usman Ododo, candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), won the election to succeed Yahaya Bello, who is completing his two-term of eight years.
Also, Douye Diri of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) won his re-election in Bayelsa.
In a statement on Monday, Ajuri Ngelale, presidential spspokesperson, quoted Tinubu as saying that the victory of the politicians “reflect the people’s wishes”.
“May your tenure in office be defined by close collaboration with all of your counterparts across party lines in the attainment of pan-Nigerian developmental achievements that benefit everyone, and may you lead at all times with compassion and a deepened commitment to our nation’s unity,” the statement reads.
“The outcome of the elections reflects the wishes of the people, emphasizing that democracy thrives when voters reward competence, transparency, and good governance.”
Tinubu said the winners should position their states as hubs of peace, commerce, entrepreneurship, and prosperity in Nigeria, adding that they should prioritise the common good of the people over partisan interests.
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