All eyes seem to be set on Nigeria nay Nigerians as the gladiators for who occupies the exalted position of the country in the 2023 upcoming election. West Africa, Africa and the world at large are eagerly focused on the country being the most populous black nation on Earth and the presumed giant of Africa.
Nigeria with a population of over 200million people boasts of numerous mineral resources with abundant manpower, placing it at an economic hub of virtually all multinational companies of all continents and almost every country on planet earth establishing their presence in one region or the other in the country to have a bite of the meaty pie.
Nigeria, a sub-Saharan region of West Africa, has been enmeshed in corruption since its independence in 1960, which has greatly affected the growth and general development of the country. A country rated as the epicenter of poverty. It is rated as one of the most corrupt countries in the world.
Since her nascent democracy in 1999 after decades of different military rule, most successful government has promised to tackle corruption to a standstill , a cancer worm which all the politicians accepts as the bane of slow or non development of the country. Yet after elected they also come with a more devious and systematic form of corruption worse than the previous ones, leaving the country and the masses worse than they met it.
But it seems the populace, who are at the receiving end, are now poised and determined to elect someone who could truly deliver on the anticipated dividends of democracy. But can they purge themselves of tribal and religious sentiments, which have also helped foster incompetent and corrupt politicians in the past?
As of today, about 18 candidates are jostling for the No 1 seat in the country, so far three of the candidates seem to be front runners in the upcoming election
ATIKU ABUBAKAR (76Yrs)
A former Vice President from North Central between 1999-2007 in the regime of Olusegun Obasanjo from the People’s Democratic Party (PDP). This will be his third time taking a shot at the exalted post. Once under ACN in 2011 and 2019 under PDP. He contested along with the incumbent president, Muhammadu Buhari. So many factors have really affected his chances, aside from gross immorality and serial womanizing-multifaceted allegations of corruption—chief amongst which was his reckless sale of national assets to his friends and cronies while heading the privatisation of public assets as vice president at the time. Assets worth billions of dollars was allegedly sold to himself and friends through proxy for a partly sum of $200 million. His erstwhile boss, ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo, no doubt helped in denting his image beyond salvage in his published book My Watch, where he stated that he was not aware Atiku was this corrupt when he made him his VP. He said “the money Atiku stole was enough to feed the whole nation for 100 years.” One of his wives, Jeniffer, based in the US and presently on the run from the FBI, was indicted for money laundering linked to Atiku while he was the vice president. A US senator was also jailed for conspiracy in the said laundering.
The present disunity within his party, the PDP, is in no way helping his victory (if there is any) in the upcoming election. Some aggrieved serving governors of the party are against his clinching (through delegates buying tickets worth billions of naira) the presidential ticket against their party agreement that power must shift to the South in 2023 since the present president is a northerner and a fellow Fulani man like Atiku. More so, there’s disagreement over the choice of Iyorchia Ayu, who is also from the Northern region, as the chairman of the party. So far, the five aggrieved governors, senators, House of Representatives members, and some major stakeholders of the party led by Nyeson Wike, the River state governor from the South South region, have openly distanced themselves from his campaigns and anything that has to do with his presidential pursuit, as could be seen in the woeful turnouts of supporters at some of his campaign rallies across the country.
BOLA HAMED TINUBU (JAGABAN) (70Yrs)
The flag bearer and leader of the ruling party, All Progressive Congress. A former governor of Lagos State between 1999 and 2007 Arguably the most preferred candidate, with a load of enviable political and administrative resumes
What stands him out is his niche: identifying and mentoring intelligent technocrats from political obscurity into the limelight as the governor of Lagos State. He is credited as the father of modern-day Lagos. He transformed Lagos state from developmental abandonment to an envious status amongst the committee of states. A state that generated less than 600 million naira before he came on board now generates well over 6 billion naira monthly under his watch and a successfully programmed blueprint followed by his well-groomed and capable successors. About five ministers and the present vice president are among his numerous mentees across the country. This is a man believed to have installed, helped, and facilitated the victories of various governors, senators, houses, and assemblies across the country through some form of political or financial assistance long before now. The present Senate leader and Speaker of the House of Assembly are undoubtedly his proteges. No wonder his campaign events are full of serving stakeholders, governors, and political stakeholders within the party eager to blow his trumpet for him.
He is credited with strategically planning the victory of the incumbent president Muhamodu Buhari after the later has given up hope on ever contesting nor winning the election after contesting and losing 3 consecutive times.
He remains the initiator of the blueprint that guided the emergence of Lagos State as the fifth largest economy in Africa, which stands him out and makes him a better candidate than his competitors, a feat even his most ardent critics could not dispute.
He was the first to declare his presidential interest and the most articulate, purposeful and vigorously aggressive in his presidential campaign. Though he is a man burdened by controversies concerning his actual age, an identity crisis, and unconfirmed allegations of drug dealing over 40 years ago while working as an accountant for multinational oil company Mobil in Chicago, US, he later rose to become one of their directors.
His picking another Muslim like himself as a running mate was another hurdle that took another turn at the initial stage of the campaign, though it seems to have simmered as many Christian organizations and groups have openly come out to endorse his presidential ambition. Most electorates seem not to care about some of the stated allegations or controversies, as could be interpreted from the mammoth crowd attending all his political rallies across the country. All they seem to concern themselves with at this time of the economic quagmire and insecurity across the country is not where he comes from, his age or religious leaning as long as he can bring his magic wind /wonder working team to transform Nigeria the way he transformed Lagos state.
With his political acumen and indices so far, Tinubu remains the man to beat in the coming election, according to every available statistic so far.
He is from the South West and a Yoruba man ,with 80% of those from that region willing to support their own. In recent time a serving governor in the region and one of the aggrieved PDP governors openly declared his and his followers support for his ambition.
He was the first and probably the only governor then that has people from other regions in his cabinet either as commissioner or head of an agency, while he was governing Lagos state. No doubt these people from those regions will definitely pay him back in good turn
PETER OBI ( 61Yrs) Labour Party.
A former governor of Anambra state in the South East region (Igbo) between 2007-2014. This is another candidate whose interest is an albatross PDP presidential candidate, Atiku ABUBAKAR as they were both within PDP some months back before Peter Obi left the party to pursue his presidential interest under Labour Party LP after losing the presidential primary to Atiku. Hence, taking a chunk of PDP members along with him to Labour Party.
His campaign started well, as most people, especially some youths, saw him as a young man who could salvage the situation in the country. Viewing as a different candidate from the old horses who have dictated the pace of the country’s political fortune for long, forgetting the fact that he has always been with PDP for years. In fact, he ran as a running mate along with Atiku Abubakar in the 2019 presidential election.
In recent times, the tempo and enthusiasm of most of these youths seem to have deflated, as indicated by the pockets of empty attendants at his campaign rallies, which has hitherto forced him to cancel or postpone some of the slated campaigns. Though crowded rallies do not actually dictate the victory of a candidate, but tale signs are enough signs to prove that his chances are meager.
This turn of events could be attributed to so many factors. He and his party do not have a strong political structure to gladiatorially compete with other bigwig political parties like the APC and the PDP. No single senator, no house of representatives members, no governor—in fact, they don’t have party offices in most states. His campaign team has also been riddled with many instances of financial mismanagement, leading to suspensions, counter-suspensions, and outright expulsions of some high-ranking officers of the team. There are various reports of support group leaders absconding with millions meant to campaign for him, an indication that they are aware he can’t win the election.
The governor of Anambra state, Prof. Soludo (the state he governed for 8 years), did not help his case when he came out to debunk his claims that the $100 million Anambra fund he invested for the state has yielded over 50% profits. According to Prof. Soludo, “the purported investment was a total waste of state funds and it’s worth next to nothing.” an assertion Peter Obi could not debunk. With reference to available statistics, Peter Obi left the state worse than he met it. Cripled with unpaid salaries of doctors and civil servants leading doctors going on over 8 months strike and 6 months strike respectively during his 8 yrs rule. Under his watch, the number of out-of-school children in the state rose from less than 10% to over 24%. In fact, Prof. Soludo declared emphatically that Peter is not going anywhere near Aso Rock and that Obi himself knows that. After these various exposés and hole pickings in most of his various bogus statistics dolled out to the public by him he has since gone into his shell somehow.
His body language and non responsive attitude towards the killings of outsiders and residents of Anambra by Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) is not helping his case in anyway as most see him as a separatist especially his antecedents when he was a governor . He reportedly destroyed mosques and markets belonging to northerners and westerners residing in the state. His recent play on the religious emotions of Christians through his utterances and campaign antics is another factor that is out of tune with some, especially Muslims from the north.
Peter Obi cannot lay claim to victory in the South South states as the running mate to Atiku Abubakar is from the region and a serving governor of Delta state and sure to pull lots of weights in that region being a PDP state since 1999.
With these mirage of negative indices against the ambition of Peter Obi is Peter Umeadi a presidential candidate of All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA), a traditional party of the Igbos. In fact, Peter Obi became governor in 2007 under APGA before he crossed over to PDP and somehow systematically deemed APGA dead. A cardinal sin, which some Igbos find very hard to forgive.
The APGA candidate, a retired chief judge of Anambra state and indigene of Anambra, the same as Peter Obi, is sure to ruffle the electoral counts in the six states of South Africa, thereby depleting whatever anticipated sweep of those states by Peter Obi.
All hands are crossed from now until February. It’s a winner-take-all scenario. The idea of a runoff election, as aired by the Independent Electoral Commission, is totally out of the situation as things stand.
The opinions expressed in this article is solely the author’s and do not reflect the opinions and beliefs of Media Africa or its affiliates.
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