2023: An unusual Election as Tinubu, Atiku, Obi, Kwakwanso Battles For Presidency, By Tunde Abatan, 

235

2023: An unusual Election as Tinubu, Atiku, Obi, Kwakwanso Battles For Presidency, By Tunde Abatan,

 

Sometime in 1983, few months before the then General Elections, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, then-presidential candidate of the Unity Party of Nigeria, UPN, accused the then electoral commission chairman, Chief Ovie Whiskey of having two faces saying, Ovie Whiskey have two faces, one for the UPN and the other for the National Party of Nigeria, NPN.

He was referring to the then forthcoming general elections which later saw the then ruling party, the National Party of Nigeria, NPN coming victorious in a controversial election.

Today, forty years after very close watchers and even members of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC are unsure of the loyalty and or commitment of President Muhammadu Buhari to his party’s presidential candidate, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, to the party’s victory.

This mistrust is in spite of the latter several declarations and raising Tinubus’s hands in campaign rallies, he has ‘reluctantly” attended.

There are many factors responsible for this.

One, skeptics believe Tinubu’s emergence is against Buhari and preference of the ‘shadowy’ Cabal behind the throne.

They always pointed at Buhari’s late appearance at rallies.

In addition, they also accused the party’s national chairman, Abdullahi Adamu of surreptitiously working for Abubakar Atiku, candidate of the opposition, People’s Democratic Party, PDP.

The reasons for this are the age-long belief that Northerners in whichever party they belong to will support one of their own to retain power in the North.

Yet, others belief the army of Northern appointees of Buhari who has dominated almost all federal strategic agencies, military and paramilitary and others as factors making the Northern arm of APC, unite behind another Northerner even in another party.

This and other emerging factors will make this year’s election unusual.

It is because when ordinarily the APC is supposed to be an unrivalled ruling party coasting to victory, the series of unpopular public policies which has caused untold hardship to the citizenry and has affected the image and possible gains of the party .

In spite of pretensions and appeal of Buhari Sunday in a statement explaining his understanding of Nigerians’ pains, many are not convinced that rolling out unpopular policies at this time is not meant to cause his party’s candidate to lose to a Northern candidate in the person of Atiku of the PDP.

This is so because both Atiku and  Peter Obi of the Labour Party, have strangely joined Buhari’s men and Godwin Emefiele, the Central Bank Governor in urging the latter not to extend the date for use of old currency notes despite the hardship of the citizens.

On a good day, will Buhari had worked against his party’s interest if things are normal at the party.

Again, that Southern governors and stakeholders in the party had gotten an ally in twelve Northern governors who supported power shift also makes this year’s election unusual.

The decision of Obi of the LP to join the presidential race after his dream was blocked in the PDP and his rising profile as a third force also make this year’s election unusual

In another breadth, activities of the Independent Peoples of Biafra, IPOB, an Igbo secessionist group renewed clamour for separation also ignite  strong suspicion by Nigerians from both  the North and South West, of dangers inherent in Igbo Presidency.

What is more, escalating violence in the South East region which borders on internal obsession with Secession and self-rule comes in handy as an obstacle to success of election.

In two ways, this reduces Obis chances in getting total support by securing block votes of his tribe as did Nnamdi Azikwe in 1979 and 1983.

It also has raised serious questions of his capacity to rein -in his people should he become the President.

This concern also makes the election unusual.

Another factor of this year’s election uniqueness is the activities of 12 Northern governors’ open accusation of Buhari working against his party’s candidate, Tinubu . This is unprecedented.

It is unprecedented for likes of Nasir El Rufai , Abdullahi Ganduje and Bagudu of Kaduna, Kano and Kebbi State respectively to attack Buhari. It is unheard of.

Yes, Buhari’s inability to rein in his fellow Northerners may be expected as his tenure is gradually coming to an end.

Again, the audacity of the governors who collectively has labelled him a saboteur of his party, especially against power shift speaks volume of division within the hitherto cohesive Northern power elite.

What also makes this year’s election unusual is the open challenge of elderly Northern political elite like the Arewa and Northern Elders Forum by sitting governors who accuse them of being interlopers.

To El Rufai, the governors hold the aces in mobilisation of Northern voting populace while the others think otherwise.

Are the two dominant political power groups in the North set for coalition or as remarked by an analyst, a surreptitious plot by the North to vein division among themselves in order to drain Tinubu’s resources and later turn back to support their own?

.If this happens, it is definitely a death knell for the APC clubbed together by Tinubu who believes his support by the twelve governors is a revolution of sort.

Will the revolution endure the onslaught of the Northern power block always intent on seizing power and succeed in creating another strong power group in the region?

If this comes through and the Governors are able to defeat Atiku and Rabiu Kwakwanso of the New Nigeria Peoples Party, NNPP in the North West and North East and also reduce the strength of the Labour Party in North Central, then threats of El Rufai would have materialised and Buhari’s messianic influence finally buried.

Since most of the 12 governors in the North are relatively younger with eyes on future political goals, it is apparent the politics of the North and influence of established powerful political elite is about to be challenged and seriously eroded and curtailed.

Again in the South West, Tinubus main challenger now are not the traditional opposition in the PDP but rather the restive youths who may collectively reduce his block votes in preference for Obi.

If this happens, Obi would have gained significantly what he is likely to lose in the activities of the likes of Senator Orji Kalu and Hope Uzodinma of Imo, Charles Soludo and Senator Chimaroke Nnamani of Anambra and Enugu states respectively who today are strong supporters of Tinubu in the South East.

Considering the thirty million strength of the voting population of the youths all over the country, in this year’s electoral register, voting for a particular candidate may disrupt the traditional pattern of the election and significantly affect the result.

In spite of the above variables, the largest voting strength of  forty one million from the North West and South West (24 and 17million) votes respectively, will still go a long way to determine who carries the day among the four combatants struggling for the soul of Nigeria .However, it is more apparent that should the twelve Northern governors able to bite by securing majority votes from their states, the shift of political allegiance of Nyesome Wike of Rivers with its six million voting strength next to Kano may be the game changer Tinubu needs to emerge victorious.

The next few days will be decisive as concessions and alliances in this year’s election has far outweighed previous elections, hence its Uniqueness in all ways.

2023 is definitely an unusual electoral year for Nigeria as the states are high on all sides!