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2022 political space vs the thrust of 2023 general elections

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By Bankole Taiwo

Nigerian political space in the outgoing year is defined by preparation ahead of 2023 general elections. Not a few are quite disenchanted with the performance of those running the affairs of the country and had taken with both hands opportunities to use the window of the outgoing year to prepare for 2023 elections which will usher in another crop of leaders.

It is glaring that the challenges of growing poverty, unemployment, insecurity, lack of basic infrastructure, challenges in the energy sector among other economic crises have continued to slow down pace of progress in the country.

And since by May 29, 2023 the President Muhammadu Buhari led government will be finishing the maximum tenure of eight years of two terms each, Nigerians as stipulated constitutionally have also used the larger chunk of 2022 to make preparations for the change of guard in 2023.

Aspirations and party primaries

As prerequisites of any elections, the political parties began with primaries which after so much intrigues, horse trading, suspense and politicking candidates of the various parties emerged.

By mid-2022, the former Lagos State Governor, Bola Tinubu, was among the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential aspirants jostling to win the party’s ticket aspiring to succeed President Muhammadu Buhari in 2023. As politicians are wont to do, Tinubu set the tone for the 2023 politicking by declaring that it was his turn to become Nigeria’s next president after Buhari.

Speaking on June 2, 2022, at the Presidential Lodge in Abeokuta, Ogun State, Tinubu said, ‘Emi l’okan’ which is loosely translated in the Yoruba language as, ‘It is my turn’.

He said, “It is my time, I’m educated, I’m experienced. I have been serving people for a long time.” He declared that it had been his lifelong ambition to govern the country.

Tinubu went on to win the party’s ticket after polling 1,271 votes. Former Transportation Minister, Rotimi Amaechi, polled 316 votes to come second while Vice President Yemi Osinbajo garnered 235 votes to come third.

Osinbajo, Amaechi, and Lawan tried their luck to clinch the APC presidential ticket, but lost to Tinubu. Many political analysts and opinion leaders believed that the Vice President shouldn’t have contested against his erstwhile boss and political godfather.

Although other aspirants stepped down for Tinubu, those who refused to step down, contested and lost include Amaechi, Osinbajo, Lawan, Senator Rochas Okorocha, Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi, Dr Ogbonnaya Onu, Pastor Tunde Bakare and Mr Tein Jack-Rich.

Also, there were reports that the APC National Chairman, Abdullahi Adamu, allegedly tried to impose Lawan as the ruling party’s consensus candidate, but a quick intervention and announcement by the Northern APC Governors led by Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State cleared the path for Tinubu to coast to victory. But many claimed that Osibanjo, Amaechi, and Lawan’s ambitions ‘relegated’ the trio to the political back seat in the scheme of things in the APC.

The year also saw the former Governor of Anambra State, Peter Obi, emerged as the presidential candidate of the Labour Party in May 2022. Before then, Obi, who was a presidential aspirant under the PDP, resigned from the main opposition party and also withdrew from the presidential race on the platform of the party on May 25.

Until his resignation, Obi was one of the 15 aspirants vying for the presidential ticket of the PDP.

But after his emergence as the LP flagbearer, the former Anambra Governor has been enjoying massive support from young Nigerians, who termed themselves as ‘Obidients’, across social media platforms. This group of supporters has engaged in several campaigns both online and offline in their bid to achieve the Obi/Datti presidency in 2023.

Similarly, Nigerians witnessed the ‘influence’ of the Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, after he lost the Peoples Democratic Party’s presidential ticket to former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, in May 2022.

Atiku won the primary by 371 votes to defeat Wike who polled 237 votes, while a former President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, scored 70 votes.

But following Atiku’s announcement of Delta State Governor, Dr Ifeanyi Okowa, as his running mate, Wike and his camp in the PDP demanded the resignation of the party’s National Chairman, Iyorchia Ayu, from his position.

With the continued refusal of Ayu to step down from his position, the Rivers Governor took time to open several Pandora boxes and took Ayu and the PDP leadership to the cleaners.

Following the fallout of PDP members after its presidential primary, Wike and other Governors of the main ruling party formed what is now known as the PDP G5 Governors. Other members of the group are Seyi Makinde of Oyo State, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu (Abia), Samuel Ortom (Benue), and Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi (Enugu).

The Governors have been meeting within and outside the country on the current crisis rocking the PDP. While peace moves have been made in the past by the party and its presidential candidate, the crisis has remained unresolved.

The signing of the amended electoral law by President Buhari signed in February had prepared the ground for the potpourri of political activities witnessed in the outgoing year, especially as it relates to next year’s election. This law shaped the political landscape as the Section 84(12) of the Electoral Act bars political appointees from voting or contesting at party congresses.

The Act forced many political appointees to resign to contest their party primaries, while others jettisoned their political ambition to remain in office.

Party Campaigns

The three major political parties, that is, PDP, APC and Labour Party led by their presidential candidates have all since been going about promising better deal for Nigerians when they get to office in 2023.

While Atiku had campaigned vigorously on his capacity to unite the country and fix its economic crisis, Asiwaju Tinubu had anchored his campaign on renewing hope of Nigerians, while Peter Obi had also been going about telling Nigerians of his capacity to address many economic woes bedeviling the country.

…INEC preparedness amid attacks on facilities

The attack on offices of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) across the country has, however, cast a dark pall on the preparation made so far to have credible and peaceful poll in 2023.

Many are nursing the fear of being disenfranchised due to their uncollected Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs) destroyed when these INEC facilities were attacked. Although, the Chairman of INEC, Prof Mahmood Yakubu has recently pledged that the agency is working round the clock to reprint the destroyed PVC while efforts are also in top gear to improve on the security around its facilities all over the country.

As the year 2023 is here and the general elections less than two months, Nigerians are hoping to use their votes to elect another crop of leaders with hope of competencies and tenacity of purpose to address the myriad of challenges confronting the country.

Looking at delivery of good governance in the outgoing year, a public analyst, John Chukwu said he couldn’t see anything that has really changed when place side by side expectations of Nigerians.

He said, “we are still having to battle with bad roads, epileptic power supply, constant rising of prices of goods, insecurity, growing poverty and many more. I really don’t think the government both at the state and federal level have done anything spectacular. Reason why many could barely wait till next year to use their votes to change the narrative.”

Politics

APC declares Ondo primary inconclusive

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The All Progressives Congress 2024 Governorship Primary Committee in Ondo State has declared the Saturday primary inconclusive.

This is contained in a statement by the Chairman of the Committee, Gov. Usman Ododo on Sunday morning.

The statement said that rerun election would take place in all the 13 wards of Okitipupa Local Government with total validated registered party members of 9,515.

“Having received reports of the primary election from the 203 Wards in the 18 Local Governments of Ondo State, the Primary Election Committee has decided that election will be conducted in all the 13 Wards of Okitipupa Local Government with total validated registered members of 9,515.

“ We have validated reports that the exercise did not hold in the local government due to late arrival of electoral materials and personnel as a result of logistics challenges.

“Election in Okitipupa Local Government shall be conducted 12 noon on Sunday 21st April 2024.

“The final collation of the results will be done thereafter”, the statement said.

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Politics

Over 1,000 Kano APC members defect to NNPP

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Over 1,000 members of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Kano State decamped to the New Nigeria People’s Party (NNPP) on Saturday.

The decampees, from Shanono and Bagwai local government areas, were formally received by the Deputy Governor, Aminu Abdussalam Gwarzo on behalf of Governor Abba Kabir Yusuf at the Kano State Government House.

A press release by the Deputy Governor’s spokesperson, Ibrahim Garba Shuaibu stated Gwarzo’s delight in welcoming the defectors.

He emphasized that the NNPP prioritized unity and that all members will be treated equally.

According to Garba, Gwarzo reiterated the administration’s commitment to implementing programs that would benefit all the people of Kano State and urged continued support from residents for the state’s progress.

Speaking earlier, Alhaji Haruna Babangida Abbas (Kosashe), leader of the defectors, cited Governor Abba’s leadership qualities and governance style as reasons for their move.

He expressed regret for their past APC affiliation and pledged their dedication to working with the NNPP for Kano’s betterment.

Also Speaking, Kano NNPP Chairman, Alhaji Hashimu Dungurawa welcomed the new members and assured their involvement in the party’s activities.

He encouraged members of other parties, including the APC, to join the NNPP for the state’s advancement.

Dungurawa also urged support for the government’s policies.

The event was attended by prominent figures, like the Kano State Commissioner for Budget and Planning, Alhaji Musa Suleiman Shanono, and several NNPP stakeholders who celebrated the influx of new members.

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Ondo APC Primary: 171,922 accredited members to vote, says committee

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The committee to supervise the All Progressives Congress (APC) governorship primary in Ondo state, on Friday, said a total of 171,922 accredited members would vote on Saturday.

The primary is scheduled to hold in 203 wards in 18 local government areas with 16 aspirants including the governor, Mr Lucky Aiyedatiwa, contesting.

Sen. Ovie Omo-Agege, the Secretary of the seven-man committee, stated this after its meeting with stakeholders and aspirants on Friday night in Akure .

He said that none of the aspirants had before the eve of the exercise withdrawn or stepped down for another candidate.

The secretary said that the committee was ready to conduct the primary using  the direct mode in all the 203 wards across the state.

He appealed to the aspirants to caution their supporters to allow the peaceful conduct of the primary for the progress of the party.

Omo-Agege assured of the committee’s resolve to strictly follow the guidelines and constitution of the party and conduct a transparent, fair and credible election.

He said that the committee would collaborate with the security agencies in the state to forestall breakdown of law and order before, during and after the primary.

The committee is headed by Gov. Usman Adodo of Kogi.

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