Disclaimer: All opinions contained in this article do not represent the author’s stance on the subject matter. This is an aggregation of public opinions and views expressed by various individuals across the Internet and various social media platforms. The questions raised are intended to be rhetorical.
After eight years of President Muhammudu Buhari’s controversial administration, every Nigerian across the different geopolitical zones of the country – having registered with the electoral body, goes to the ballot to determine who steers the affairs of the country for the next four years.
The initial electoral process of selecting various representatives of the different registered political parties has since begun in earnest. After weeks of endless intrigues, politicking and permutations, several parties have finally decided on who bears the flag of their ambition.
The ruling party, All Progressives Congress, settled for the choice of the former governor of Lagos State, Ashiwaju Bola Tinubu after a keenly contested primary election at the nation’s capital. The main opposition party, People’s Democratic Party, had earlier chosen the much familiar Atiku Abubakar, who had previously contested in almost every election since the nation’s return to democracy in 1999.
Perhaps the biggest surprise since the beginning of the electoral activities is the defection and eventual emergence of Mr (as he prefers to be addressed) Peter Obi as the presidential candidate of the Labour Party. Mr Obi, who is the former governor of Anambra state, had defected from the People’s Democratic Party for the Labour Party just a few days prior to the primary election which he had registered to participate in.
Now, the stage is almost set for the biggest showdown in Nigeria’s politics. Although there are about 72 parties registered with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the Presidential race is largely between three political ‘heavyweights’ – Ashiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Atiku Abubakar of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and Mr. Peter Obi of the Labour Party (LP). There have been various arguments amongst the electorate, particularly on the internet and various social media platforms, regarding the credibility, capability, and chances of emergence of each candidate. The main focus here is to objectively curate and present these arguments for your perusal.
Atiku Abubakar – The ATIKUlated Agenda
Needless to say, everyone would agree that Atiku Abubakar is no stranger to the business of Nigerian politics as he is a very familiar face to the electorate. He had previously served as Vice President under President Olusegun Obasanjo’s two-term administration and contested every election at the Presidential level since then. In fact, the 2022 Presidential Competency Index Report compiled by Vizualytiks, ranked him highest in terms of Brand Equity among the thirty-five (35) potential candidates analysed. The report which also featured the current Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, the APC’s candidate Bola Ahmed Tinubu, and the Labour Party’s candidate, Mr Peter Obi amongst others, is a proprietary ranking tool based on identified metrics that are currently best-suited to objectively assess competency without any bias or external influence.
However, his brand equity took what may turn out to be an irreparable damage on the 1st of April when he publicly condemned the stoning to death and burning of Deborah Samuel, a student of Shehu Shagari College of Education, Sokoto, on the basis of alleged blasphemy of Prophet Muhammad (SAW). Some Muslim Northerners took to the posts, assuring him of defeat at the elections for the singular act of betrayal as he was, in their words, supposed to “applaud” the lynching, being a practising Muslim himself. In a bid to salvage the situation, his media team took down the post across all of his media handles but it had already gained attention from the Christian Southerners who grew even more disgusted at the perceived cowardice and bigotry. The task of steering such complex situations faces Atiku and his ambition; how would he clear these notions and gain the much sought-after trust of the electorate?
Ashiwaju Bola Tinubu – BATified forever!
His emergence as the Presidential flagbearer of the ruling party is, to some, the masterstroke of a political maestro. In the contest with many other political heavyweights such as the current Vice-President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, the Minister for Transportation, Hon. Rotimi Amaechi and the Senate President, Sen. Ahmed Lawan amongst others, Ashiwaju delivered a perfect masterstroke as seven of the twenty-two aspirants stepped down for him and he clinched a little above half of the total votes cast. However, the main contest would be the real test of his political sagacity.
Prior to his emergence, Ashiwaju had been in the news for his infamous utterances, his obviously debilitating health and his desperation to become the next President of Nigeria. First, at the annual colloquium organized in his honour, he went on to suggest to the Presidency that youths – whether graduates or young people in general, be drafted into the army in order to reduce unemployment and into farming to provide food for the country. He was also caught on camera at several public events exhibiting physical instability, resting tremors and other symptoms of ageing. While addressing the party delegates prior to the primary election, Ashiwaju bared his desperation publicly as he claimed to be deserving of the party’s ticket simply because he facilitated the party’s power capture in 2015 – in his words, President Buhari would not have had a chance at the polls seeing that he (Buhari) had failed three consecutive times prior if not for his (Ashiwaju’s) help.
As a result, the nation’s youth demography is generally averse to the choice of Ashiwaju as the next President of the country. In fact, there have been several arguments on the shady source of his rich lifestyle to allegations of corruption and his purported achievements while in office as the governor of Lagos State. His supporters have put forward claims that it was Ashiwaju’s master plan that transformed Lagos State both economically and infrastructurally to its present status as one of Africa’s megacities. However, there have been several rebuttals and pieces of evidence claiming he left Lagos worse than he met it. The begging question becomes; Is there any sustaining legacy or blueprint Ashiwaju left as governor of Lagos that could serve as a testimony of his intellectual capacity to transform Nigeria?
Mr Peter Obi – We are OBIdient!
Having previously served as a two-term governor of Anambra State albeit amidst several controversies, Mr Peter Obi contested the 2019 elections as a running mate to Atiku Abubakar under the flag of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP). He was in the contest for the presidential ticket of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) before defecting to the Labour Party (LP) for refusing to ‘pay’ for votes. Since his emergence as the flagbearer for the Labour Party, there has been a surge of campaign activities, especially among the educated and the youths on various social media platforms. Testimonials and physical proofs of his character, intuitive sagaciousness and political legacies as governor of Anambra State.
However, the task before Mr Peter Obi is perhaps, greater than any other candidate. The Labour Party, under whose banner he is contesting, can barely be recognized as a national party due to a lack of an active physical presence in all the wards and local governments across the country, unlike the APC and PDP. Also, in several parts of the country, the brand ‘Peter Obi’ is not known at all. In fact, he ranks lowest among the contestants discussed in this article according to the Presidential Competency Index Report. Although according to his supporters, he possesses the credentials, capability and wonderful antecedents to turn the economic fortunes of the country around, the task remains how to market the ‘Peter Obi’ brand beyond the reach of the Internet to the common Nigerian despite the time frame and odds stacked against his favour.
May the best man win!