Apolitical parties gear up for the 2023 general elections ABDULRAHMAN ZAKARIYAU examines the challenges before the opposition political parties and their chances especially in the presidential election.
There is so much excitement, especially among the Nigerian youths, about the 2023 general elections just like it was during the build-up to the 2015 general elections.
The excitement has been attributed to the calibre of personalities aspiring to succeed President Muhammadu Buhari, just as others believe it has more to do with anticipation and expectations of a better and prosperous Nigeria as the incumbent government is set to leave office.
It is worth noting that Nigeria had 92 political parties before 2020; however, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) unregistered 74 political parties drastically reducing the number of parties and options for Nigerians.
Consequently, in all elections held after February 6, 2020, only 18 political parties or fewer participated. It is expected that not more than 18 political parties would participate in the 2023 general elections.
Expectedly presidential candidates have since emerged following the conclusion of primary elections by the political parties.
They include: former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, who was elected as the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate; former Kano State Governor, Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, emerged presidential candidate of New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP); and former Governor of Anambra state, Peter Obi, as candidate of Labour Party (LP), are considered the major challengers of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential candidate, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
Other presidential candidates in the forthcoming election include: Chekwas Okorie of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA); Malik Ado-Ibrahim of the Young Progressives Party (YPP); Adewole Adebayo of the Social Democratic Party (SDP); and Dumebi Kachikwu, African Democratic Congress (ADC).
Others include: Kola Abiola of the People’s Redemption Party (PRP); Dan Nwanyanwu of the Zenith Labour Party (ZLP); and Yabagi Sani of the Action Democratic Party (ADP); Christopher Imumolen of Accord (A); Hamza Al-Mustapha, Action Alliance (AA); Omoyele Sowore, African Action Congress (AAC); Yusuf Mamman Dantalle, Allied Peoples Movement (APM); Osita Nnadi, Action Peoples Party (APP); Sunday Adenuga, Boot Party (BP); and Okwudili Nwa-Anyajike, National Rescue Movement (NRM).
As preparation for the elections gather momentum these candidates are confronted with several challenges which if not addressed effectively and timely are capable of truncating their chances of defeating the ruling APC at the poll.
Finance, structure problems
A political analyst, Aminu Mohammed, has identified finance and national political structure as big challenges for most of the opposition parties.
Mohammed in a phone interview with Blueprint Weekend stressed that in Nigeria resources are required for political parties to win elections.
He noted that, “The APC has national spread, political structure across the country and members with financial war-chest to prosecute any election.”
According to him, “Like APC, other opposition political parties also needed finance and political structure to make meaningful impact in the 2023 elections. Unfortunately, most of them don’t have the finance and the national political structure needed to win.
“We must understand social media cannot win the 2023 general elections for any party. Therefore, political parties and their candidates should not be deceived by what they read or see on social media; about 85 per cent of those who will vote are not on social media.
“To reach out to this majority that will determine the party and candidate that will win, the political parties need finance. The opposition political parties need finance to run campaigns across the country, media campaigns, logistics, establish and maintain their political structure and for other important things.
“I have read some opinions that argued that political structure is not important. Anyone who believes that does not understand Nigeria politics. Opposition parties need a national political structure to win a presidential election.
“It is the political structure that will make mobilisation easy, promote parties and candidates across the country, and monitor and police polling units for their parties among others. So, finance and structure are the major challenges for the opposition political parties.
“Atiku’s PDP is far better, but it is still a challenge to PDP too because they don’t have finance and a national structure like that of the ruling APC. Therefore without finance and the national political structure that can stand that of APC, the chances of PDP, LP, NNPP and other 14 political parties remain very slim.”
Absence of formidable coalition
Similarly, a former National Chairman, National Democratic Party (NDP), Chudi Chukwuani, has insisted that the lack of a formidable coalition among the 17 opposition remained a big issue as the country proceeds into the 2023 presidential election.
He acknowledged that, unlike in the 2019 elections everything was up for grabs, and nobody has a monopoly at this stage of the game.
Chukwuani, however, maintained that the lack of formidable coalition among the opposition parties remained a big issue.
Responding to questions on likely consequences of the absence of formidable coalition among the opposition parties, he said: “I see a lot of dissipation of votes. We have the PDP, NNPP, LP and so many others that will share their votes. So, invariably, you have what we call dissipation of votes; whereas the ruling party is one and have remained one.
“The APC has been united and they have been like that for the past seven years while the opposition has been dissipated into fragments.
“I would have thought that build up to this election, somebody in the opposition would have had the presence of mind to have formed a coalition.
“You know, just like it was done in 2015, against former President Goodluck Jonathan. APC led a coalition and it was that coalition that eventually overcame the dominance of the ruling PDP.
“The opposition political parties are not taking advantage of the situation in terms of building a formidable coalition. They are also fragmented. So you’re going to have total fragmentation. That’s what I foresee.
“So there will be no dominant force, nobody will be able to achieve any of the constitutional requirements.
“The only way any opposition can win is through unity of all opposition parties. They have to be united, you cannot beat an elephant without being united, you have to be united in your attack. You have to be united so coalition is paramount.”
In a related development, another political analyst, Jide Ojo, added voice to the argument maintaining that the opposition parties stand a chance, but the lack of formidable coalition was a threat to their chances.
Ojo, who in a phone chat with Blueprint Weekend noted that politics was about risk-taking, noted that: “Anyone afraid of throwing a dime should never throw six.”
Speaking further on the chances of the opposition political parties at the poll he said, “What can aid them is the fact that we have a president that will not be contesting in 2023. So it is a plus for the opposition if they get their act together.
“To be successful in the next election, there is a need for all the opposition parties to align. You see what we have is a three horse race and that is not good for the opposition because each of them will be digging deep in their respective region.
“The opposition is supposed to align. Atiku is running his race believing that he owns the North, Peter Obi believes he owns the South-east, and Kwankwaso thinks he owns some part of the North too, while the APC candidate, Tinubu believes he owns the South-west, with allied forces from the North, South and South-east, particularly the APC governors.”
Speaking further he said: “But you see, an election like football, is not mathematics. So, I feel, you know in 2014 -2015, we were in a state of two parties. It was PDP and APC others were just featherweight opposition. Now we are seeing the emergence of a very strong Labour Party candidate unless the instrumentality of the court is used to disqualify Peter Obi I think is likely going to play a spoiler’s role the for the opposition, so to speak, even for the ruling parties.
“It is now two the major candidate in the South and against one in the North, instead of southern Nigeria uniting for Tinubu, they will have a polarised candidacy between the two of them.
PDP, LP, NNPP optimistic
The PDP, LP and NNPP have insisted that they stand a good chance in the election based on various reasons they have advanced.
In an interview with Blueprint Weekend, PDP Deputy National Chairman (North), Amb. Umar Damagum, explained that their candidate and the party stood a good chance because of the poor performance index of the President Buhari-led APC administration.
He said the PDP has realised its mistakes, the APC has failed and Nigerians were willing to have PDP back to rebuild the country.
“We will win the 2023 presidential election. The APC has failed woefully in almost all aspects. Nigerians are waiting to kick the party out of government. They destroyed the economy, Nigeria is no longer safe, corruption is at its peak under APC and you think Nigerians will still support them?
“Nigerians are waiting for the PDP and because of the APC’s failure they will vote for our party and Atiku to rescue and rebuild the country.”
On his part, the Director-General, Peter Obi LP Campaign Organisation, Dr Doyin Okupe, said the party stood a good chance because majority of the Nigerian youths believe the party’s candidate has the capacity to turn things around in Nigeria.
He added that all polls carried out by independent evaluators gave the lead to Obi and the Labour Party.
“All polls tick Obi as better than all in the race. Peter Obi’s influence and popularity have not been seen since Abiola’s time. Nigerian youths love and believe Peter Obi is the man to rescue Nigeria,” Okupe stated.
Similarly, former Governor of Kano state and NNPP candidate, Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, expressed confidence that Nigerians would vote for him and the NNPP in the 2023 presidential election, insisting he would coast home to victory against candidates of PDP and APC.
The leader of Kwankwasiya movement, in a recent interview, maintained that once there was free and fair election, it would be difficult for anyone to defeat the NNPP.
“I am certain of victory against presidential candidates of the ruling APC, Bola Tinubu, and Atiku Abubakar of the major opposition party PDP at the poll in 2023.
“Although I and the party will only be a symbol on the ballot paper, it is the people that will go to the polling booths to vote them out because the difference between me and the two other major candidates is very clear. They are well-known to Nigerians, and they have nothing new to tell Nigerians. And I am also well-known, and the people know what I stand for.
“Our candidacy is based on capacity and performance. Nigerians will not vote for any experiment now; people are looking for those that have done it better in the past, and people who are trusted. Nigerians want someone that can unite Nigeria, improve the education system, and end the issue of incessant insecurity. We’ve always cared for the people. And many, especially the poor masses, were happy that I got the presidential ticket of the NNPP,” he stated.