The politics of 2023 presidential elections

As Nigeria braces for the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, politicians are still doing their thing- Politics- It is a global practice, no harm. The  Adams Oshiomhole’s two weeks bitter power struggle in the All Progressives Congress (APC) is a pointer the 2023 elections in Nigeria which is still three years away, but the political actors have begun scheming how to grab presidential power. So, we cannot shy away from discussing the politics of the 2023 presidency. The battle will be fierce – the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) will be on the offensive; while the party in power, the All Progressive Congress the (APC) will be on the defensive. Ordinary Nigerians will be able to put both parties on a scale and score them. PDP had spent 16 years in power while the APC would have spent 8. Both have tasted power. Who is bringing something new and interesting?

The issues of security, economy and the fight against corruption will be on the front burner in assessing both parties. Has anything changed? Are things different from what they used to be? What ought to be? These questions will be very paramount to many Nigerians and the answers will be key to deciding who they will vote for.

In addressing these concerns, the APC may struggle and may be on the defensive, giving the PDP the edge to go on the offensive. What may help the APC is the politics of the vice president’s slot

Based on current permutations, the APC will likely zone its presidential ticket to the southwest- with frontrunners including Bola Ahmed Tinubu, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and Governor Kayode Fayemi. The PDP, on the other hand, seems to be spinning on a spot- Atiku is currently the only person who appears willing and ready; though, as times moves on, the field will be crowded.

For instance, if the APC picks Tinubu and PDP picks Atiku again, it will be an interesting contest. Each of them has well-established political structures that can easily scare an opponent and each can pay his own political bills. Both are veterans of Nigerian politics and have decades of political relevance and strong public support. Notwithstanding the candidate each party fields, the joker of the 2023 elections is the choice of running mates. Any party that gets this wrong will suffer a devastating loss.

For APC, picking its vice-presidential candidate from the north will give the party an edge. Some people in the northwest; especially governors in their second terms would be interested in the position, however, the northwest has produced two presidents and one vice president from 2007 to date.  Besides, the ordinary man in the northwest may not expect the presidential or vice-presidential ticket to be zoned to the region, and most of the governors are in their 60s. Nigerians will expect to have a young VP in his or her 40s.  In a modern democracy, the vice president’s position is tooled to present another face of the government. If the president is old; a young vice president is picked, acting as a balance in the government.

 It is rarely likely both APC and PDP will produce a young person as a president. With Nigerians likely to use same scale to gauge both APC and PDP- performance in security, economy, and the fight against corruption, APC’s weapon will be to present a young person from the north as its vice-presidential candidate.  In 2015, the north-central gave APC nearly 15% of the 15,424,921 votes; while the northeast gave the party 18.4% of the votes. In 2019 the north-central produced 15.2% of APC’s 15,191,847 votes, while the northeast muscled 21.3%. Democracy is about numbers and at the same time, about simple logic. The APC may not just ignore the northwest’s  46% and 61% votes contribution to its victories in 2015 and 2019 but apply logic by giving the vice president’s slot to the northwest’s cousins- the northeast. The region has also some young men in their 40s playing vital role in the politic which is also an added advantage. Nigerians already know the likely presidential candidates in 2023, the game-changer will be the vice-presidential candidates. The region they come from, age and their personalities will be key to winning the election.

Muhammad writes from Jimeta, Adamawa state via 08036070980, [email protected]

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