As preparation for the much-awaited 2023 general elections picks up pace, it has become a turbulent time for politics in Nigeria.
President Muhammadu Buhari signed the Electoral Bill into law on February 25 after a failed attempt to install an APC faithful, Lauretta Onochie, as one of the commissioners of the electoral body, INEC, paving the way for presidential and governorship elections on February 25 and March 11, 2023 respectively. Going by the timetable for the elections, political parties are expected to elect their flagship candidates by June 3 this year.
Less than one year to the 2023 presidential election, intense political activities have commenced. The political landscape has become home to many promises and issues ranging from the good, the bad and the ugly by political candidates and/or parties all in a bid to outsmart the other. This has had the net effect of charging the political atmosphere of the country.
Interestingly, the election will take place amidst devastating levels of insecurity, a deteriorating economic situation, endemic corruption, increased poverty levels and a growing discontentment with the government – all issues that the present administration promised to end in 2015 but has largely failed to deliver.
For many Nigerians, therefore, the 2023 polls present an important opportunity for a change in trajectory, owing to the aimless drift of the Nigerian state under the Muhammadu Buhari administration. Fortunately, provisions in the new Electoral Act such as digital platforms for recording and transmission of votes provide some hope about the credibility and transparency of the elections.
The high stakes surrounding the 2023 elections is evident in the caliber of political cabals vying for the position of the nation’s presidency against the backdrop of complex economic, political and security challenges which they all claim to have a lasting solution for.
Notwithstanding that there are 18 political parties currently authorized to operate in Nigeria, after INEC deregistered 75 parties for breaching regulations that govern their operations in February 2021, most attention is on the candidates of the ruling party, the All-Progressives Congress (APC) and the major opposition, People’s Democratic Party (PDP). Given their dominance of the political space, it is from the two parties that Nigeria’s next president will likely emerge from.
Gauging by current happenings in the polity, the rallying cry which forms the PDP’s overarching objective for the 2023 elections is: win the presidency in 2023 or face inevitable death. For the APC on the other hand, it is: retain the presidency or die. In the light of this, many party members have presented themselves as viable flagbearers, if the party is to achieve this objective.
Former Lagos State Governor, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, Ebonyi State Governor, Dave Umahi, Senator Rochas Okorocha, Kogi State Governor, Yahaya Bello and Transportation Minister, Rotimi Amaechi have declared their intention to vie for the APC presidential ticket. While Vice President, Yemi Osibanjo informed APC governors of his intention to run yesterday and will make it official today, Central Bank Governor, Godwin Emefiele is rumoured to have presidential ambition in the party but have yet to declare his intention.
From the PDP camp, there are: Governor of Sokoto State, Aminu Tambuwal; Newspaper publisher, Dele Momodu; Governor of Rivers State, Nyesom Wike; former governor of Anambra State, Peter Obi; Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Udom Emmanuel. Others are: former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar; former Senate President, Bukola Saraki; former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Anyim Pius Anyim and the Governor of Bauchi State, Bala Mohammed, as well as a female aspirant, Funmilayo Adesanya-Davies.
At this critical moment of economic doom and gloom and state of anomy, all candidates of both political parties have in the last couple of weeks, been making a lot of promises to the electorates to persuade them as to why they remain the best alternative in addressing the myriads of challenges currently buffeting the country.
In their quest to covet the nation’s most exalted seat, the aspirants and their cronies are not leaving any stone unturned. Existing and potential political office holders have started returning to the electorates with several enticing and juicy “empowerments” to gain popularity and ensure they get the needed support to boost their chances of emerging victorious at the polls.
To say the least, the romance between the politicians and the hoi polloi intensifies with each passing day. Typical of periods preceding an election year, there is a high amount of transfer and flow of public funds, mostly from a region of higher financial temperature to a region of lower financial temperature. That is to say, large amounts of money is being brandished by aspiring political candidates to the masses in varying forms, most of which are intended to woo the electorates to their favour.
That is not all, political players who control large amounts of wealth and influence are currently using religion to canvass support as well as dissuade the electorates from voting for a particular candidate or party. Some clerics have turned the church/mosque into a campaign arena for a candidate or political party because of a promised financial inducement.
To reiterate, the political landscape has become quite turbulent. However, with the commencement of campaigns on 28th September, the waters will get even more muddy.
Ezinwanne via firstname.lastname@example.org