Election time anywhere in the world always brings with it telling effects in the society in every aspect; from the economy, to social and expectedly the political vibrations, sometimes hidden, sometimes open. Even in highly developed countries these effects are not absent, just that they may not be as open as we have in most unstable or inefficient democracies like Nigeria.
The 2023 general elections in Nigeria is just by the corner and has become a major factor in the implicit and explicit realities of the state as it is today. Going from there it is pertinent to point out takeaways from the politicking around the 2023 elections today; both old scripts and new story lines:
Political space heated up
Child play or intense chess
The power of hope or consensus bait
Voters remain the same; powerful and powerless
Both major parties are confused – APC even more
Conspiracy theory is overrated
Que Sera, Sera
1. The political atmosphere has become LOGICALLY delicate and heated up; every action or inaction of politicians will either be profit or loss to their branding. This is actually what is expected as man has been known to always want to outdo the past. Not even the 2019 elections nor that of 2015 when it was predicted by global think thanks that Nigeria would disintegrate were as interesting as what we have now.
The main difference is that what made the previous ones thick had to do with issues, while the current one is based on a complex web of personalities involved as never witnessed before. Not to mention that important issues like economy, education, security and the rest have been sidelined as almost non-existent. At best these pressing issues will find a paragraph in manifestos.
2. Child Play or intense chess: Declarations of presidential aspirations used to be something reserved – de facto – for ‘few among the few’, at best there could be 4 or 5 main contenders in party primary elections. But with the numerous presidential declarations witnessed this time around across political parties in Nigeria, it has taken the nature of a kindergarten game played by matured men.
The number of ‘declarers’ in the two main parties alone, APC and PDP were more than 100 at a time until it began to whittle down to around 40 at the latest count.
Two implications arise from this; it is either these brilliant men in their individual or cabalistic sects are engaged in a complex strategy to win the presidential race which cannot be deciphered by the common man or they have simply turned a serious business into a child’s play.
3. The power of hope or consensus bait: Not to demean or venerate any contestant; apart from those who might be seen as pretenders and not contenders like Adamu Garba and co, but does even Akpabio or Nwajiuba think they can rival the internal control of party structures held by someone like Tinubu in country where almost nothing is fair. The answer may then be that it is nothing but hope and the miracles it brings which has lured all and sundry into these shocking and courageous declarations.
On the other hand, the party leader in the person of President Buhari is known to love the consensus method in issues like this, just like he did in the selection of the APC party chairman. Also, remember he declined mentioning who his preferred candidate is during an interview sometime back, some might believe that he might just pick the least expected person as his choice candidate which will not be contested by any party member because of the president’s cult-like personality.
4. Voters remain the same, powerful and powerless: voters in Nigeria to a large extent have been known to be extremely gullible; from being psyched with generic manifestos and ethnic or religious sentiments, to being bought for piecemeal (as low as N500) and to the rigging with impunity which makes votes almost amount to nothing. Sometimes politicians just campaign as a form of formality, they know how to get the numbers.
Yet with the introduction of certain measures by INEC and also the Electoral Act, it is hoped that rigging will be curbed as much as possible and coupled with the fact that voters are wiser now than in previous elections (at least in theory), they thus remain the force to reckon with in the coming election.
5. Both major parties are confused – APC even more: from the previous point, the ruling APC and the opposing PDP know what is at stake, that the portfolio of the candidate they choose to be their flag bearers will go a long way in determining who wins the coming It is in light of this that these two parties have been playing hide and seek games as to the emergence of a presidential flag bearer.
APC knows that its control of affairs in the last 8 years has been greatly below expectations, so it has more to worry about, no wonder the wrangling in the party.
It is a laughable dilemma; maybe a neutral committee should be set up to conduct party primaries for the 2 parties simultaneously so that they take whoever emerges as their natural fate.
6. Conspiracy theory is overrated: an interesting part of politics has always been the element of conspiracy in it by all parties, irrespective of status. Conspiracy theorists always look behind the scenes and beyond the surface to explain events.
Events in the past months in Nigeria have been explained through the lens of conspiracy theories; from Tweets to Silence, riots and even sheer dress code of politicians. The truth is that politicians are always in a game which they may win or lose, conspiracy or not.
7. Que Sera, Sera: does the 2023 elections need any special prophecy attached to it – maybe yes, maybe no. Politicians may work tooth and nail to see that their plans come to pass or they eschew desperation and play it like gentlemen.
Because these strong men are hungry, their scheming will produce a blend of extremes and equilibrium which will lead what will be to become and the coming president will find himself or herself on the seat come 2023; surprised or prepared.