The 2023 campaign kick-started since September 2022 according to the Electoral Umpire’s timetable and guideline for the campaign including the limitation of financial expenditure and adherence to the Electoral Act (amended).
But other than the pretentious Labor Party (LP) and New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP) that hope to defy gravity by winning without a structure, platform or even clear cut ideology, the two leading contenders for the presidential throne are at sixes and sevens in their parties, and sometimes at odds with the country itself. Their presidential primaries, more than the other tiers of primaries, have birthed a host of troubles for them. After many years of indulging terrorists, appeasing them or conducting futile negotiations with them, it seems the Buhari administration has recognized the urgency of taking the battle to the terrorists and pacifying them before the February 2023 elections. The two leading contenders for the ultimate prize, PDP’s Atiku Abubakar and APC’s Bola Ahmed Tinubu, are too desperate to unite their parties behind them in order to run cohesive and fruitful campaigns.
Few weeks ago, the coming elections started to look doubtful. But from all indications now, and regardless of every doomsday prediction, the elections will hold as scheduled. The parties have realized that fact, and the candidates also sense it. They will, therefore, work on the assumption that the polls will hold as scheduled. The country’s political and economic structures are incapable of inspiring growth, development and stability in the medium to long term, but until something is done about the way the country is untenably configured, the parties or anyone with ambition will work on the basis of the present configuration. Self determination groups will naturally continue their agitations, but not even they can predict just how or when their efforts will yield anything if at all, it will yield, whether fruits, collapse of the entire system which they long for without a clue how to manage its potentially catastrophic fallout, or a new order. In a country of competitive ethnic and religious groups, some of them promoting hegemony, no one can be sure of anything should they let the chips fall where they may.
The APC may be trying to get over the lingering hangover that followed its Muslim-Muslim ticket choice, and may even be frantic and anxious about it, but it is the PDP that is groaning the most in pain on how to manage its post-presidential primary fallout.
Lately, APC stakeholders have begun to whisper with eager about unseating their national chairman, Sen. Abdullahi Adamu and they are truly eager to fish for other issues to divide their party, but for the PDP, the scorned governor of Rivers State, Nyeson Ezenwo Wike, has become quite a handful. He is not only teasing their temperament, he who had been accused of possessing the wrong temperament, he is also testing their resolve. Twice they scorned him in quick succession, first as presidential aspirant with high hopes, then, as presidential running mate potential with the requirements, but the implausibly hope to cash in, literally and figuratively, on his oil-rich state and population to fund their 2023 campaigns for overall victory.
To Wike, however, it is not just the act of scorning him that is driving him up the wall, the way PDP leaders have been exultant in putting him down, and framing it in colorful and acerbic language, drives him insensate. The PDP leaders hope that his promise of staying loyal to the party, come what may, would be sufficient to prevent his defection to the flirtatious APC.
Wike along with comrades in syndicate are battling the odds to prove them hopelessly wrong. He is unapologetically flirting with the APC like a frustrated greedy undecided beautiful lady with several suitors, and has even started giving top leaders of the ruling party of place in the state’s public relations drive just as he gave to Peter Obi of the Labor Party.
APC leaders on their own also hold out the tantalizing hope that his defection, which they long for with all their hearts, would solve their South-South electoral conundrum and put them in pole position for 2023. Gnashing their teeth due to Wike’s bellicosity and his cruel and remorseless baiting, but alarmed he might make good his unspoken threat, PDP leaders have waffled considerably, unsure what to, do next than to ignore Wike’s shenanigans and uncouth vituperations and immature behaviors as call to his bluff or to placate him for their peace.
Their agony is worsened by the politics surrounding the zoning of the party’s mational chairmanship position. Sen. Iyorchia Ayu, their doughty chairman, hails from the same Northern Region as their hobbled presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, quite contrary to their initial zonal arrangement before the former vice president usurped the party’s presidential ticket.
Undoubtedly, both the APC and the PDP will surely overcome their present aggravations. They will be tested to the limit, and their opponents will stoke the fire against them, but as the campaigns loom, they will resolve their differences smartly or paper over the existing cracks clumsily. The APC’s Muslim-Muslim ticket is fait accompli; it will be carried to the general elections because the ruling party has burnt its bridges already. It is not clear whether the whisper against the national chairman will prompt them into open revolt; if it subsequently does, they will make short work of it and not lose any long sleep.
For the PDP, it is unclear why, on the chairmanship zoning issue, they want to have their cake and eat it alone. With the exuberant Sen. Ayu tasting the plum of office and needlessly embroiling himself in the election of the PDP presidential candidate, he has already boxed himself into a tight corner and will be unable to convince anyone he should not step down for the exalted position to rotate south.
There are indications Atiku feels more comfortable with Ayu as chairman, or at least shows a sense of loyalty to him for the role he played in the presidential primary; but in the end, sustaining the present iniquitous arrangement would be difficult of impossible. We wait to see!
Both APC and PDP cannot pretend not to recognize how decidedly antagonistic the mood of the country is to them, particularly because they exemplify the old, decadent order. This frustration explains the electorate’s infatuation with former Anambra governor, Peter Obi of Labor Party. The hobnobbing will amount to very little ultimately, but it could prove somewhat harmful to either party.
It means nothing to the electorate that Obi has enunciated little, embraced no discernible ideology, and continue to campaign mainly on the self-aggrandizing claim of frugality as a policy. Only the APC, despite its dismal record in government, and the PDP, despite its appalling past, stand any chance of forming the next government.
Revolution could thwart that sanguine outcome, and general unrest could switch the pendulum, but it can be safely surmised that despite the agonies of the two leading parties, Labour, New Nigeria Peoples Party and the other masquerades will surely be missing on the day when the battle for the crown will be truly joined. That’s the objective truth!
Lastly, the chips are down. The hitherto lingering legal battle between Senate President Ahmed Ibrahim Lawan and Bashir Machina all within the APC family over who is the rightful candidate for Yobe South Senatorial contest in 2023, has ended. The Senate President has been finally retired by the Court of Appeal after open display of his greed and stay-put syndrome. Bashir Machina was declared as the eligible candidate for the contest.
On Wednesday, November 30, the Federal High Court in Jos, Plateau State, settled another issue of legitimacy within the same APC family for Wase federal constituency contest between Rt. Hon. Ahmed Idris and Hon. Yahaya Adamu.
The court dismissed the claim of Hon. Yahaya Adamu with cost and upheld the decision of those 59 out of 60 APC delegates who mandated Rt. Hon. Ahmed Idris Wase as their legitimate candidate for the contest. The case has rested finally. It is now a battle between Rt. Hon. Ahmed Idris Wase flying the flag of the ruling party, APC and Ibrahim Kanje Bawa SAN from the strongest opposition, PDP. The pudding now lies in the eating. The ball is rolling on the pitch of the electorates.
Muhammad is a commentator on national issues