On February 25, 2023, Nigerians across the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory would file out at the various polling units to choose the next president of the nation.
Since October, the candidates have been travelling from one state to another canvassing for votes. Promises have been made by the candidates who assured the voters of making lives meaningful for them. The presidential candidates have also engaged one another in verbal attacks, creating campaigns that are less issue-based. Name-calling, blame games and others took the centre stage throughout the campaigns.
It is important to state that all the political parties, including the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, have promised to do things differently from the incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari, whom they have all accused of inflicting hardships on Nigerians.
As the campaigns are wrapping up and the election day is coming closer, candidates are putting finishing touches to their electioneering activities, using their foot soldiers in the states. However, this depends on the kind of political structure a party and its candidate have in place in each state.
Without being unfair to other political parties, It was has observed that there are four prominent candidates in the 2023 presidential election. They include: Atiku Abubakar of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, Bola Tinubu of the APC, Peter Obi of the Labour Party, LP, and Rabiu Kwankwaso of the New Nigeria Peoples Party, NNPP.
In Ogun State, It was observed that two of the candidates are mostly on the lips of the people ahead of the 2023 election. The candidates of the leading political parties appear to be getting the needed support from even the remotest parts of the State; but the same cannot be said of Peter Obi and Kwankwaso.
The APC candidate has a very bright chance in Ogun. There are reasons for this. Tinubu is the candidate of the ruling party in the State. The former Lagos State governor has the Governor, Dapo Abiodun, as his Campaign Director. Though the APC in Ogun has different factions, all party leaders in the Gateway State are behind the Jagaban.
At a political function recently, former Governor Ibikunle Amosun said he would not support the reelection bid of Abiodun, but would campaign for Tinubu. Amosun stated that his followers would also vote for Tinubu on February 25.
Apart from Amosun, former Governors Segun Osoba and Gbenga Daniel, as well as all former deputy governors are behind Asiwaju for president.
Also, Tinubu is expected to enjoy some ethnic sentiments, being a Yoruba man from the South West. It is hoped that many Ogun people may want to support him based on the fact that they want a Yoruba man to succeed Buhari on May 29.
Nonetheless, some factors may work against the top Southern presidential candidate. Reactions from the ongoing cash and fuel scarcity in the country could spell doom for the APC. Ogun residents, who are seriously affected by the naira redesign policy are regretting voting for the APC in 2015. They lamented that Tinubu was the one who brought Buhari and had been supporting all his “bad policies” since eight years ago instead of standing by the people.
Likewise, some are of the opinion that the APC candidate is too old and no more fit and healthy enough to rule a ‘sick nation’ like Nigeria.
Some are also not pleased with the APC Muslim-Muslim ticket. This school of thought believes that Kashim Shettima, a northern Muslim, is not the right choice for Tinubu.
Be that as it may, Tinubu, barring any change in political equation, is expected to win Ogun, but with a slim margin.
Like Tinubu, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar is another candidate who is also enjoying maximum support from the people of Ogun State. Atiku is contesting under the main opposition party, which has a strong political structure in all the 236 wards of Ogun.
Before Amosun took over in 2011, Ogun used to be a PDP State, but the party was torn apart due to political infighting. In 2022, the party grew by leaps and bounds after Hon. Adekunle Akinlade led a sizable number of his supporters into the party. The party has also succeeded in winning all court cases that could have prevented it from participating actively in the 2023 polls.
Today, the PDP in Ogun State appears to be battle-ready and everything seems to be happening in its favour. The party has popular candidates for all the political posts and their influence can be felt across the State.
As Ogun people try to avoid the APC due to hardship, they are considering the PDP, which they said was erroneously rejected due to APC propaganda in 2015.
In 2015, the APC defeated the PDP with over 100,000 votes. While the APC scored 308,290 votes, the APC polled 207,950 votes. In 2019, the margin of victory was 87,107. Buhari got 281,762 votes to defeat Atiku who had 194,655.
With the situation of things in Nigeria at the moment, coupled with the fact that the PDP is waxing stronger in Ogun, Atiku is likely to pull a surprise next Saturday.
In Ogun State, Obi is enjoying the support of a former President and elder statesman, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, but this is yet to have the needed effect on the candidate. This may be because the party under which Obi is contesting does not have a structure that spreads across the State.
Before now, the Labour Party in the Gateway State was more or less a one-man show under the control of the party’s embattled Acting National Publicity Secretary and former State Chairman, Abayomi Arabambi.
Recently, instead of building bridges and accommodating one another, the party plunged into a major crisis that led to the dissolution of its State executive.
It was reports that the party struggled so hard to fill up the names of party agents for the elections. At the moment, the Labour Party is yet to have its governorship candidate on the list of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC.
Nevertheless, the party may gather some votes from youths and others who see Obi as a better alternative to the duo of Atiku and Tinubu. Easterners living in Ogun State will also mobilise votes for the former Anambra State Governor.
When the former Kano State Governor, Rabiu Kwankwaso visited Abeokuta, he was well received by northerners living in Ogun State, an attestation that some Hausa/Fulani people resident in Ogun State would back him.
Like the Labour Party, Kwankwaso’s NNPP is not known in most parts of the State and the party is not a match for the APC and the PDP.