The storm of 2023 general election is gathering momentum in Nigeria and it is clearly obvious that the nation is preparing for what will be another historic milestone in her electoral life after the June 12, 1993 Presidential election which saw Chief MKO Abiola of the Social Democratic Party, SDP coast to a landslide victory over his challenger Alhaji Bashir Tofa of the National Republican Convention, NRC.
The June 12 election was so intriguing that Vice Presidential Candidate of NRC, Sylvester Ugo lost his unit to MKO Abiola who had gained wide acceptability amongst Nigerians irrespective of ethnic and religious background. It took a suspension of announcement of the results and annulment of the election for what would have been the greatest electoral victory in Nigeria to be truncated.
2023 has already began to show signs of what is to come and a replication of June 12. The leading candidates are obviously Peter Obi of Labour Party, LP, Atiku Abubakar of People’s Democratic Party, PDP and Bola Tinubu of All Progressives Congress, APC.
Peter Obi in this mix is contesting on a platform many would say is relatively unknown to Nigeria politics. The PDP had ruled the country for 16years consolidating its structures across the 36 States of the federation. The APC has almost ruled for 8years also establishing it structures across Nigeria. The argument therefore that LP is a fantasy for some political analyst and institutional politicians hold water to the extent shallow knowledge and blatant refusal to accept that the political landscape has changed and conventions are about to be broken can suffice.
Why should the PDP and APC fear for relatively unknown LP? LP by all standard should not have been in the reckoning for the 2023 election except for the appearance of Peter Obi on its plaform. Until Peter Obi went to the Labour Party the 2023 Presidential election was supposed to be a two horse race.
Why will Peter Obi be president? The following can be deduced as possible reasons to support this position:
-Reawakening of old and new voters.
-We no dey give shishi philosophy.
-Active Youth Participation .
-BVAS and the 2022 Electoral Act.
-The state of the nation.
REAWAKENING OF OLD AND NEW VOTERS
In a personal interaction with many , I have come across a large number of individuals who the last time they voted was in June 12, 1993 and some March, 2011 Presidential election where President Goodluck Jonathan had come with the breath of fresh air. Many of these people disappointed that June 12 was not actualized and Jonathan did not match their expectation had stayed back from voting in 2015 and 2019. In 2023 this large army is poised to make a return to the polling units.
INEC in its concluded Continuous Voter Registration, CVR said it registered 12,298,944 new voters. This increased Nigeria’s registered voters from 84,000,484 recorded as of the last 2019 election cycle to 96,299,428. Many of these new voters have been motivated to do so because of the believe that a new Nigeria is PO-ssible and that with their vote Peter Obi will win the election.
It will interest you to know that in 2019 of the 84,000,484 total voters registered only 29,364,209 turned out to vote during the Presidential election, representing 35.66 percent. Even with this poor percentage of turnout, 1,289,607 votes were voided leaving the total number of votes shared by all the political parties that fielded Presidential Candidates at 27,324,583 votes. A large percentage of 64.34 of the total registered voters did not vote in 2019. Meaning that 56,675,901 registered voters failed to participate in the election either directly or indirectly.
These 56,675,901 voters added to the 12,298,944 newly registered voters take the number of those who did not vote in 2019 to 68,974,845 votes. This number should be a source of worry for the two major political parties PDP and APC which in 2019 could only manage to garner 26,454,825 votes between them. A large percentage of the 68,974,845 registered voters who did not vote in 2019 have been spurred to vote come 2023 because they believe in a Peter Obi/ Yusuf Datti Baba Ahmed’s new Nigeria. INEC witnessed an upsurge of registered voters with the emergence of Peter Obi as candidate of the Labour Party.
Markets were closed for people to go and register for their PVCs. Worship centres were grounds for mobilisation of new voters and many other places. Many undecided voters in 2019 say the hardship in the land is unbearable and only a purposeful leadership in what ObiDatti represents will be a break from the status quo. It is this 64.34 percent of voters added to the newly registered voters that are spoiled for action in 2023.
WE NO DEY GIVE SHISHI PHILOSOPHY
Peter Obi and Yusuf Datti Baba Ahmed have driven their campaign on the philosophy of ‘we no dey give shishi’, thus its support base has been organic. Supporters and potential voters are committing their time and resources to the OBI-dient movement. Rallies are organised from one state to the other without the planners having to bother about money for demobilization which has always been the norm with the major political parties. The ObiDatti Presidential Campaign Organisation is even yet to swing into main action as several support groups for Peter Obi have taken initiatives to drum support. It is either a one or two million man march for Peter Obi and people are turning up in the North and South of Nigeria.
Money politics seem to have dominated our elections, hence the increase in the incidents of vote buying. While the major political parties will be hoping to buy votes on election day with say #5,000 or less for each, the ‘we no dey give shishi’ philosophy means the voters will not expect money from Peter Obi and will either reject the money from the major political parties or even collect them but still vote for a better Nigeria in Peter Obi’s Labour Party.
Even more sad is the fact that delegates in the primaries of the major political parties were alleged to have received up to $25,000 to induce them to vote for the aspirants to emerge a candidates of their parties. Ironically these Candidates who it was alleged paid cumulatively up to #19,000,000 going by the current exchange rate to get just the party flag will now expect the common man who will vote them to be president of Nigeria to be given #5,000 on election day, which is equivalent to #3 per day for 4years that the president will be in office. Like they will say ‘our mumu don do’. The question is delegates or voters who should be more important to the politician?
ACTIVE YOUTH PARTICIPATION
Of the total 12,298,944 million new voters, at least 8.7 million of them are within the youthful age bracket of 18 to 34. About 2.4 million of them are between the ages of 35 and 49. A total of 856, 017 are between the ages of 50 to 69, while those within the age bracket of the Presidential Candidates of the two major political parties are 127,541 that is persons of 70years and above. It will be a travesty for just 127,541 to hijack our country from the 12,171,403 new voters.
Young people across Nigeria are making a great statement with the OBI-dient movement that they are ready to take back their country from the political class that has for years plunged her into economic hardship.
BVAS AND THE 2022 ELECTORAL ACT
Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) is an electronic device designed to read Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs) and authenticate voters – using the voters’ fingerprints – in order to prove that they are eligible to vote at a particular polling unit. The Assistant Presiding Officer (APO 1) by the 2022 Electoral Act are mandated use BVAS to verify and authenticate the voter. This will check the incident of over voting.
BVAS has totally eliminated the incident of the alleged practice of politicians buying PVCs from gullible voters to use on election days to carry out multiple voting. With BVAS any individual in possession of another person’s PVC will not be authenticated to vote and this action has been criminalised by the new electoral act and liable to 3years imprisonment. Many may leave polling units to prison if they fail to understand the consequences of their actions in rubbishing the electoral process.
The introduction of INEC Results Viewing Portal (IReV) where results of polling units will be uploaded to the cloud has eliminated manipulation of results. IReV involves scanning or photographing Polling Unit result sheets (Form EC 8A) once they are completed and verified and subsequently uploading the pictures to a dedicated backend server.
Channels Television and Yiaga Africa partnership has taken election credibility to a whole new level with the introduction of Election Results Analysis Dashboard (ERAD) to promote transparency of election results. The dashboard is based on official results uploaded on the INEC’s Results Viewing Portal (IReV).
Peter Obi will benefit greatly from this innovation of INEC and the votes of the people will truly count as the power of the ballot will be strengthened and the polling units will become the centre of the universe in our democratic process.
The major political parties have been beneficiaries of a flawed electoral system. The new electoral act is alien to our kind of elections. This reality is constantly biting the political class.
THE STATE OF THE NATION
Never in the history of this nation have we had it this bad. The economy is biting on Nigerians, financial institutions are operating almost half day service. A particular bank in Nigeria closes its operations at 1pm in all but one branch in Uyo to operate till 3pm because of the high cost of diesel.
Parents are struggling to cater for their families, Federal Universities have been on strike for over 5 months, aviation fuel is difficult to get, resulting in exorbitant air fares, the power sector is struggling, infrastructures are collapsing, our debt profile is increasing, our savings is depleting, insecurity is on the raise, etc. Ours is gradually becoming a failed state.
The hardship and difficulties in Nigeria has blurred party lines. Irrespective of your political party, the economy is biting on all. Nigerians more than ever are resolved to rescuing our nation.
Peter Obi’s Presidential bid gives hope to Nigerians that this state can rise and live up the true meaning of nationhood. Nigerians are fed up and it is in Peter Obi that a breath of fresh air can come to this country. Stand up and be counted, Peter Obi will be president of Nigeria if we all play our parts.