Ahead of Wednesday’s kick-off of campaigns for elective offices in the 2023 general elections, political parties, candidates and various support groups are raising the bar on how to canvass support for their ambitions.
To this end, there are intrigues and anxiety as parties and their candidates seek to sell themselves to the electorate and also demarket their opponents.
Tinubu support group
One of such groups is the Delta state chapter of the Buhari Support Organisation (BSO) which said over 235,000 votes would be delivered for the presidential candidate of the All Progressive Congress (APC), Bola Ahmed Tinubu in next year’s election.
At an enlarged meeting of ward and local government coordinators held Sunday in Asaba, the state coordinator of BSO, Emma Ejiofor, urged members to re-double their efforts to enlist unit commanders to ensure victory for Mr. Tinubu.
Ejiofor said BSO was working to ensure the consolidation of the gains of the President Muhammadu Buhari -led administration.
“The problem of this country is lack of sustainable leadership which has affected economic development. So we are working on consolidation. Buhari has done well that we can’t just let the work go just like that,” he said.
National Officer of BSO, Lauretta Onochie, who doubles as the South-south woman leader, said membership of the group cuts across all political parties, adding that the aim was to promote Buhari’s ideas.
Onochie dismissed claims that President Buhari was allegedly working behind the scenes for the emergence of a northerner as his successor in 2023.
She said: “We all know that PMB will not be on the ballot in 2023 but he will be in the background. So, the essence of this is to prepare members of BSO and to let them know where our principal is standing.
“As it stands now, PMB stands with Tinubu and as members of BSO, we also stand with Tinubu.
“PMB has no tribal or ethnic or religious bone in his body. He does not do religion, he is spiritual, he does not do tribalism, he is a very fair minded person.
“People just think that if they say he is nepotistic, that he is rooting for the north that it will stick, it will not stick because that is not who he is.
“PMB is a trusted man who follows due diligence and he respects those who have been working with him and have supported him.”
The BSO leader said Tinubu is the best among the contenders, noting that with his (Tinubu) track performance in infrastructure and human capital development, the APC candidate would build on the foundation laid by PMB if elected.
And in what appears a setback for the presidential ambition of Peter Obi of the Labour Party (LP), the party would not be fielding candidates for some of the National Assembly seats.
This came to the fore following the list of successful presidential and National Assembly candidates of the 18 registered political parties, released last week Tuesday by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
As contained in the separate lists, out of 109 senatorial districts across the country, Labour Party has candidates for only 84 of the senatorial seats.
The 25 senatorial districts where the party has no candidates are the entire three seats in Borno, Ekiti, Katsina, Lagos and Kebbi states, totalling 15.
Others are two each in Yobe, Ondo, Delta and Bayelsa states asideò one seat it has no candidate for in Kogi and Bauchi states, totalling 25 altogether.
Similar scenario played out for the party on the list of candidates for the 360 federal constituencies as it has none for any of the 24 available federal constituencies seats in Lagos, 15 in Katsina, 10 in Borno, 8 in Kebbi, 6 in Yobe, 6 in Ekiti and 10 out of the 24 seats in Kano state.
These are aside others in most states in North-east, North-west and South-west geo – political zones totaling 111 seats.
However, unlike Labour Party, the platforms being used by other leading contenders for the 2023 Presidential election have candidates for all the available positions.
Aside Yobe North Senatorial seat that INEC has not accepted a candidate for the ruling APC, all the remaining 468 seats are filled with candidates.
The main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) also has candidates for all the contestable positions as contained in the INEC lists.
The New Nigeria People’s Party (NNPP), a platform being used by former governor of Kano state, Senator Musa Rabiu Kwankwaso, for his presidential bid, also has candidates for most of the 469 federal lawmakers’ seats at the National Assembly across the 109 Senatorial Districts and 360 Federal Constituencies.
Group to Atiku: Leave Wike out of your woes
Meanwhile, a frontline pan-Igbo sociopolitical pressure group- the South East Revival Group (SERG)-has urged the presidential candidate of the PDP, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar to focus his energy on his 2023 presidential campaign.
It said efforts by the PDP leaders to link Rivers state Governor Nyesom Wike to their zoning miscalculation would fail.
The group made this known Sunday while reacting to “comments credited to Atiku’s Spokesperson, Daniel Bwala, over the weekend, where he accused Governor Wike of suffocating PDP’s efforts to micro-zone its presidential ticket to the South East due to his interest in the said ticket.”
The SERG said: “Bwala, though a good communicator, should have looked for a more convincing line of argument for his defence of the indefensible.
“If PDP was that desperate to give the presidential slot to the South East, why was zoning of the presidential ticket to the South East not included in terms of reference given to earlier committee before PDP’s national convention?
Why was the National Chairman of the party elected before the inauguration of the 37-man zoning committee chaired by Benue state Governor, Dr Samuel Ortom if not to achieve a predetermined end?
“Knowing what was contained in the PDP constitution, was it not a miscalculation by the PDP to have elected itself National chairman before considering the zoning of the presidential ticket?
“At this juncture, the Atiku campaign organization must be reminded that all the governors of Southern states, including Governor Wike, had rejected throwing the presidential ticket open, insisting that the contest should be left as a Southern affair in the same manner it was done in 2019 when the party zoned the presidential ticket to the North. If this was done, Bwala’s argument would have made a little sense to the people of South East.
“It is unfortunate that before the PDP are the aftermaths its miscalculations and the outcome of schemings by pro-Atiku interests, including the former governor of Jigawa state, Sule Lamido, who made strong arguments in favour of throwing the party’s presidential ticket, open to all without recourse to the parties constitutional provision on zoning.
“For sure, in 2023, the South East will certainly reward the PDP for not accommodating the region in its calculations ahead of the 2023 general elections.
“Therefore, all the efforts of the Atiku camp to pitch the South East against Governor Wike will fail as the South East region has long noted events that snowballed into the emergence of the PDP presidential candidate and will proportionately reply the party in February 2023.”
Kachikwu advises Nigerians
In a related development, the presidential candidate of the African Democratic Congress (ADC) Dumebi Kachikwu, has called on Nigerians not to vote the duo of APC and PDP during the 2023 general elections.
Kachikwu, who has been having a running battle with the national leadership of his party over their continued stay in office after tenure expiration, said the two dominant parties were “synonymous with greed, avarice, corruption and cluelessness and therefore should no longer be entrusted with the task of managing the rich human and material resources of a potentially great country like Nigeria.”
He said this in a statement made available Sunday to Blueprint by his campaign office in Abuja.
Kachikwu said both the PDP and APC “have run the country aground in the last two decades of their stewardship a situation that has gravely impoverished Nigerians and make the country rank as the “Poverty Capital of the World.”
He lamented that the country has continued to lag behind in all indices of development since 1999 when PDP assumed power which it handed over to APC in 2015.
The ADC standard bearer accused both parties of ruining the economy and impoverishing Nigerians with living conditions becoming unbearable and nose-diving negatively on a daily basis.
He said “it is shameful, inhuman, ungodly, wicked and anti-people for both PDP and APC to be jostling to renew their hold on power during the 2023 general elections in spite of the fact that all indices of good governance anchored on the rule of law have remained negative since 1999 till date.
“Today, inflation rate has rallied to a 17-year high of 20.5 per cent up from 8.06 per cent in 2014 before the APC took over the reins of power at the centre in 2015, notwithstanding the humongous debt the party has amassed for the country through reckless borrowing.
“This rate of inflation simply means that the average Nigerian cannot afford their basic daily necessities like three square meals due to skyrocketing food prices and other essential services like healthcare and education for their children.
“While the cost of diesel and petrol are at all time high, thus leading to phenomenal increases in transportation cost with its concomitant negative effect on rising prices of goods and services, yet the minimum wage remains a paltry N30,000 per month, a far cry when compared with the jumbo pay of present political office holders.
“On the economic front, Nigerians have never had it this bad. Life has become a nightmare despite unprecedented budgetary allocations to defence and security agencies by the administration in the last seven years.
“Corruption has continued to grow and fester rather than abate, despite Buhari being awarded a medal as Africa’s anti corruption champion by the African Union (AU).”
“On the other hand, the anti-corruption war is being waged hypocritically as recently alluded to by the Chairman of the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), Prof. Bolaji Owasanoye, in his speech during a workshop organised by the House of Representatives Committee on Anti-corruption, with the theme; ‘Corruption As Threat Security In Nigeria.
“The recent revelation by the Comptroller General of Customs, Col. Hameed Ali (rtd), that the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited’s claim of that Nigerians consume 60million litres of petrol daily with over N6trillion in subsidy payments was a ruse shows that corruption yet dwells in a ministry where Buhari is minister.
“It is heartrending to note that between 2010 and 2023, the national grid collapsed 216 times, 94 of which occurred in the last seven years under Buhari.
“This unacceptable situation has not only killed once thriving small scale businesses in the country but has regrettably led to major industries relocating to neigbouring countries that has created a growing army of unemployed Nigerians.
“Notwithstanding the APC administration’s avowed target to lift 100 million Nigerians out of poverty in 10 years, the reverse has been the case as no fewer than 95.1 million persons in the country would slide into extreme poverty at the end of 2022, according to the World Bank in its recent report titled: ‘A Better Future for All Nigerians: 2022 Nigeria Poverty Assessment,” the statement further said.
The presidential candidate urged Nigerians “to reinvent the progress of the country by voting in competent parties like the ADC that has the vision and candidates with the know-how to turn the fortunes of the country around for the better.”
Kachikwu said a situation where Nigerians were “daily confronted with unmitigated hunger, poverty, poor access to healthcare and education due to the lingering strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities are all symptomatic of an uncaring and failed governance being foisted on the nation by APC and PDP.”
He called on Nigerians to reverse the trend in 2023 by voting to terminate the stranglehold on the destiny of Nigeria and Nigerians by the APC and PDP.
Makinde on good governance
Also, Oyo state Governor Seyi Makinde charged Nigerians to cast their votes for good governance during the forthcoming general elections.
He spoke Sunday during the special thanksgiving church service to commemorate Nigeria’s 62nd Independence anniversary at the Cathedral of St. Peters, Aremo, Ibadan.
The governor declared that Nigerians needed to keep hope alive as there is light at the end of the current dark alley in the country.
Represented by Secretary to the State Government, Mrs. Olubamiwo Adeosun, Governor Makinde tasked Nigerians to keep hope alive and be steadfast in their prayers for the nation, saying, ”despite series of challenges the country is witnessing, the people need not lose hope.”
Emphasising that though the country had never been as divided and challenged as seen under the current administration, the governor said “there is hope of a better tomorrow.”
“A peep at the front cover of any of the national dailies published in Nigeria easily portrays a country in dire straits. But our message today is that of hope. That there is light at the end of the dark alley and like Moses confidently declared to the children of Israel in Exodus 14: 13, the Egyptians whom we see today, we shall see no more forever, Amen”, he said.
The governor added: “This time last year, we gathered in this same auditorium to give thanks to the Lord Almighty for making us witness the 61st Independence anniversary of the country. Just like a twinkle of an eye, the clock has turned on another 365 days and we are here to give thanks to the Almighty for the dawn of the 62nd independence anniversary of Nigeria.
“Though” the country is facing challenges in the area of security, banditry, kidnapping and other crimes, the government in the state has decided to rise above the national malaise by faithfully implementing its poverty to prosperity agenda, thereby recording a series of life-changing achievements.”
Governor Makinde then urged the electorate to cast their votes in defence of good governance and service delivery during the next general elections, saying the state had, however, been able to stay afloat despite taking its share of the national crisis.
In his sermon, Bishop of Ibadan North Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion), Rt. Rev. Williams Aladekugbe, urged Nigerians to always be their brothers ‘ keeper and that those in the position of power and authority to use their positions to uplift the less privileged people in the society.
Aladekugbe, while lamenting the worsening insecurity and economic challenges in the country, attributed the development “to the lack of capacity on the part of those at the helms of affairs.”