The 2023 general election in Nigeria promises to be a referendum of sorts.
That is simply because each of the frontrunners of the three leading parties, All Progressives Progress, APC, People Democratic Party, PDP and Labor Party, LP that are likely to produce the next president of Nigeria next year have assets or liabilities by having been in public eyes through public service records that are being scrutinized.
And it is from those prisms that the assessment of the capacities and abilities of the potential next president of Nigeria in 2023 is being carried out.
But even as the February 25 date when the first ballots are expected to be cast is barely four(4) months away, internal schisms are still wracking the main political parties ruling, APC, main opposition, PDP and a new contender, LP.
The wrangling in the two traditionally rival parties is so rife that the APC could not form its campaign council or produce its manifesto until last Friday, October 21, which is nearly one month after the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC lifted the ban on campaigns last September 28, the PDP which had launched its campaign and manifesto on October 10 which is barely twelve (12)days after the ban was lifted has not made waves.
The PDP is yet to ramp up its campaign in Ernest, in part, owing to hiccups bothering on whether or not it is pausing to accommodate the rebellious gang of governors led by Rivers state governor, Nyesom Wike with three (3) or four(4) other governors, which is gaining traction and with a potential of crystallizing into a breakaway faction of the PDP.
The extended period of ninety (90) days instead of sixty (60) days which had been the time frame within which after the primaries the parties are allowed to campaign before the election is held.
Since the extra thirty (30) days for the campaign has cost implications, the parties may be saving their best campaign resources for the last leg indicating prudential use of the f funds.
In the course of this discussion, I will dwell on the internecine wars raging in the APC and PDP, which are being quelled by the former, even as it is, unfortunately, consuming the latter and why campaigns are not near fever pitch.
In contrast to the crisis that has stricken the traditional parties, the LP that is coming in from the rear has been to some degree, but not rancour-free. The suspension of the youth wing leader, Arabe Anselm, who was also a presidential candidate that stepped down for Peter Obi is creating some rumblings in the party.
Remarkably, LP had jumped the gone by commencing campaigns online and embarking on million-man marches which are street processions staged by angry unemployed and out-of-school youths.
Somehow, that amounted to campaigning in disguise long before it was legitimate to do so.
And it boils down to bending the rule without breaking it since the nation’s elections regulatory organ INEC which had set the takeoff date for the campaigns for the 2023 elections for September 28 did not take cognizance of the power of the internet in political campaigns or could not phantom how to enforce a ban on campaigning online.
Consequently, LP was able to seize the space to maximally market itself and its presidential candidate to the youths who are the so-called NETIZENS and mainly adult Nigerians, especially those in the diaspora who are now at the forefront of the movement for the actualization of Obi presidency in 2023.
Having started late, since the LP unlike the PDP or APC had never been in power as a ruling party as such it is relatively unknown to the electorate and therefore understandable why the party has been in a hurry to spread its footprints nationwide.
And, truth be told, it is a feat that it has achieved via its massive social media presence being powered by the same youths that staged #Endsars street protests against the government in October 2020 and out-of-school students owing to ASUU’s eight (8) months-long strike.
The LP has performed so commendably that both INEC and the traditional parties, APC and PDP have a lesson or two to learn from the new party that has shot itself into national reckoning via its captivating ability to harvest latent youth voter energy hitherto unharnessed.
The current unprecedented wave of youths participation in politics which has added about ten (10) million to the number of eligible voters for the 2023 contest according to INEC records has resulted in a paradigm shift in politics with politicking based on socioeconomic issues driven by our youths now being the new order.
That is as opposed to focusing on prebendal issues of religion and tribe which the old generation politicians are still dwelling on, hence progress and development of significance have been eluding our country.
So, what appears to be LP’s liability which is little or no clout or rich political pedigree before the current election season owing to its newness on the national platform compared to the two leading and traditional parties that had controlled power at the centre,(PDP for sixteen years and APC for 8 years by May 29 next year) is turning out to also be its strength because it is not bogged down by the burden of a negative record of leadership at the centre like the ruling APC and main opposition, PDP.
Fortuitously, the LP had earlier on in the political journey to the 2023 general elections been faced with the challenges of internal schisms that are presently threatening to tear the traditional parties, especially the PDP asunder.
That was when its current presidential candidate, Peter Obi, a former vice presidential candidate to Atiku Abubakar as a presidential candidate on the PDP platform in 2019 seized the LP platform to pursue his presidential ambition when he realized that he had no chance in his original party, PDP where there were multiple major players or ‘big boys’ jostling to become the presidential flag bearer.
Before joining the PDP, Peter Obi had served as the governor of Anambra state in 2014 under the platform of All Progressive Grand Alliance, APGA, founded by Igbo war icon, chief Chukwuemeka Odumegu Ojukwu of blessed memory.
So in pivoting to the LP, he figured out that he had no fighting chance in the PDP which was quite insightful given the epic battle still raging within the main opposition party arising from a very vicious contest for the presidential ticket last May.
Of course, taking over the LP as its presidential candidate was not a tea party.
But Obi had the good fortune or foresight of escaping to the LP to avoid the fallouts of the demons of post-party primaries wrangling that border on personality supremacy that the APC and PDP are currently wrestling with.
Perhaps, given the very contentious nature of labour unions, LP which had labour activists as its core foundation members, the party could not move forward as it should.
It may be recalled that one of the foremost union leaders in Nigeria, Adams Oshiomole that later became APC chairman ventured into politics via the LP platform.
But he later switched to APC after becoming governor of Edo state, owing to the complexity of the LP platform.
So, also did Olusegun Mimiko, who also left the LP – a platform under which he served as governor of Ondo state to join the PDP.
Even Dele Momodu, Ovation magazine publisher had once contested for the presidency of Nigeria on the LP platform before he joined the PDP and contested in the primaries for the 2023 presidential ticket.
I have gone this far into details about the antecedents of LP and its presidential candidate to put into context the fact that for Peter Obi to become the party’s presidential candidate he had daunting obstacles to surmount and they include hostile former leaders of the party that he successfully tackled within the party and in the court of law and thus flushed them out.
The acrimony was not unexpected because it is an existential reality that it is such an atmosphere and environment of high friction which is synonymous with trade unionism that compelled the aforementioned notables who had previously leveraged the LP platform to become governors in Edo and Ondo states as well as becoming a presidential flag bearer, that caused them to flee from the party would also afflict Peter Obi.
But whereas the political notables before Peter Obi failed to give wings to the LP to fly, its current presidential ticket holder has made it a prominent player in the politics of Nigeria such that it has from being a fringe party become both a national and an international sensation by leveraging the support of his somewhat fanatical supporters by the name, OBEDIENTs at home and abroad, that recently transformed into OBIDATTI movement-a tag that is forged out of the acronyms of the surnames of the presidential and vice presidential candidates, Peter Obi and Yussuf Datti, Baba-Ahmed.
It is phenomenal that in a space of just six(6) months after Peter Obi took over the reins of leadership, the LP has become a party of consequence in Nigeria’s 2023 general elections.
Invariably, the LP is running with the message that it would turn Nigeria from a consuming country to a producing one with a promise to correct everything that has gone wrong with our beloved country under the watch of APC, but without details about its rescue plan and how it would be implemented.
Is that enough to cut the ice with the Nigerian electorate that has been disappointed multiple times by politicians who campaign in poetry, and govern in a prose-a quote attributed to former New York state governor, Mario Cuomo?
At this juncture it is apropos that we shine the light on the jeopardy within the two main traditional parties- the APC and PDP which are increasingly looking as if they are sinking like elephants caught in quicksand(more so with the PDP and less with APC) while their distant rival, LP is galloping like a gazelle in the savannah through populist actions that the leaders are involving themselves in, such as the call for campaigns to be paused in honour of the over six hundred Nigerians that have died from the recent massive flooding in the low lying areas of the country.
It is germane to point out that the hiatus that was triggered in the two leading parties are self-inflicted because they are a fallout of the poor management of the high-wire politicking that took place during the party primaries between May and June this year.
Concerning the APC, its presidential candidate Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, BAT who was not the preferred candidate of the leadership of the party but who practically pulled a chestnut out of fire or in a hat trick was at loggerheads with the leadership of the party that presumably preferred Senate President Ahmed Lawan as the party’s presidential candidate until Tinubu in last minute horse trading rallied all the Yoruba and a couple of south-south presidential candidates to step down for him.
The routing of the other contenders for the presidential tickets including former transportation minister and ex-Rivers state governor, Rotimi Amaechi and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo who came second and third respectively in the primaries contest left a bad taste in the mouth of the defeated candidates and their supporters.
As such, Tinubu’s victory was aided by the suspected disdain of APC northern governors for senate president Lawan’s quest to scale up from number three to number one on the ladder or leadership hierarchy of our country was also the additional wind beneath Tinubu’s sail.
Had Lawan who had the Chairman of the party, Abdullahi Adamu as the propelling force succeeded, his presidency could have thwarted the chance of any of the current and immediate past APC governors that are angling or positioning to get a shot at the presidency after Tinubu’s tenure.
Their chances could have been zero simply because if Lawan were to become the number one Aso Rock Villa occupant from 2023 for perhaps eight (8)years after which it would be the turn of the south to produce the next president, and there would be a likely wait for at least sixteen (16) years before the current northern governors and other top political actors could get a shot at the presidency.
Since they reckon that they would be out of relevance politically or even be too infirm or not be alive sixteen years from 2023, he was denied their support.
There is even a conspiracy theory that senate president Lawan’s inability to secure his ticket to return to the senate as his placeholder allegedly reneged on their agreement to relinquish the ticket to him emanated from the camp of those that scuttled his presidential ambition who have also gone all the way to cancel him out of active participation in politics in the next dispensation.
With no love lost between those that Tinubu deem as internal foes and perhaps justifiably so, a list of campaign council members prepared by the party without his imprimatur had been rejected after being published in social media by the party.
Being suspicious of the lack of altruism in the intentions of the party leadership that was initially not enthusiastic about his ambition, BAT insisted on his input in the manifesto.
And tension had welled up and tempers flared up with the ensuing threat of a rift that could have gravely damaged the fabric of unity within the APC being palpable.
As fingers were crossed and breath was being held over the final list of his campaign council and manifesto, last Friday (22,10,2022)BAT and the APC produced a harmonized list that was adopted by all sides of the divide and officially released.
In fact, before last Friday, the rumour was rife that with President Mohammadu Buhari’s name not being on the campaign council list, he may not be keen on campaigning for Tinubu, more so because it had appeared as if Tinubu was also distancing himself from president Buhari’s governance record, which no matter how spin doctors try to make Nigerians re-imagine it in a positive light, still appears not to be appealing to most of them who are thumbing their noses at the claims being thrown into the public square.
It is doubtful if the veneer that the government and the ruling party tried to put on its governance record last week by trumpeting its claim of lofty accomplishments during its Ministerial Performance Review Retreat with all the ministers and heads of departments and agencies in attendance, yielded any significant change of mind by most Nigerians in any significant or elaborate manner.
That is because, despite all the positive sound bites, Nigerians who are being crushed by extreme poverty and struggling to cope with the level of insecurity may not have been fooled.
Nevertheless, given the inherent potential benefits of pushing alternative reality(made popular by ex USA president Donald Trump)which can cast doubts into the minds of those sitting on the fence on whether or not they are better off than they were before the APC mounted the throne in Aso Rock Villa in 2023, the image makes- over stunt penultimate week might have given some members of the electorate reason to give the APC a second thought.
And to further make itself look better, the APC could also add that the hardships being experienced in Nigeria including insecurity of lives and properties are global and fall out of the COVID-19 pandemic and the ongoing Russian -Ukraine war as well as the global terrorism phenomenon that got magnified by 9/11 terror attacks in New York and Washington DC.
With the APC having made minor adjustments including adding president Mohammadu Buhari as chairman of the campaign council and the party chairman, Adamu Mohammed as deputy chairman of the campaign council, the aggrieved members of the party seem to have been reconciled and peace appears to be reigning in APC.
Little wonder President Buhari at the launch of the campaign council and manifesto in Aso Rock Villa last Friday vowed that he would be at the forefront of the campaign to make Tinubu president in 2023.
The APC presidential candidate, BAT had also rejected the manifesto or socio-economic blueprint which had been produced by his associates and had thanked the authors for their commitment to his cause while insisting that he plans to produce a far-reaching and robust plan to pull Nigeria back from the precipice, apparently did a good job given the rather practical and doable manifesto that was launched late Friday, October 21, 2022, which more or less is one month after INEC green-lighted 2023 campaigns.
However, it is worth pointing out that the Renewed Hope 2023 manifesto has been alleged by Dele Momodu, director of strategic communications of the Atiku Abubakar campaign team to have been a plagiarized version of the late MKO Abiola’s manifesto tagged Hope 1993.
So, from what is now in the public arena, the APC is running on consolidating Buhari’s accomplishments and Tinubu’s much-vaunted superlative performance as governor of Lagos state from 1999-2007.
Would that be enough for the electorate to put their fate in the current ruling party’s hands once again after what a critical mass of Nigerians generally regards as locust years inflicted by the outgoing APC government?
While APC internal crisis that appeared to be very deep and not easily reconcilable seems to have been resolved, the conflict within the PDP which is also a fallout of the party primaries has taken on a life of its own as it is currently characterized or defined by the washing of the party’s dirty linen in the public arena.
It is an ugly situation that should not have arisen if the conventional wisdom: ‘A Stitch On Time Saves Nine’ was taken to heart by PDP leadership at that time.
The now-resolved APC crisis could have degenerated into a similar dimension of the House Of Commotion situation that the PDP appears to have assumed.
But since the conflict was not nipped in the bud as it should have to avoid the collateral damages y inflicted on the main opposition party, it is presently severely jeopardized and handicapped.
There is an Arabic saying that goes thus: “If power is for sale, sell your mother to buy it. You can always buy her back again.”
It may be regarded as Machiavellian, so it is not a perfect philosophy for those who don’t share such sentiments based on the belief that supposing your mother is not available to be bought back after you grab power.
But some desperate situations require extraordinary responses which is why what has become a potential split up of the party reminiscent of what happened to it in 2013/14 and the run-up to the 2015 general elections should have been handled differently.
The incumbent Rivers state governor, Nyesom Wike can be likened to a wounded bull that should have been handled with more care to avoid the collateral damage that he has now inflicted on the PDP he was initially ticking off all the right boxes concerning its sure-footedness in her quest for its presidential candidate to return to Aso Rock Villa as the prime occupant, and for the party itself to soar one more time into Nigeria’s political orbit as the ruling party at the centre, which is an Olympian height from which it fell in 2015 after that stunning failure in the election exercise now known as hurricane Buhari.
Although a lot of damage has been done by allowing what should have been a mere spat to degenerate into a feud, then a crisis that is threatening to have a cataclysmic effect on the party’s chances of producing the president of Nigeria in 2023, damage control can still be implemented to steer the ship off from its current trajectory that could result in its wreckage-defeat at the polls on February 25 next year.
It is unclear if the three-man reconciliation committee comprising of the former senate president, David Mark, and ex-governors of Delta and River states, James Ibori and Peter Odilli, respectively that was set up by PDP’s presidential standard bearer Atiku Abubakar to mend the broken fences between him and Wike’s group have made any progress.
If it succeeds, it would become the saving grace of the party from imminent failure to win back Aso Rock Villa if the drift is not arrested.
But pride may be killing the PDP which is having its best chance to retake control of the federal government in 2023 but in my view is about to blow it up on the alter ego of its leaders that are leaving a lot of value on the unfortunate table.
My optimism about the bright chances of PDP catapulting itself back to Aso Rock Villa is driven by the high rate of despondency that has seized a critical mass of citizens who are yearning for change in government and political actors.
But it is worrying that the main opposition PDP seems to be lacking in the vigour and palpable determination required to upstage an incumbent. In fact l do not see the enthusiasm.
The party’s campaign council needs to go back to the archives to read what the opposition party APC was doing by this time in 2014 so that it would be guided. They need to understudy Lai Mohamed, the current minister of Information and then spokesman of the opposition party and his team.
PDP’s disappointing and somehow tepid campaign so far is derived from its lack of focus or not harping on the stunning levels of insecurity of lives and property nationwide owing to the reign of criminal elements such as terrorists in the name of religious rights agitations, bandits and outlaws disguised as cattle herdsmen on a rampage all over the country, hunger and starvation wrecking lives due to lack of employment and inability of the folks in the hinterland to engage in farming or petty trading because the environment is highly unsafe given that those who defiled the order of the nefarious ambassadors recently had their throats slit in Sokoto state and environ.
Also, a combination of the current high rate of inflation hovering around 21% and the outrageous naira/dollar exchange rate at about N750/$1 is a milieu of negative socio-economic factors existent in our economy and country that could warrant a change of government.
And it is rather odd and striking that Nigeria is being wracked by all of the above-listed malaise right now, but the main opposition party is not exhibiting the determination and zeal that it would take to dislodge the current ruling party that is widely being held responsible for the malady besetting our country resulting in the mass migration of professionals seeking greener pastures overseas that are now popularly referred to as: ‘Jakpa’ syndrome.
That is perhaps because there are no specific issues that the PDP is running on.
If there are, the party and its presidential candidate are yet to define their message clearly so that it would be crystal clear in the minds of the electorate.
The underlying reason for the less than dynamic performance of the PDP in its campaign partly stems from the internecine war within its fold and perhaps budgetary campaigns compelling advertising to be spread thin for 90 instead of the former 60 days before the advent of the electoral act 2022 which reformed the system.
And from experience, it often takes more than the failures of governance listed above for a ruling party not to win a general election, especially in Africa and a country like Nigeria.
Events of catastrophic dimensions demonstrating or revealing the incapacity of the ruling party to handle it have to manifest in the country for a change of government to happen at the polls. And such has not happened except for the flooding in the low-lying areas which hopefully would not get worse before the government gets a good handle on it by declaring a state of emergency to avoid collateral damage.
Thankfully, so far the government has achieved a series of successes in reining in terrorists, bandits and other criminal elements that appeared to have been very menacing a couple of months ago.
Except for the current security alert placed on Abuja released by both the United States of America, USA and the United Kingdom, UK missions in Nigeria, relative safety had returned to the cities.
Although huge swathes of the hinterland were still under the control of gangsters who are reportedly collecting levies from citizens in locations within Niger state which is a neighbour to the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, Abuja.
The alternative route to victory for the opposition party to unseat the incumbent is the galvanization of opposition parties into a sort of coalition forces to root out the ruling party at the polls which was the case when ACN, CPC, ANPP, a splinter of APGA and PDP bounded together to defeat PDP as the ruling party at the centre in 2015.
Right now, that efficacious and proven strategy has not been adopted by PDP with the micro parties being low-hanging fruits.
As things stand today, while the APC that was caught up in a similar web appear to have untangled itself, PDP seems to be intent on self-destructing by not diffusing the time bomb embedded in its bowels that is ticking rather loudly.
It is gutting and unfathomable to me that the PDP has remained in disarray for four (4) months to February 25 when the first ballot will be cast by Nigerians to elect a president, senators and members of the House of Representatives.
It is such an irony that rather than be on the cusp of scooping up about four or five of the other opposition parties on the ballot into its fold to make the PDP more formidable, the risk of losing four or five governors and their states out of its fourteen governors stares it in the face.
What would it take for the party Chairman, Iyiorcha Ayu to step aside and allow peace to reign or for the National Working Committee, NWC to compel him to resign if he refuses to make the sacrifice required to save the party?
To me what it takes to succeed is pragmatism and flexibility, not the rigidity that the PDP is currently exhibiting.
Are the events that caused the party to crash from Olympian heights in 2015 when the leadership of the party at that time failed to placate the aggrieved members leading to its being trounced at the polls about to be reincarnated?
I am yet to figure out why l am manifesting a feeling of de Ja Vu about PDP that the demon that afflicted it when a significant number of its leaders, notably former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, Senator Bukola Saraki, a handful of governors and a host of other heavyweights staged a walk out on the party leadership in the course of a meeting held at Yar’dua Centre, Abuja, is about to happen again.
The current alienation of four (4) or five (5)of its aggrieved governors led by Rivers state, Nyesom Wike including Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia State, Samuel Ortom of Benue state, Seyi Makinde of Oyo state and possibly Ifeanyi Ugwanyi of Enugu state is reminiscent of the walkout by some party stalwarts from a party event which signalled the demise of the ruling party, PDP.
That is because the rebelling members walked into the waiting arms of the opposition APC which was a melting pot for all the opposition parties.
Viewed from that prism, Wike and the rest of the discontented PDP governors numbering three(3) or maybe four (4) if Enugu state is added should have been recognized as a big threat since it is such a rebellion back in 2013/14 that resulted in the loss of the 2015 election by the PDP to APC.
Has the leadership of the PDP considered the fact that with Four(4) or five(5) governors of the fourteen (14) or so PDP governors resolving to encourage their supporters not to vote for the PDP presidential candidate it would by all standards of the measurement be a big deal?
Now, some party stalwarts are against acceding to Wike’s team demands, especially concerning getting the current chairman of the party Iyiorcha Ayu to step aside for a southerner to occupy the office based on the power-balancing ethos of the party and facilitate the healing of the party from its self inflicted injury constraining and causing it to punch below its weight.
The hawks anchor their argument on the belief that the Rebellious Governors do not have any other choice than to kowtow to the party’s dictates because it is too late or impracticable at this point to team up with any of the other two leading parties, APC and LP.
Based on the events leading to the 2015 election that culminated in the demise of PDP after nPDP was formed on the verge of the 2015 elections by the political bigwigs that created the splinter from the mother party,l do not see the reason history would not repeat itself.
There is an argument being made that Rotimi Amaechi, former Rivers state Governor and immediate past minister of transportation and APC 2023 presidential primaries contestant would prevent Wike from joining APC.
And l would argue that such a line of thought is hogwash, simply because in politics there are no permanent friends or permanent enemies.
And a good example of that is that both current enemies (Amaechi-Wike) were best Amaechi was governor and Wike was his chief of staff less than a decade ago.
The earlier the PDP recognizes that the Discontented Five Governors are presently free agents, the better their chances at winning back Aso Rock Villa.
So, what if in the next few days, weeks or a couple of months, Wike and members of his cohort go into a cahoot with APC or LP to discomfit the PDP?
If it happened in 2013/14 why can it not happen again in 2022/23?
The truth is that it is foolhardy to underestimate what an aggrieved party man or members with the capacity to hurt the party when pushed to the wall can do to get a pound of flesh.
For context, imagine the fury of a woman scorned.
In addition to dealing with its internal conflicts, the PDP and its presidential candidate are also having difficulties in their messaging as the 2023 general elections go into the home stretch. And without clear-cut messaging, they seem to be losing momentum.
The misspeak of the party’s presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar in Kaduna during his meeting with the Arewa Consultative group left a bad taste in his mouth. That is because rather than talk about what he is running on, he has been accused of literally trashing his Yoruba and Igbo candidates.
And not much has been done to correct the negative impression that he is playing identity politics which is quite offensive to his Yoruba and Igbo base of supporters.
The recent video that trended in social media with the presidential torch bearer of PDP hobnobbing in Paris, France with individuals that would rub off negatively, rather than burnish the image of the potential president of Nigeria has also had a dampening effect on a party that should be glowing.
Turaki Atiku Abubakar can not afford to continue to stumble on such avoidable foibles.
In addition to public utterances, particularly in Kaduna that are being twisted, the alleged unpresidential public conduct in Paris, France, the party and its candidate are also not contrasting in any significant manner their campaign promises with that of the APC.
For one, their manifestos are not dissimilar.
And l don’t see why the PDP and its candidate are not capitalizing on the prevailing toxic sociopolitical environment by harping on the causes of Nigerian people’s anger and resentment arising from the socioeconomic hardships that they are currently contending with and vigorously telling them to hold the incumbent government responsible.
As for LP and its presidential flag bearer Obi, they are positioning not only as a counterforce to the ruling APC, but also espousing alternative plans, although they are fleeting and not specific about some policies of President Buhari that they are thrashing.
Although the LP and Mr Obi have not articulated in any convincing ways, how they intend to achieve their fantastic plans, they are telling potential voters to do away with the baggage of the old political class that they are blaming for all the woes of the country since independence.
Their message is that with LP and Obi-Datti’s ascension to the presidency in 2023, there would be a clean-up of the proverbial Augean stable. lt sounds familiar and appears to be an Eldorado of sorts.
Hence the LP’s populist and positive sound bites may not equate with the capacity and ability to deliver on their promise.
That is a discernment that the electorate would have to make before they cast their votes on February 25 and March 11 next year.
Hopefully, that type of scrutiny would be facilitated by a series of public debates that should be held possibly between the presidential candidates from all the eighteen (18) parties on the ballot in 2023 and perhaps later between the four front runners-Tinubu of APC, Abubakar of PDP, Obi of LP and Musa Kwakwanso of the fledgling NNPP.
The public debate aspect of seeking the votes of the electorate is so critical that l am suggesting that it is made mandatory by incorporating it into the electoral act during subsequent and future reforms. Such an initiative would offer the electorate the opportunity to determine which of the front-liners has a feasible manifesto with actionable plans.
This time, I believe that Nigerians are not ready to be taken for a ride anymore by politicians selling them fantastic or dud promises without practical pathways to how the promises can be fulfilled as was the case in 2015 when they were told that naira to dollar exchange rate would be reduced to N1 to $1 if elected.
So the candidates for elective offices, particularly those gunning for the presidency must be ready for intensive scrutiny of their personalities and manifestos. It is, at this point that civil society organizations such as budget with a focus on finance and accounting and YIAGA Africa with a specialization in promoting democracy ethos should take the lead in enlightening Nigerians on the efficacy of the plans and programs of each of the political parties and their flag bearers to help the electorate make the right choices.
Magnus online, an entrepreneur, public policy analyst, author, development strategist, an alumnus of Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University, Massachusetts, USA and a former commissioner in Delta state government, sent this piece from Lagos.
To continue with this conversation, please visit www.magnum.ng