In 2022, political parties and politicians will be in full campaign mood, as 2023 gets closer.
While the 2023 general elections are still in limbo due to the rejected electoral bill, several other factors will determine the polity in 2022.
The 2022 campaign will take place amidst the general insecurity across the country. The 2021 Anambra election has shown that security plays a major role in elections. The election saw a record low turnout, as voters stayed away from the poll due to the threat by the IPOB.
As it stands, bandits are on the rampage in the Northwest and part of Northcentral, while Boko Haram and ISWAP continue to attack communities in the Northeast.
The country is equally faced with kidnapping in the Southwest, and IPOB and unknown gunmen in the Southeast.
In this analysis, NDREPORTERS will review the events and the political players that will shape the campaign period despite the challenges and uncertainties.
The ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) is battling with internal fragmentation that threatens the party. The factionalization in the party has made convention impossible, as the party continues to postpone it.
In November, the Chairman of the APC governors’ forum, Abubakar Bagudu of Kebbi State had announced that the convention will hold in February.
The APC convention will set the tone for the 2023 presidential election and the fate of the politicians. The internal power struggle for the control of the APC structure has made it impossible to hold a convention.
NDREPORTERS had reported how the struggle for the control of the party has created a rift between the governors and the federal lawmakers. The struggle was further exacerbated by the direct primaries clause in the electoral bill.
Also, this is the first time the party will not have Muhammadu Buhari on the ballot. Issues around zoning will perhaps dominate the convention.
Osun and Ekiti Elections…..
The preparedness of INEC for the general elections will be tested in Osun and Ekiti off-season elections. During the Anambra Governorship election, INEC experienced some glitches in the system, particularly the deployment of the Bimodal voting machine.
Elections in certain polling units were postponed, while several polling units experienced late arrival of sensitive material. INEC will get the opportunity to reassure Nigerians that the 2023 elections will not experience delay.
Considering the southwest agenda in 2023, these two elections will be some sort of litmus test for 2023. A win for APC will put the party in firm control, however, a loss in any of the two states will weaken the party’s stronghold on the region.
PDP primaries and likely contenders
The main opposition party, the Peoples Democratic Party, left the issue of zoning unresolved during the national convention that led to the emergence of Ayu Iyorchia.
Based on established tradition, the national chairman and President ought to come from either of the two main divisions; North and South. However, the top echelon in the PDP, led by the governors reached a compromise that will have an impact on the decision on who gets the ticket.
As it stands, most presidential aspirants in the main opposition party are from the North. Former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, Governor Bala Mohammed of Bauchi, Governor Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto, former Senate Presidents, Bukola Saraki and Anyim Pius Anyim, Rabiu Kwankwaso Sule Lamido are some of the possible candidates.
Atiku Abubakar and age factor….
By 2023, Atiku Abubakar will be 77years. The former Vice President is leading the charge as the favourite candidate for the PDP.
During the last election, the former vice president lost to Mr Buhari, in an election that was challenged up to the Supreme court. And he appears to be leading the chart in the race to clinch the ticket of the party
His age will be a major factor. Due to the ill-health of the incumbent president, some would be skeptical of having another old person as president.
Moreso, the issues surrounding zoning would be a major weakness in the campaign of the former Vice President. Despite all these, it appears the ticket is for him to lose.
Bukola Saraki and the dark horse
The former governor of Kwara State has also shown interest in challenging others for the ticket of his party. The former SP is not new in the presidential race. In 2011, he made a bid for the PDP ticket, but Atiku was picked as the consensus candidate by northern elders until he was defeated by Goodluck Jonathan at the primaries.
He also indicated an interest in 2015, and equally in 2019 where he lost to Atiku at the convention in Port Harcourt.
Saraki has several challenges ahead of him, the current PDP chairman is from his region (north central) and has other heavyweights to contest against.
The governor of Sokoto State is not new to the presidential race. He lost out to Atiku in 2018 at the Port Harcourt convention.
In 2018, he reportedly had the backing of the governor of Rivers State, but the former VP proved to be too entrenched to be defeated.
The fact the incumbent president is from Northwest will prove to be a challenge for him. However, based on electoral prowess, the Northwest remains the most important voting bloc.
Anyim Pius Ayim and the Southeast agenda
Ordinarily, Ayim should be the man to beat in the race, considering that he is perhaps the only known person from the Southeast in the race.
However, it appears his aspiration has inspired momentum from the region.
APC without Buhari
As stated earlier, the party will be without the 12 million votes of Mr Buhari in 2023. Coupled with the general insecurity and struggling economy, the party will be having a tough battle selling a candidate to Nigerians.
But, they remain a formidable political machine that can win elections any day, anytime.
The biggest struggle will be picking a candidate among the numerous players in the party. The likes of Bola Tinubu, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, Sen Rochas Okorocha, Governor Kayode Fayemi, Rotimi Ameachi, Dave Umahi, Sani Yerima and others are expected to throw their hat into the ring.
Bola Tinubu and the age factor
If there is an aspirant making moves currently, it is the former governor of Lagos State. Political proxies have been putting up structures for Tinubu.
While his spread is no doubt obvious, age will be a major weakness going into this election. His health challenge in 2021 was a major talking point. Almost all politicians in the party visited him in the UK when he was recuperating from an undisclosed illness.
Tinubu will have to battle some governors, particularly the CPC faction in the APC led by Nasir Elrufai of Kaduna State, who has never hidden his opposition to Mr Tinubu.
Who to balance the ticket will be a major challenge for Mr Tinubu, who is a Muslim from the Southwest. It appears the country may not be interested in a Muslim/Muslim ticket. And according to the book by Bisi Akande, the issue of religion prevented Mr Tinubu from being on the ticket with Buhari in 2015.
A Christian vice from the Northeast could be an option. The likes of Yakubu Dogara of Bauchi and SGF Boss Mustapha could also be an option.
Vice President Osinbajo
Osinbajo’s fate could depend on Tinubu’s decision to run or not run. The Vice President owes his political rise to the former governor of Lagos State. First appointed as AG of Lagos State by Tinubu and handpicked in 2015 as running mate to Buhari.
Despite one or two bashings here and there, Mr Osinbajo remains popular within the party, but he has no political structure.
His fate depends on mobilization from others. Those who are opposed to Tinubu could see Osinbajo as the person to stop Tinubu, however, it all depends on Osinbajo accepting to challenge his political mentor.
The former governor of Imo State is also in the race for the party ticket. Ordinarily, his candidacy should have been southeast candidacy, but for reasons unknown, most Southeasterners are not enthused yet about him.
He also engaged in a supremacy battle with his successor, Hope Uzodinma. This fight could play a role in the bid for the ticket.
In all, 2022 is going to be a political activity year, however, it is unknown how much role the insecurity in the country will play in the polity.