Nigeria is less than 75 days from the 2023 general elections; one of the toughest presidential elections in its recent history as, since the country returned to democratic rule in 1999, it has contested the presidency between two major political parties. In the forthcoming elections, the presidential seat is closely contested by leading flag bearers including Peter Obi of the Labour Party, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Bola Ahmed Tinubu of the All-Progressive Congress (APC) and Rabiu Kwankwaso of the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP).
The National Democratic Institute and National Republican Institute of the United States of America predicted that due to the intensity of this election, the 2023 presidential election may be so close that it goes into a runoff.
To battle the nation’s long history of election fraud, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is introducing two key technologies, including the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) and INEC Election Result Viewing Portal (IREV). While BVAS is an authenticator device that identifies and accredits voters’ biometric details, including fingerprints and photo identity, IREV is a live portal that enables the public to view election results in real-time.
Furthermore, INEC uploaded its voters register online for the public to vet and criticize the electoral body of any election related misdemeanor just to prove its stance of fairness.
State of play
Peter Obi’s sudden burst into the political scene has come as a surprise to the political class and many Nigerians in and out of the country. The defection of Peter Obi, a two-term Anambra State governor, from the PDP to the Labour Party, has been a major significant change in the Nigerian political landscape and has earned him a giant army of supporters named Obi-Dient. The OBIdient movement and its growing popularity amongst electorates is clearly a statement of frustration and disenchantments of the dominance of the “old dogs”; APC and PDP. It is undeniably a reawakening of a third force movement; something Nigeria’s political establishment has not experienced for many years.
Although Peter Obi is seeking election under the umbrella of an unpopular party, he has attracted goodwill and endorsements from both religious leaders and political stakeholders in the country. Many claim Peter Obi has reportedly won the hearts of many Nigerians, following his continuous charming display of eloquence, insight and enthusiasm. Others argue that his popularity stems from provoking the desires of millions of disenchanted youth and undecided voters who are tired of the dominance of APC and PDP in elections.
Peter Obi and the Labour Party have also shown their determination to secure victory by honoring almost every invite to address Nigerians either home or abroad. However, the lack of cohesion amongst old and new stakeholders in the party seems to create a rift in the party. Also, recent corruption allegations being echoed in the party are negatively tarnishing the image of the party.