Nigeria is 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).
These big guns are setting aside their past collaboration to battle for the ultimate national seat come February 25th 2023, as scheduled by the nation’s electoral body, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
State of play
All the leading candidates in next year’s presidential race are indigenous residents of a geopolitical region of the country; Peter Obi from the Southeast, Tinubu from the Southwest, Atiku from the Northeast and Kwankwaso from the Northwest.
Peter Obi is contesting under the Labour Party, which has no presence in either governorships or state houses of assembly, two seats out of the 360 available in the House and just one out of the 109 available in the senate. On the flip side, presidential candidates of PDP and APC, Alhaji Atiku and Bola Tinubu, have solid representation in the southeast with two gubernatorial party members each. Both Atiku and Tinubu would be counting on these state governors to do their bidding in the region.
Another enormous threat that lies in the way of Peter Obi’s dominance in the southeast is the separatist group called the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB). IPOB wants the five southeastern regions of the country, inhabited predominantly by the Igbo ethnic group, to gain independence from Nigeria and exist as a sovereign nation called Biafra. The group has been accused of violently forcing residents to uphold their agendas.
- Mr. Peter Obi, the first Igbo leading presidential candidate since 1999, and IPOB are standing on two different sides of the divide, with the former striving to become Nigeria’s next president and the latter seeking the creation of a Biafra nation.
- Seeing that the duo has different agendas, there are speculations that the separatist group could threaten Peter Obi’s smooth run in the southeast come 2023. The violence allegedly perpetrated by IPOB in the region could discourage electorates from exercising their franchise.