As the journey to elect Nigeria’s next President intensifies, an unexpected battle is brewing between the ruling party All Progressive Congress (APC), main rival People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and a third force, the Labour Party (LP). While APC and PDP have been the more popular parties based on their successes in elections over the last years, Labour Party is seeking to return as a force in the country’s political space. 

State of play 

  • By the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) deadline, political parties with presidential candidates have announced the running mates for their respective flag bearers but in the case of Nigeria’s ruling party, APC, they have not made public the identity of the running mate. 
  • Opposition party, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) announced the Governor of Delta State, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa as the running mate for the party’s presidential flag bearer, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar. 
  • Labour Party, the third force in the 2023 presidential elections, named Doyin Okupe as Peter Obi’s running mate. 

What you should know 

  • Since the merger that gave birth to APC in 2013, the ruling party and the opposition PDP have exerted dominance in democratic elections conducted across all the tiers of government in the country. Despite the multi-party system acceptable under the Nigerian constitution. 
  • Peter Obi’s Labour Party, which is now gaining popularity, especially amongst the youths, is looking to break the cycle of a two-way presidential election. 
  • To achieve this goal, there are ongoing talks of a merger between the Labour Party and Senator Rabi’u Kwankwaso’s Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP). 
  • This in the leadership’s view of both Labour Party and NNPP could strengthen their course as a third force, establish the popularity of the presidential candidates in northern and southern regions of Nigeria and increase the chances of winning the presidential election.

Why this matter

  • According to Nigeria’s electoral body in 2019, the northwestern region had the highest number of voters, with 20 million voters or 24% of the total votes. In second place was South-West with 16 million or 19.39% and to wrap up the top three was South-South with 12 million voters. 
  • INEC statistics also show that Lagos and Kano state have over the last two presidential elections produced the highest number of voters, with 5.8 million and 4.9 million in 2015 and 6.5 million and 5.4 million in 2019, respectively. 
  • For a third force to challenge the dominance of APC and PDP, there needs to be a merger between the southern and northern region either in the form of running mates or coalition of lesser parties. 
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