Peter Obi, the flag bearer of the third force movement and his faithfuls, OBIdients, has grown from just a mere online movement to formidable force with participation from a large group of Nigerian youths and other age grades; cutting across different ethnic groups in the country. 

Unlike the popular belief when the former Anambra state governor declared his ambition, Mr. Peter Obi growing popularity can no longer be ignored as the presidential candidate stands a high chance of clinching victory according to an online poll back in October. 

Many believe that Nigeria might just see a break in the dominance of the APC and PDP in 2023, with the intimidating popularity of the OBIdient movement. Victory would prove that voters can truly overturn the dominance of ruling parties in a country which has suffered from a history of election corruption.

However, Peter Obi is facing fierce competition from Nigerian political household names, including Bola Ahmed Tinubu of the All-Progressive Congress, APC (Nigeria’s ruling party) and Alhaji Atiku Abubakar of the People’s Democratic Party. Peter Obi is also facing criticism from his former colleagues, associates and the political class. 

But there are two significant events in Nigeria’s democratic history that serve as a beam of hope for Peter Obi who is looking to offset the dominance of APC and PDP: M.K.O Abiola’s victory in 1993 and President Muhammadu Buhari’s defeat of an incumbent president in 2015. 

M.K.O Abiola’s victory in 1993
Bashorun Moshood Kashimawo Abiola, a South Westerner, a Yoruba man, won the 1993 presidential elections with a Muslim-Muslim candidacy; a choice of candidacy no prominent presidential pair has dared. Tinubu, APC’s presidential candidate, just broke the spell in 2022. 

On the Election Day in 1993, Nigerians for the first time put aside religion, geography and ethnic sentiments to vote Abiola, a Yoruba Muslim with a Muslim running mate. Abiola won convincingly in over two-thirds of the states required by the Nigerian Constitution. For context, MKO beat his major opposition, Bashir Tofa, of the then National Republican Convention (NRC) not just in the pre-election debate but also in Tofa’s own ward and state in Kano. 

Peter Obi, third force flag bearer who seeks to break the dominance of APC and PDP in presidential elections, can bask in the fact that winning elections against all odds is possible. 

President Muhammadu Buhari victory in 2015
Since Nigeria’s return to democratic elections in 1999, a ruling party had not relinquished a presidential seat to an opposition party until the 2015 presidential election when former President Goodluck Jonathan of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) lost to President Muhammadu Buhari of the All-Progressive Congress (APC); a party formed less than two years prior to the elections. PDP ruled from 1999 to 2014, winning every presidential election by a significant margin. 

The APC continued its run of success into the 2019 election, keeping its status as the ruling party in Nigeria with President Muhammadu Buhari victory again in 2019. Peter Obi’s Labour Party can bask in the fact that winning elections is in the hands of voters and not by the popularity of candidates’ political parties. 

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