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2023 Elections… A Lost Euphoria

By Kareem Itunu Azeez
05 March 2023   |   6:00 am
The country is still reeling in the euphoria of a keenly contested election. The President-elect, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, of the All Progressive Congress (APC), has already been given his certificate of return. Here we take a look at the winners and the losers of the election, however, this isn't to undermine the performance or a…

Fans cheer on the Nigerian team during their World Cup qualifier soccer match against Algeria in Oran, Algeria September 4, 2005. Three goals in the last eight minutes ensured Nigeria kept alive their chances of World Cup qualification with a 5-2 away win over Algeria on Sunday.

The country is still reeling in the euphoria of a keenly contested election. The President-elect, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, of the All Progressive Congress (APC), has already been given his certificate of return. Here we take a look at the winners and the losers of the election, however, this isn’t to undermine the performance or a salt in the wounds of what is yet to be fully decided. The format isn’t to bring down the value of anyone or political party, it’s just a reflection of the popular assumption on the lips of many Nigerians.

Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu
There shouldn’t be a surprise that the first name here is the President-elect, since 1999, there has not been anyone with more political influence than the ‘City boy’. Having not held any political position since he departed Alausa, the Lagos State Government House, he has come back in full force to take power at the highest level amid serious opposition from both the old and young.

Peter Gregory Obi
The Labour Party (LP) should be one of those largely celebrated when the curtains of 2023 elections are finally drawn. Looking at the massive number he polled in the just concluded election, for a movement that’s less than a year old, he surely deserves a place on the list. Peter Obi has not only brought a seeming inconvenience to the powers that be, he has been able to make the people understand that power truly belongs to the people. Defeating almost all political stalwarts in their comfort zone, a further proof to Nigerians that voting truly counts.
Peter Obi, who departed the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) after his disagreement with the party hierarchy was believed, would fade away, especially considering how and when he would gather his followers and the necessary momentum to stay relevant in the 2023 presidential elections. But the figures on the result dashboard would have done justice to that in the minds of people who doubted the party’s’ ability to gather frustrated Nigerians. As it is often said, the rest is history. Obi and Labour Party are the poster boys of the 2023 elections.

Why is the Bimodal Voters Accreditation System (BVAS) included in this list? Yes, it has to, as it contributed to the reduction in the number of electoral fraud and manipulation that have often characterised Nigeria’s election. It effectively allowed for a speeded process.

The BVAS is only a computer that takes details of what has been inputted in it. The BVAS, before the police interrupted, were seen and reported by some media agencies to be in the hands of people who are not INEC officials, though it was later debunked.

While the electorate would feel disappointed by the usage of the machine, we should remember these issues are human made, not the technical fault of the newly used BVAS in the country’s electioneering processes.

The BVAS accreditation system fulfilled all that it was brought to do, as very minimal number of people was disenfranchised. More importantly, factors such as ballot box snatching often witnessed on Election Day, delay in transportation of election materials and delay tactics used by some political parties were reduced to the barest minimum.
Labour Party
The two major political parties in the country today are the APC and the PDP. They are the parties with ‘structure’ so to say, unlike the other political parties; however, considering the success of Labour Party in the election, it would be accurate to refer to it as the third force.

After the resignation of its former Presidential Campaign Director General, Doyin Okupe, everything was pointing in the direction of a fallen party. A party shattered even before it came to life, but its internal structures and external influence was able to grow beyond the expectations of the major political parties. Though it came third, according to INEC’s official declaration, the momentum is now high on other LP candidates in every state they have won.
Once regarded as a party without structure, but with a vote count of 6,101,553, across the federation, the party is now moving in the right direction. If they continue in the current direction without a split, then a predictable emergence in 2027 is surely on the horizon.

Atiku Abubakar
The former vice president keeps giving his all in the attempt to assume the highest seat of power in the country, but has always failed in the last minute. Atiku Abubakar, after the Olusegun Obasanjo presidency days, has always thrown his hat in the ring, moving from one party to another, but without success.
His political career, no doubt, is in its twilight. Once a political stalwart, his relevance as a force to reckon with is fading away fast.
The recent election is a testament to his inability to grab political power, and if he doesn’t come again, it surely will be a sad end to a story of disappointments, wishes, regrets and possibly journey unfulfilled. However, there’s still a lot that could change in the next four years, and barring any health issues, Atiku might come back once more.

Nigerians and The Problem Within
While this election has opened our eyes to the power of the electorate, it has also opened its doors to religious and ethnic politics, which a lot of Nigerians are not comfortable with.

The Independent National Electoral Commission promised Nigerians all that was necessary to boost their morale ahead of the elections. The Commission assured that their votes would count. However, the general public does not appear satisfied with the outcome of the election, because of the manner the Presidential election was handled. Facts and evidence on ground are not really commendable, worse still; the treatment and training of ad-hoc staff leave much to be desired. All this laxity has contributed to the issues on ground.
INEC, once more, has failed to live up to expectations for an election that it had four years to prepare for and the enabling environment to succeed. This isn’t new in the Nigeria electoral space, but to think about the budget, glitches like this are usually unforgivable.

Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso
Prior to the election, the former Governor of Kano State was rumoured to be planning a coalition with the Labor Party candidate, Peter Obi. But he later debunked this and explanations given after his Chatham House appearance left many wondering whether there wasn’t bitterness in his mind. ‘I don’t believe in his ideology,’ Kwankwaso had said. The rest is a reflection of the presidential results, winning only one state across the federation and failing to have any major impact on the elections. Although his popularity remains strong in his base, and within his state, where he won most of the votes cast, nevertheless, that is the only state he was able to conquer.

The Peoples Democratic Party was supposed to be a strong challenger of the ruling party, a year or two ago. Judging by the current conditions Nigerians found themselves. Asides the APC and other minor political parties candidates, the other frontrunners are splits from the PDP: Atiku Abubakar, Rabiu Kwakwanso, and Peter Obi. When combined, the three candidates polled a total of 14,582,760, which would have given the party electoral victory.

We also have the troubles of the G-5 governors, Governors Nyesom Wike of Rivers State, Seyi Makinde (Oyo), Samuel Ortom (Benue State), Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi (Enugu State) and Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia State all fell out with the party at the wrong time. These troubles affected the unity of the party that wanted to be the unifier of the nation. Hopefully, the next election would be a different ball game entirely.

Governors Who Lost Their Senatorial Bid
While the election came with high expectations, it didn’t fail to entertain us as neutrals. Governors lost their seats; representative members were suddenly kicked out as well. While governors such as Ortom, Ugwuanyi, Darius Ishaku (Taraba), Ben Ayade (Cross Rivers), Atiku Bagudu (Kebbi) and Simon Lalong (Plateau) will be reeling in pains for their loses, representatives like Femi Gbajabiamila will be thankful they are still going to be in the House for another four years, due to the lack of a candidate in the opposition party, who swept the presidential elections in his polling unit. The message out there would be, anybody is removable.
This will prompt others to do the needful in any position they are and should do what they promised to do.

The elections have come and gone for now. Barring any court rulings, we can as well assume the President-elect would use his four years. He is expected to be the president for all and not a representation of his political party. Just like in his congratulatory speech, he seems to have extended a hand of friendship to everyone who has contested and lost, hopefully, to build a new Nigeria together.