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2019 Presidential candidates: Fresh faces, little presence


Sowore<br />

In line with the requirement of the law, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), recently released the list of presidential candidates and their parties.

According to the chairman of the Commission, Prof. Mahmoud Yakubu, a total of 79 candidates will be contesting the 2019 presidential election.

What this means is that out of the 91 registered political parties, 79 will be fielding presidential candidates.

This number is the highest in any presidential election since the return of democracy in the country in 1999.

With this, 2019 presidential poll could be best described as crowded race of many pretenders and few contenders.

While, it is the right of parties to field candidates, victory in elections goes beyond just fielding quality candidates.

Of utmost importance in securing victory in presidential elections is political structure, financial capacity, experience, popularity, track record and to an extent sentiments of tribe and zoning.

It is not yet time for it to be about intellectual capacity, good education and experience, which majority of the presidential candidates have.

Ahead of the presidential poll, the political outlook indicates that the battle will be narrowed to two or three candidates, perhaps, that of the ruling All Progressives Congress, Muhammadu Buhari and that of the opposition, Peoples Democratic Party, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar.

Both are septuagenarians, who are active political players for years. The sentiment is that it is the turn of the North to produce the next president.

Buhari and Atiku are the two prominent Northern presidential candidates. That does not mean that other candidates will not make any meaningful impact in the election.

They may make, but such impact may not be enough to change the political calculation or equation.

Regrettably, this is the era of Not-Too-Young-To-Run, but age consideration may not feature much this time.

Prof. Kingsley Moghalu- Young Progressives Party (YPP)

The Anambra born lawyer, turned political economist is young with both national and international exposure.

He was a former United Nations official and Professor in International Business and Public Policy from The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tuffs University.

His first national assignment was his stint at Central Bank of Nigeria as deputy governor.

His foray into the presidential race came to many as a surprise, considering that he has no record of playing at any league of national politics before now.

Some believe he ought to have commenced his political journey from grassroots, to governorship, Senate or House of Reps seat.

Besides, his party has no strong presence or spread across the country, not even in his home state, Anambra.

One of his cardinal policies is to increase the Nigerian Police from its present 350,000 strength to 1.5 million.

What he proposes is a return to “true federalism.” Says Moghalu: “The political and constitutional structure of Nigeria affects its economic management, in our case in a very negative manner because the potential productivity of the country’s component regions and states is suppressed by the rent-seeking politics to control absolute power at the centre and dispense patronage. This is part of why constitutional restructuring for a true federalism is essential.”

With a President Moghalu, politics will not overshadow policy. Quoting John F. Kennedy, Moghalu insists: “Politics is too important to be left to the politicians.”

He says: “It is time to act on the reality that Nigeria will not achieve economic development and transformation on the current trajectory of its politics.

The present political leadership class simply does not have the skills and the background that are fit for purpose.

Technocratically competent and visionary political leaders are what it will take to reposition the Nigerian economy for sustainable growth and transformation.”

Great talk! Come February 2019, this will be disaggregated by voters.

Obigeli Ezekwesili-Allied Congress Party Of Nigeria (ACPN)

She is a known figure in the polity, having served as Minister during Chief Olusegun Obasanjo’s administration.

Before joining Obasanjo’s government, the renowned economist has worked with World Bank.

Since leaving office as minister, she has been active in the polity, especially in activism.

She was among the founders of Bring Back Our Girls group, which came on board after the abducted Chibok School Girls saga.

She has been vocal and critical of the present APC-led federal government, especially on matters of insecurity and economic management.

She is knowledgeable in economic management and has what it requires to lead the country. But her political platform lacks presence and spread. She has no political structure, having jumped into the race almost as afterthought.

From the look of things, Ezekwesili and her followers have more work to do to make serious impact in the forthcoming election. They need to dwell more on issues, rather than attacking personalities and policies of government frontally.

Now that Ezekwesili has joined the presidential race, just like the late Gani Fawehinmi did, she will have a lot to tell Nigerians at the end of the exercise.

For instance will understand that it requires huge logistics to traverse the length and breath of the country in search for votes.

She will realize too that election battles are not fought and won in mainstream and social media, but in the field.

Chris Okotie-Fresh Democratic Party (FDP)

The cleric turned politician is a perpetual presidential candidate of Fresh Democratic Party.

But that is not a surprise, considering that he is the founder cum financer of the party. The party office in Lagos is close to his church.

The party comes to limelight whenever elections are around the corner. And Okotie has always been the party’s presidential candidate.

Ahead of 2019, the situation is not different. Okotie’s antics are known and Nigerians will take him for whom he is. His party, just like other briefcase parties has no spread. It starts and ends in Okotie’s office.

One wonders why he dissipated energies and resources in the legal battle to stop INEC’s plan to deregister his party and others some years ago.

If eloquence is what is required to win the presidential election, Okotie is a winner already, but homegrown factors are opposed to such quality alone without any grassroots base.

Okotie’s dream of leading Nigeria is still a tall order as there is no sign that his performance in the forthcoming poll will be different from previous years.

Tope Fasua-Abundant Nigeria Renewal Party (ANRP)

Fasua is a prolific writer, businessman, economist and writer. He is the founder and CEO of Global Analytics Consulting Limited, an international consulting firm with its headquarters in Abuja, Nigeria.

He is young, creative and dynamic. He has good track record, but all these qualities will need a good spread to count in the presidential election. Otherwise, he has practical and problem-solving policies for the country, if elected president.

His party platform is obscure and new. Not many Nigerians can recognise the party and its logo among the crowded 91 political parties that will be on the ballot paper. Many believe that Fasua is a good candidate in a wrong party.

But apart from this, the belief that it is turn of the North to produce the next president places him at a disadvantage.

He was among those who pulled out of the Presidential Aspirants Coming Together (PACT) group, which its major aim was to produce one candidate among the young presidential aspirants.

Today, majority members of the group are presidential candidates of similarly obscure parties.

Omoyele Sowore-Africa Action Congress (AAC)

Sowere is a human rights activist, pro-democracy campaigner, founder of online news agency, Sahara Reporters.

During his university days, he was the President of the Students Union Government.

He is equally young. He was among the first aspirants that pulled out of PACT group to run solo.

His popularity as publisher of Sahara Reporters has not been replicated in his presidential ambition.

Neither his name nor that of his party is in the front burner. Even his activist record at University of Lagos has not helped him to mobilise youths and students behind his ambition.

Many have described his recent utterances as unpresidential and unbecoming of one who aspires to the highest office in the land. Besides, he has no financial muscle to fund a serious presidential campaign.

Fela Durotoye- Alliance for New Nigeria

Durotoye is a business consultant, leadership expert, and motivational speaker.

He is the president of the GEMSTONE Nation Builders Foundation, a non-profit, non-governmental organization targeted at training youths towards transformational leadership and social change.

He was a foundation member of PACT and was elected the consensus candidate by the group in a controversial manner.

The process that led to his victory, even though adjudged to be free, fair, and credible, was rejected by some stakeholders.

While Durotoye also has followers among youths, many are concerned about his level of preparedness, outside the usual social media presence. Not much is known of him and his party at the grassroots.

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