The presidential election in Nigeria, which is scheduled to take place in 2023, has taken an intriguing new turn. The current head of the pack in Nigeria’s political scene is an outsider named Peter Obi of the Labor Party. He is currently winning in the polls. Everything you need to know about it is as follows:
What really is going on with the election in Nigeria?
Sitting The second and last term of President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria is scheduled to end in May 2023, at which point he will step down from office. According to Reuters, he has pledged to hold elections that are free and fair, and he has even started the contest to succeed him sooner than in past administrations.
This would give the contenders the longest campaign time seen since 1999. In February of 2023, Nigerians are scheduled to go to the elections. According to The Washington Post, the election in Nigeria is being referred to as “a war for the soul” of the country due to the fact that the economy, security, and administration of the nation have emerged as significant talking topics throughout the campaigns.
A tradition that was begun in 2015 and has been maintained ever since is that all of the contenders for president signed a pledge committing them to run a peaceful campaign. This is done in an effort to combat the violence that has frequently happened during general elections in Nigeria. For instance, according to the Post, at least 58 individuals lost their lives in situations that were tied to elections in 2019.
Since its democracy was restored in 1999, Nigeria has had a two-party system, similar to that of the United States. These parties are the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the People’s Democratic Party (PDP). According to The Economist, there are a total of 18 candidates vying for the president of Nigeria. Two of those candidates are Bola Tinubu, 70, of the ruling APC, and Atiku Abubakar, 75, of the PDP, the main opposition party.
On the other hand, in an unexpected turn of events, a third candidate has surfaced as a potential contender for the president. In comparison to the other contenders, Peter Obi, 61, a member of the Labor Party (whose 2019 candidate earned just 5,074 votes out of 28 million ballots), is now in the lead by a margin of more than 15 percentage points.
Who is Peter Obi?
Because of Peter Obi, people all around the world are wondering whether or not the approaching election would include a significant upset. According to the BBC, a significant portion of his support comes from younger Nigerians who are disappointed in the leadership of the country at the present time. Across the country, there have been a number of demonstrations organized and led by younger people in favor of Obi.
Between the years 2006 and 2014, Obi formerly held the position of governor of Nigeria’s Anambra State. In addition, Atiku Abubakar, who is also a contender for president in 2019, chose him to be his running mate on the PDP ticket. He served in that capacity in 2019. According to This Day Live, Obi defected from the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) to the Labor Party (LP) prior to the election primary, which helped popularize the LP and attract support.
A large portion of the country’s young people believes that Nigeria’s stale political system is to blame for the country’s multitude of economic woes. According to the Economist, the standard of living in Nigeria has declined over the past 10 years, and despite the country having the largest population on the African continent, a significant portion of the population survives on less than $2.00 per day. In addition to causing a recession in the year 2020, the pandemic was responsible for the country’s inability to keep up with the growing cost of oil. According to the World Bank, there is also a significant amount of income disparity.
Obi takes pleasure in being innovative and a break from the established order. He described the election as “old against the new” in a BBC interview. However, Obi has come under fire for failing to truly make any firm plans and for not providing specifics on how he views resolving the nation’s issues.
Nevertheless, Obi’s admirers, referred to as “obi-dients,” highlight the fact that he left substantial sums of state savings at the end of his stint as governor and invested much in education at that time. According to Reuters, Obi-dients think Obi can address issues like police brutality, industrial oil theft, and corruption that past presidents haven’t been able to address. According to Obi, the system that they have employed throughout the years has helped us get to where we are.
Critics assert that Obi is a fraudulent politician who is not immune to corruption and poor management. He was charged with failing to disclose offshore accounts after his name turned up in the leaked Pandora Papers, a collection of documents that revealed the wealthy and powerful’s secret fortune in 2021. According to BBC, he was accused of putting public money into a business he worked for when he was governor; he has refuted this accusation.
How does this affect Nigeria?
The increase in support for Obi shows how frustrated Nigerians are with their leaders’ failure to keep their word. The promise of eradicating pervasive corruption made by the current president, Buhari, was not kept. Nigeria should also be richer, the Economist claims, given its enormous mineral and oil riches as well as its accessibility to fertile land. But it seems like no progress has been accomplished because of dishonest politics and corruption. Both gang violence and jihadist terrorism have been major issues, and Obi has stated that these issues would be his “number one concern.”
To win over voters, Tinubu and Abubakar are relying on their experience in the Nigerian political system.
Despite the state’s infrastructure being in a mess, Tinubu, who previously served as governor of Lagos state, is relying on his expertise to win the election. He has also been accused of money laundering, fraud, and tax evasion, all of which he vigorously denies.
After five unsuccessful attempts, Abubakar is pursuing his sixth campaign. He was charged with assigning friends to positions of authority despite their lack of credentials while serving as vice president from 1999 to 2007. According to BBC, Abubakar has also been the subject of inquiries concerning the use of public monies for private commercial endeavors.
Analysts believe a victory for Obi would be the first in decades to demonstrate that the nation isn’t necessarily bound to its present system, though it is uncertain if choosing him would be any different. Being the most popular among young people is a huge benefit considering that the average age in the nation is 18, according to Reuters. He is a decade younger than the two other front-runners and is extremely active on social media and in interviews.
On the other hand, the Christian Obi is unpopular in the predominantly Muslim north, and a significant number of votes are still in the running.
Obi remarked, “The big folks are there, but let this tiny person do it. It’s a story of Goliath and David.”