If history has taught us only one thing about Nigerian politics, it’s that we can always expect to be entertained. Even when the public officials are robbing the country blind or banning things for no sensible reason, there’s always something entertaining we can use as a coping mechanism.
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) became the first major party to elect its candidate for the 2023 presidential election. It’s a pivotal event that many Nigerians have been looking forward to for weeks because of its significance to next year’s contest. The PDP national convention has come and gone, and we learnt a few lessons.
Atiku won’t rest
Let’s start with the biggest winner. Former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, won the PDP’s ticket at the national convention that took place between May 28th and May 29th 2022. His win makes him a motivational speaker’s wet dream because he still won’t stop aspiring for Nigeria’s highest office 30 years after his first try.
He’s been a presidential aspirant/candidate or vice-presidential candidate in elections in 1993, 1999, 2003, 2007, 2011, 2015, and 2019. We bet he mumbles, “Desire, aspire, perspire, inspire but don’t expire,” before he sleeps and when he wakes.
Breakfast goes around
Atiku defeated a dozen other aspirants, but the biggest loser is Rivers State governor, Nyesom Wike, the man who finished second behind him. The governor had by far been the loudest of the party’s aspirants and taken potshots at everyone else. He built his campaign solely on the claim that he’s the only one capable of winning the presidency back for the party.
Hard to argue against a guy who does this
When aspirants battled for the PDP’s ticket for the 2019 presidential election, Wike heavily backed Tambuwal against Atiku who eventually won the ticket. Fast-forward to 2022 when Wike could have done with some reciprocal support, Tambuwal dropped out of the race and announced his support for Atiku instead. It was a turning point of the contest, and it’s not a secret that Wike is salty about how it all went down.
Fayose is obsessed with Buhari
Look, we get it. Buhari doesn’t have many fans in the opposition party, but can someone please tell Mr Ayo Fayose that the president won’t be on the ballot next year? While giving his final address to delegates, the former Ekiti State governor kept praising himself as a man with a track record of defeating incumbents. He specifically asked delegates to make him the party’s candidate so he can defeat Buhari who it turns out won’t be contesting at all in 2023. No wonder he got zero votes by the time the convention was over.
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PDP misses the chance to make history
Tari Diana Oliver was the only female aspirant in the race for the PDP ticket. And since Nigerians have never elected a female president, it was no surprise that her pitch to delegates was to make history and make her the first.
“I’m standing here as Esther in the hands of Mordecai. It’s in your hands to vote for me and make history,” she said in a passionate appeal to delegates before voting commenced. Her message got through to only one delegate that voted for her, but at least that’s one more than the zero votes that aspirants like Fayose and Dele Momodu got.
Death to zoning
Much has been made about if Nigeria’s next president should come from the north or south. The Southern Governors’ Forum (SGF) even threatened that whichever party elects a northerner will lose at the polls. It’s an issue that threatened to tear the PDP apart until the party decided to play it safe and make the contest open to whoever can
spend the most money win.
Many Nigerians have kicked against the idea of a northerner, like Atiku, replacing another northerner (Buhari) after eight years, but that’s a real possibility now. Because it’s not a properly documented arrangement, it was only a matter of time before zoning met its end at the presidential level. The lesson here is to document everything.
EFCC is always watching
A lot has been made about how presidential primaries can become a money-making venture for delegates that elect the candidates. Delegates use the opportunity to cash out and take dollars from every aspirant willing to part with their money in exchange for votes. It was no surprise then that agents of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) were seen sniffing around at the PDP’s convention.
No one (that we know of) was arrested, but the message is clear that the eagle is always watching, even if only for the camera.
APC boxed into a tight corner
The PDP and the All Progressives Congress (APC) have been playing a game of cat and mouse trying to see the candidate that the other one elects for the 2023 presidential election. With Atiku’s victory, the APC has one week to think long and hard about who they have in their lineup of aspirants to battle against an election veteran who clocked over 12 million votes in the 2019 election.
Contrary to Fayose’s crank theory, Buhari won’t be on the ballot, so the APC needs someone that can battle for the huge voting figures from the north. While that may automatically mean electing a northern candidate, good luck explaining that to southerners in the party who have been expecting the ticket to be zoned to the south. We can think of one southerner in particular who wants to be rewarded with a lifetime ambition. Should be fun when the convention happens between June 6th and June 8th 2022.
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