The Nigerian Voter is a series that seeks to understand the motivations that drive the voting decisions of Nigerians — why they vote, how they pick their candidates, why some have never voted, and their wildest stories around elections.

The subject of today’s The Nigerian Voter is Abayomi, a 26-year-old TV presenter in Lagos, Nigeria. He tells us about his reasons for voting for Buhari in both 2015 and 2019, his thoughts on youth participation in politics, and his desire to see Tinubu as president of Nigeria in 2023.

When was the last time you voted, and who did you vote for? 

I voted in 2015, and also in 2019. Both times, I voted for Buhari.

Why did you vote for him twice?

In 2015, I voted for Buhari because at that point, things were actually going bad in Nigeria with Boko Haram and it looked like Jonathan had basically lost the wheels, like he wasn’t in control.

In 2019, I voted for Buhari again because he was obviously going to win. Atiku was the only other opponent from the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), but he was running for president and failing so many times that I didn’t see the point.

But other candidates were present beside Atiku. Why Buhari still?

I pride myself as a realist. Even if there are sentiments or optimism, I pride myself as one who is a realist and I knew the elections were between APC and PDP. A lot of things were going on at the time and it looked like things were falling to pieces, but at that point, it was a Buhari over an Atiku for me. 

The main reason why is that Atiku looks too desperate. He jumps from one party to another. He doesn’t have an ideology to serve. He doesn’t have anything to campaign on.

Do you feel the same way about Atiku now in 2022?

It’s the same for me now. 

And out of the three candidates, Atiku is the least prepared.

Why do you say is Atiku not prepared?

He is not prepared in the sense that PDP is falling to pieces. Over the years, Rivers state has produced one of the highest number of votes for PDP every election year, and now he doesn’t have Rivers. And it’s not only Rivers but also, the chief five governors. The issue has been going on for months now and he is not saying anything about it. He’s running a campaign on the theme  “unifier” but his party is currently the most disorganized, and most unprepared.  

Regardless of how rich he is, or how much money he has, he cannot win the election on money alone. He had the opportunity to be the governor of Adamawa State in 1999, but he opted to be the vice president of Olusegun Obasanjo. It was a two-term tenure that was ridden with open issues between him and the president all through. I don’t think that kind of person is ready to be the president of Nigeria. I don’t think he has anything to offer Nigeria.

Where did you vote in 2015 and 2019, and what were your experiences? 

I voted in Bariga in both 2015 and 2019. During those two years, I can say that the voting experience was quite easy. The process especially was very very peaceful here in Bariga.

Who would you vote for in 2023, and why?

Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu of the All Progressive Congress (APC) has my vote, come 2023. I have been a staunch supporter of him as far back as I can remember. I am a student of politics, even as far back as when I was in school, and I can say that Tinubu is the only politician in Nigeria who understands politics.

What makes you say so?

Even if a “Jesus Christ” comes down to Nigeria today and says he wants to govern Nigeria, he would first need to belong to a political party, win the ticket, and then play politics before he can become the president of Nigeria. 

With Tinubu, he has been doing the things everyone else said they’ll do for only God knows how long. Since he entered the political space in Nigeria, he has redefined politics. If you look at his politics objectively, he has built people, structures, made reforms, and built policies. 

He has a political model that works, whether we like it or not. Yes, Lagos State is far from where it needs to be as a state with the kind of income it generates. It should be competing with the likes of Dubai and other top cities in the world.

He also has a political ideology that works. They talk of Ambode, Fashola, and Sanwo-Olu, but these are the guys that went on to become governors of Lagos State. They were all previous members of his cabinet in 1999. Fashola was the Attorney-General of the Federation, Sanwo-Olu was a Commissioner, and Ambode was an accountant. 

He understands that power in governance is a continuum. In the US midterm elections, there were 80-year-olds winning these elections. We don’t make a fuss if this happens in the US, but we make a fuss if a 70-year-old man is running. Why? There are people that have been in the US House of Representatives for their 6th and 7th terms because they understand that governance is a continuum. If a new person should come in, before he figures out a way to adjust the system, his first term has gone.

So from what you’re saying, you don’t believe in youth participation in politics?

Before the Not Too Young to Run bill was introduced, we had some young people in politics. Dimeji Bankole was the youngest speaker in Nigeria’s House of Representatives, and that was at the age of 36, 37. Fashola, Ambode, and Tinubu, were commissioners under Tinubu’s government in their early forties.

Yes, youth make up the largest percentage of the population in Nigeria. So they deserve a voice. They deserve to be heard. They deserve to run, and they have been running. There is a popular Fuji musician, Taye Currency, whose son is in his early thirties and is a member of the House of Representatives. This narrative people push of the youth not participating is false. Ibrahim Obanikoro representing Eti Osa 3 LGA under the APC is in his early thirties. He is also in the National House of Assembly. So young people have been running.

But if a young person deserves the position, do you think there is any need for a continuum?

In politics, before you can term yourself to be deserving, you must have worked for it. If you believe you deserve it, you work for it. You have to be a part of the process, you have to join parties, and you have to campaign. There are people running for State House of Representative, but if you look at the streets, they’ve not done anything. You do not know them. They only come out when it’s politics. These are people that even when they run for councilors of their various zones, they cannot win.

On the other hand, someone that is older, can’t speak good English, and is not as smart as you are would be elected over you, simply because he understands that he needs to be able to provide the needs of the electorate.

What do you think of the controversies that have been surrounding Tinubu as of late?

People have been saying that Tinubu does not attend debates or important functions. If I were Tinubu, I too would not go for those functions, because they seem to be biased and with a hidden agenda as well. They want to try to humiliate and dehumanize Tinubu publicly. If I sense such, I will not attend as well. A lot of things have been put on social media and that’s why some candidates might win on social media and in real life, they would be a distant third. Social media is a lie and it is really deceptive. I rather not play to what social media guys want and win than please them online and lose elections.

Regarding the controversies surrounding his certificate and drug trafficking, all of these things have been in the open since 1999. As a matter of fact, people have sued him since his tenure as governor ended in 2007. If he was still in office, I can understand because he’d still have immunity as governor. But he hasn’t been in governance for the past 15 years now.

There are people in charge of these narratives on social media and they take charge of social media. So leave the social media space for them.

Do you also think that Tinubu is too sick to rule?

When Buhari was first inaugurated in 2015, there were talks that he may not be able to last a single term because of his frequent medical travels abroad. But he has done eight years now. . All through the primaries when Tinubu’s hand was shaking as he held the flag, I found it funny that people were surprised because the man is 70 years old. 

He would feel some sort of fatigue if he had to do that for hours. But guess who has been able to visit all arms of APC in the span of three years? Tinubu. Guess who has been moving across the country since he got back from London? Tinubu. If he can keep moving about this way and people say he is too ill to run, then I don’t know what ill health is.

What are the changes you wish to see from Tinubu if elected as president?

First, if Tinubu is elected as president, I want him to cut down on the cost of governance. It’s a major challenge. Our economy is drastically bad yet the cost of governance hasn’t been reduced. He needs to cut down on the cost of governance.
Secondly, the fact that we are a producer of oil that imports oil kills me every time. It makes no sense that we have about four refineries and none is working. We’ve even incurred debts on an annual basis on maintaining refineries that are not functional. If he can privatise all refineries and ensure that they begin to work, it will make sense. Once we can start refining our oil and manufacturing natural gas, our economy will be better.

We also need to have more professionals in their respective positions. He has shown that he isn’t one to play party politics over competence.

On the issue of security, of the three candidates in Nigeria, he is the only one without a known bias toward any of the insurgencies in Nigeria – be it ISWAP, IPOB, Boko Haram, etc. Nobody has a direct solution for insecurity in Nigeria but I expect him to bring local and international experts to see how they can bring a total end to the insecurity crisis we have in Nigeria.

If elected, how do you think Tinubu’s presidency will impact you?

It will definitely make a positive impact. If he improves the economy, my cost of living will reduce drastically. If there are no insecurity issues in Nigeria, I’d be able to travel by road. If the refineries are fixed, the price of fuel will reduce. These are some of the things that will impact me in a Tinubu presidency.



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