For day five, “The Candidates” presidential town hall series hosted Kola Abiola of the People’s Redemption Party (PRP), and his running mate, Haro Haruna Zego.
The PRP was formed in 1978 by Aminu Kano after his withdrawal from the National Party of Nigeria (NPN) and is the oldest of all the 18 parties on the ballot for the 2023 general elections.
At the two-hour session on November 22, 2022, Abiola and Zego faced questions from the host, Kadaria Ahmed, and the studio audience.
Here are the interesting bits from the town hall.
What key areas did they focus on?
On why he’s taking part in the presidential race, Abiola said it would take more than the two biggest parties to change Nigeria. “I believe in positively disrupting the electoral process. Our party is fielding 711 candidates and is the oldest in Nigeria. We have representation.”
He said what sets his party apart from the rest is its focus on the people. Party tickets, according to him, are easy to get and godfatherism doesn’t exist unlike in the established parties.
He spoke on addressing the oil subsidy issue and blamed the government for always “kicking the can down the road”.
“If the government is serious about removing subsidy, it should do it today.” He added, “What we would rather do is cut off the subsidy and go for cost of living adjustment. You do away with subsidy and that money can go into something else.”
What interesting things did he say?
Kola was asked how he would marry the contradiction between his background as the son of one of Nigeria’s richest men, and being the candidate of a party that’s historically socialist in nature.
He responded that unlike what many people think, he started from humble beginnings. “I am someone who grew up from humble beginnings. That’s English for someone who comes from the bottom, bottom background. I’ve never forgotten that.”
He believes the PRP is undergoing a revolution and that despite the system it adopts, be it socialist-oriented or a free market ideology, the guiding goal is that it works for the people. “We’ve always done what’s in the best interest for the majority first.”
He spoke extensively about continuing his father’s legacy and how he has worked at the grassroots to get young people’s careers going. He also spoke on his philanthropy. “I annually pay fees for WAEC exams at state and federal level. I don’t know how to blow my horn.”
There wasn’t much by way of controversy as the conversation was largely civil. However, Abiola appeared to take shots at you-know-who when he said he had a history, unlike some of the other candidates.
Abiola also responded to personal questions from the host about internal family rifts and how he hopes to unite Nigeria if things aren’t fine on the home front. Kola responded candidly here.
He said his dad died when he was 36, leaving him head of a family that had over 50 children from different mothers. Abiola admitted he may not have been perfect, but that the fact he was able to hold things down for as long as he did should earn him some credit.
Abiola also spoke about having to fight with the government. “I’ve taken the federal government on and survived it. That’s an experience I wish no one ever goes through”.
What were the reactions like?
Speaking on Kola’s strength going into the election, Ikechukwu Amaechi, a pundit, said the party’s longevity could count for something at least regarding structure.
He also noted that Abiola has a strong name, being the son of MKO Abiola who was a popular presidential candidate and the presumed winner of the 1993 election. Amaechi, however, said that Nigeria, unlike other climes, isn’t a place where one can bank on the name of one’s parents to pull massive support.
Amaechi used the example of Obafemi Awolowo’s daughter, Dosunmu, who couldn’t win elections in her home state despite her father’s considerable clout in the southwest.
Kola’s claim about coming from humble beginnings stirred mixed reactions on social media.
This brings us to the end of day five of “The Candidates”. Follow us on Twitter, Instagram, and Tiktok for more coverage of the series. You can also follow Daria Media on Twitter and Facebook and Instagram.