A lot can happen in a month — you could safely lose as much as 9kg, read as many as 20 books or make 10 trips to the moon. And if you’re a Nigerian, one month is enough time for one socio-political group to endorse two different candidates for the 2023 presidential election.
On October 30, 2022, Afenifere, a Yoruba group, endorsed the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Bola Tinubu. A respected leader of the group, Pa Reuben Fasoranti, announced the endorsement in Akure, Ondo State when the candidate visited him. But this wasn’t Afenifere’s first endorsement of a 2023 presidential election candidate.
On September 26, 2022, another Afenifere leader, Pa Ayo Adebanjo, threw his support behind the presidential candidate of the Labour Party (LP), Peter Obi.
What do the separate endorsements mean?
What’s clear from Afenifere’s endorsement competition is that the group is a house divided against itself. Just like political parties in Nigeria, Afenifere has factions that aren’t always in agreement.
Even though Fasoranti stepped down as the group’s leader for Adebanjo in 2021, they’ve ended up on opposite ends of issues. In his response to Fasoranti’s endorsement of Tinubu, Adebanjo said the Obi endorsement is the real deal.
Do these endorsements really matter?
On one hand, politics is largely a game of numbers and interests which explains why politicians seek the support of individuals who hold influence over large groups of people. These individuals could be anyone from towering political figures to traditional rulers and religious leaders.
On the other hand, it’s difficult to measure the impact of these endorsements on elections in Nigeria. For example, former president, Olusegun Obasanjo, publicly endorsed Atiku Abubakar and described him as “President-to-be” for the 2019 presidential election, but we all know how that ended.
Like the Afenifere, there are many more groups waiting to endorse candidates, whether organic or paid for. But the real question is how much do these endorsements affect real voters?