By Steve Egbo
his is my projection of what the 2023 presidential election will look like. In this analysis, I will attempt to present the facts as a political scientist and not as a party man:
First we will look at the individual candidates and their home bases:
Starting with the APC candidate, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, he will, receive massive support in the south west. Most Yoruba of voting age will vote for him. Again the turn out on election day will be huge. The south west is politically savvy. They want power come 2023 and they are working for it. There will be serious political re-alignments on account of this.
Atiku will do quite well among the northern voters. But he will do better in the north east than the north west. The north central will remain tentative for him. The north central has been highly unsettled by the events of the last few years and their suspicions and fears will greatly affect candidate Atiku. Atiku may be easily forgiven for snatching the PDP ticket and by so doing defacating on the PDP constitution that says “zoning” and depriving the south it’s legitimate opportunity. But the other matter will not be so easily swept under the carpet especially by those at the receiving end.
Peter Obi will also do well among his people in the south east. But comparatively, he cannot bank on the same amount of support in the south east as Tinubu will have in the south west. His major problem in the south east will be the Governors. Hardly any one of them is enamored of the Obi project.
The age long attachment of the Igbo to the PDP will also affect Obi’s votes. Even some who went to the polling booth to vote for Peter will end up thumping the umbrella. And again he will have to grapple with the legendary apathy for which the south east is known. However, I am inclined to admit that as far as 2023 is concerned, the Igbo are beginning to wake up from a long night of political slumber.
Rabiu Kwnakwaso will put up an impressive outing in kano state specifically. Same cannot be said for other states in the north west. Already, the kwankwasia magic has waned considerably and his penchant for running from one party to another is not helpful. Kwankwaso knows that he is not running to win. He is more likely motivated by other hubristic designs.
Let’s look at the other zones:
All the four major candidates, Tinubu, Atiku, Obi and Kwnakwaso will put up some good fights in the north central with Tinubu having the upper hand followed by Atiku and Obi. The FCT could go anywhere. The FCT is the typical no man’s land.
In the South-South, there will be a split between Atiku and Tinubu and if the Wike angst is not effectively resolved, then Atiku will have less in the south south especially Rivers state with its huge voter turnout. Obi will not do well in the south south because the affinity has never been there. So far, nothing has been done to construct one.
In the Northwest, (outside kano which we earlier mentioned), it will be a straight fight between Atiku and Tinubu. But Tinubu will have a little advantage because, whatever one says, the APC is still very popular in the zone. And unless something happens to puncture the good relationship between Tinubu and the north west Governors, then he is safe there. The Governors will work for their party and its candidate.
The age demographic:
Here, it is a bit more tricky, but if precedents are anything to go by, we will say that the older generation will stick with the old parties – Tinubu and Atiku. For them, “the devil you know” scenario will play out beautifully. Traditionally, members of the older generation are more conservative and less susceptible to the populist appeal.
The women, the largest voting unit in the country, will largely stick with their old parties. This group is not easily swayed by the antics and drumbeats of revolutionary aestheticsm. And most times, they hardly ignore the whispers of their men. Voter turnout on election day will also be a factor.
The case of the youths will be significantly different. Here Obi has his largest support. No doubt. His populism finds great resonance among the younger generation. For now, Obi appears to be the answer to the “Third Force” which many have romanticized about. His popularity among the urban and social media youth cannot just be waved away. But how much this popularity will be transformed into election-winning strategy remains to be seen. Again there are other problems, but we will come to that shortly.
The younger generation feels outraged, shut out and criminally short-changed by the old order. This feeling is justified. No doubt the youth of the nation have borne the brunt of years of corruption and mal-administration by the ruling elite. When prophet Ezekiel said that “the fathers have eaten sour grapes and their children’s teeth are set on edge” he must have been talking about Nigeria of the 21st Century.
Nigerian youths are indeed angry, and justifiably so. However, how much this anger can be transformed into an effective political weapon remains to be seen. Two major factors, perhaps three, lead to this uncertainty. One, the youths are often quite malleable and susceptible to manipulations. In a society wracked by poverty and deprivation such as ours, will they be able to stand firm when the inducements are unleashed? The just concluded Ekiti election gave an indication. Osun presents its own different picture.
Two, the case of political apathy is more widespread among the youths. Will they turn out to vote and if they do, will they have the patience required to ensure that the process runs its course. Three, the youths lack leadership and organizational management. If the mob action on social media is an indication of things to come, one would be left to wonder how all the noise will be translated to useful votes. The EndSars protest ran into a debilitating hitch because the issue of leadership was neither clear nor defined.
Four, the youths of the nation come from different ethnic, religious, cultural, educational and social backgrounds. We cannot underestimate the influence of those background identities on their voting behavior. Also, the educated among them are not likely to vote on the basis of emotion and group waves. They will interrogate issues and know who or where their votes would make impact. Again the Osun election has demonstrated this.
5. Another point worth mentioning is the market strategy of Obi’s followers – the Obedients. Their bellicose and antagonistic approach is wrong. In a democratic contest, you sell your candidate through a clear-cut amalgam of factors – comprising logical ideas, facts, appeal to reason and superior argument. So far, what we see especially on the social media are threats, insults, abuses and bellicose rhetorics. It is either you conform or be damned. This strategy is a put off. It alienates a lot of people.. Someone must educate them – help them to know that such toxic politicking does not yield results. And unless they change tact, they will hurt the Obi campaign very grievously.
Counting the votes – who wins?
On the whole, Tinubu and Atiku will meet the constitutional requirement of 25% geographical spread in at least 2/3 of the states of the federation. This is 24 states. Obi and Kwankwaso has no chance of meeting that all important requirement. No chance at all. But if the youths work very hard, Obi may come close. Otherwise this provision will deal the knock-out punch to Obi and Kwankwaso. If these two had eschewed personal egotistical hubris and agreed to work together, the scenario would have been very significantly altered. I need not go into further details.
With Obi and kwankwaso out, choice of the winner of the presidential election automatically narrows down to Tinubu or Atiku – originally the two protagonists. Both candidates will have no problem attaining the mandatory 25% in 2/3 of the states. The winner will now be determined by the candidate with the highest number of eligible votes cast.
On the issue of the highest votes scorer, a few factors will be considered. These are:
1. Voter turn-out in the Southwest will be huge, and Tinubu is not going to share the south west votes with anyone though Peter Obi will do reasonably well in Lagos. The Osun victory has provided the PDP with a much needed fillip. But how this will manifest in the presidential election remains to be seen.
2. The vice presidential candidate of the PDP will not make much impact on the electoral fortune of the party in the south south and south east. PDP will have to struggle for votes here, despite that this has been it’s traditional strong hold in previous elections. The Obi factor will see to that.
3. The choice of Tinubu’s running mate will not make much impact as some people fear. Religious leaders from the south have tried to impute acrimony and bad blood based on faith matters, but Tinubu is better off with the choice he has made. By deciding to imput bigotry and acrimonious intolerance into a purely political matter, CAN went beyond its ecclesiastical and doctrinal brief. No doubt CAN is pandering to a special political interest well outside the realms of religion and faith. Many have seen through the CAN grandstanding and many have spoken against it. Eventually, the uproar will die down and when campaign begins, Nigerians will have to look at the things that really matter. Those things that matter are simply, the capacity to do the job. The big question is “Who, among these men has the ability to salvage Nigeria from its broken state?”
4. Atiku will make his largest kill in the north east but the choice of Shettima as Tinubu’s running mate will be a force to reckon with. Again, despite his money, his influence and political sagacity, the fact remains that Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, the Turakin Adamawa, is not an integral member of the northern political establishment or the feudal oligarchy that controls the levers of power in the core north. Truth is Atiku does not belong to the sanctum sanctorum. So, despite his money, achievements and clout, organically, Atiku remains an outsider.
5. The north west will be split between Tinubu and Atiku, but Tinubu will perform much better. Two factors will determine this: One is the unity of the APC Governors in the zone. The second factor is Buhari himself. For despite the pervading atmosphere of gloom around the country and the chaotic security situation in the zone, Buhari remains their favorite son and they will heed his call. Notwithstanding, the APC scorecard is a major constraint. APC leaders and their candidate must be losing valuable sleep on this account. The deteriorating security and economic situation in the country defies logical explanation and Nigerians are angry.
6. Given all that has been discussed, the election will not go into a run-off. If the Obi and Kwankwasia movements are not punctured before the election, (and the possibility cannot be taken off the table), they will divert a chunk of votes from Atiku and Tinubu in the north central, south south and south east but the dent will not be enough to change the outcome of the election results in those three zones. So, given that Tinubu and Atiku will meet the required spread, the winner of the election will be determined on the first ballot.
It is my view that given the factors analysed above, the 2023 presidential election is a one off battle between two political dinosaurs. Tinubu and Atiku have so much in common. Their similarities, ironies and contradictions are hugely apparent. Both men belong to the same generation and both are self made. They are beholden to no one. They were able to claw their way to the top by sheer grit and iron will. Both men have amassed stupendous personal wealth even if the source remain shrouded in mystery and conjecture. They are no push overs in any manner of speaking and both enjoy abundant loathing yet grudging admiration across the land.
Tinubu and Atiku belong to a generation that is on its way out. At the Departure Lounge if you like. But they are so powerful and resourceful that they have survived the intrigues and conspiracies of their fellow men. This will be their last appearance on the stage. Whoever wins will serve out his tenure while the loser will step into the night of oblivion. The winner may not even have the appetite for a second tenure.
Long before the primary elections, I had argued that the 2023 presidential election should and would be the final battle between Tinubu and Atiku. They emerged the candidates of their respective political parties, not because they were the most admired or the most proficient, but simply because they were the most capable. Capable in various degrees and anecdotes.
These are two old enemies and friends who have now found themselves in the ring for the final battle of their lives. In politics, there is no draw. Therefore, a winner must emerge.
So on day of election, when the results begin to come in, Tinubu will defeat Atiku on the first ballot and emerge the winner of the presidential election. He will win as the highest scorer of the total votes cast.
This is my analysis and my projection. This is my reading of the political temperature. For now this is how it stands, essentially. If along the way other fact changing variables emerge, we will update accordingly. By February, 25th, I will be vindicated or disproved.