n February, approximately 36 days from today, Nigerians will vote to decide their next president, who will succeed President Muhammadu Buhari in May.
Hence, political parties are doubling down their campaigns as the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has announced it is ready to begin the preliminary deployment of technologies for the election.
According to the election timetable released by INEC, campaigns by political parties for the presidential and National Assembly are expected to end by midnight of February 23, two days before the commencement of voting.
Using Google Trends, an online data exploration tool that features real-time search data from Google, TheNewsGuru.com (TNG) takes a look at the growing popularity of the major contenders in the 2023 presidential race over the past 12 months.
Data obtained from Google Trends revealed the top five stronghold states of candidates of the leading political parties in relation to keyword search volume, which can be used to measure interest or popularity over a period of time.
The analytics show that interests in the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, are high in Gombe, Ondo, Bauchi Taraba and Benue States, while the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Atiku Abubakar, retains the most popularity in Adamawa, Yobe, Gombe, Kebbi and Sokoto states.
Labour Party’s Peter Obi is most popular in Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu, Abia and Cross River states, while the candidate of the New Nigeria’s People Party (NNPP) Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso is famous in Kano, Jigawa, Bauchi, Sokoto and Katsina states.
Perilous Path Ahead
All four leading presidential aspirants agree in their manifesto that the state of insecurity in the country is dire and needs to be urgently reversed and have shared plans of what they would do to curb the situation.
However, apart from Atiku who served in the Nigeria Customs, none of the other three candidates have military or security service background or experience, save for presiding over security council meetings at the state or federal levels.
Elected twice as Governor of Lagos State, Tinubu’s political grip paved way for his emergence as flagbearer of the APC but his ambition to become Nigeria’s next president is haunted by his past, which remains mysterious and a subject of controversies.
Tinubu is the second oldest but frailest among the leading contenders and has been taunted for his several gaffes in recent times. With youths topping the voting population for the February polls, it is widely believed that votes may swing in favour of a younger candidate.
Kwankwaso also served as governor for two terms and has promised to replicate, at the centre, some of the successes recorded in Kano state during his eight-year tenure. He was a former Minister of the Federal Republic.
However, some political analysts say that while his party may win some seats in the House of Assembly, it does not have the capacity to clinch a governorship or presidential seat as the party is still not popular in Kwara and Niger states.
Obi is the youngest of the four and enjoys massive support among the youth who consider him the most qualified candidate to take over from the President Buhari administration, given his disposition to improving production and running a prudent government.
But just like the NNPP, his party has been criticized for not having sufficient structure at the local and state levels to solidify his chances to win the Presidential seat at the February polls.
Atiku the oldest of all four is a former Vice-President and is largely popular in the North. He is making his sixth attempt at the presidency after five previous attempts spanning almost 30 years ended in disappointment.
One major challenge he faces is the issue of zoning, a common practice in Nigerian politics where a sitting president is expected to be succeeded by someone who is not from his region.
With President Buhari, a Muslim northerner, rounding off his eight-year tenure in May, there are agitations that the next president should be from the South.