By Lateef Adegbite
Until February 25, 2023, Presidential and National Assembly Elections that was conducted by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, under the close watch of Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, the Nigerian political Landscape has been dominated over the last 24 years by the ruling All progressive Congress , APC and the Opposition people’s democratic Party, PDP.
Peter Obi , a former governor of Anambra state, a one- time Vice Pre who had defected to the Labour party, LP, and clinched the its Presidential ticket to contest the February 25, 2023, general elections appear to have changed the political Landscape of Nigeria that it will never remain the same again.
Between 1999 and now, the two mainstream political parties, APC and the PDP never gave any opportunity to the smaller parties to rise up, let alone win a significant good number of Seats in the National Assembly.
Note that the PDP has dominated the political scene for an uninterrupted 16 years between but was defeated in the 2015 polls by the APC, with the singular efforts of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, a former governor of Lagos state, popular, Jagaban, described as a master strategist in political circles.
The former Lagos governor who had collapsed his Alliance For Democracy, AD, which has dominated the politics of the south west geopolitical region to Congress For Progressive Change, CPC, floated by the incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari , in 2012, to form a merger, alongside some breakaway factions of other parties to form the All the Progressive Congress, APC, had wrestled power from the PDP in 2015.
Unknown to many, the former Lagos state governor had a working agreement with the Katsina state born Nigerian President in going into the merger arrangement to succeed him after completing his second term in office. It was not surprising why he never disturbed the Katsina born Nigerian President for any contract as he was he was busy mapping out strategies on how to emerge as the party Presidential Candidate for the 2023, general elections and proceed to win the Competitive polls.
A s a prelude to actualising his Presidential ambition in the 2023, general elections after Buhari’s second term in office, he was said to have started working towards it after the party primaries in June 2022. He was said to have penetrated the ranks of the INEC, staff It was therefore not surprising that when the electoral umpire blew the whistle for the Presidential and National Assembly elections , late 2022, it was easy for him to work on the PDP governors who pose a threat to him to get them to work for him.
The APC , big wigs may have been worried that in less than one year , Obi the LPC, Flag bearer has been able to galvanise the country’s young population voters who call themselves Obidents and who, if not checkmated could swing victory in for their preferred Candidate.
Indeed, signs that the LP, Candidate , will lose the Presidential election despite the massive Youth support emerged when its logo disappeared in many of the Ballot papers printed for use by the electoral umpire during the e lections across the country , forcing many of the LP Candidate, supporters to vote for the APC , Candidate reluctantly
. even in some polling units, many the LP, supporters names were missing from the list of the accredited voters in their respective polling unit as clained by the INEC , adhoc staff. Many of the LP supporters whose names were missing have been beein voting at the polling since 199. This was the situation in one of the polling units at Ebenezer, Primary school, Egbeda, Alimosho, Local Government Area, in Lagos state.
The APC , political big wigs may have been worried about the popularity of the former Anambra state governor with the Youths which poses a threat to the party winning the 2023, Presidential election at all cost. Tinubu, the APC, Candidate, had won the February 25, 2023 , Presidential elections, as he had polled 8,794,728, votes, spread across the 36 states of the Federation but without the 25 % votes of Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory as required by the 199 Constitution, as amended.
, His closest rival, Atiku of the PDP, garnered 6,984,520 votes to Obi, of the LP’s 6, 101,553 votes , having won 12 , states , including Lagos and other former strongholds of the ruling APC and the PDP.
Many believe that if the LP, Candidate, have had a working structure like the APC or PDP, in all the states of the Federation and the FCT, the party may not have lost the election to the APC, Candidate, because of the massive support of the Youths as most of them were said to have volunteered to be the party agents across the country.
LP, described as the party for the future, which was said to have never had any good showing in Nigerian elections over the last 20 years, appear to have gained unprecedented popularity in the just elections to the National Assembly, which many had credited to Obi, the party flag bearer.
Going by the results that was declared by the INEC Chairman, the LP, had clinched six Senatorial Seats out of the upper Chamber’s 109 total Seats. The ruling APC, was said to have won 57 Seats, PDP, 29, New Nigeria’s People’s Party, NNPP and Social Democratic Party, SDP, two Seats each and All Progressive Grand Alliance, APGA, and Young People’s party, YPP, one Senatorial Seat each.
For the lower Chamber, the INCEC Chairman, had announced that the ruling APC secured 162 Seats, to PDPs 102, LP 34 and NNPP, 18. The other smaller parties like APGA, was said to have won four seats in the House of Representatives, SDP, two and YPP, one.
Recall that in the 2019, general elections the APC, had won majority of the Seats in the lower Chamber of the National Assembly with over 211 members and the PDP, got III members, while the remaining Seats were shared amongst the smaller parties.
For the Senate, the APC, had commanded the majority with 64 Senators, closely followed by the PDP, which had 44 Saets and the YPP, with a single Seat.Political analysts believe that the loss of the APC and the PDP, in the 2023, National Assembly elections, were the gains of the LP.
With, the performance of the LP, in the in the Presidential and National Assembly elections in the south eastern states of Enugu, Eboyi, Abia, Imo, and the north central states of Plateau and Nasarawa, including Lagos state, in south western Nigeria, may have put fears on the mindset of the APC,Leadership at the states at the national levels.
Tinubu, the President-elect, and Bajide Sanwo-Olu, governor of Lagos state, may have read the handwriting on the wall that there is fire on the mountain that they have reached out to the Leadership of the Ohaneze Ndigbo, in Lagos, appealing to them to them mobilise the Igbo Community in the state to the vote Sanwo-Olu, the APC , governorship , and state House of Assembly Candidates in the upcoming, Saturday, March 11, 2023, elections.
Whether the Igbo residents in Lagos will throw their weight behind , Sanwo –Olu, the incumbent governor of the state remain to be seen because of the massive destruction of the Igbo traders’ shops at Ladipo, Alaba International market and Lagos Trade Fair Complex ,including the Computer village in Village in Ikeja, and other markets in the Commercial nerve centre where Ibo traders have shops by Area boys , popular, Agberos, for voting Obi, the LP, Candidate in the last Presidential elect
Already, the former Anambra state governor has asked the ‘’Obidents in the state to vote for Gbadebo Rhodes Vavour, the LP, governorship Candidate, despite the Leadership of the Ohane-eze Ndigbo, backing Sanwo-Olu, the APC, Candidate.
Prof. Yakubu, the INEC boss may have known that he cannot fail a second time over the Commission inability to upload results from the polling units to its public viewing portal , that he has promised ‘’to deploy the BVAS, in the conduct of the governorship and state Assembly elections, insisting that voters vote would count this time around as the adhoc staff have been retrained on the use of the device in theelections, particular, in uploading results to its ReV.
This is bad news for the party thugs that might want disrupt the elections in the interest of their preferred governorship and State Assembly Candidates to do a rethink before playing into the waiting hands of the security agencies operatives , Department of State Security, DSS, Operatives , including the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC and Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission, ICPC, personnel , that would be used to monitor the elections in all the states of the Federation.
The INEC, helmsman , may have sent a message to the professional election riggers , across the various Political parties , that there will be no room for rigging as all loopholes for such have been blocked to ensure that the forthcoming governorship and state Assembly elections are , free, fair and transparent to avoid a repeat of what happened during the Presidential elections which was massively manipulated and figures manufactured as reported by International and Local Observers , who had monitored the elections.