By Lateef Adegbite
It is no longer news that the ruling All Progressive Congress, APC, Leadership do not care about the southern votes to win the February 25, 2023, Presidential elections. This is because the party, do not believe that the five state states of Abia, Anambra, Eboyi, Enugu and Imo, t, have the votes to make the party win the general elections.
Abdullahi Gandunje, governor of Kano state, may have spoken the mind of the party Leadership recently, when he disclosed that votes from one Local government Area in the state alone are more than the entire south-east geopolitical region.
This may have informed why Aswaju Ahmed Tinubu a former governor of Lagos state and the APC, Presidential Candidate may have concentrated his door to door Campaigns in the north Western states of Kano, Kaduna and Katsina, President Muhammadu Buhari, home state believed to have the population .Babachir Lawal, a former Secretary to the Federal government during the Katsina state born Nigerian President first term in office may have opened up on Tinubu , his former political ally, thinking on the south east as regards to the 2023, general elections.
Lawal, who was a former, political ally of Tinubu, during the party, June, 202222, primary, had said on Thursday, November 24, 2022, that in preparation to the party primaries in in June 20,2022, Tinubu, the APC, flag bearer, had said that Campaigning in the south east- region for the 2023, general elections, was ‘’a waste of time and resources’’.Even with the Independent National Electoral Election, INEC, under the close watch of Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, lifting the ban on Campaigns for the general elections the APC, Presidential Candidate, was said to have asked them not to go the south- east to source for the party representatives in the primaries votes as it does not matter. This had been the position of BU Buharhari, the Nigerian President in his first and second term in office.
Many believe that there have been large turnout of voters in the north western states of Kano, Kaduna and Katsina, particular, in the past general elections in the country which had given the mainstream politicalparties between 1960 and now, the impression that only the north has the votes, particular, Kano, Kaduna and Katsina axis, had the votes.
Last Thursday, Yunusa Tanko, spokesperson of for the Labour Party , LP, Presidential Campaign Council, had led a delegation of the party supporters on a peaceful protest in Abuja , the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, against alleged ‘’underage voters and other discrepancies reported in the newly released register of INEC’’.
Festus Ooye, the INEC, Commissioner for Information and Voter Education, may have given the Opposition party the ammunition to protest when he disclosed that that the Commission had released the voter’s register for public view for people ‘’to check whether their names have been properly spelt, whether their personal data have been properly captured, whether some pictures are not upside down, whether there are still names of deceased persons on the register, or whether there are obviously underage persons on the register in order for the electoral the umpire to correct hem.
The INEC, spokesperson, had said that the Commission had used ’’its automated biometric identification system to remove multiple and double registrations’’,in what is called manual adjudication to remove the underage persons from the register.
The use of the automated biometric identification adjudication system check, was said to have resulted in the identification of 2,780,756, underage voters in Kano state, which Gandunje, the state governor had boosted recently that only one local government area votes in the state is more than the entire south east geopolitical region. That much was confirmed by Zango Abdu, the new Resident Electoral Commissioner in the state.
The leading Opposition People’s Democratic Party, PDP, had said that INEC, should be blamed over the alleged registration and documentation of the underage voters in the north particular, in Kano, Kaduna and Katsina states, to commit the electoral fraud.
Kola Ologbondiyan, the party spokesperson had said that ‘’there is no way INEC, can exonerate itself from any blame over the registration of the underage voters in Kano, Kaduna or Katsina states, which had been there since the advent of the third Republic in 1999 and now, because the Commission had registered and issued them with Permanent voters cads, PVC, to participate in elections in those states.
Ologbodinyan, the PDP, spokesperson, had said that INEC, had ‘’set the stage for the eventual participation of the under-aged in the north for the overall rigging of elections in the region. The discovery of the over 2.7 million under-age voters in Kano state, ahead of the 2023, general elections may have informed why Nigerians have called on Prof. Yakubu, the INEC, Chairman, ‘’to immediately proceed to review and sanitize the voters’ register in the affected northern states, to redeem the Commission’s image.
Nigerians, who are not happy that under-aged have always voted in the north in past and present elections in the north may have exposed Gandunje, Senator Rabiu Kankwanso, a former governor of Kano state and Presidential Candidate of the New Nigeria People’s Party, NNPP, and other top politicians from the north that the region do not really have the population to vote as alleged.
Now that the bubble has burst that Kano and the other northern states which INEC, that claimed to have the votes do not really have it, the ruling APC, may have to devise another strategy to garner the usual massive votes in Kano, Kaduna and Katsina, states in the 2023, general elections.
Political Observers believe that the situation in the north western states of Kano, Kaduna and Katsina, may not Be different from what had been happening in the north eastern states of Borno and Yobe which had been under the siege of the slamic Fundamentalist Group,BokoHram and the Islamic State of Western States, ISWAP, beween 2009 and now, as under aged voters were said to have also been registered to participate in the country’s general elections.
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo, believes that the only way to change the country’s political narrative is for the youths ‘’to fully participate in political activities as Nigeria gears up for the 2023, general elections in February.’’ The former President was aid to have warned the Nigerian young population not ‘’to allow those who had messed up with their future to lead the country again. He may have alluded to the ruling APC and the Opposition PDP.
The former Nigerian President, who could not hide his feelings had said that such participation would also guarantee their future as it will not allow those who had messed up their future to succeed.
Nigerian youths may not have been participating fully in the country’s politics, because of past experience that votes don’t count in Nigeria. But Prf. Yakubu, may have given Nigerians, particular, the youths the assurance that there was no cause to worry about the 2023, general elections as their votes count. The INEC, who had repeatedly said that its decision to upload the results of the general elections on its portal remain, had said that there is no going back in spite of pressure from several quarters to do so. The Political cience Professor and INEC boss, had said that ‘’ uploading the results to the portal would enable Nigerians to have a real-time view of the results as they are being collated’’.
He had said that the use of the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System. BVAS, had come to stay and that ‘’there will no provision for incident form like rigging or running away with Ballot boxes on the election day’’. INEC loyalty is to Nigerians and not to anyone or any political party’’, he had said.
This may have given the Nigerian youths hope to participate in the 2023, general elections to change the country’s political narrative which had been dominated over the last 23 years by the old politicians who had been on the scene since Independence in 1960.
The APC, Flag bearer, may have shocked Nigerians, when he took his meeting with stakeholders from the Niger Delta region to Gbaramatu Kingdom, which political analysts had said was done to win the heart of Government Ekpemudolo, popular, Tompolo, and his group, who had won a year pipeline surveillance contract of N48 billion in the region from the Buhari government last August. He has used the opportunity to meet Tompolo, who is high Chief in Oboro-Gbaraun II, Palace. The people were said to have have asked him of his plans for the community. The Gbaramatu Kingdom, Paramount Ruler, may have rolled out the demand of the Community which include development of a deep seaport, provision of motorable roads, construction of bridge to link Communities in the Kingdom, as well as establishing a University and industrial park at Ogidigben Community.
The APC, Presidential Candidate, may have used the opportunity of holding meeting a meeting with the Niger Delta stkeholders in Gbaramatu Kingdom, to mock Atiku, PDP, Flag bearer, over the later’s multiple attempts to occupy the number one political office in the country. He had said that the 76 year-old, Atiku, had lost the Presidential bids both in 1993, 2007, 2015, and 2019, in the PDP and 2011, in the APC . Again, he is contesting the 2023, Presidential elections on the ticket of the PDP, urging Nigerians ‘’to tell him to go and sit down’’, stressing that ‘’enough is enough’’.
He did not spare Peter Obi, a former governor of Anambra state and LP, Presidential Candidate and the New Nigerian People’s Party, NNPP, Candidate, Kwankwanso, calling them warehouse economists, who are always of quoting wrong arithmetic, and wrong statistics, noting that Nigeria that is not ‘’what Nigeria needs’’ but someone who knows the road.