Editor's note: Public affairs analyst, Abdulrazaq Hamzat, writes on the ideal presidential candidate who should represent the emerging Third Force Movement to challenge the duo of President Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and Alhaji Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the forthcoming 2019 presidential election.
I have great respect for all Third Force presidential candidates and I believe they deserve more respect than they are getting. Nobody thought Barack Obama could be US president until he became US president. Many of those who mocked him for aspiring in the first place eventually became his most ardent supporters. This is how life works. So, if you are supporting a Third Force candidate, be proud of yourself because not many people often get the message in early stage, you are one of the special few.
Believe me, when I see people supporting any Third Force candidate with so much vigour and commitment, I admire those individuals greatly. It's not easy to break away from the bandwagon effect. Many often wish they can be like you, but lack the courage to.
Ademola H Adigun has stated that he his rooting for Madam Oby Ezekwesili even when he knew she wouldn't win. That is a principled stance based on conviction. Hon Mustapha Mudasir Ayanfe is rooting for Kingsley Moghalu, though he asserted that he knew he also would not win. That is also principled. For Inibehe Effiong it's Omoyele Sowore or nothing. For him, Sowore has the conviction that he would win, but would he?
Everybody knows that I am for Gbenga Olawepo Hashim and I strongly believe that he's the best candidate in this election, not only in terms of ideas and capacity, but also in planning and projection. If you are truly looking for a Third Force candidate capable of winning this election, do not ignore Olawepo-Hashim, who has gathered so many important endorsements, ranging from the Middle Belt Forum led by many of it's past governors, ministers, generals and others. You can not ignore him because of the numerous other political parties that have adopted him as their candidate. Just yesterday, the Alliance for Democracy (AD) also did same and all of their governorship, senatorial and house of representatives candidates in south west joined list of his endorsers.
Many others are rooting for Tope Fasua, Fela Durotoye etc. For me, irrespective of the Third Force candidate you are rooting for, you deserve some commendation for standing out and I respect you.
Now, let's get to the basics of the presidential contest. For a candidate to be declared winner of the election, he must, in addition to having the popular vote, have 2/3rd majority. This means that, to stand a chance of being a serious contender in this election, the Third Force candidate must be well spread in at least, 2/3rd of the country. By spread, I mean a structure, which include having candidates running election in 2/3rd of the country or at least, be structurally available in 50% of the country. The Third Force candidates must not just think about being on the ballot and on the media, there must be a deliberate plan that is practical to cause a major upset.
Unfortunately, out of a possible 450 national elective positions to be contested for, Tope Fasua's party, ANRP has only 17 candidates. Fela Durotoye party, ANN has only 21 candidates. Omoyele Sowore's party, AAC has only 31, Oby Ezekwesili's ACPN has only 56 and Kingsley Moghalu's YPP has only 70 candidates. If you add all these numbers together, it gives us about 190 candidates. So, while Tope, Sowore, Fela, Kingsley and Oby joined together has about 190 candidates, Olawepo-Hashim alone has more than their combined force in terms of spread.
Olawepo Hashim's party, People's Trust (PT) nominated about 200 candidates and one of the most vibrant candidate running under PT is Barrister Tony Akika, a former Attorney-General in Nasarawa state, running for House of Representatives. Apart from the PT, which fielded the highest nomination among all newly registered party, several other political parties have equally formed alliances with Olawepo-Hashim's PT, raising his spread to over 2/3rd of the country. This is a basic requirements to be a strong contender and in my opinion.
The point I am trying to make is that, rather than go into this election, knowing fully well that most of our vibrant candidates do not have the structural spread to compete for victory even from a constitutional point of view, why not support Olawepo-Hashim who is in the prime position to compete? In terms of the issues, Olawepo-Hashim has been adjudged as the one with most in-depth understanding of the issues and has proffered practicable solutions.
In terms of experience, he is a global business man with investment in four continents of the world, particularly in Nigeria's energy and oil and gas sector, coupled with his human rights credential as a 1989 amnesty international prisoner of conscience and his political participation as member of G34 that led the process of returning Nigeria to democracy in 1999. Olawepo-Hashim has proven that he his well prepared.
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