- The heated debate on who will be the successor of President Muhammadu Buhari is still on as many aspirants look poise and confident to win at the 2023 polls
- Political parties like the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Labour Party (LP) and the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) have already announced their candidate
- Meanwhile, Peter Obi the bannerman of the Labour Party (LP) since his departure from the PDP has been fancy of Nigerian youths and social media alike
The growing popularity and influence of former Anambra State Governor, Peter Obi ahead of the 2022 presidential election have been threatened by the politics of the north.
Legit.ng observes that the north decides most elections in Nigeria. The south is only given the opportunity either through a consensus or special arrangement.
Recall that Obi, a politician from Nigeria's southeast has moved from the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party to the Labour Party, LP, over what he termed a national sacrifice.
Why did Peter Obi move?
Having monitored the situation in the PDP ahead of the party's primary which was held on Saturday, May 28, 2022, Obi dumped the main opposition party to pitch his tent with the Labour Party, LP.
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One of Obi's considerations, according to a source in his campaign train is that of the northern dominance and the uncooperative attitude of some of the southern aspirants.
The source who does not want his name in print said:
"Wike, Anyim and other presidential aspirants from the south were not cooperating with Mr Obi. Everyone wanted to be president. And we all know that Obi's chances are bright.
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"People had advised Wike and the other aspirants to step down but they all refused. So to Obi, going into that primary was like a waste of time and money. He was not ready to do that knowing that the north was going to dominate once votes from the south are shared.
"And this actually played out. We all saw how Tambuwal joined Atiku to swing votes for him."
Blaming the southern leaders for their failure to unite, the source said the southern leaders are too selfish and can't make sacrifices. He said that if such a thing continues, things won't be easy for the south in future elections.
Peter Obi's strength and Atiku's emergence
The PDP in their wisdom chose their candidate from the North. Atiku Abubakar is from Adamawa, South-East Nigeria. There has been an agitation that just like the South East, the North East has never governed since the return to democracy. This decision may further complicate the chances of Obi.
Northern politicians are known for uniting against candidates from other regions. Usually, votes from the south are divided due to individual aspiration against collective aspiration.
If APC picks a southern candidate, it's likely that the north, with their population and voting strength, could unite against such a candidate, and the north could give the PDP a block vote.
With the above reason, there are signs that the APC may replicate what PDP did during its convention. Sources told Legit.ng that there are ongoing discussions to this effect. The source said these signs are not exactly good for Peter Obi who does not have the requisite weight to pull through in the north.
What analysts are saying about Peter Obi, others
But a politician, Mr. Simon Abba said what will work for Obi is if both APC and PDP pick their candidates from the North.
Abba opined that votes from the north will be shared and that Obi may even share in that. He believes that Obi will have a better opportunity in the south if that becomes the case.
"If APC goes ahead to pick a candidate from the north, Obi will have a better chance. They will both struggle to share votes from the region. And based on the growing popularity of Peter Obi, the southerners are enlightened enough to change the narrative in his favour."
A popular political analyst, Fredrick Nwabufo differed in his opinion. He believes Obi does not have the political strength to win a national election such as the 2023 much-talked-about contest.
Nwabufo believes Buhari's advice to APC that they should respond to the changing dynamics may mean that the party should get a candidate that would be able to stand and defeat Atiku. He believes that going back to the north is not out of the equation.
"Realistically, elections in Nigeria are governed by two things. Basically, primordial sentiments such as religion and ethnicity come first. Competence should be part of it, but that's idealistic. Realistically, competence does not feature. I believe that at the end of the day, APC may go north. I hear there is already a plot in that direction. But it all depends on the handling of the situation by the leadership of the party.
"The reason Ahmad Lawan and Mohammadu Badaru were drafted into the race was for this type of eventuality; that in case PDP presents a northern candidate, APC should consider almost the same option.
"Realistically, APC needs a candidate that can stand Atiku, and I believe Bola Tinubu has what it takes to challenge the former Vice president."
Responding to the splitting of votes in the north to the advantage of Peter Obi, Nwabufo said:
"Let's not deceive ourselves. Peter Obi does not have what it takes to win a national election. Elections in Nigeria are beyond social media presence."
What are young people saying about Peter Obi?
Young Nigerians, actors, musicians and other celebrities believe Peter Obi is another Peter the rock, upon whom a new Nigeria can be rebuilt.
Since his declaration for president, Mr Obi's online presence has grown massively, as young Nigerians believe it's the ordinary Nigerians against PDP and APC.
Among the known aspirants, Obi enjoys more online presence than the rest but it's believed that the actual voters are not online.
Wike and other factors
Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike had earlier showed his disdain for Obi a bead of the primary of the party. Even when Obi moved from the party, Wike constantly attacked him, asserting that the former Anambra State Governor can't win a national election.
Wike had said that Obi left the PDP knowing very well that he was not positioned to win the party's primary.
The Rivers Governor, referring to Peter Obi as lacking integrity said:
“At this level, there must be integrity. There must be a character. How can a man who gone round all the Nigerian states – and – in three days to the election, said he has left the PDP,” Wike said during a Channels Television programme.
"From what I read on social media, he has met with Kwankwanso (who) wants to be president, will he now say to Kwankwanso, I want to be VP (vice president)? Integrity and character are very very important in what we’re doing.
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“So, when we talk of character and integrity, it is an issue. You can be the best economist, but you don’t have character, no integrity."
The above clearly shows that Wike can't work with Mr Obi and will prefer to stick to his party's ideal. If Atiku picks Wike as his Vice President, Peter Obi's chances in the South may have been blocked completely.
The Kwankwaso's missed opportunity
Analysts believe that the only way Obi would have remained formidable ahead of the 2023 polls would have been to team up with a former Kano State Governor, Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso.
But both Kwankwaso and Obi cannot run as president at the same time. One person must step down for another.
Joining the New Nigeria's Peoples Party, NNPP, would have given the party a national outlook.
Kwankwaso has recently lamented that it would have been perfect if Obi becomes his running mate.
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But whatever be the case, pictures will get clearer as the 2023 elections draw very close.
Peter Obi could have been my running mate if he joined NNPP, Kwankwaso declares
Elsewhere, the presidential candidate of the New Nigerian Peoples Party (NNPP), Rabiu Kwankwaso, says Peter Obi, could have been his running.
Recall that on May 27, Obi joined the Labour Party hours after announcing the resignation of his membership of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)
Going further, he said the NNPP would shop for a popular vice-presidential candidate from the South after its national convention.