As The Campaigns Wind Up, Asiwaju Stands At The Door Of History.
By Prof. Ojo Emmanuel Ademola
Gradually, the frenetic campaign for the 2023 Nigerian presidential election tapers to an exciting end. The candidates are taking stock of how their campaigns have fared in the past three months and making projections for Saturday’s election. It is a period of final stock-taking for the candidates and their parties as the country go into another historical epoch in its chequered electoral history.
Regardless of the penchant to inflate the hopes of their supporters, every candidate now has a faint grasp of how the elections will turn out; either in their favour or disfavour. Going by the acceptance each candidate and party enjoyed across Nigerian states and geo-political divides, one can hazard a guess of where the pendulum is going to swing in the fast-coming election. One can safely reach a prediction on who will most likely emerge winner in the presidential election going by how the campaign rallies went, the trend of deflections and movements from one party to the other and of course the preponderance of the tilt of viable political structures that decide elections, not only in Nigeria but in every other country in the world.
Going by the success of the campaigns, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu of the All Progressives Congress (APC) holds an unassailable lead in the coming election. His campaign rallies and stops across the 36 states and the federal capital were massive successes going by attendance, organization and strategic facilitation. It is on record that all the rallies of the APC in all the states and Abuja were massively subscribed to and overflew with enthusiastic supporters making a carnival of the rallies in every state they held. This contrasts sharply with the lukewarm acceptance and low attendance that trailed the main opposition candidate, Atiku Abubakar of the PDP in most of the states he visited.
Notably, in most states, Atiku and his dispirited party aficionados were left to wave to empty stadium seats as most of his rallies were merely to fulfil all righteousness and not necessarily to ignite an inflammable passion that will lead to the election. It was so bad that Atiku couldn’t even hold a rally in Rivers State, a traditional stronghold of his PDP because of the asphyxiating crisis ravaging his party. PDP and Atiku failed to meet the expectations of Nigerians in every ramification. The political strategy of the PDP failed again, as they often rely on the technique of trying to shift the focus of their absolute failures onto others.
The situation afflicting the other lesser parties was more dreadful as what most of them tagged state presidential rallies were a mere gathering of some hundreds of people in a few canopies for some minutes and nothing more.
In Nigeria, the success of campaign rallies foretells success at elections for it is at campaign rallies that the masses openly indicate where their electoral preferences are and such rallies confirm the street credibility needed critically to win elections in Nigeria. Rallies are admixtures of passion, dedication, commitment and approval for particular candidates and their manifestos and such approvals are credibly stamped during elections hence it is almost impossible to see candidates that do not generate much enthusiasm at campaign rallies win against candidates that generate huge enthusiasm at rallies.
So, in terms of success at the campaign rallies, Asiwaju holds an unchallenged lead going into next Saturday’s election. His election is therefore highly probable.
In my previous essays, I have emphatically stated that Asiwaju towers in competence, knowledge, experience and understanding of the job far and above any other candidate in the race. Baring the risk of repetitiveness, I still stand by my position and I have an impregnable solid instance of Asiwaju’s unmatchable record in Lagos to buttress my contention.
Good enough, none of the other candidates has laid claim to superior or equal standing with Asiwaju. None has any record to flaunt and none has any history of similar performance pedigree to the market.
When we add Tinubu’s unmatched vision: of the hue that sees Lagos recording astronomical growth today, we understand why Tinubu is the most suitable to rule Nigeria and why most Nigerians repose impregnable confidence in him to take Nigeria to the nadir of growth and economic progress as he did for Lagos. Again, in his choice of running mate, Asiwaju showed why he ranks so high in leadership acumen, far above the mediocre measurement of his rivals. He side-stepped the tricky issue of religion to pick as his deputy, another Muslim, Kashim Shettima that left unprecedented developmental feats in war-ravaged Borno, recovered and rebuilt a state that was completely annexed and levelled by Boko Haram, revived a conquered citizenry, rehabilitated millions of war refugees and laid the solid foundation that saw a despoiled Borno recording incredible infrastructural feats that shame most of the other states that never witnessed war. In Shettima, Asiwaju chose a co-builder, a co-visionary and a committed nationalist that wrought equally fantastic feats in Borno as he did in Lagos. This gifts their candidacy with equal capacity to attend to the multifarious demands of a restive nation like Nigeria and puts Asiwaju in higher reckoning among the Nigerian electorates and this would be shown on election day.
Again, it is only Asiwaju, among the candidates, that has a credible, clear, well-illustrated manifesto in his Renewed Hope agenda. In this indelible document are spelt his plans, visions and outline of actions for Nigeria. In this document are embedded the means through which his government can solve the various problems and issues that beset Nigeria ranging from employment, economic development, power, roads, rails, security, energy, and education to health, poverty vitiation, structure, etc. This document he frantically marketed through the various town hall meetings and strategic engagements he meticulously held with various professional, economic, social, religious, and cultural groups. These strategic engagements were integral parts of the exclusive modifications Asiwaju brought to election campaigns in Nigeria. He engaged and got in touch with every strategic group across the country to feel their pulse, know their worries and gets their input on his policies in government. This edge was what made his era as Lagos governor, the huge success it was and which is still bearing fruits not only for Lagos today but the entire country. This great edge leverages Asiwaju with a hefty advantage going into Saturday’s election.
Asiwaju is heavily backed by the phenomenal APC structure that has the majority of states and the presidency in its control. APC commands comfortable control of the country’s political structure. In every nook and corner of the country, APC is pushing the candidacy of Asiwaju with remarkable zeal. The APC Northern Governors Forum has been incredibly fantastic in promoting Asiwaju’s candidacy in the North and indeed the entire country in deference to their position that power must shift to the South. Their southern counterparts have equally been devoted to the cause and they are joined by a faction of PDP governors who are still riled by the decision of the PDP to domicile power in the north after President Buhari’s eight years in power.
So Asiwaju enjoys a massive structural advantage going to Saturday’s election and only an ignorant political neophyte can play down the importance of political structure in an election.
Asiwaju is facing a distraught and highly divided opposition. The main opposition challenger, the PDP is hugely divided following its opportunistic decision to field a northern candidate against the prevailing national sentiment that power should go South after being in the North for eight years. Today, a faction of PDP led by Rivers Governor, Nyesom Wike, the five PDP governors are openly against Atiku’s candidacy and have refused to work for his success. Most of them like Wike, and Seyi Makinde of Oyo, are working for the success of Asiwaju.
The other smaller parties are weak, structurally deficient and ineffectual to constitute any threat to Asiwsju; either as a whole or singularly.
In the last two months, Nigerians have been made to undergo tremendous strictures arising from a queer fuel scarcity and a strange currency swap issue that have combined to inflict huge sufferings and pains on ordinary Nigerians. While Asiwaju and the APC see the twin issues as deliberately-schemed plots to demarket the APC and Asiwaju and make the ground favourable for PDP victory, the opposition PDP has strangely lined up in support of these excruciating policies. Since Asiwaju angrily made this charge at a rally in Abeokuta, this belief has gained traction across the length and breadth of Nigeria. Nigerians believe the entire intrigue was plotted against Asiwaju and are happy that he had taken up the fight against these policies on their behalf.
Surprisingly, the PDP and its candidate, Atiku have come out to back this crunchy currency policy. In fact, while some APC governors dragged the federal government and the Central Bank to the Supreme Court demanding a reversal is some aspects of the policy, some PDP governors joined the Central Bank to counter the APC demand and indeed seek the continuation of the stringent policy thus confirming the position that some fifth columnists in the APC government, in cahoots with the PDP are behind this policy in the hope of making political gains from the mass privation this policy is engendering.
All the shenanigans, plots and intrigues surrounding the currency swap policy and the opposition of Asiwaju and his APC against some aspects of the policy, have gone to sway a huge swathe of the electorates and Nigerians in favour of Asiwaju and APC against the PDP and Atiku.
Going into the presidential election this Saturday, Tinubu enjoys enormous electoral sympathy of suffering Nigerians for his bravery and courage in calling out his own party’s government policy and standing behind ordinary Nigerians to oppose it. On the flip side, Atiku and PDP have shed an enormous chunk of their support base to their thoughtless support for the current infamous currency swap policy.
So, in concluding my treatise on Asiwaju’s candidacy, I want to state that going by what has transpired in the campaigns so far, Asiwaju will win comfortably on Saturday based on his track record, experience, competence, preparedness for the job, quality of his vision for Nigeria, his acceptance, his agenda, hard work, his reach, structure and all other indexes. He towers over all other candidates. He parades a performance record that is very difficult for other candidates to match. In fact, Asiwaju is, by every available index, the best man for the job.
Let us go out to vote this Saturday and vote for Asiwaju because he is the best hand available and Nigeria needs him to replicate the huge success story he wrought in Lagos.
Prof. Ojo Emmanuel Ademola