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Why ATIKU Alone Can't Win The 3K States Up NORTH

 •New Perspectives Emerge


The current political standing of the four major presidential candidates ahead of the 2023 elections promises interesting days ahead. It will be interesting because it is believed that for the very first time in the history of Nigeria’s election, the so-called bloc votes may not work. From 1999 until date, influential politicians have thrown in their hats in the presidential race based on the bloc votes they depend on from their region, religion, ethnicity and tribe.

With a two-term former governor, Kano State, Engr Rabiu Kwankwaso flying the ticket of the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP) and former Anambra State Governor, Peter Obi of the Labour Party (LP), it is believed that the 2023 presidential contest would not just be the fiercest, it would be the most unpredictable and intriguing election in the democratic history of Nigeria. These two candidates have taken the battle beyond the usual PDP versus APC affair and their structures are also growing as wildfire across the country.

For 12 years, General Mohammadu Buhari contested and lost the presidency, but continued to secure no fewer than 6 million votes from his bloc of loyalists in Katsina, Kano and other key northern states. This made it easier for the APC to settle for Buhari as their candidate for the 2015 elections. Buhari beat Goodluck Jonathan by 2.5 million votes, which may have been impossible without his long-preserved bloc votes of 6 million.

Let’s take a quick look at Kwankwaso’s support base; convener of the most organized socio-political movement with a followership of over 4 million members across Nigeria, a two-term governor of the populous Kano State, former Minister of Defence and a senator, he will be counting on his cult-like followership in Kano, parts of Jigawa and Katsina, which will all be deciding factors in who wins the 2023 presidential election.

Despite the popularity of former Vice President Atiku Abubakar and Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, it will be suicidal to undermine the influence of RMK in these regions. He will be polling most of the Kano votes, especially now that he has settled his scores with his political equal in Kano State, Senator Ibrahim Shekarau, who is also a former governor of Kano. They are both key players in the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP). The recent defections of key politicians, mainly from the ruling APC, to Kwankwaso’s NNPP, will also impact the chances of both Atiku and Tinubu in the North-Western states. If all these indices are considered, it can only mean that the fate of the PDP and APC is not certain in Kano due to the nerve- wrecking incursions the NNPP has made in the political landscape of the state.

While one of the factions was loyal to the state governor, Abdullahi Ganduje who is the key mobilizer in the state for Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the other was led by a former governor of the state, now a senator representing Kano Central, Malam Ibrahim Shekarau,  who is now working for Kwankwaso

The lawmakers that defected to the NNPP are Abdullahi Iliyasu Yaryasa, a member, representing the Tudun Wada constituency; Muhd Bello Butu Butu, a member representing Tofa/Rimin Gado constituency and Kabiru Yusuf Ismail, a member representing Madobi Constituency. A week earlier, 10 lawmakers of the PDP in the state House of Assembly also defected to the NNPP.

The lawmakers are Isyaku Ali Danja of Gezawa constituency; Umar Musa Gama of Nassarawa constituency; Aminu Sa’adu Ungogo of Ungogo Constituency; Lawan Hussain Chediyar ‘Yan Gurasa of Dala constituency and Tukur Muhammad of Fagge Constituency. So with the RMK factor, no party can lay claim to any bloc votes from anywhere.

Pundits are also of the opinion that Peter Obi will be part of those that will share the votes of the north despite the impression that he’s only the candidate of the south. The Anambra former Governor has joined forces with his northern corporate partners who operate behind the scene to canvass for votes for him. This explains the seeming emergence of several pro-Peter Obi groups in the north. There are also reports that some unpopular parties in the north have completed plans to support Peter Obi to secure their interest in the region.

Recall that the elder statesman who was placed as interim running mate to Peter Obi, Dr Doyin Okupe stepped down on Friday for Yusuf Datti Baba-Ahmed, the founder of Baze University, Abuja. The 46-year-old was a former lawmaker who represented Kaduna North Senatorial district.

The economist-cum- politician served as Senator for Kaduna North from 2011 to 2012 and a member of the House of Representatives from 2003 to 2007. This means he would scoop a considerable number of votes for the Labour Party. He is a Muslim and therefore fits into the power balance of North-South and Christian. Muslim arrangement.

While Atiku Abubakar and Bola Tinubu may have better name recognition, national spread, and the presence of political party structures across the federation, other candidates like Peter Obi and Kwakwaso, resonate resoundingly among young and middle-class voters, and those who are looking for an opportunity for a shift from the status quo and established system.

There is a strong belief that people from the North are always united by religion and ethnicity, and their voting pattern will be along those lines. The monolithic North, defined by Islam and Hausa/Fulani ethnicity, may not see Tinubu as a pure Muslim, so they would be voting for either Atiku or Kwankwaso

A key member of the APC told City People assuringly that Tinubu would win Kano and Borno because of his formidable alliances with the Kano State governor, Dr Abdullahi Umar Ganduje and a former Borno governor, Alhaji Kashim Shettima. He further added that the choice of Tinubu’s running mate when he is finally unveiled will also give him more votes in the North.

But in terms of structure and resources, Asiwaju and Atiku have them; they are heavily loaded and they are ready to spend. One cannot say the same about Peter Obi and Kwankwaso. Just as stated earlier, this is a period that will put prophets and analysts on their toes.

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