Presidential Candidates: As they are in Kaduna State
With 93,469,008 registered voters and a political fervor never seen before, the February 25 election is set to mark a turning point in the country’s democratic annals.
Kaduna State takes center stage as one of the major states considered in political circles as determinants of the presidential elections.
In the face of daunting challenges, including worsening economic problems and relentless insecurity, Nigerians know the need to elect the best candidate. This awareness has spurred an unprecedented mobilization of voters and raised the stakes for the 18 presidential candidates vying to lead Nigeria’s affairs over the next four years.
However, only four of the candidates have shown the seriousness required to win the ballot, as they zip around states across the six geopolitical regions to get the votes that will give them victory in the election.
The Big Four include Sir Peter Obi of the Labor Party, LP, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Malam Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso of the New Nigerian Peoples Party, NNPP.
For the first time since 1999, the country’s presidential election is a four-way race with both wrestlers having odds in favor of emerging as President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
The Daily Post examines the perspectives and changes of the presidential election in Kaduna, a coastal state that holds the key to Aso Rock.
Peter Opie, L.;
Mr. Peter OBE, the presidential candidate of the Labor Party, has stolen the hearts of young people, women, the working class, the downtrodden and all who yearn for a real change in the political system from “a government of the elite and the few.” To an inclusive and responsive government capable of pulling the country out of its current gutter and providing the average citizen with a sense of belonging in country management.
Young people in the thousands across most of Kaduna state have shown unwavering support for Peter Obi, 61, and his running mate, Yusuf Dati Baba Ahmed, an indigenous state resident.
From overwhelming support on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and other social media platforms to overwhelming physical attendance at presidential rallies, supporters of the Labor candidate, known as Obidients, displayed an uncommon fervor that leaves no one in doubt that Kaduna State is the party’s stronghold in the north.
Peter Obi’s eloquence – his ability to communicate his plans openly on how to address the country’s current challenges, particularly economic insecurity and youth unemployment – marks him out as the man who represents the new order. The dismal security situation in Kaduna State has also contributed to the conviction of citizens that the Labor Party’s presidential candidate is the man who can turn things around and bring about the change they desire.
The Labor Party has a good foundation in Kaduna State with gubernatorial and upper house candidates, as well as House of Representatives candidates in parts of the state campaigning hard for the party’s success. The party has high hopes of getting 25 percent of the vote in Kaduna state which would go a long way in propelling Peter Obi to the Aso Rock.
Great optimism, however, should be tempered by reality. Peter Obi’s most glaring weakness lies in a bloc of voters who do not see him as Northern and Muslim, two qualities they hold sacrosanct in electing who will become Nigeria’s president. These could greatly affect Obi’s chances of getting huge votes from places where these sentiments run high. Also, his support base seems to be in global urban centers, leaving outlying areas that can contribute significant voices unexplored and poorly exploited.
Atiku Abubakar (PDP)
A veteran political war horse who has been in politics for years, the 76-year-old former Vice President Atiku Abubakar is a force to be reckoned with in Nigerian politics. He has contested the presidency for a record five times in 1993, 2007, 2011, 2015 and 2019. This year’s general election is his sixth and likely last attempt to run for president.
An old and experienced politician with a wide network across the country, and in Kaduna State in particular, Atiku is seen as a serious contender in the elections.
The PDP’s formidable structure―with presence in all of 776 LGA and 8,813 wards, is the greatest strength of Atiku Abubakar who was detached enough to pick a fellow Christian from the South, adding yet another ace to his deck for the highest hand in the presidential contest. In parts of Kaduna where religious balance is important to voters, this could win him a significant number of votes.
Still, some elements in the North are where the presidential candidate comes from insisting on four more years of the presidency. This could be a plus for Atiku, whose chances have been boosted by renewed support for the PDP in the last few weeks before the election.
Citizens narrowing their choices down to just two parties may consider Atiku a better candidate compared to his APC counterpart, and this could swing the polls in his favor given that the PDP has the strength to fight the PKK threat in hotly contested areas.
With Kaduna being one of the northern strongholds of the PDP, Atiku has a good chance of a fair election.
On the other hand, Atiku Abubakar’s dream of winning in the February 25 polls may not be as easy as many expect. There is a Fulani factor that may count against him. The idea that he, a Fulani, is seeking to replace another Fulani is not acceptable to many voters, including some of his party’s supporters who believe in the principle of fairness and justice.
Also on a sentimental note, voters in communities that have continually suffered from alleged Fulani attacks may not be enthusiastic about voting for a PDP flag bearer as Nigeria’s next president. However, other priorities may prevail.
Paula Ahmed Tinubu, APC
The presidential candidate for the General Progressive Congress, APC, is generally considered one of the most astute political strategists in the country. Like Atiku, he is a political veteran whose vast experience is coupled with the influence of a network of politicians and political groups across states and regions. Tinubu, 71, is a dealmaker who can break any political deadlock with concessions that yield last-minute victories.
His insistence on the same faith by choosing Kashim Shetima, a Muslim, as his deputy was seen by many as an Achilles’ heel, but there are counterarguments that it was a shrewd political move designed to win over Muslim votes in the north. Where he has a strong opponent in Atiku Abubakar of the People’s Democratic Party.
However, in Kaduna State, analysts are skeptical that a mass voter ticket will produce mass votes.
It is doubtful, too, that the APC has enough political goodwill in Kaduna State to defeat the DPP, especially in pockets that have long accused Governor Nasir al-Rifai of bigotry, intolerance and political insensitivity.
The people of southern Kaduna have been hardest hit by the sad experience of killings, kidnappings and threats to their farmland under the leadership of Buhari and Nasir al-Rifai of the General People’s Army. They consider the January 25 poll as an opportunity to vote for a party that can give them the desired change, and it will be any other party than the GPC. The albatross APC could be too expensive for Tinubu.
Despite the APC being the ruling party in Kaduna, the dynamics of politics in the state have changed since the presidential primaries in 2022. Now, the Labor Party has a massive following, and the deputy Democratic Party’s grip on the state has not diminished.
On level ground, the odds of the tyrannical Armed Forces of the Philippines taking over Kaduna are slim.
Kwankwaso Spring (NNPP)
There is no doubt that Kwankwaso, 66, has some followers in the state, but the fact is that NNPP is little known in southern Kaduna. In the northern part of the state, where the gubernatorial candidate hails from, the party is not pronounced.
Opinions are high that the presidential election in Kaduna State will be a three-way battle between the Workers’ Party, the People’s Democratic Party and the APC. Barring any last-minute upset, the odds are favoring the PDP to endure the day in state.
Presidential Candidates: As they are in Kaduna State