30 Days to Go: Where Tinubu, Atiku, Obi, Kwankwaso Stand By Abdulsalam Mahmud
The counting started with years, and then, months. But it is now just a matter of days for February 25, 2023 to happen. Who will emerge as President Muhammadu Buhari’s successor?
According to the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, the presidential candidates are 18, this time around. But pundits consider only four among the lot as serious ‘contenders’. The rest, though formidable in their own rights, are no more than ‘pretenders’.
They lack the political structure, clout and war chest to test Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, Asiwaju Ahmed Bola Tinubu, Peter Obi and Sen. Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso for size.
That is why political analysts see the February 25 presidential election as a four-horse race among the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP; All Progressives Congress, APC; Labour Party, LP; and the New Nigerian Peoples Party, NNPP.
Cognizant of the prevailing political temperature in the country, and the candidates’ antecedents, together with the regional identity of some political parties, not forgetting the intriguing alliance and counter-alliances being forged among some key political actors, no Nostradamus can accurately tell where the pendulum of the 2023 polls would swing.
However, POLITICS DIGEST’s crystal ball can take a deep, critical look at the local factors and sentiments that will dictate the direction of people’s choices across the states which will help our readers to know who is likely to come out victorious among the quartet.
The election in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, is difficult to predict at this time, because its political shape has changed with the emergence of Obi.
The PDP has always had the upper hand in terms of poll results in the FCT.
However, the challenge presented by Obi may upset the results of the February 25, 2023 presidential election, thereby denying the PDP and its presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar.
The heavy Igbo and northern Christian population in the urban centres will elect Obi while the PDP will take rural areas where Atiku’s man, Senator Phillip Aduda, has a cult following.
VERDICT: This is TOO CLOSE TO CALL. Atiku and Obi will fight for it.
If the previous voting pattern of the state in general elections is anything to go by, Atiku looks to be in charge here. The party has never lost any presidential election in the state since 1999. Even in 2015 when APC won the governorship election, it lost the presidential poll to PDP. The same thing happened in 2019. But how it works out in 2023 remains to be seen.
Tinubu’s advantage here lies in the fact that the governor is not just of the same party with him, he is also the Director-General of the Presidential Campaign Council (PCC). So he will mobilise the entire structure of the party to get as many votes as possible for the party’s candidate. The general sentiments here do not however favour a Tinubu victory because they are mostly Christians who will find it difficult to vote a Muslim-Muslim ticket. Even the Hausa/ Fulani Muslims across Jos North, Wase and other local government areas have Atiku as an option.
That brings us to Obi who is younger than the duo, he is seen as a viable option that is better than others, he is a Christian and his popularity seems to be growing in parts of the North Central.
VERDICT: Plateau is definitely going to be a BATTLEGROUND, where Atiku and Obi will slug it out with Tinubu coming a close third.
The PDP is in a serious crisis here. Things have fallen apart. The biggest threat to its existence before and after the 2023 general elections is the protracted faceoff between the G-5 governors and the party’s national chairman, Dr. Iyorchia Ayu. Benue State Governor Samuel Ortom, is an active member of the rebellious group. Aside from that, with all the anti-Fulani sentiments in the state, Atiku will find it difficult to triumph here.
Tinubu’s Muslim-Muslim arrangement is his biggest albatross here.
Obi seems to tick all the boxes here. He is the only Christian among the contenders and he is from the southeast that has never produced a Nigerian President. His campaign messaging seems to also be resonating well with the Benue youths.
VERDICT: It is difficult if not impossible to stop OBI from winning here.
Governor Yahaya Bello has a solid reputation as a politician who delivers. Tinubu is on his own very popular in Lokoja and Kabba, in Kogi West, and Okene in Kogi Central. As for Kogi East with its huge population, the state Deputy Governor, Edward Onoja, has all the foot soldiers on ground to help him deliver.
The general poor performance of the Buhari administration has however been felt in the state too. So, Atiku too will try to ride on the mass discontent to get some votes.
VERDICT: TINUBU to win with Atiku coming a close second.
Like Kogi, Niger is also a state where the governor is capable of delivering the votes to Tinubu.
But the people will have something to say about this because the state has been the worst-hit by the banditry that the APC led federal government failed to tackle on time.
VERDICT: TINUBU with a slim chance of winning.
Tinubu seems to have this fanatical following among Yoruba Muslims which somehow extends to some Middle Belt tribes like Ebira, Nupe, Kakanda etc who are also predominantly Muslims with longstanding relationship with the Yoruba race. That is why he is looking strong in Kogi, Kwara and Niger.
Kwara is also an APC state with all the structures on ground to deliver for Tinubu.
Atiku will however put up a fight since PDP had once ruled here and retains a lot of supporters in the state.
VERDICT: TINUBU to win.
This is a very complicated state where Tinubu, Atiku and Obi will go head to head. Governor Abdullahi Sule is very much on ground and he will deliver the traditional Muslim parts of the state to Tinubu. But in Akwanga areas where Christians dominate and PDP is strong, Obi and Atiku may fancy their chances.
Meanwhile, from Keffi down to Nyanya checkpoint are those areas along Keffi-Abuja expressway where there are a lot of Igbos, Tiv, Igala and Idoma Christians who are in love with Obi. So, Obi may bring the kind of numbers that will threaten to neutralise whatever Tinubu is bringing from the traditional areas of the state.
VERDICT: TOO CLOSE TO CALL. A 50-50 clash between Tinubu and Obi.
This is a PDP state with a very popular and charismatic governor in the person of Bala Mohammed. Atiku is therefore expected to do very well here.
It is however one of those core northern states, a majority Muslim conservative state, which Tinubu’s Muslim-Muslim arrangement may appeal to the clerics and voters. Again, APC governed the state until 2019 when the then governor lost to Mohammed. So, APC structure should be intact in the state.
VERDICT: Because of politics of identity and the fact that the zone wants to produce a Nigerian President for the first time, this is one of the northeast states that ATIKU should win with Tinubu coming a respectable second.
There may not be a landslide victory for any of the two most visible political parties in Gombe State in the 2023 presidential election. Atiku will still enjoy the sympathy of some of the electorate as a Northeast leader, while Tinubu will benefit from the power of incumbency of APC and its structures statewide.
VERDICT; ATIKU is expected to win here with Tinubu getting as much as 40 percent of the votes.
With the emergence of APC Vice Presidential candidate, Sen. Kashim Shettima, from the state and the outstanding performance of Governor Babagana Zulum, a victory is expected for APC in February.
VERDICT: Borno is for APC and TINUBU will definitely win it convincingly.
Just like Borno, Yobe is another historical APC state where it is difficult if not impossible for the party to lose an election. Tinubu has the governor, Mai Mala Buni, and the Senate President, Ahmed Lawan, backing him and they are sure to deliver the votes. Again, the security situation has been better in recent years and the APC folks have been campaigning with it.
But the economy has been struggling and people in the rural areas have been at the receiving end of it all. Again, Atiku and the PDP have a lot of prominent figures in the state who can mobilise for them.
VERDICT: TOO CLOSE TO CALL. A 50-50 battle between Tinubu and Atiku.
This is Atiku’s home state where he is expected to score his highest percentage of votes. It is also a PDP state where everything will work in his favour. He could end up with 60-70 percent of the votes while Tinubu, who has a lot of big shots in the state working for him, chases at least 25 percent of the vote cast.
VERDICT: ATIKU to win with a wide margin.
Traditionally, Taraba has been a stronghold of the PDP. The PDP has a firm grip on the state. It has won both the governorship and presidential elections since the return of democratic rule in 1999. The state is also Atiku’s favourite hunting ground where he has a lot of foot soldiers. Again, northeast has never produced a Nigerian president and they will see Atiku as their man.
But the Labour Party’s Obi has been harvesting a new crop of supporters from the traditional voting population in Taraba. Being a Christian dominated state, the factor of religion is paving the way for Obi, who is trying to poach the votes of the ruling PDP in the state.
As for the Taraba APC, how it resolves its intra-party squabbles would determine Tinubu and the party’s chances in the state next month. Again, a Muslim-Muslim ticket will also struggle to triumph here.
VERDICT: ATIKU to win with Obi and Tinubu chasing second.
Ordinarily, the APC should struggle to win any state in the northwest due to the unprecedented poverty and banditry that people have suffered under President Muhammadu Buhari. But Tinubu has been relying on the governors, the APC structure, the clerics etc to help him win the zone. It is also because of the zone that the former Lagos state governor damned the consequences and picked a northern Muslim as his running mate. Zamfara is a small state without a lot of exposure and political sophistication, so, they will likely fall for Tinubu’s carrots under the guidance of Governor Bello Matawalle who is obviously a ruthless, result-oriented politician.
VERDICT: TINUBU will win.
If all hands are on deck, the odds favour APC, more than the factionalised PDP.
Like Zamfara, Kebbi looks like a state where Governor Atiku Bagudu, a key loyalist of Tinubu, will be able to deliver.
VERDICT: TINUBU to win.
If there is one state the NNPP candidate, Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, is capable of winning, it is definitely Kano. Kano is the origin and headquarters of his cult following called the Kwankwasiyya Movement. He was governor of the state and he did well in the area of infrastructure and human capital development. He has a lot of red cap wearing adherents who are willing and ready to vote for him.
He however has Tinubu and Atiku whose parties are very large in the state to contend with.
While Atiku is relying on the failure of the APC-led federal government to demarket Tinubu and and sell himself, Tinubu is relying on the political sagacity and ruthlessness of Governor Abdullahi Ganduje and the APC structure in the state.
VERDICT: This is TOO CLOSE TO CALL. All three candidates will fight neck to neck until the last ballot is counted.
This is another state that will grossly test the will and resilience of the three parties – APC, PDP and NNPP.
Though President Buhari is from Katsina, the electorate in the state are worried about endemic banditry that has ravaged many parts of Katsina. They may have no reason to give their mandate to the APC again. Hence, Atiku may just be the beneficiary of their protest votes. Atiku also has a historic link with the Katsina people being a protege of the late icon, Shehu Musa Yar’adua. Aside from that, Governor Aminu Bello Masari does not appear to be agile enough to lead Tinubu’s campaign. The gale of defections from APC to PDP in the state in recent months also proves that the former is losing it.
Tinubu on his part will rely on the APC structure in the state and the goodwill of President Buhari to win. It remains to be seen if that will be enough.
The red cap-wearing Kwankwassiya fan base in Kano extends to Katsina and will give a lot of votes to their hero.
VERDICT: ATIKU to triumph with Tinubu and Kwankwaso fighting for second.
A tight presidential race lies ahead between Tinubu and Atiku in Kaduna. The former appears to have an edge, thanks to the incumbency enjoyed by one of his lieutenants, Nasir El-Rufai.
But the general discontent about APC’s poor performance in the area of security, economy and the recent fuel scarcity may swing the pendulum in Atiku’s way.
Due to the religious factor and his message of change, more than half of Southern Kaduna Christians are already in love with Obi and will vote for him.
VERDICT: A 50-50 contest between Tinubu and Atiku. Obi to come a decent third.
This is another battleground state where Tinubu, Atiku and Kwankwanso will be at one another’s neck. Tinubu has the full support of Governor Abubakar Badaru who is an old ally and the APC structure.
But Atiku will be banking on the support of former governor of the state, Sule Lamido, while Kwankwanso has his red cap movement extended to the state.
VERDICT: A 50-50 contest between Tinubu and Atiku. Kwankwanso to come a decent third.
This is the only PDP state in the northwest which is expected to go the way of Atiku considering the fact that people are not even happy with the performance of the APC at the centre.
Former governor, Aliyu Wamakko, will however work hard to garner as many votes as possible for Tinubu.
VERDICT: ATIKU to win with Tinubu coming a close second.
Atiku will in February be the underdog in Rivers, owing to the faceoff between him and Iyorchia Ayu, the National Chairman of PDP on one side, and Governor Nyesom Wike, on the other.
Wike is sparing no effort in stifling Atiku’s campaign to ensure that he doesn’t feature in the presidential election permutation. Many youths are taking down Atiku-Okowa posters, while the campaign does not have billboards or a presence in any part of the state.
The APC, as a party, is not faring any better in Rivers, where its fortune as the main opposition party has steeply dropped in recent times. Wike is deemed to be considering supporting Tinubu but his Muslim-Muslim arrangement will be difficult to market in the state.
Amaechi, who came second during the APC primary, is not visibly campaigning for the party’s candidate as he did for Buhari in 2015 and 2019.
Meanwhile, LP has grown in stature and popularity since Obi got the presidential ticket after leaving the PDP. He is viewed as an alternative to the two major parties, and the answer to the Igbo’s quest for the presidency. He is believed to be one of the candidates that Wike may back.
VERDICT: At the moment, OBI has more organic following in the state than Atiku and Tinubu. If Wike declares for him, he will take the state.
Undoubtedly, the PDP has dominated the state for a long time, producing all the governors in the state since 1999. The state governor, Senator Douye Diri; his predecessor, Senator Seriake Dickson, who is contesting to retain his seat at the Senate and a former Managing Director, Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Ndutimi Alaibe, are all in the campaign train of Atiku.
Timipre Sylva, Minister of State for Petroleum, however leads the APC Presidential Campaign Council in the state.
The Labour Party and Obidient movement has no doubt gained significant acceptance in Bayelsa and it will give Atiku a run for his money.
VERDICT: ATIKU will win with Obi and Tinubu fighting for second.
The ruling party in Edo State is the PDP. But, the other two parties – the APC and the Labour Party (LP) – cannot be dismissed with the wave of hand.
With Governor Obaseki using the structure of government to campaign for Atiku, PDP will certainly do well in the state.
While Comrade Adams Oshiomhole will deliver some votes to Tinubu in Edo North where he is very strong but it is Labour Party’s Obi that will shake the foundation of the PDP in the state. Governor Obaseki himself admitted early enough in the race that PDP must work hard, that everyone in the state had become OBIdient.
VERDICT: This is a BATTLEGROUND state with Atiku and Obi going head to head.
Delta, being an old stomping ground of the PDP, has recorded huge success in past elections, contributing immeasurably to its victories in elections. Atiku, whose running mate, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa, is the governor, looks to be in charge here.
But the OBIdient movement has grown in leaps and bounds here in the last one year. Obi is therefore expected to give Atiku a run for his money.
VERDICT: ATIKU to win with Obi coming a close second.
This is one state that appears to be complicated and difficult for pundits to call. It has an APC governor though the PDP is deep rooted there while the Obi phenomenon has been present for months.
Tinubu will be hoping to get at least 25 percent of the vote cast.
VERDICT: ATIKU is expected to do very well here. But Obi and Tinubu will have something to say about it.
Governor Udom Emmanuel is the chairman of the Atiku-Okowa presidential campaign council. In that capacity, he would be expected to deploy all his political capital as an incumbent to deliver the state to his principal.
With the recent affirmation of his senatorial ticket by the Supreme Court, former Governor Godswill Akpabio would be out to prove that he’s not finished as a political force in the state. This is expected to benefit Tinubu especially among the Annang tribe where Akpabio hails from.
LP’s Obi is also said to be quite popular with the masses of the people and is widely expected to put up a credible performance despite his party not having the structural depth of the two biggest parties in the state.
VERDICT: ATIKU to win with Obi coming a close second.
Enugu’s votes in the past five election circles have been majorly dedicated to PDP, which has enjoyed unrivalled acceptability among the populace.
However, with the emergence of Obi creating a third option, the tide is changing with the PDP now scrambling to retain its usual share of the votes from the state.
Again, Atiku’s battle with the G-5 governors, including the governor of Enugu State, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, does not help matters.
VERDICT: If Ugwuanyi does not eventually endorse Atiku’s candidature, then nothing will prevent OBI from winning the state .
Since 2011, the control of Imo state has swung between APC and PDP – from the days when Rochas Okorocha was governor, to the brief reign of Emeka Ihedioha and now the tenure of Hope Uzodinma.
It is, therefore, expected that the presidential election would be another face-off between the two biggest parties which have the most developed structures, due to their years of being in power.
But this election season, the entrance of Obi and his LP is altering calculations in the Southeast and the determination of Ndigbo across the country to have their own president may give him a slight advantage.
Atiku will fight for the state while Tinubu will be looking for at least 25 percent of the votes.
VERDICT: OBI to win with a narrow margin.
Though Abia State is not an LP-controlled state, the frenzy around the party’s presidential candidate and the seeming romance of the G5 governors with the party, Obi sympathizers in the PDP and other parties appear to have made up their minds to vote for the LP. Many residents have indeed expressed willingness to cast their votes for Obi.
Atiku will be heavily reliant on the PDP structure in the state while Tinubu will be relying on his friend, Senator Orji Kalu, to get him as many votes as possible.
VERDICT: OBI to win with Atiku coming second.
Despite his relative lack of popularity in the southeast, this is one state Tinubu will fancy his chances of doing well because the state has an APC governor who from the outside looks to be in charge.
But LP will be riding on the organic popularity of its presidential candidate in the state. Obi is hugely popular in the Southeast as the people believe it is their turn to be president.
Atiku cannot however be ruled out of contention because his party has been in charge of the state before the defection of Governor Dave Umahi to the APC.
VERDICT: This is TOO CLOSE TO CALL. The three leading candidates will fight to finish here.
The name on every voter’s lips in Anambra is former governor of the state, Obi, who will definitely win.
VERDICT: OBI is expected to win convincingly here.
Abeokuta, the Ogun state capital, was where Tinubu made the famous Emi Lokan statement. With all the factors and political heavyweights from the state in his kitty, the election will just be a confirmation of the famous statement.
VERDICT: TINUBU can go to sleep and boast of already winning here.
Osun is the state where Tinubu is said to be originally from and it is supposed to be a walkover for him like other southwest states.
Atiku will however get a lot of votes here because there is a sitting PDP governor who will mobilise massively for him.
VERDICT: A straightforward victory for TINUBU.
In line with the Emi Lokan sentiment sweeping across the southwest, Tinubu is expected to triumph here.
Atiku’s case is made worse by the antics of the G-5 rebels who Governor Seyi Makinde is part of.
VERDICT: Irrespective of what Makinde decides to do, TINUBU will win the ‘Pace-Setter State’ comfortably.
The sitting governor is there, the structure is there and the sentiment is also there in favour of Tinubu.
Either Obi or Atiku will come second here. But the strength of the party may come in handy for the latter.
VERDICT: TINUBU to win.
When Atiku won the state in 2019, he was contesting against President Muhammadu Buhari, a fellow Fulani man. This time around, he is coming up against a so-called son of the soil who has a sitting governor and a formidable party structure to bank on.
PDP is not also united in the state and this will affect its performance.
VERDICT: TINUBU to win.
Lagos is the base of Tinubu where he is said to have controlled the levers of power at all levels since 1999. He is therefore expected to win here with the votes of the Yoruba people.
But with the massive Igbo population in the state and even the Yoruba-speaking folks in the EndSARS movement backing Obi, the Labour Party candidate is set to give him a run for his money.
VERDICT: TINUBU to win with Obi coming a respectable second.