The 2023 general elections got underway across Nigeria last week with Nigerians turning out in large numbers to elect their new leaders.
This and four other stories we tracked dominated public discourse last week.
1. 2023 general elections begin
On February 25, Nigerians voted in the presidential and National Assembly elections in the 36 states and Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
Although there were pockets of violence and technical hitches, the process was generally peaceful across the country.
The Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, who addressed journalists at a media briefing in Abuja, apologised for the delay in the opening of polling units in parts of the country.
He also confirmed an attack on a petrol station near its office in Gwoza, Borno State, by suspected terrorists.
Yakubu said: “I want to report that the military has confirmed the attack on two facilities including a filling station near the INEC office, but no damage to INEC facilities and no casualties.
“Some people were injured and receiving treatment in the hospital. We wish them a speedy recovery. But there was no disruption on INEC facilities and no disruption of the process.”
Why it matters
The violence that marred the process in some parts of the country, especially the terrorist attack in Borno State more or less justifies the fears by many on the conduct of the elections in the troubled North-East.
The ugly incidents, including ballot box snatching, violence, and reported alteration of result sheets again speak to the political intolerance and reluctance of the players to wean themselves of the win-at-all syndrome that has continued to undermine the country’s democracy.
2. Ezekwesili faults implementation of naira redesign
The Convener of BringBackOurGirls Group, Oby Ezekwesili, on February 20 faulted the implementation of the naira redesign.
Ezekwesili, who featured in a Channels Television’s programme “The 2023 Verdict,” said: “The reason Africa’s democracy was in a parlous state and hijacked by the supply side by the politicians is that you have an electorate that acts as if they are not interested.
“The minds of the electorate are like somehow, someday a messiah would just come and things would be fine.”
Why it matters
The naira scarcity and the attendant socio-economic problems created by the naira redesign point to the implementation challenges that typically undermine policies no matter the intention in Nigeria.
Though the reasons behind the policy are valid, implementing such within a short time in a weak economy like Nigeria calls to question the timing and appropriateness of approaches adopted by the current administration.
3. The Economist’s position on Peter Obi
The Economist on February 19 picked the Labour Party presidential candidate, Peter Obi, as Nigeria’s beacon of hope after decades of leadership challenges.
In a new article titled: “Nigeria desperately needs a new kind of leadership,” the United Kingdom-based newspaper said the former Anambra State governor understands the country’s challenges better than his three rivals for the country’s highest political office.
The article read: “Nigeria has been cursed with bad rulers. A military regime gave way to democracy in 1999, but since then elections have offered voters an ugly selection of the ancient, the incompetent, and, most recently, a former military dictator.
“Parties have stoked ethnic divisions, intimidated their opponents, and bought votes. Many candidates—federal, state, and local—seek power to grab a share of the country’s oil wealth. Successive governments have been deeply corrupt. Turnout has steadily fallen. But as Nigerians go to the polls on February 25th, Peter Obi, a third-party presidential candidate, offers a measure of hope.”
Why it matters
The London-based newspaper’s article on Obi speaks to the rise of the former Anambra governor as a formidable force in this year’s presidential race.
The LP’s candidate’s acceptance across Nigeria was evident in the in-roads he has made in states across the six geopolitical zones and among trade unions in Nigeria.
However, it remains to be seen if these credentials are enough to give him the desired success in the ongoing general elections in the country.
4. LP guber candidate in Adamawa adopts Tinubu
The Labour Party governorship candidate in Adamawa State, Dr. Umar Mustapha Muqaddas, on February 23 adopted the All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential candidate, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, in the ongoing election.
Muqaddas, who addressed journalists at a media briefing in Yola, said the LP had sidelined him and other party candidates in the state.
He said: “We have been deliberately disrespected by the party structure at the national and state levels.
“It is in light of this that we entered into discussions with the APC and after exhaustive negotiations, we have resolved to collapse our entire structure for the APC and particularly, for the presidential election.”
Why it matters
The Labour Party’s candidate switch to APC and his declaration of support for the party’s presidential candidate point to the lack of principle among players in Nigeria’s political space with personal interest constantly influencing their decisions.
Muqaddas’ last-minute ditch of the LP also suggests his lack of confidence in the party and its presidential candidate to upset the form book by winning the presidential election.
5. Bode George, Jandor’s truce in Lagos
The Deputy National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), South-West, Olabode George, and the party’s governorship candidate in Lagos, Dr. Abdul-Azeez Adediran aka Jandor, settled their rift on February 21.
The Head of Media and Communications of the JANDOR4GOVERNOR Campaign Organisation, Gbenga Ogunleye, said in a statement that the duo met to resolve their differences ahead of Saturday’s presidential and National Assembly elections.
He said: “The cold war between the National Leader of the Peoples Democratic Party, Chief Olabode George, and the governorship candidate of the party, Dr. Abdul-Azeez Olajide Adediran has been finally put to an end in a reconciliation and unity meeting held today (February 21).”
Why it matters
The reconciliation between the two party leaders is expected to boost the fractured party in Lagos and put it in good stead for the March 11 election.
However, it is still uncertain if that move is enough to propel the PDP to victory in a state it has coveted since 1999.
By Hamed Shobiye
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