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The rise of the fringe candidates- What hope for the third leg?




By Joseph Edgar…

It was our famous former President Mr. Obasanjo who threw the third leg option into the fore on the journey towards 2019. We have always had fringe candidates in all our elections and in fact the lady Sara Jibril went a long way in etching her candidacy on the national psyche some time ago so this was not going to be a new phenomenon in our electoral process.

However, this time around, may be due to the increasing frustration at the seeming incompetence of the two major platforms, we are beginning to see a rash of fringe candidates ogling for an attempt at the race. At the last count, we have seen close to 50 from the very serious to the mundane and just this morning, I have woken up to the announcement on Whats App from my very good friend Jacob Esan that he would also throw his cap into the ring.

At face value, some analysts have viewed these constellation of ‘’little players’’ as mere irritation on the body psyche, a phenomena not to be taken seriously and viewed as a side attraction in national debate. The antics of people like Sowore and Fela Durotoye go a long way in supporting this view but a little closer look will throw up three candidates that if better packaged could cause a major dent on the major platforms.

Dr. Fagbenro-Byron, Tope Fasua and Dr Kingsley Moghalu. These three have shown better understanding of the issues that pervade the system. They have shown clarity as to the need to build structures that would and, should I keep saying if better handled, position them for national recognition. They have slowly and gradually built up structures, gone on effective social mobilization drive, targeting a very critical segment of the population and pushing messages of national rebirth using very modern technology to reach the segmented audience at the cheapest possible cost.

Let me take Tope’s ANRP platform for example. Information reaching me shows that they have reached a significant 53,000 membership with representations nationwide and a party launch at the famed Eagle Square. Unlike other parties, he even has a Shadow cabinet made up of very sound and deeply intellectual young people who have produced a document that is quite impressive and containing their manifesto. Tope seems to be very serious in his advocacy especially in the viscosity of his logic.

Dr. Byron on the other hand comes with a very deep intellectual bent and street savvy that comes with his deep experience of grass root politics having contested under the platform of PDP for a local Council Chairmanship somewhere in Lagos. He is of the Kowa party and is expected to clinch the ticket of the party.

I spent a wonderful two hours with him at the AFANG SUMMIT and marvelled at his pure grasp of the issues. With no prepared speech and with volleys coming from everywhere he was able to stand his ground and leave us with the impression that he was a man.

Now, a lot of us do not give them a chance because of our entrenched overlords who control not only the levers of government but the power to share national resources which are then used to coral a poverty stricken and mostly illiterate populace, but with a deft play on the huge army of frustrated youths who are connected to the digital world, the status quo can be overthrown.

This I have stated very clearly in my discussions with these two candidates. You do not upturn an entrenched position with the same tactics. Building physical structures and recruiting leg army to trudge the length and breadth of the nation is fighting the over lords in their turf. It will not work.

Read also: Dauragate and the shame of a nation

The fringe candidate must as a matter of urgency move into a position of strong advocacy. A position that would see them grapple for the minds of the teeming youths, all 60 million of them using the deep penetrative powers of the social media as a vehicle for dissemination. They must appeal to the strong urge of the youths to better their lots and show them very clearly that they better understand these yearnings than the geriatric candidates who control the main structures of polity and state.

Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King and even our own Nnamdi Kanu who was able to feed into the angst of the system and build a campaign which resonated all over the land by sheer bravery and charisma did it. Although laced with brute inexperience and violent laden messages, he lost his crowd and mantle but his style of mobilization with a clear message can be emulated for positive repositioning of the fringe candidates.

Nnamdi in his madness took on the system headlong and at some point could have been brought to the negotiating table. He however could not shed the heavy negatives in his message and unwittingly disappeared into the dark tunnel of oblivion where he truly belongs.

But for our fringe candidates to emerge from the tipple of irrelevance and mockery that seems to be their lot, they would have to get on the garb of a visionary, a seer who has seen the promised land and who is willing to lead the children of ‘Isreal’ to that promised Land using strategies and systems we are not yet used to.

So when Byron and Fasua in response to answers say they are ready to die in this quest, I hide a knowing shrug for that answer clearly shows that they have not started. They will not die because the system on both sides will continue not to take them seriously until they show that they are truly ready for the task, then they can contemplate their deaths, till then, lets keep on rocking.


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