August 13, 2022

The Nigerian political terrain is being enlivened with motley episodes of theatrics and rhetoric that unearth and bolster on a quotidian basis toward the 2023 presidential election. From Osibanjo’s Judas-like genuflection to Obi’s dastardly party-defection and from the  Jagaban’s haughty acclamation of “emi lo kan”, to  Lawan’s disillusionment with the consensus candidate theory, the Nigerian electorates have been observing the political atmosphere with a normative faculty that predates the extant dispensation.
Furthermore, there is a bourgeoning force from the current political awakening in the youth faction that is curiously spicing up the whole scenery – it is a fine social awareness brewed from many years of untold hardship. In a previous article, I dissect the current political wave from a dialectic and critical sociology point of view and I observe that in connection with the defunct #endsars movement, the ongoing #get-your-pvc campaign across the social media platforms is snowballing like the Hermes winged feet. Never before in the history of Nigerian politics have the Nigerian youth characterize this much political consciousness. But still much thanks to the digital technology, a compelling force in modern democracy that the youth have largely enculturated themselves with.
From the updated statistics of the Nigerian registered voters by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) published at Nairametrics, it is evident and interesting to note how the young population is aggressively positioning itself as a force to reckon with in the nation’s politics. About 9 million Nigerians have been newly registered and certified eligible voters adding to the voters list which stood at 84 Million in 2019. From the data, 6 million out of the new 8.6 million registrations were done by the youth; the youth currently accounts for 74 percent of the voters list with ages between 18 and 34 years. The figures are still adding up since the indefinite extension of the Continuous Voters Registration’s deadline on June 27. ‘’it’s the election of the youth’’ the INEC chairman, Mahmood Yakub declares.
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The sentiment of the Nigerian youth is palpable and intelligible too. For many of the young electorates, the problem with Nigeria is a leadership paralysis invariably recycled by the same old political characters that have been ruling the nation since independence in 1960. Thus, the youth want direly the breaking of the gerontocracy jinx; they want a fresh perspective, a youthful and vibrant leadership that will reignite the good fate of the nation and bring hope to the common man with the required agility.
Peter Obi, the flag bearer of the labour party and youngest of the three major presidential candidates is highly favoured among the Nigerian youth partly because of his relative youthfulness and partly because of his apparent enthusiasm in articulating his political ideas. Data from Google trends analyzed by Ripples Nigeria reveals Obi is one of the most searched and talked about politicians on the social media with most of the searches coming from the south.
Statistics based on followership on Twitter, the most widely used medium for campaign, puts Obi followership strength at 1.4 Million, though considerably below Atiku’s 4.2 Million and a little above Tinubu’s 1.2 Million. However, Obi’s social media presence is said to be growing rapidly and it’s added 357 thousand new followers in June with the #i-am-obidient campaign gathering momentum daily on the internet.
The popularity of Peter Obi among the Nigerian youth and on the social media also recalls the Machiavellian golden rule of how civil principalities are established through the popular platform of the people. According to Niccolo Machiavelli, ‘’the people only wants to not be oppressed, hence they tend to favour passionately the prince that appeal to that sentiment. Furthermore, the prince who gets the favour of the people has much less difficulty maintaining his position since the people’s demand is simple and righteous’’. Since the fear of many Nigerian youths is simply not to allow the same old politicians to continue to govern the affairs of the nation, Obi’s candidacy stands striking among this demography, and he seems to be the least agitated among the three major contenders in the presidential race.
However, it must be stated, the alternative platform to power which is the elitist route. This is a platform where Obi seems to be the least strong compared to Bola Ahmed Tinubu and former vice president, Atiku Abubarka. Tinubu’s membership of the ruling party and his self-built political network provides his candidacy with a great leverage. Among the elite, fortune is determined not by popular ideology or by public sentiment but by one’s ability to reconcile vested interests which is a difficult affair in real politics. Thus, according to Machiavelli, seeking power through the assistance of the nobles create a much too difficult terrain to make quick decisions since “one cannot by fair dealing and without causing injuries to others satisfy the elites”.

The dilemma of the elitist platform played out twice during the All Progressives Congress’ electioneering. The first great indecision was in the party’s pre-primaries which agitated Tinubu and almost thwarted his long-term political ambition with the debate over south zoning and the consensus candidate theory. Hence, his “emi lo kan” coinage. Following Tinubu’s trojan-horse victory within the party, the second indecision appears in the post-primaries with a new debate on the selection rule for a running mate. After series of consultation and sending of tentative name to the INEC, the party flag bearer eventually selected his running mate, former Governor Kasim Shettima of Bornu state, which arrived at a much less desired muslim-muslim ticket for the party.
Chief Wale Owu, a member of the APC described the muslim-muslim candidacy as ‘’bold, strategic and politically expedient’’ while speaking in voices with Edmund Obilo last Saturday on splash fm 105.5. According to the progressives’ apologist, the muslim-muslim ticket may not be politically correct to some Nigerians, but it is politically expedient to the current realities of the APC.
The great indecision is not restricted to the progressives. There are also conspiracy theories about how some elite members of the opposition party, Peoples Democratic Party, at the regional level in the southwest have demonstrated indifference or half-hearted support to party members in the presidential campaigns due to a fear of being overhauled or shortchanged in their states by the ruling party, especially after witnessing the APC’s clean sweep in Ekiti. However, the recent victory of the PDP in Osun State should allay this fear.
Whether taking the elite way or the popular route in the quest for power, the rational politician seek a thorough understanding of the key stakeholders involved and how he could best appeal to their sentiments. When he reaches such awakening, he swings into action with bold moves.
Ismail is a research and analytics paramour with a thorough academic background in Sociology and a demonstrated history of working in research and management positions across Agriculture, Education and Service industries. He’s experienced in generating insights from research and data analytics; analytical and creative writing; management, and teaching.

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