Atiku Abubakar, the Waziri of Adamawa, has made numerous attempts to secure Nigeria’s highest office. Despite setbacks in 1993, 2007, 2011, 2015, and 2019, he managed to secure the PDP’s Presidential ticket in 2023 but ultimately lost to Bola Tinubu of the APC.
The Atiku-Obi Partnership
In 2019, Atiku selected Peter Obi, former Governor of Anambra State, as his running mate. Despite opposition from PDP Governors, Atiku’s choice prevailed, but the duo was unsuccessful in defeating the ruling APC.
Running on a joint Presidential ticket under the platform of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar and Peter Obi campaigned alongside each other across Nigeria before losing out to Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressive Congress (APC) in the Presidential election. While one would have expected that they rerun a joint ticket in 2023, “things fell apart, and the centre could no longer hold.” This article details the chain of events that led to the fall of Atiku Abubakar and, surprisingly, the rise of Peter Obi.
The PDP Zoning Controversy
The PDP (People’s Democratic Party) zoning controversy is a debate within the Nigerian political landscape surrounding the zoning of the party’s presidential candidate for the 2023 elections.
The PDP is one of the largest political parties in Nigeria, and it has traditionally followed a zoning arrangement in which the presidential candidate is rotated among the six geopolitical zones in the country. This arrangement ensures that no region is consistently marginalised in the political process.
However, there has been controversy within the PDP regarding whether or not the party should maintain this zoning arrangement for the 2023 elections. Some party members have argued that the zoning arrangement should be scrapped and that the party should select the best candidate, regardless of their region. On the other hand, others have argued that the zoning arrangement should be maintained, as it is an essential element of the party’s internal democracy and its commitment to ensuring equal representation for all regions of the country.
The controversy has been further complicated because there needs to be a clear consensus on which region should produce the PDP’s presidential candidate in 2023. Some argue it should be the turn of the southeast region, which has never made a president since Nigeria’s return to democracy in 1999. Others say that the party should select a candidate from the north-central or southwest regions, which have not produced a president in recent years.
Overall, the PDP zoning controversy highlights the complex dynamics of Nigerian politics and the challenges that political parties face in balancing the interests of different regions and constituencies. The outcome of the discussion will likely significantly impact the party’s chances in the 2023 presidential election.
Atiku’s 2022 declaration to run for the Presidency under the PDP platform faced resistance due to the party’s zoning formula. The debate between Southern and Northern leaders led to the formation of a committee to address the issue. Eventually, the Presidential Election was left open, allowing Atiku to run.
Peter Obi’s Surprising Bid
Peter Obi’s announcement to run for the Presidency against Atiku surprised many. Peter Obi was previously Atiku’s running mate during the 2019 presidential election, and Atiku had to face stiff opposition from PDP Governors at the time, who wanted him to pick one of them as his running mate. He was, however, persistent about his choice of Obi, and the PDP Governors had to accept Obi’s nomination reluctantly. PDP was unsuccessful in its bid to unseat the ruling party, APC, as they lost the election, polling 11,262,978 votes against APC’s 15,191,847 votes.
As such, some people may have expected Obi to remain loyal to Atiku and not challenge him for the presidency. Nevertheless, Atiku had yet to officially announce his candidacy for the 2023 presidential election at the time of Peter Obi’s announcement. It was widely expected that Atiku would run again; finally, in March 2022, Atiku declared his intention to run for the Presidency under the platform of the PDP.
Peter Obi later withdrew from the PDP Presidential Primaries and subsequently defected to the Labour Party (LP) on May 27 2022, where he became their Presidential flag-bearer.
Division within the PDP
After the PDP Presidential Primaries, a group of Governors called the G-5, led by Nyesom Wike, refused to support Atiku’s bid unless the party’s National Chairman, Iyorchia Ayu, resigned. This rift significantly impacted the 2023 Presidential Election results.
APC candidate Bola Tinubu won the election, with Atiku Abubakar coming in second and Peter Obi as the third-place finisher. PDP’s loss in the G-5 states highlighted the divisions within the party.
Atiku’s Political Future
At 76, Atiku has likely reached the end of his Presidential aspirations. However, he has approached the court to challenge the election results, citing irregularities.
Peter Obi’s Growing Popularity
Despite his election loss, Peter Obi remains a beloved figure, particularly among Nigerian youths. As the leader of the Labour Party, he has made significant electoral gains and is contesting the election results in court.
The Aftermath of the 2023 Elections
The fallout of the 2023 Nigerian Presidential election has left the political landscape with significant changes. The PDP faces internal conflicts, with divisions between factions potentially weakening the party’s prospects. The APC, on the other hand, has consolidated its position as Nigeria’s ruling party, benefiting from the PDP’s internal strife.
The Need for PDP’s Restructuring
The PDP will need to address its internal divisions and develop a clear strategy to regain the trust of the Nigerian populace. In addition, the party must reassess its policies and leadership structure, ensuring that it remains competitive and united in future elections.
APC’s Challenges Ahead
While the APC emerged victorious in the 2023 Presidential Election, the party must remain active. It must tackle Nigeria’s pressing issues, such as insecurity, economic instability, and corruption, to retain the people’s support.
The Labour Party’s Potential
Peter Obi’s rise in popularity and the Labour Party’s electoral successes indicate the potential for a new political force in Nigeria. In addition, the party’s focus on youth engagement and progressive policies may appeal to a growing number of Nigerians seeking an alternative to traditional political parties.
The Future of Nigerian Politics
The 2023 Presidential Election has demonstrated Nigerian politics’ fluidity and evolving nature. It remains to be seen whether the PDP can overcome its internal challenges, whether the APC can maintain its position, or if a new political contender, such as the Labour Party, will emerge as a dominant force in the coming years.
Some key considerations
- Inclusivity and Representation: There has been a growing demand for more inclusive representation in Nigerian politics, particularly for women and young people. We might see increased efforts to involve these underrepresented groups in political processes, leading to more diversity in political leadership.
- Anti-Corruption Efforts: Corruption has long been a significant issue in Nigerian politics. After the 2023 elections, there could be more efforts to combat corruption by strengthening institutions, promoting transparency, and enforcing strict penalties for corrupt practices.
- Decentralisation and Restructuring: There have been calls for greater decentralisation and restructuring of the Nigerian political system to promote regional autonomy and development. This could lead to an increased focus on regional issues, more equitable resource allocation, and more balanced power distribution.
- Digitalization and Technology: As Nigeria embraces digital technology, it could play a more significant role in the political process. This could mean increased use of digital platforms for voter registration, campaigning, and monitoring elections. It might also lead to more data-driven decision-making in governance.
- Security and Insurgency: Security issues, such as the Boko Haram insurgency and communal clashes, have been a critical concern for Nigeria. The government’s approach to these issues after the 2023 elections will likely shape the future of Nigerian politics and determine the stability and security of the country.
- Economic Diversification: With a heavy dependence on oil, Nigeria has faced financial challenges due to fluctuations in oil prices. The future of Nigerian politics may involve more efforts to diversify the economy, focusing on sectors like agriculture, manufacturing, and technology.
- Strengthening Democracy: To strengthen Nigeria’s democratic process, future governments may focus on improving electoral processes, promoting the independence of the judiciary, and fostering a more robust civil society.