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Finally, the much awaited year 2023 is here and it is expected that Nigerians will begin to view next month’s Presidential election with exceptional levels of seriousness. We must get it right as a nation, but getting is right is a question of the choice we make as a people. This created an ineluctable basis to embark on a critical but comparative appraisal of the three leading presidential candidates (Atiku Abubakar, Peter Obi and Bola Ahmed Tinubu) on twenty (20) points social-political and leadership indicators that may determine next month’s Presidential election. The three presidential candidates have been selected based on field spread and velocity of their campaign activities in all the six-geopolitical zones of Nigeria on those indicators as listed and briefly discussed below


*(1) Capacity and Capability:* This is demonstrated ability to lead and govern well. In comparative terms, we observed that Atiku has not actually exercised Executive powers before his appointment as Vice-President while Obi and Tinubu demonstrated measurable (executive) capacities are based on their eight years as Governors of Anambra and Lagos States respectively. It’s a long list and includes selection and diversity of cabinet members, originality of developmental initiatives, quantum (measured in percentages) of Internally-Generated Revenue (IGR) before, during and after leaving office. An objective evaluation of what the duo of Obi and Tinubu did as Governors clearly gave Tinubu a clear lead on this praxis.

*(2) Educational Background:* The three presidential candidates presented acceptable levels of paper qualifications. None of the three candidates presented less than a B.Sc degree to INEC. It may be assumed that they rank equally in terms of educational background (as against qualification). Educationally, the three candidates are qualified.

*(3) Sustainability Indicators*: This indicator focuses more on post-leadership trends of the three candidates being evaluated. Atiku and Obi seem to rank very low in this regard. While Tinubu could conveniently boast of a sustained pool of legacies, followership and party structures by backers who have routinely contested and won elections or have structures that win elections, the duo of Atiku and Obi have shifted political parties, structures and alliances on several occasions. Atiku had moved from PDP to ACN and back to PDP while Obi had moved from APGA to PDP to Labour Party thereby losing structures and consistency of coloration of followership.

*(4) Honesty and Integrity:* This a very problematic indicator. While it may be difficult to make categorical statement on this, we found that Atiku’s immediate boss, former President Obasanjo seems to have undermined his (Atiku’s) raking in this regard in a published book and by not standing-up to endorse him but rather Obi. On his part, none of Obi’s predecessors (Ngige, Uba, etc) have come to publicly acknowledge him in this regard while his immediate past successor (Willy Obiano) has also not identified with him or his aspiration, his successor in office (Prof. Soludo) has publicly debunked some of his assertions on IGR, projects and the actual amount left in the purse of the State at the end of his tenure, etc. Tinubu ranks significantly higher on this indicator as objectively evaluated, as his successors-in-office have positively acknowledged him.

*(5) Records of Strong Leadership in Difficult Times:* This is another performance indicator that focuses on strength of leadership in challenging times. We saw originality in the leadership acumen of Tinubu in his Lagos-Enron drive, LASTMA, LAWMA, LAMATA, IGR, etc including being the first to motivate Judges and Magistrates with higher salaries than Federal Government, first state to digitalize civil service, his dexterousness and prudence in creating and sustaining the Local Governments and Local Council Development Authorities despite all attempts by the Obasanjo presidency to undermine him. Compared to Atuku and Obi, Tinubu has glaring proven evidence of strong leadership in difficult times.

*(6) Published Manifestoes and Programs:* Till date, Obi’s party has not published or circulated its manifesto while Atiku and Tinubu’s parties have circulated theirs. An objective appraisal shows that Tinubi’s party manifesto and program of action is more comprehensive and measurable. His supporters, campaign structures and groups have also gone ahead to release or publish (anticipatory) specific details on how a Bola Tinubu presidency may approach specific sectors such as power, security, energy, finance and others. Specific sector-based details are yet to emanate from Atiku’s camps while Obi’s party has released none.

*(7) Testimonials from Non-Party Members:* We tracked testimonials of Bola Tinubu’s support for political actors of various parties, groups, sections and regions from 1999 till date. There are documented proofs of Tinubu’s generosity to political actors in distress or need including financing elections, elections tribunals, cases, etc at a time he (Tinubu) was not a presidential candidate. The most recent being that of Governor Ayade and countless others. There is a dearth (scarcity) of similar testimonials on Obi, who portrays himself as a strict, “prudent” folk planked on his “we no dey give shi-shi or kobo” ideology. Atiku’s generosity is acknowledged by a few as involuntary and hinged on his endless quest for presidency from the SDP era when he attempted to contest with the late M.K.O Abiola till date. This finding about Tinubu could be verified from opposition Governors and notable political leaders.

*(8) Leadership and Teamwork:* We have not identified specific experts or skilled professionals speaking for Atiku or Obi in terms of the implementation of their programs. Obi has been the one speaking about all social, political, security and other issues. An erroneous impression is created that Obi is a ‘know-it-all” leader who has the magic wand for every problems. Atiku has demonstrated paltry enthusiasm in this regard, like Obi. Compared to the other two candidates, only Tinubu has been show-casing an array of professionals and experts with intimidating track records as would-be managers and “team-soldiers” ready to be immediately deployed by a Tinubu presidency to deal and handle specific national issues and challenges of Nigeria. This indicator could be verified.

*(9) Human Capital Resources Development:* Human capital resources at the disposal of Tinubu is higher and more significant compared to those of Atiku and Obi. We took stock of some former aids, special assistants, commissioners, and others who worked with Tinubu and have been supported by Tinubu to subsequently become Ministers, Vice-President, Governors, Senators, House of Representatives or Assembly members, Chairmen of Local Governments and others. Most former aids of Atiku or those he assisted as Vice-President to get political appointments in the Obasanjo Government (a significant number, but names not disclosed) have not, and are unwilling to publicly identify with his quest for presidency. Ditto for Obi.

*(10) Political Structures:* Atiku’s political structures have been dwindling due to what is perceived as ‘political inconstancy”. A significant many stayed back in ACN when Atiku moved back to PDP. His original political group (PDM) which he inherited from the late Musa Yar’Adua from SDP has now mostly been sub-summed under APC in Katsina, Kano, Kaduna and most parts of the Southwest. Obi never had an original political structure since he dumped the Late Ojukwu’s APGA and moved to PDP and now Labour party. Compared to the duo, Tinubu has strategically retained, nurtured, built and consolidated his political structures from AD to AC to ACN and APC till date.

*(11) Political and Leadership Mentorship*: Tinubu is largely perceived as a “Large-Hearted” political leader and mentor. He formed political parties while Atiku and Obi never actually formed, built or nurtured any political parties. Records had it that Tinubu has consistently offered his political platforms, capital and resources to other political actors from another parties to contest as Governors, President and others including Atiku himself, Nuhu Ribadu and President Buhari. Atiku is not comparatively perceived as being willing to yield his structure (if any) for others while Obi simply has none to yield for anyone.

*(12) Perspectives of the Business Class:* Lagos State is the commercial capital of Nigeria. This is a fact that no one can contest. Both Atiku and Obi are said to have made their business and career fortunes from Lagos as tycoon and Custom Officer. The richest African man and other businessmen and women have their businesses in Lagos. The rich bankers, real estate gurus and funders have their businesses in Lagos and have had a decent relationship with Tinubu directly before his aspiration and feel better protected, business and investment-wise and personally under a Tinubu presidency. This fact, like others is also verifiable.

*(13) Perspectives on Critical National Issues:* The three candidates shared similar but varied concerns to critical national issues such as security, corruption, unemployment, and infrastructure. Tinubu stands out in making categorical statements on economy, energy (subsidy), power, and infrastructure. Obi has made several general statements on youth and employment without specifics while Atiku seems to be prevaricating and making generalized statements on most national issues (including foreign medical treatments by leaders).

*(14) Sensitivity to National Unity:* It is generally agreed that religious factor is a divisive tendency and should not be an indicator. However, Atiku’s party is perceived as being insensitive to national unity that morally demands power shifts from North to South. This is a matter of law under PDP constitution. Obi is positively disposed to issues of national unity but his disposition is received with skepticism given past experiences of the civil war and attendant trust challenges. This is further worsen by the seeming un-ending IPOB factors and agitations. Tinubu and his party carries no such collateral (institutional) challenges which puts him at advantageous position.

*(15) Party Cohesiveness:* The issue of party cohesiveness is a key indicator. Allegedly, Atiku masterminded and caused the movement of six (6) sitting PDP Governors to APC to undermine the then President Goodluck Jonathan. While this is treated as mere allegations, history seems to be repeating itself with the threat of the G-5 PDP Governors to back a Southern presidential candidate. Upon criminal conviction of its former D.G, Labour party has also had to “employ” a registered member and Senatorial candidate of the opposition Zenith Labour Party (Akin Oshuntokun) as Director-General of its Presidential campaign in what is perceived as a “Vote-of-No-Confidence” on loyal party men and women who have been laboring to build the party from nothing to something. Tinubu’s APC seems to be enjoying relative peace and cohesiveness.

*(16) Formidability of Other Flag-bearers:* It is premature to judge the formidability or otherwise of APC, Labour or PDP candidates in the next general elections. While APC fielded candidates in all elective offices, PDP fielded in all PDP States and at least 80% in other States. However, Labour Party has no candidates in about 60% of all electives offices and States in Nigeria. The fact that APC controls most of the seats and slots being contested is a major plus for Tinubu and his party.

*(17) Home-Land Security*: Charity begins at home. This is a major indicator in the next general election. Politicians or presidential candidates who’s States is or are under threat of security may not be trusted to be able to provide national security. While security is a national issue, observers perceive the presidential candidates as political influencers had opportunities to provide security of lives and properties or leave endearing legacies while in office to ensure same. Lagos Security Trust Funds and other legacies left by Tinubu are attributed as reasons for relative security in Lagos compared to Anambra and Adamawa States which are, as of today, less secured compared to Lagos.

*(18) Legacies of Past Leadership*: We reviewed a number of on-line videos, articles and resources. We viewed scripts of those who had worked with Tinubu as Governor or as a Party leader after leaving office. We saw a former Eastern Minister who was appointed into Lagos State cabinet and now sitting as a Federal Minister under Lagos State slot despite coming from Abia State. We saw testimonies of former Accountant-General of Lagos, a spokesperson of ACN in Lagos from Abia and others. We viewed that of a former Chairman of Lagos State Inland Revue Service who later became Chairman of Federal Inland Revenue Service. We saw a former Governor now Minister of Works and Housing, etc. We have not identified former allies, aids and appointees of Obi speak glowingly of his legacies in leadership. Those of Atiku are also not forthcoming, or rare.

*(19) Strategic Relevance of Incumbency*: A crucial factor and indicator of the next general elections is incumbency. APC is fully in-charge in twenty-two (22) States while PDP has 13 States and Obi’s Labour controls none of the thirty-six (36) States. This also reflects in the Houses of Assembly, House of Representatives, Senatorial and Governorship seats or offices including Local Government structures and Councillorships. This clearly gives Tinubu a major and significant edge over and above the duo of Atiku and Obi

*(20)Adamawa-Anambra-Lagos as Factors:* The final factor and indicator is home-strengths of the respective presidential candidates. In terms of population, size, and other factors, APC-controlled Lagos State is much more strategic than Adamawa and Anambra States as Obi does not control Anambra State although PDP controls Adamawa State. Lagos State is expected to deliver more votes for Tinubu than Adamawa and Anambra will deliver to Atiku and Obi respectively.

*In the final analysis, without prejudice to divergence views, the above twenty points (20) socio-political and leadership indicators show very clearly that Bola Ahmed Tinubu of APC will emerge winner with a wide margin (landslide) while Atiku’s PDP will come distant second and Obi’s Labour coming third to a gapped-second position of Atiku.*

(Lawyer, Scholar, Energy Consultant and Political Actor)
January 2, 2023

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