New Telegraph

2022: Year of high wire politics

Ahead of isolated elections this year and the 2023 general elections, BIYI ADEGOROYE, writes that full-blown politics will dominate the nation’s landscape in the next few months preceding the election year


After months of general lull in Nigeria’s political ecosystem though, not without some underground consultations, political activities have picked up indicating that 2022 is the year of high wire politics at the expense of governance.


In the face of worsening internal security issues fueled by secessionist agitations, banditry now classified as terrorism, insurgency and kidnapping the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has released next year’s election timetable. INEC Chairman, Prof Mahmood Yakubu said, “By the principle established by the Commission, the 2023 General Election will be held on Saturday February 18, 2023, to be followed by the governorship and state assembly elections. These would however, be preceded by two governorship elections holding in Ekiti and Osun states this year.


According to the Commission June 18, 2022 is the D-Day for the governorship election in Ekiti State while Osun will follow on July 16. The commission has also fixed January 4 to 29 and February 16 to March 12, 2022 for political parties in Ekiti and Osun states respectively, to conduct their primaries and resolve disputes that may arise from them while other election activities can follow.


Expectedly, some prominent aspirants and politicians have rolled off their sleeves and thrown their hearts into the ring ahead of the 2023 presidential election.


A number of them have declared interest in the presidential poll even when INEC is yet to blow the whistle for campaigns. Coming after their foot soldiers and aides across major political divides have toured various parts of the country to solicit for support, with campaign posters emblazoned on the streets of Abuja, the FCT, Kano and Lagos states, the aspirants have broken their silence and expressed readiness for the presidency.


Top among political heavy weights who have dropped the gloves are the former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, onetime Senate President, Chief Ayim Pius Ayim and the All Progressives Congress (APC) National Leader, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu.


Others are another erstwhile Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, the current Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, onetime presidential spokesman, Dr. Doyin Okupe and former Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Prof. Kingsley Moghalu.


Though Osinbajo has yet indicated interest, sources said party structures, including a campaign office and representatives at the state level are almost ready, even as the social media is awash with video materials calling on Osinbajo to join the race.


Several billboards in many parts of the country are currently adorned with advertisements on why the Vice President is most suitable for the job.


Saraki in Benue State late November informed the PDP Working Committee of his intention to contest for the presidency in 2023, and may have appointed Prof. Iyorwuese Hagher, a former minister as the Chairman of the Saraki Campaign Council. Accompanied to Makurdi by a former National Chairman of the PDP, Kau Baraje, Senator Suleiman Adoke and a former governor of Kogi State, Alhaji Idris Wada, Saraki informed Governor Samuel Ortom of his readiness to take a shot at the presidency in 2023.


As a sequel to its tour of the country, a political support group associated  with Tinubu, the South-West Agenda for Asiwaju (SWAGA) created a massive awareness in Lagos and Kano with convoy of dozens of vehicles drumming around the city even before outright commencement of campaign.


And in response to the groundswell of opinion in the country that in the interest of equity and justice, the Igbo of South-East extraction should be allowed to have their turn at the presidency in 2023, Ayim has taken his consultation to former Military President, Ibrahim Babangida, the last Nigerian Head of State, General Abdusalami Abubakar and the Ijaw leader, Chief Edwin Clark.


Though details of the closed-door meeting were stretchy at press time, fellers from the Minna Hilltop indicated that Ayim rubbed minds with the former leaders who are believed to exert great influence in the country.


Moghalu on his part has put up what he codenamed “The SWAG Agenda for a 21st century Nigeria,” stating that with strengthened and independent institutions, he will deliver results on a “Four-Point Agenda in four years (4 by 4), as SWAG means – Security for all Nigerians and Nigeria’s territory; War against poverty: skills, jobs for our youth, and an innovation economy, accelerated education and healthcare reform; Good governance: inclusive, transparent, effective and accountable.”


Though the National Assembly is expected to expunge the contentious clause on direct primaries might return


the Amended Electoral Bill to the President for assent, observers believe that the lawmakers would hardly form a quorum for any legislative duty this year as many of them would be busy with re-election campaigns in their respective states.


Governorship elections


Many aspirants have collected the nomination and expression of interest forms for the governorship elections. In Ekiti State, the Senator representing Ekiti Central at the National Assembly on the platform of the APC, Senator Opeyemi Bamidele wants to govern the state because, according to him, he understands the feelings of the common man.


“I have seen a lot in life; I understand what the common man feels on the streets because I have been in that condition before,” he said, adding “I am here to appeal for your votes, am telling you that the anointing of God is upon me that will turn the state around in which elders, men, women, youths and children will experience dividends of democracy.”


Similarly, a former governor of the state, Prince Segun Oni and several others have indicated interests in the election on the platform of the PDP. Nine female politicians including the Senator representing Ekiti South at the upper chamber, Mrs. Biodun Olujimi, Mrs. Olumide Ojo; Olukemi Olubunmi from Ido Osi Council Area of the state are jostling for the position.


Others are Chief (Mrs.) Arogundade Olutoyin from Ekiti East Local Government and Princess Adekemi Adewunmi from Efon Local Government Area.


Others are Mrs. Cecilia Ebiesuwa from Emure; Mrs. Adewumi Adesoye (Ado); Mrs. Titilayo Owolabi Akerele (Ikole); Mrs. Modupe Asaolu (Ekiti South West) and Mrs. Deborah Alo (Ido Osi). Senator Olujimi said her desire to bring revolution to all critical sectors in the state is propelling her aspiration. “Our mission is to rebuild, to reposition and to regain the state’s glory.

We are very committed with passion to make sure that Ekiti occupy its rightful position in the comity of states.”

While Governor Adegboyega Oyetola is battling for a second term in office and may have received the blessing of the state council of traditional rulers, a number of aspirants, especially those close to former Governor and Interior Minister, Rauf Aregbesola are also up in arms against the former.

On the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Osun State, Senator Ademola Adeleke, and four other aspirants are vying for the Osun governorship seat this year.

Adeleke narrowly lost the election in controversial circumstances in 2018. Others aspirants who have collected the expression of interest and nomination forms of the  PDP are Dr. Akin Ogunbiyi, Honour


able Sanya Omirin, Prince Dotun Babayemi, Alhaji Fatai Akinbade and Mr. Dele Adeleke, a nephew of Ademola Adeleke.


War of words


As political activities peak, the battle is more ferocious in some of the states as aspirants and incumbent exchange tantrums, with more volatility in Kwara, Osun, Zamfara, Ondo and Rivers states.

For instance, Aregbesola recently accused Oyetola of betraying APC because of the governor’s review of his predecessor’s policies and programmes, even as PDP in Ondo State has accused Governor Olarotimi Akeredolu of awarding contracts to his wife’s kinsmen.

While Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State who is rounding off his final term continues with signature projects, one of his opponents in the 2015 governorship election, Dr. Dakuku Peterside, berated Wike over alleged maladministration.


Peterside, the candidate of the APC and immediate past Director General of NIMASA accused the governor of abandonment of institutions thereby creating huge gaps in employment, revenue generation, educational and socio-economic development.


Dakuku said: “When I stated, over five years ago, that Wike was an accidental governor, many didn’t believe me, but I have since been vindicated by the irrational actions of the governor that have left Rivers’ youth and people poorer and hopeless.

“The governor has no blueprint or clearcut policy for the overall collective development of the state. This anomaly is even more evident in the way and manner he has ruled the state in the last six years, waking up and awarding contracts from his pocket.

“Sadly, we will manage him until 2023 when Rivers people will dump him and his party for a progressive movement that truly understands what economic development means.”

But Wike berated Peterside for speaking about the state economy allegedly from a point of ignorance for saying the state’s economy is performing poorly merely because the budget figures of Lagos and Akwa Ibom States are higher than Rivers’ budget.

“When they asked him about the budget of Rivers State, he said the mere fact that Lagos State’s budget is very high, the mere fact that Akwa Ibom State’s budget is very high and Rivers State’s budget is low means the economy is not doing well.


A PhD holder is saying that the performance of an economy is based on the size of a budget.

“Worrisome is the degree of amnesia always exhibited in his illogical vituperations whenever he attempts to exert resources trying to denigrate the glaring and incontrovertible developmental strides of Governor Nyesom Ezenwo Wike in virtually every sector of Rivers State economy.”

In Kwara State where former Senate President, Bukola Saraki is currently oiling his guns to reclaim the state for the PDP, incumbent governor elected on the platform of the APC is engaging the party in a war of words. An aide of the governor said PDP left no good imprint in the state.


“A major legacy of the (Saraki) dynasty was the ghostly nature of the Kwara hinterlands. That was a function of many things, atop of which is the lack of basic amenities like functional schools with teachers, healthcare facilities, drinkable water, and access roads.

“Most schools in the Kwara hinterlands were without teachers, worsening the outof- school children syndrome and drastically reducing the quality of education. In Isin and Oke Ero local governments, for instance, less than 50 per cent of their senior secondary school teachers’ needs were met. Kaiama had just 68 teachers, falling below 45 percent of its needs, across its vast communities. Patigi had just 121, while Ekiti boasted just 135.

“Apart from fixing access roads and making sure that the basic healthcare facilities are modestly functional in the far-flung Kwara countryside, the Otoge administration has done so much to bridge their teaching requirements, including employing 2000 teachers for the Teaching Service Commission.


It hired 120 new senior secondary school teachers in various subjects for Isin Local Government alone, representing 109 per cent more than what it met. For Ekiti, 123 more teachers were engaged, representing a 91.1 per cent increase. “

Observers believe that though President Buhari has refused to disclose his anointed successor for now, the next few months will create no little storm in the nation’s political tea cup which will throw up candidates of the parties for the 2023 polls.

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