In exactly one month, Nigerians will be heading to the polls for the 2023 general election. The 2023 presidential election is unique in the history of the democratic dispensation in the country, with the emergence of two strong political parties, making it a ‘four-horse-race,’ and the urgency to elect a visionary and pragmatic leader devoid of corruption, ethnic and religious favoritism to save the country from impending collapse and turn around the economy that has gone almost comatose.
Unlike the previous six election cycles (1999, 2003, 2007, 2011, 2015, 2019), where Nigerians had only two strong political parties to choose their presidential candidates from, the 2023 presidential election changed with the emergence of additional strong presidential candidates — Peter Obi widely referred to as the ‘third force’ and Rabiu Kwankwaso referred to as the ‘fourth force.’
Some Nigerians even believe that Peter Obi of the Labour Party is no longer the third force but the leading force that has made other parties much more uncomfortable. The political atmosphere is tense and iffy, with loads of conspicuous and covert activities happening throughout the country. The country is witnessing pockets of verbal and physical attacks between political opponents, despite the “peace accord” signed by the contenders. There is palpable fear in society.
Even INEC, the political umpire, is not left out in the attacks against its facilities and workers. INEC is also fraught with other issues ranging from accusations of trying to scuttle the chances of having a free, fair, and transparent election, to accusations of its officials colluding with some persons in the manipulation of voter registers. Its officials have also been accused of mishandling permanent voters cards and even turning blind eyes to some of the activities of the political parties that are contrary to some sections of the electoral act and inimical to a peaceful and transparent election.
Despite all the transgressions happening, electorates unlike in the previous elections are now more interested, prepared, willing, and poised to cast their votes, with the hope of changing the depravities, poor leadership, prebendalism, and obnoxious issues that are retrogressing the most populous black nation on Earth.
In all, Nigerians, more than ever, are now discerning and knowledgeable on what the country needs from its leaders to move forward, develop economic sustainability, compete favorably amongst other nations, and take its rightful place. The electorates, armed with their weapons (voter’s cards), are looking forward to February 2023 to cast their votes in the most important of all elections – the presidential election.
Eighteen candidates are vying for the office of the president, but four candidates are adjudged as the front-line candidates based on the number of followers, popularity, and opinion polls.
We take a look at the profiles, achievements, and chances of victory of the four leading candidates – Peter Obi, Bola Tinubu, Atiku Abubakar, and Rabiu Kwankwaso.