Samuel Enyi Otsapa

Samuel Enyi Otsapa

Enyi Ochapa

I have my ardent readers – and by now they know (because they read my “long” articles to the end) my position and prediction about the 2023 Nigerian presidential election. For those who do not know, perhaps because they only recently began reading me, these are the two things I have (based on my sound evidence-based understanding of Nigerian politics) predicted about the election since the end of the primaries of the political parties.

(i) Although Bola Ahmed Tinubu of the APC is a formidable force and a political cum election master strategist, the 2023 presidential election, if it is credible, free and fair, is Atiku Abubakar’s of the PDP to lose – and in several writings, I have explained my reasons backed by empirical evidences and examples. Atiku Abubakar is a serial presidential contestant and so much more than Tinubu, who is contesting the presidency for the first time, he knows the terrain better. In the 2019 presidential election, Atiku Abubakar won in 18 states (including the FCT) while incumbent Buhari won in 19. A very close one, no? Add to this the reality that Atiku is a Northerner and we know the North, particularly the Northwest (with 20 million of the 84 million registered voters in the country) has the biggest bloc of votes and they believe that they are “born to rule” over the rest of us. The North-central also has a good chunk of the votes – and for me, the two regions would vote for Atiku not Tinubu. The second largest voting region is the South-west and that is Tinubu’s to take.

(ii) Peter Obi, the overnight presidential candidate of the Labour Party, would certainly not win, although his ambition is gathering momentum among young people in the country who like most of us, are frustrated and tired of dealing with the Establishment and old brigade that yearly milks Nigeria dry. While I like the man, my unemotional empirical observations and analysis make me very sure that Peter Obi cannot win in 2023. As expected, this angered many who misunderstand me. For me and anyone who roundly understands politics, 2023 is too soon for Peter Obi to win the presidential election – because he started out late. I have advised that if he stays committed to the ambition and do not dump the Labour Party after the election and continue digging and wetting the grounds thus gathering grassroot supports, which is another name for “structure”, a word his overnight followers hate to hear, he may achieve his ambition in 2027 – but certainly in 2031.

I have been running with the above convictions until yesterday when it was announced that Peter Obi has picked Yusuf Datti Baba-Ahmed as his running mate – and to be honest with you, any doubt that existed over my prediction was removed. Immediately the news of Baba-Ahmed’s choice filtered into town late evening yesterday, I knew, 100/100 that I have been right all along. This is because a running mate/vice presidential candidate is supposed to add electoral capital to those already garnered by the presidential candidate – and for me, Datti Baba-Ahmed does not have the pedigree and political clout to drag in a substantial northern vote for Peter Obi and the Labour Party, in 2023. And like Peter Obi, he is not a labour man aka comrade – thus defeating the substance upon which the Labour Party was formed and anchored. Shouldn’t Obi have picked a popular labour comrade of Northern extraction? I believe he should have.

I am aware that 90% of Obi-dient folks are young Nigerians and as expected with youthfulness and exuberance, they are very emotional about the 2023 presidential election. I am young too – but unlike them, I observe, analyze and predict with empiricism not emotions. Yusuf Datti Baba-Ahmed is a fine and gentleman politician cum academic but as a Kaduna boy, I know he doesn’t have the political clout to corner large votes from the North, and not even from Kaduna where Gov Nasir Elrufai is the overbearing sheriff who would certainly deliver the state to Tinubu/APC in the 2023 presidential election.

Yusuf Datti Baba-Ahmed has lost touch with politics because in recent years he has been focused on running his businesses, including the Baze University in Abuja. He temporarily resigned from politics after the courts sacked him from the Senate. Before this, he was a member of the House of Representatives. This year, he tried to be the gubernatorial candidate of the PDP in Kaduna State but like Peter Obi, withdrew before the competition started because he knew, like Peter Obi, that he won’t win it. In May 2022, he was quoted as saying: “I hereby respectfully withdraw from the 2023 governorship contest of Kaduna State under our great party, the PDP. I, however, remain loyal and supportive”. But less than two months after making this statement, the man is no longer loyal and supportive of the PDP. Pray but how can a man who hasn’t been in touch with active politics for more than ten (10) years be chosen as Peter Obi”s running mate? Bola Ahmed Tinubu left office in 2007 but the man has remained in active politics since then and why he is a formidable force today.

I believe that Peter Obi understands politics enough to know that Yusuf Datti Baba-Ahmed would not be a substantial votes bringer – so he obviously did not pick him as his running mate. I know this because during an interview with Arise TV, Peter Obi clearly mistook this Baba-Ahmed for another, Hakeem – because Hakeem Baba-Ahmed is a more popular and national name than Yusuf Datti. Those who follow Nigerian politics know that Hakeem Baba-Ahmed is a prominent and very vocal member of the Northern Elders Forum, NEF, who consistently criticizes the current Buhari administration. Some of you may be hearing about both men for the first time but as a Kaduna boy, I knew them many years ago. In that interview with Arise TV, Peter Obi was quoted as saying:

“We are talking to quite a number of people and Hakeem Baba-Ahmed is a capable hand. But I wish I could work with somebody who is younger. I prefer younger people who have a lot to offer rather than recycling old hands. I want a competent person and I am building a formidable team. I want people who can look me in the eyes and disagree with me during cabinet meetings. People who have their own minds and ideas.” This description doesn’t fit who Yusuf Datti Baba-Ahmed is.

Yusuf Datti Baba-Ahmed is a young man born in 1975 and does not belong to the recycled old generation – so we clearly see that like you, Peter Obi does not know his running mate well enough because he did not make the choice. And those who made this choice of a running mate for Peter Obi did not do a good job with it. While Yusuf Datti Baba-Ahmed is no doubt very qualified for the vice presidential job, the point being made is that he does not have the political capital, clout and structure to drag in the votes for Peter Obi and the Labour Party in 2023. Add to this the reality that throughout his political life until now, he was one of the poster boys of the PDP, like Peter Obi. Peter Obi and Yusuf Datti Baba-Ahmed both left the PDP only two months ago and ten months to next year’s presidential election and believe they’d win. If a ten months old baby can eat yams then of course Peter Obi and Datti Baba-Ahmed would become Nigeria’s president and vice president in 2023.

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