2023 Polls: APC, PDP, LP in last minute efforts to ride to Aso Rock

When on September 28, last year, electioneering as officially announced by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) started, it appeared that the 18 political parties fielding presidential candidates for the February 25 presidential and National Assembly election were not ready for campaigns.


Indeed, most of them had issues in the constitution of their campaign councils, as well as other nagging internal problems.


But with time, they all kicked off their campaigns and have since been traversing the country soliciting votes.


This piece, will look at how the three leading political parties: the All Progressives Congress (APC), Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Labour Party (LP) have fared in their campaigns, the challenges encountered, their acceptance level and the final efforts they will be making in the remaining weeks ahead of the election to come out victorious.




The All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential campaign team has successfully traversed almost all the six geopolitical zones of the country with its message of renewed hope in the first stage of the campaign ahead of this year’s poll.


As at last count, the APC campaign team has visited Jos, Plateau State, where it flagged off its campaign; Abakaliki, Ebonyi State; Warri, Delta; Lagos, Niger, Bayelsa, Cross-River, and Kaduna states. These are aside countless number of town hall consultative meetings with strategic relevant stakeholders.


Led by its presidential candidate, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the APC campaign crew has practically left in its trail a frenzy atmosphere and memorable celebration of colours.


In the South-south, the APC presidential candidate promised to clean up the Niger Delta; in the Southeast, where he was conferred with a chieftaincy title, perhaps to authenticate his acceptability in the zone, he promised massive development of the region, as well as policies that will enhance commerce; in Southwest where an intimidating crowd of supporters confirmed his homecoming as city boy, he promised purposeful leadership.


To many analysts, the APC presidential campaign rallies could rightly be adjudged a huge success in every consideration, especially in terms of the pulling of crowd.


The massive crowd, and delivery of the messages contained in its manifesto to the people that resonated very loud were all confirmations that the APC campaign so far has been a very fruitful and rewarding exercise.


In almost all the zones where the campaign team visited, they have always made an impact in the minds of the supporters and non-supporters alike desperately and eagerly waiting to receive them like other major political parties.


And like the biblical sermon on the Mount, even the lame, the blind, the deaf, young, old, male and female, felt the campaign, received and assimilated the messages contained in the renewed hope.


In support of the various campaign rallies were the deliberately and perfectly packaged several town hall meetings with relevant critical stakeholders and business communities in almost all the geopolitical zones.


The party has successfully consulted with captains of industry in Lagos, business interests in Kano, and critical stakeholders in the Southeast that even raised and blessed the APC candidate with over N1 billion to support his campaign. Others include the Niger Delta leaders with promises of regular consultations on the region’s development, Nasarawa and Niger State miners and agricultural stakeholders respectively, as well as the organised labour.


Interestingly, every one of the outings has witnessed a full house of political heavyweights in the ruling party. Such flamboyant politicians always in attendance included the vice presidential candidate, Kashim Shettima, Senate President, Ahmed Lawan and Speaker House Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila.


Others are the APC Progressive Governors Forum and their predecessors, former and serving Ministers, ruling party’s serving and former national leadership, women leaders, among other stakeholders.


However, despite the razzmatazz, glamour and successes associated with the campaign rallies, it has expectedly not been smooth-sails for the ruling party as aggrieved presidential aspirants have continued to avoid the rallies, just as slur messages and unending slips by the party’s candidate rubbed off negatively on the outings.


Despite all entreaties, presidential aspirants like Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, former Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi, almost all the aspirants of Southeast extraction, like Ogbonnia Onu, Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba, Rochas Okorocha, among others, have deliberately refused to identify with the party’s candidate at the various campaign rallies.


In his summation of the campaign so, a chieftain of the ruling party told Sunday Sun that the needless battle between Tinubu and by extension, the PCC and the management of Thisday newspapers and Arise Television is rubbing off negatively on the party.


“If you ask me, I will say that we have done well so far in the campaign except in the areas of our candidate refusing to be part of the presidential debate. It smacked of self-doubt and a man with hidden agenda afraid of interrogation. He would have organised such debate in his own television station, the TVC, but I don’t think he is favourably disposed to doing so.


“Another area I won’t score him a pass mark was what many considered an international embarrassment, in subletting questions at the Chatham House to members of his entourage and secondly, the unnecessary rift involving him and the media. Otherwise, he has done very well so far,” he quipped.


Again, and more regrettably, supporters, Nigerians and political analysts have continued to remember the slur messages and Tinubu’s slips more than the content of the manifesto contained on the renewed hope he has delivered to the electorate.


“Yes, Tinubu may have proved doubters that thought he will not be capable and physically fit enough to go through the rigours of the presidential campaign wrong, but truth be told, the myriad of mistakes have intolerably become too many.


“Retrospectively, starting from Jos, where his slip of ‘God bless Nigeria, God bless PD, APC’ has become a sing sung, Warri where he used Niger Delta instead of Delta State, to Lagos where he erroneously referred to the Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs) as ‘APV’, the presidential candidate has exhibited diminishing return to an outrageous humiliating degree,” an observer noted.


Summing up Tinubu’s campaign outing so far, political commentator, Okey Ndibe noted: “Speech after speech, he has lamentably lapsed into gibberish and gobbledygook.


“He has racked up quite a collection of campaign videos where his lips produce sounds that are unintelligible in English or Yoruba. Were he a member of one of Nigeria’s myriad Pentecostal churches, he or his handlers could make the case that he had a facility for speaking in tongues.”


More disappointingly, the APC candidate, on several instances, promised to maintain an issue-based campaign, yet his campaign has been riddled with jabs he threw carelessly at either the PDP candidate, Atiku Abubakar or Labour Party candidate, Peter Obi in almost all their outings.


It became an issue of major concern at a campaign rally in Lagos recently, when he described Atiku, as “wrong theory”, and Obi, as “disobedient”.


“One of them, I don’t want to call their names, is it Atiku? Atilukated what? Wrong theory. Mark it down. Wrong theory for Atiku. Is it Obi? He is disobedient. He lives in Lagos, not in Anambra. He doesn’t know the road back to Anambra, so we will chart him another course,” Tinubu quipped.


Taking a further dig at Atiku, he said: “They want to come back. Tell them that a dead fish cannot be sweet in any soup. Atiku contested in SDP; he contested in PDP; he contested in ACN when we rescued him from Obasanjo. Now he is contesting again in PDP. He should go home and rest.”


But, despite the myriad of errors, the party’s national leadership believes that it has done enough to convince Nigerians that the ruling party should retain power at the centre.


Deputy National Organising Secretary and member of the National Working Committee (NWC), Nze Chidi Duru, summed up the campaign outing thus: “It is too early in the day to make comments on whether the rallies are going well or not. What we can say is that the programme and schedule of activities as announced by the party through the PCC have been religiously followed.


“All the places the party scheduled to be, the candidate and party stalwarts have always been there. Largely, it can be used as the barometer we can use to measure the success of the campaign and claim that at the end of the day, it is left for Nigerians to determine whether we have done extremely well to win the election.”


Also summarising the campaigns in a chat with Sunday Sun, a member, Directorate of Strategic Communication, APC PCC, Ajayi Temitope, described the campaign rallies as a huge success despite certain challenges.


His words: “APC is proceeding very well in its campaign. The party and its presidential candidate have continued to gain ground and support across the country. We have fared very well and won over Nigerians.


“We are succeeding in selling the message of renewed hope and a better Nigeria as enunciated in the policy document of Bola Tinubu and Senator Kashim Shettima. Nigerians believe and trust our candidates because both of them have undeniable records of performance in public office as governors in Lagos and Borno states.


“We introduced a novel idea into this campaign circle which all other candidates are now copying and that is our strategy of direct engagements with critical segments of our country and addressing issues that are peculiar to them via townhall meetings. Our strategy is not just to enter a state and do rally, but to first engage with stakeholders in each state. We have done that successfully so far and the last being with South-south party stakeholders in Calabar and young entrepreneurs in Lagos last week.”


On the new strategy for the party and its candidate for the new year, the PCC member said: “After the Yuletide break we will resume by first week in January and continue our momentum into the election. Our strategy remains to go full blast in last weeks to the election and get out the votes.


“We are mobilising party members, supporters to embark on door-to-door campaign, get those who have not got their PVCs to get them. The support for Asiwaju Tinubu and Shettima is huge across the country. Part of the strategy too is to sell the achievements of President Muhammadu Buhari and current APC government.


“Interestingly, Nigerians are now saying they didn’t know the Buhari administration has done so much because for over seven years the opposition propaganda has made many people have wrong impressions. As a campaign, we are selling the achievements of our party and making Nigerians know that Asiwaju Tinubu is a better candidate to build on the progress we have seen in the country and he is a man of great ideas and conviction who will make things better.


“However, the lessons and takeaways in the campaign so far are that Nigerian voters are getting more sophisticated, they are becoming more aware and taking more interest in who becomes their leaders at all levels. Nigerians are demanding more openness, transparency and accountability in leadership.


“Even in rural areas, people want to know what a candidate will do about the economy, security, education, healthcare etc. The level of political awareness is outstanding and impressive. Politicians can no longer take the people for granted. The INEC BVAS is a huge one geared towards making our elections more credible and votes to count.”


On the challenges encountered so far in the campaign, the PCC member said: “Our management team will always make adjustments in their schedules and timetable of activities. That is normal. There will be exigencies and new challenges to react to and manage. Campaigns are very fluid and nothing is cast in stone.


“It is a long campaign and the first time in Nigeria we are having almost six months campaign period which obviously makes it more expensive to run for political parties and candidates. Parties and candidates are managing their resources and being more strategic in deployment.


“Timetables are just a guide and plan. No party or campaign council will follow it 100 per cent. There will always be adjustments here and there. Only God is certain of everything, not man. I think all the parties and campaign management teams have to deal with logistics challenges and funding.


“Campaigns are always elaborate, demanding, energy-sapping and expensive to run especially national elections like presidential. Everything about our election is logistics and supply chain management. The ability to manage the connecting points and moving parts will make the difference in win or lose. Every party will deal with these challenges. From what I know of APC PCC and the party, we are managing these challenges better and it is the reason APC and Tinubu-Shetima will win the election.”




As the campaigns for the 2023 general elections enters the crucial stage this New Year, for the Peoples Democratic Party ( PDP), which is making frantic efforts to regain power, after its 2015 loss, the February 25 presidential contest, is a must win for the party.


Since September, last year, the PDP has been on the campaign train, holding rallies and stakeholders engagements across the country, as well as participating in town hall meetings to sell itself to the electorate.


So far, the campaign mission, which is anchored on the need to “rescue” the country from alleged maladministration of the All Progressives Congress ( APC)-led Federal Government, is predicated on the performance of the major opposition party, in the 16 years it was in power.


The PDP at the commencement of its campaigns, had said that its electioneering would be grassroots oriented and issued based, as it takes its messages to the electorate across the country. Therefore, party sources, say as the campaigns enter crucial stage in this New Year, the opposition party would intensify its engagement with the people at the grassroots.


Spokesperson of the Atiku/Okowa Presidential Campaign Organization, Kola Ologbondiyan, told Sunday Sun that the PDP presidential campaign has been making steady progress since it kicked off more than two months ago.


Ologbondiyan explained that the party, apart from rallies, stakeholders meeting and participation in town hall meetings, is sensitizing voters at the grassroots on why the major opposition party is the best option for the country.


Nevertheless, the campaign spokesperson would not speak on the party’s strategy going forward.


“We will not speak to our strategy in public, especially on the pages of newspaper. The gains of the campaign are very clear. That is why you can see that Atiku is already seen by Nigerians as the next president. Because Atiku is the only candidate who is speaking realistically to the issues that concern Nigerians…


“Above all other parties, PDP has an advantage, which Atiku also has. Atiku is known in virtually every polling unit in Nigeria. PDP is the most structured political party in Nigeria. And as such wherever you go, be it a hamlet, be it a village, be it a town, wherever you see people gathered, PDP is there.


“It is the new party that are trying to come up that you can ask, are they in the grassroots? Not the PDP. We are everywhere you go,” Ologbondiyan posited.


However, pundits say the only challenge confronting the opposition party, in the campaign for the 2023 polls, is perhaps the face -off between it and five of its governors. The G-5 governors, which consists of Governor Nyesom Wike, Samuel Ortom, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, Okezie Ikpeazu and Seyi Makinde of Rivers, Benue, Enugu, Abia and Oyo states respectively have been on a warpath with the PDP National leadership/the presidential candidate, in the aftermath of the nomination of Delta State governor, Ifeanyi Okowa as the party’s vice presidential candidate.


So far, efforts to resolve the crisis have not yielded fruits as the aggrieved governors, who have kept a distance from the PDP presidential campaign and other party activities, are insisting on the replacement of Iyorchia Ayu as national chairman with a Southerner as condition for peace.


Already, some of the G-5 governors are already campaigning for other PDP candidates in their respective states without mention of the party’s presidential candidate.


However, in what seems a last effort to woo the aggrieved governors into the mainfold, the Director General of the PDP campaign council, Aminu Tambuwal, visited Ortom, at the Benue Government House, Makurdi recently. Days after the Tambuwal’s visit, the Benue governor was in Uyo to meet with his Akwa Ibom State counterpart, Udom Emmanuel, who is also the chairman of the PDP presidential campaign council.


A top party source, who is privy to discussion at both the Makurdi and Uyo meetings, said that it was part of the reapprochment by PDP to the G-5, to ensure that the party goes to the polls with a united front.


The source said that Ortom’s visit to Akwa Ibom State governor was on the invitation of the latter, noting that Emmanuel is worried about the absence of the five aggrieved governors from the presidential campaign.


According to him, “Udom extended invitation to him. And he has to honour it. Udom says as chairman of the campaign council, anytime he turns around and he doesn’t see his five colleagues, he is worried, because he knows the importance or import of the powers of a governor. So, he is worried. It is not good to lose one not to talk of five. If you lose five governors towards an election, you will be struggling to win, no matter your pretence.”


However, it is doubtful if anything concrete would come out of the recent overtures of the PDP to the G-5, as there are indications that the governors, who last week were in London, are set to openly endorse a presidential candidate from the southern part of the country, anytime from now.


Nevertheless, former PDP National Vice Chairman (South West), Eddy Olafeso says there is no cause for alarm, as the party is confident it would win the 2023 presidential poll.


“In PDP, we are busy with our campaigns to bring about a very positive change in Nigeria beyond 2023. That is what is very important to us. We are very confident that we are winning the election, because we are putting every needed hard work. There is no problem,” Olafeso stated.


Labour Party


For the Labour Party’s presidential candidate, Mr Peter Obi and his running mate, Yusuf Baba-Ahmed Datti, they may be currently enjoying the robust love of the youths and a widening national appeal. But the battle for the soul of the country is a no mean feat, especially in a heterogeneous clime like Nigeria.


With less than two months to the 2023 general elections, political pundits have advised the party not to get carried away by the public flaunt of affection on social media, as it needs to race against time and fly against the storm to put its house in order, if it truly wants to defeat the older and richer People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and the All Progressives Congress (APC).


They noted that three major hurdles are currently stacked against the party.


The first is the urgent need for aggressive grassroots mobilisation, especially in the Northeast and Northwest where the party’s presence is weak due to language, cultural and religious biases.


Another is internal crises in some states which may affect its victory chances if not quickly and amicably resolved.


It was learnt that about 22 state chapters of the party out of the country’s 36 states are having one problem or the other; though the chieftains of the party have continued to insist that the wranglings will not eclipse its chances of installing Obi as Nigeria’s president in 2023.


Despite the assurances, it is worthy to note that the party has been enmeshed in leadership tussles that may have retarded its political growth since its establishment in 2002.


The internal wranglings border on leadership tussle, allegations of corruption and anti-party activities among some officials of the party and how the presidential campaign team is constituted.


Today, hitherto silent forces in the LP have jettisoned camaraderie to amplify their voices and flex muscles over perceived injustices.


For starters, the National Youth Leader of the LP, Mr Eragbe Anslem, was recently suspended by the national executives over alleged abuse of office.


But Anselm fiercely challenged the decision, which he declared as misplaced, illegal, null and void and asked to be immediately recalled.


While that simmered, the National Chairman of the party, Julius Abure, was also in the midst of a tempest.


He came under attacks by aggrieved members of the party led by the suspended National Publicity Secretary, Arabambi Abayomi, but he declared the development as mere distractions, insisting the allegations were baseless and unfounded.


However, Lagos, Ogun, Nasarawa, Rivers, Enugu and many other states are not witnessing the needed tranquility.


The third challenge of the Labour Party, analysts observed, is its frugality posturing.


There are concerns over the ability of the ‘Obidients’ to withstand the financial war chest of APC and PDP when the campaigns attain fever-pitch from January.


Many insisted that it is time for the LP to spend hugely on aggressive campaigns, especially in the northern regions from January, as well as have its campaign videos and audios translated into the various languages and dialects for easier assimilation and permeation.


However, to prove it is ready to lead by example, Dr Doyin Okupe recently stepped down from his position as the director-general of the LP presidential campaign council, a few hours after he was convicted over money laundering charges.


He has been replaced by Mr Akin Osuntokun.


Interestingly, with credibility deficit plaguing the APC and PDP in the South, the LP has leveraged the huge vacuum created in the political landscape to feather its nest by riding on the Obidient train and ultimately turning its story from obscurity to popularity.


Today, a sizeable number of youths and the working class are flocking to the LP and the party’s National Chairman, Julius Abure, says the development was consistent with its mission to promote and defend social democratic principles and ideals for the purpose of achieving social justice, progress and unity.


Unlike in the past when the presidential poll was a straight fight between the candidates of the two major parties, the APC and PDP, it is not so anymore with the emergence of Obi on the wings of LP.


Various opinion polls have also projected Mr Obi as the winner of the 2023 presidential bout. The latest nationwide poll commissioned by ANAP Foundation and conducted earlier in December showed a significant lead taken by Mr Obi with Bola Tinubu of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) respectively trailing behind him.


Commenting on Obi’s chances, Nollywood actor and chieftain of the LP, Mr Kenneth Okonkwo said the party’s presidential candidate has already won the 2023 presidential race by polls and analyses.


He said: “He has already won, check the analysis like I have always told you; take it by polls, there are three polls that have come out, ANAP, We-Together and Bloomberg; in the first one he scored 23, in the second one 53 and in the third one he scored 75.


“Soon and very soon, before the election reaches when the two candidates will unravel and I am sure they are already unravelling, then it will now be Peter Obi and others”.


On plans to take the campaigns a notch higher after the Yuletide festivities, the LP Presidential Campaign Council Chief Spokesperson, Mr Tanko Yunusa told Sunday Sun that the focus would be on grassroots mobilisation and wide publicity in various media.


He acknowledged that insufficient funds have somewhat retarded the momentum of the party but said the challenge was not insurmountable.


“Some of our challenges have to do with shortage of funds, which we need to take care of, but then we are very much visible on the streets. We have been to eight states so far on a back to back basis and the response has been awesome.


“In fact, some of them are asking for a rematch. That they are not satisfied with what they have seen and that they need to come out more. So, we may resort to other strategies that we are considering at the campaign council and there will be a meeting tomorrow by the Labour Party and presidential candidate and all to restrategize, to mobilize on how we can get more visibility in the polling units. The polling units are our targets. Like me, I have been to my polling unit so everybody is going back to their polling units to go and mobilize. That is our next target,” he explained.


On other challenges affecting the party, Yunusa fingered some governors who are trying to be a cog in the party’s wheel of progress.


“Number one is that some of the governors who are not receptive are trying to cause havoc in the campaign. For example, we had issues in Kogi State where we could not even get a venue until very late. We had challenges in Keffi, they didn’t even allow us use any of the popular venues. They nearly pushed us out off the main city so that they can frustrate the campaign of how to mobilize people from the city to the venue.


“Then the attacks that they have been attacking our people both physically, mentally and cyber and then they are picking you and each one of us to attack us, like what they did to Dr Doyin and others. So, there are so many intersections into how they are trying to weaken us, but the more they try, the more we get popular and the people are demanding for us. So, that is the situation.


“We are leveraging on the police, but then we are also admonishing and advising our members to be vigilant and to create a quick response team to the attacks and making sure that they protect our people and everybody stays alert and inform the police when necessary if there are attacks or presumed attacks on them. So, these are some of the strategies and we want to make sure that there is a quick call that can be made to all the security agencies as the case maybe.


“With regards to the polling units, we will deploy people around the polling units. If we have 200 to 300 people, for instance, around the polling units, those ones will serve as first line of defense before the interventions of the police and the army. These are some of the things that we want to put in place,” he noted.


Meanwhile, a political analyst, Dr Sam Amadi, has advised the party to direct its message to the right audience, build a solid structure and concentrate its resources on those areas where it has chances of amassing votes.


According Amadi, “I think the Labour Party’s campaign strategies should be assessed according to their strength and weaknesses. A strategy is designed around a diagnosis of the situation that needs a solution and a direction you want to go and the set of actions to achieve that direction. So, for LP, the idea was to put out an alternative narrative to PDP and APC and so that required first. Again, I think they got the messaging right initially. The message to move from consumption to production, the message of retrieving Nigeria from state capture of the thieving elite. Those were the messages that resonated with the people. But that message has to be calibrated to respond to geopolitical specifics, local specifics and they have not done that well enough.


“Two, the idea of no structure makes sense when you are trying to disrupt a structure, but then you have to build alternative structure. So, I think Labour Party needs to in the last one month before the elections, build alternative structures, build networks of young enthusiasts and volunteers into a coherent effective structure like the PDP. The PDP seems to have the best campaign structure because it is aligned, it is coherent and it is targeted. Labour should do the same to have effectiveness.


“Thirdly, Labour in the North is not showing strong presence because it obviously does not have the kind of widespread structure, does not have the kind of finances maybe from a political party perspective and so you don’t expect them to fight the way conventional warfare is fought. They are in a symmetrical warfare. They are more like a guerrilla warfare so the most important thing is targeted. They have to focus on communities, map out northern communities into different social-cultural sensibilities and develop around individuals, around trends to reach those communities directly.


“Obviously, they shouldn’t be doing big rallies. They can afford it but it does not make sense. So, they should go to ground level operational engagements. Community-focused campaigns and then concentrate on areas where they will win and overlook areas where they don’t have any chance. If they map out those areas and do the messaging, they will be more effective. Right now I don’t think they are visible in the North. Although they are improving in their support base gradually, but they need to do more to win the election conclusively.”


Abidemi Olosa, a former staff of Fidelity Bank, described Obi as Mr. Integrity and that the politicians are courting him because they know he can deliver and will not go out of his cool personality to give them trouble.


Though Olusegun Mimiko, former Ondo State Governor, broke the jinx in 2009 to become the first Nigerian governor to be elected on the LP platform, the party had no stake at the National Assembly until the recent defection of a senator out of the 109 senators and two out of the 360 House of Representatives members.


According to Ezenwa Francis Onyewuchi, a senator representing Imo East, who dumped the PDP for Labour Party recently, Peter Obi has proven himself as a businessman with high integrity, as a governor, who impacted his state, ensured stability in the once-hot political scene of Anambra State and as a Nigerian who has capacity to enforce true change for all Nigerians.



(Sunday Sun)


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