With no fewer than 31 candidates already in the race for the country’s plum job ahead of the 2019 general elections, 11 of the presidential candidates found their way to the ballot from their position as chairmen of their political parties. WALE ELEGBEDE writes
Ordinarily, political parties are founded by a group of people with a common view to contest elections and control government using the ideology of their parties. In this light, interests within a political party is expected to be cohesive and collective, same goes for aspirations for offices. But the historical brief of political parties in Nigeria and their actors suggest otherwise. In fact, the political narrative of the country can be likened to the case of the tail wagging the dog and not the other way round. When the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) concluded the last round of registration of political parties last August, the political platforms rose to 91 and not a few Nigerians berated the high numbers of parties which they believed was a distraction of sort. But while the election umpire was obeying the law that allows for freedom of association, some of the founders and chairmen of the political parties have their plans cut out. Currently, no fewer than 11 political parties have their presidential candidates in either their founders or chairmen. Of the lot, only Rev. Chris Okotie’s FRESH Party is not a newly registered party. With 2019 general elections approaching and INEC drawing down the curtains for the emergence of candidates at all levels for elective offices, no fewer than 31 candidates of different political parties have signified interest to dislodge the incumbent,President Muhammadu Buhari, at the February 16, 2019, presidential election. Interestingly, only 14 political parties contested the 2015 presidential election that brought Buhari to power, but the 18 per cent increase is a signal that more candidates and their parties believe outside the two leading parties, they can also give the country’s plum job a good chase. For the other presidential elections, the number candidates were as follows: 1979 (5), 1983 (6), 1993 (2), 1999 (2), 2003 (20), 2007 (27), 2011 (20) and 2015 (14). Leading the pack of veteran presidential candidates is President Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Alhaji Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Pastor Chris Okotie of the Fresh Democratic Party (FDP) and Alhaji Yahaya Ndu of the African Renaissance Party (ARP) and Mr. Martin Onovo. Other candidates contesting the presidential election are: Donald Duke – Social Democratic Party (SDP), Kingsley Moghalu – Young Progressive Party (YPP), Obiageli Ezekwesili – Allied Congress Party of Nigeria (ACPN), Fela Durotoye – Alliance for New Nigeria (ANN), Omoyele Sowore – African Action Congress (AAC), Tope Fasua – Abundance Nigeria Renewal Party (ANRP), Eunice Atuejide – National Interest Party (NIP); Olusegun Mimiko – Zenith Labour Party (ZLP), Adesina Fagbenro- Byron – Kowa Party (KP) and Chike Ukaegbu – Advanced Allied Party (AAP). Also on the list are Hamza Al- Mustapha – People’s Party of Nigeria (PPN), Alistair Soyode – Yes Electorate Solidarity (YES), Obadiah Mailafia – African Democratic Congress (ADC), Ahmed Buhari – Sustainable National Party (SNP), Usman Ibrahim Alhaji – National Rescue Movement (NRM), Eniola Ojajuni – Alliance for Democracy (AD), Gbenga Olawepo-Hashim – Alliance for People’s Trust (APT), John Ogbor – All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), Edozie Madu – Independent Democrats (ID), Williams Awosola – Democratic Peoples Congress (DPC), Habu Aminchi– People’s Democratic Movement (PDM), Yabagi Sani – Action Democratic Party (ADP), Moses Shipi – All Blending Party (ABP), and Peter Nwangwu – We The People of Nigeria (WTPN). Of this list, some fresh faces are set to add flavour to the race, especially those who transited from being chairmen of their parties to presidential candidates. Of course, there are questions to ask about their change of positions. First, it is not, clear whether they will still retain their chairmanship seats or relinquish them. Secondly, were their parties registered ab initio with the intent to convert their positions? However, regardless of the recurring but rhetorical questions, how well these two-portfolio holding individuals perform at the polls next year against Buhari, may turn out to be the gauge for their actions.
Omoyele Sowore: African Action Congress (AAC)
Sowore is the founder and publisher of an online citizen news platform, Saharareporters. His decision to vie for the presidency in 2019 took the political scene by storm. The Ondo-born activist founded the AAC alongside his #TakeItBack Movement allies and the party was officially declared registered by INEC in August, 2018. Sowore, prior to the registration of his party two months ago, has been touring the various parts of the country, holding town hall meetings and sensitizing citizens on his ambition. The former student union leader was unanimously elected without opposition by members of the party last week at its national convention that took place at Duplex Plaza, CMD, Shangisha, Lagos. Speaking after the convention, which had in attendance a human rights lawyer, Barr. Femi Falana (SAN), Sowore told his party men that “we must work to realise the dream of a new Nigeria, where we would be able to send our children to school and where the black man will be proud of the Nigerian nation. We must say enough is enough. Those who are taking Nigeria into the future are here with us.”
Chris Okotie- FRESH Party
Aside the fact that Okotie’s church is called Household of Faith ministry, the gifted cleric is indeed a household name when it comes to presidential election in Nigeria. Okotie had contested the presidential election in 2003, 2007 and 2011 respectively. He founded the Fresh Democratic Party, which he described as a liberal political party. FRESH is an acronym, Faith, Responsibility, Equality, Security and Hope. At a point, FRESH party was deregistered but the music star-turned-cleric didn’t give up as it engaged the leadership of INEC at the time in a legal tussle. Eventually, his persistence and reliance in the rule of law paid off and the party found its way back on INEC’s list of registered parties. Okotie, who is the founder and chairman of FRESH party, eventually picked up the party’s ticket for the 2019 presidential election at a well-attended primaries of the party held in Lagos. The presidential primary was attended by party members and governorship candidates of the party from different parts of the country. Okotie defeated another aspirant, Mr. James Pam, with 249 votes to one. Pam had offered to step down for Okotie, but the cleric advised that the voting should still hold, which he won with a landslide. The primary was witnessed by the National Commissioner of the Independent National Electoral Commissioner in charge of South-West, Dr Adekunle Ogunmola, and another official of the commission, Mrs Nkechi Abu. Speaking afterwards, Okotie stated that God had raised him to salvage the country, which he said was on the verge of a precipice. He added that the 2019 elections are so crucial as far as the unity and destiny of the country were concerned.
Tope Fasua- Abundant Nigeria Renewal Party (ANRP)
For the 47-year-old renowned businessman, Tope Fasua, the decision to cross to the threshold of politics, institute a political party and eventually run for the presidency in 2019, was to stop complaining about how things are, or how badly Nigeria is run, and to be responsible enough to do something about the country. Fasua is currently the national chairman of Abundant Nigeria Renewal Party (ANRP), one of Nigeria’s newly registered parties. INEC registered the party in December 2017. Fasua got his first degree in Economics from the old Ondo State University and a master’s degree in Financial Markets and Derivatives from the UK. He has vast experiences in the banking sector. He is the Chief Executive Officer of Global Analytics Consulting Limited. He once said: “I have many strong ideas about how things should be run. As an economist, that is all I think about. I have written four books on the Nigerian socio-economy, and perhaps over 2000 articles.” The urbane Fasua was unanimously affirmed the party’s flag bearer on Saturday, September 29, 2018, after a national convention held in various states of the federation and in Abuja. A statement from the party’s spokesperson, Sesugh Akume, said: “Tope Kolade Fasua emerged as the party’s presidential flag-bearer, unanimously affirmed at the Party’s national convention held in various states of the federation and in Abuja at the Party’s national secretariat concurrently yesterday Saturday 29 September. The seamless event was monitored by a team from the elections monitoring body, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) led by National Commissioner for the INEC, Mr Festus Okoye, as well as the media.” According to Akume’s statement, two other members of the party had earlier indicated interest in running for the office, but eventually declined.
Yabagi Yusuf Sani – Action Democratic Party (ADP)
Before it was granted registration in 2017 by INEC, the Action Democratic Party (ADP) was touted as the mega party smarting to dislodge the ruling party. But that is not to be as the various permutations arising from its conception have fizzled out. But the party is trudging on ahead of the 2019 elections after series of lows and highs performances in some staggered elections especially in the South-West. Last week, the party elected its national chairman, Engr. Yabagi Yusuf Sani, as its presidential candidate. Sani emerged the ADP candidate after an election by party delegates during its convention witnessed by officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). Out of 5,336,433 voters accredited for the ADP convention held across the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory, Sani scored 5,242,346 votes. During the party’s affirmation of its presidential flag bearer at the convection held in Abuja, Sani was given the certificate as the party’s presidential candidate for the 2019 election. In his acceptance speech, Sani, a professional engineer in the oil and gas industry, thanked God for the opportunity given to him. “I want to thank my fellow compatriots, the members of the great party to be given this rare opportunity to be the presidential candidate of this great party. “Nigeria needs a new dimension of leadership that would be focused, proactive and determined in improving the nation’s security through effectiveness. “We will create a new direction toward positive change in the economic, infrastructure development, health and education.”
Eunice Atuejide- National Interest Party
Mrs. Atuejide is one of the two women in the 2019 presidential race and she is doing it with class and panache especially on social media platforms where she has a cult-like followership. For 39-year old Atuejide, President Buhari must not be allowed to continue in office beyond 2019, hence her decision to vie for the office and float a political party. At its national convention in Abuja, members of National Interest Party chose her as their presidential candidate for the 2019 general election. She added that with her emergence, she can campaign with so much more confidence, with accountability and transparency as a watchword Interestingly, the legal practitioner, businesswoman, management consultant and entrepreneur founded the NIP as the vehicle she intends to use in the 2019 race. She maintains that her desire is to form a government of passionate and patriotic Nigerians with undisputed integrity. According to her, the nation at the at moment needs “leaders who are not moved by religious, ethnic, tribal, gender or any other differences; people who are ready to work together irrespective of their differences; people whose only collective purpose is to create a country which works for every Nigerian – born and unborn.” The Enugu State-born mother of five has a background in Agricultural Economics, Business Administration, Law, French, German and Spanish languages as well as film-making, among others. Born on August 16, 1978, Atuejide was raised in Lagos.
Alistair Soyode – YES Party
He is one the top Nigerians in Diaspora and Founder of the first ethnic satellite Media Company in Europe. Alistair Soyode is the Founder of London based BEN TV. He joined the political fray not too long ago, stating that his ideals are encapsulated in the acronym YEEEEEEES; hence the slogan `Yes, we can.’ He listed the ideals as youth empowerment, economy, education employment, energy, enterprises (agriculture, health), elders, experts (experience, quality, and enforcement of policies), and security. “We have the youth and the experience of our elders and both are needed to make Nigeria greater nation.
Moses Godia Shipi– All Blending Party
He is 40-years-old and he is regarded as the youngest chairman of a political party in Nigeria. Hon. Moses Godia Shipi was a Personal Assistant to the former Governor of Bauchi State, Alh. Isah Yuguda. From being the youngest party chairman, Shipi, may have transited to be the youngest presidential candidate in the country as he emerged the presidential candidate of the All Blending Party (ABP). The declaration was done by the electoral committee chairman Engr. Felix A. Japhet at its convention held in Abuja. The convention was monitored by INEC officials and he was presented with the party flag symbol of being the flag bearer of the party by the party’s BOT Chairman Harrison C. Ogbatu. Other founders and chairmen of political parties whose nomenclature have changed to that of presidential candidates of their parties include: Peter Nwangwu – We The People of Nigeria (WTPN); Edozie Madu – Independent Democrats (ID); Sunday Chukwu- Eguzolugo – Justice Must Prevail Party, JMPP and Hamisu Santuraki – Mega Party of Nigeria, MPN.
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