In what is shaping to be the most intensely contested election in the history of Nigeria, strategies are being implemented across the country to ensure either Abubakar Atiku or Bola Ahmed Tinubu or Peter Obi emerges the winner of the February 2023 general election.
Most young Nigerians, who now see Peter Obi as a “third force” and a candidate for the youth and for anyone who is against the current establishment in the country, are however stepping up strategies to seize a budding social media momentum for his candidacy.
A cross-section of young Nigerians unhappy that the two major political parties, PDP and APC, chose former Vice President Abubakar Atiku and a prominent political godfather, APC Leader and former Governor of Lagos State, Bola Ahmed Tinubu as respective flagbearers, are mounting a strategic offensive to galvanize Nigerians to take to the poll and vote Peter Obi as their choice. They believe this is the only way to defeat an establishment with solid political structures that have won countless elections especially when there is political apathy.
A plethora of viral videos and messages monitored by Nairametrics on social media reveal thousands of youths across the country mobilizing to get their PVCs (Permanent Voters Card). There are also debates across online forums on what is the best strategy to deliver what will be the greatest upset in Nigerian politics.
Ideas around how to use electronic and analogue media to reach a wider audience, breaking language and religious barriers, grassroots door-to-door campaigning, volunteering and even shaping the appeal of Peter Obi as a candidate for not just the South by the Northern Part of the country are all under various stages of consideration by some of the volunteers.
In a well-attended Twitter Spaces discussion, monitored last night, which had over 60,000 people tuning in, and an average of 5,000 people listening every minute for over three hours, speakers were heard sharing ideas on what strategies could best help win the election for Peter Obi. The Spaces was hosted by respected social media influencer and tech lawyer, Modupe “Moe” Odele @moechievous and used the hashtag #MyPeterObi to help manage trends.
Some of the strategies discussed include
- Breaking language barriers particularly in Northern Nigeria by creating more messaging in the local dialect of people in their communities and villages.
- Some spoke about the ambiguity of the Labour Party logo which they felt is not easily recognizable by most Nigerians.
- They also spoke about building a mass movement of volunteers across local governments in the country, some of whom will form the basis for manning polling units as party agents.
- Some speakers also spoke about leveraging voter data and information to create statistical patterns that will provide the right intelligence for effective strategic decision-making.
- Peter Obi wasn’t the only person they talked about. They also discussed mobilizing support for other candidates in the labour party who can be allies for Peter Obi in government if he eventually wins the presidency.
- They also discussed how to mobilize funds with the same efficiency that was utilized during the EndSars campaign where thousands of Nigerians donated funds to sustain the protests.
- Ensuring there is food for potential voters was also a major talking point as some believed not addressing the immediate needs of electorates who do not have food on their table could torpedo any good intention anyone has.
- Some student leaders who spoke highlighted mobilization for PVCs, especially for Nigerians who just turned 18 and were ineligible to vote in the last election. Most of them are staying at home due to the ASUU strike and strategists on the call saw this pool as a major force for Peter Obi.
Subsequent tweets following the end of the Spaces indicate it may have helped stimulate passion and enthusiasm for the work ahead while some even requested for the Twitter Spaces to be held weekly to allow people to share more ideas and feedback on the state of affairs in their respective zones.
In the meanwhile, opponents of the mass movement have accused some of Peter Obi’s supporters as “rude and arrogant” even as the same accusations have been labelled against supporters of any of the major political parties.
Videos of Nigerians Registering for PVC
Videos of young Nigerians surfaced all over the internet of young Nigerians swarming the INEC locations to get their PVCs. Some suggested most of them were social media users who have now migrated from not just being online pundits but to registered voters with their PVCs.
A live report from the popular radio station, Lagos Talks shows the moment youth broke through the INEC barricade after losing patience. According to the station, “the youths couldn’t wait any longer they broke into the center because they felt like INEC Officials weren’t fast enough. “
“One person complained that he got to the Square at 7 AM and till 2 PM he has not been attended to, hence the reason he struggled to break into the centre because the security was slow about it.” LagosTalks
The Independent National Election Commission (INEC) responded to the calls for voter election suggesting that an announcement of the extension of the voter’s registration will be made soon.
“We have heard your requests loud & clear. You will soon hear from us on the extension of CVR registration.
Please assure me that you will register, pick your PVCs, and Vote. I also assure you that your vote will count.” Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, INEC Chairman tweeted.
Atiku and Tinubu Campain strategist not resting either
Campaign strategists for what are arguably the candidates to beat Abubakar Atiku and Bola Ahmed Tinubu are also not relenting. Apart from relying on their digital media campaign machinery, images of both flagbearers meeting influential Nigerians across the country also thronged the internet.
A video of Bola Tinubu visiting several of his opponents in the APC presidential primaries has been shared all week confirming he is working hard to build alliances. He also visited the vice president Professor Yemi Osinbajo who many had thought he will resent. There was also a video of him visiting the revered billionaire businessman Alhaji Dantata. Tinubu’s surrogates are also busy sharing economic, security, and social policies of a BAT administration even though some have come out to debunk they are his original manifestos.
Atiku on the other hand has also stepped up alliance-building first meeting with ex-PDP ministers and then ex-governors of the same party. He had earlier also met with current governors of PDP, most of whom campaigned against him in the electoral primaries. Atiku has also met with several “Igbo entrepreneurs” even though the notable ones were absent in the image shared on his social media handle.
Politicking in top gear for Vice Presidential Picks
As all the presidential candidates forge alliances across the country and beyond, there are also discussions ongoing on who will be the vice-presidential picks. INEC deadline for the political parties to submit their political picks by July 15th, 2022 also means this will be top on the agenda for all candidates.
- For example, Bola Ahmed Tinubu as a southern Muslim candidate will have to decide whether to pick a northern Muslim or Christian candidate. Whilst religion is not a criterion for picking running mates, it is sensitive for a country that is dominated by two religions.
- Atiku Abubakar a northern candidate will also decide which southern candidate to pick and from which zone. Atiku picked Peter Obi from the South East in the last election but lost to incumbent Muhammadu Buhari. However, it is unclear who he is considering this time.
- Peter Obi who is from the South East will likely pick a northerner as his vice presidential pick. Whoever he picks will probably determine his electability in the north which is perhaps the most important region for anyone seeking to win the presidential election in Nigeria.
Hard work lies ahead for “Obidient”
In a recent BBC Pidgin interview, Peter Obi asserted that his structure was the millions of Nigerians who live in poverty.
“Whenever I hear of NO STRUCTURE, my ansa dey simple; di 100 million Nigerians wey dey live in poverty go be di structure….”
Regardless of his popularity on social media, the hard work of the Peter Obi supporters, who call themselves “Obidient” will be apart from winning the popular votes, he will also need to get 25% of the votes in at least 24 of the 36 states of the Federation.
As one speaker on the Moechievous Twitter Spaces alluded to, “we don’t have to win every state, just win enough popular votes in each state, and Obi will be President.”
And as Buhari media strategist Bashir Ahmed mentioned “Did you know that Labour Party doesn’t have an office in Kano, a state with over 5,000,000 registered voters, not only that the party doesn’t have a single candidate in the whole 44 local governments in the state, and the story is so very similar in at least 25/36 states and FCT.”