By Clifford Ndujihe
•Moghalu, Ezekwesili, Mimiko, Mailafia, Al-Mustapha, Sowore, others raise stake
WITH the conclusion of the presidential primaries of most of the political parties, the battle for the presidency, next year, is taking a definite shape. Unlike past presidential polls, the 2019 election will be a battle of egg-heads, technocrats, IT-czars, business men and tested politicians. And many of the battles would be fought on the social media.
Interestingly, there are so far 31 presidential candidates, the highest ever in the history of presidential polls in the country. In the 1959 parliamentary election, in which the party that won the highest number of parliamentary seats produced the Prime Minister, there were four major parties, four minor parties and two independents totalling 10 contestants. Their names are National Council of Nigeria and the Cameroons, NCNC; Action group, AG; Northern Elements Progressive Union, NEPU; Niger Delta Congress, NDC; Mabolaje Grand Alliance, MGA; Igala Union; and Igbira Union.
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).
Fewer female candidates
Among the 31 presidential candidates are two women, Mrs Obi Ezekwesili of the Allied Congress Party of Nigeria, ACPN, and Mrs. Eunice Atuejide of the National Interest Party, NIP. This is a far cry from the expected 11, if the 35 per cent Affirmative Action is upheld.
The fewer number of women shows that little or no gains have been made and that the country needs to do more to boost women empowerment and participation in politics.
Women were not on the radar in 1999, when only two candidates, General Olusegun Obasanjo of the Peoples Democratic, PDP, and Chief Olu Falae of the Alliance for Democracy, AD/All Peoples Party, APP, slugged it out with Obasanjo emerging the winner. However, women were on the ballot in 2003, which so far remains their best attempt at occupying Aso Villa. Of the 20 presidential candidates, two were women – Mrs Sarah Jubril of the Progressive Action Congress, PAC, and Major Mojisola Adekunle Obasanjo, retd, of the Masses Movement of Nigeria, MMN. While Major Obasanjo polled 3,757 votes at that election, Mrs Jubril scored 157,560 votes, the highest any woman has ever got in a presidential election in the country. Ever since, the fortunes of women have been dwindling at the presidential polls. In a pool of 27 candidates in 2007, there was only one woman – Major Obasanjo, who garnered a miserly 4,309 votes. In 2011, with 63 political parties in which 20 parties fielded candidates, there was also only one woman – Ebiti Ndok of the United National Party for Development, UNPD, who polled 21,2017 votes. Mrs. Sarah Jubril’s efforts to be on the ballot did not yield dividend. She got one vote at the PDP presidential primary. In 2015, the poor run of women continued. Mrs. Oluremi Sonaiya, was the only female in a crowd of 14 presidential standard bearers and she got 13,076 votes.
In 2019, only 89 of the 91 political parties, according to the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, will be contesting the general elections. And of the 89, only 30, so far have named their presidential candidates.
Newer but known faces
Apart from 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; Mr. Donald Duke of the Social Democratic Party, SDP; and Alhaji Yahaya Ndu of the African Renaissance Party, ARP, who can be dubbed as veteran presidential aspirants, there are a replete of fresh but known faces aspiring for Nigeria’s topmost position in 2019.
The new faces, who are expected to add bite and colour to the presidential election include: immediate past and two-term Governor of Ondo State, Dr. Olusegun Mimiko; former Deputy Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, and United Nations consultant, Prof Kingsley Moghalu; erudite economist and former deputy governor of the CBN, Dr. Obadiah Mailafia; Publisher of Sahara Reporters, Mr. Omoyele Sowore; former Minister of Education during the administration of former President Olusegun Obasanjo, and Word Bank Vice President, Mrs Obi Ezekwesili; former Chief Security officer, CSO to late Head of State, General Sani Abacha, Major Hamza Al-Mustapha, retd; and business man and former National Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Mr Gbenga Olawepo-Hashim
Most of these new entrants into the presidential race have a network of foreign and local connections and are bubbling with ideas on how to address the myriad of Nigeria’s socio-economic, political and developmental challenges. Some of them have traversed the length and breadth of the country wooing the electorate. Whether any of them will wear the crown is a question of time.
The 31 Presidential candidates
* President Muhammadu Buhari – All Progressives Congress, APC
* Alhaji Atiku Abubakar – Peoples Democratic Party, PDP
* Mr. Donald Duke – Social Democratic Party, SDP
* Mr Gbenga Olawepo-Hashim – Alliance for New Nigeria, ANN
* Mr. Omoyele Sowore – African Action Congress, AAC
* Mrs Obi Ezekwesili – Allied Congress Party of Nigeria, ACPN
* Dr. Obadiah Mailafia – African Democratic Congress, ADC
* Prof Kingsley Moghalu – Young Progressive Party, YPP
* Pastor Chris Okotie – Fresh Democratic Party, FDP
* Major Hamza Al-Mustapha, retd – Peoples Party of Nigeria, PPN
* Hon. Habib Mohammed Gajo – Young Democratic Party, YDP
* Dr. Olusegun Mimiko – Zenith Labour Party, ZLP
* Major General John Gbor – All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA
* Ali Soyode – YES Party
* Dr. Davidson Isibor Akhimien – Grassroots Development Party of Nigeria, GDPN
* Ike Keke – New Nigerian Peoples Party, NNPP
* Apostle Sunday Chukwu-Eguzolugo – Justice Must Prevail Party, JMPP
* Mrs. Eunice Atuejide – National Interest Party, NIP
* Hamisu Santuraki – Mega Party of Nigeria, MPN
* Hon. Edozie Madu – Independent Democrat Party, IDP
* Prof. Peter Nwangwu – We the People of Nigeria Party, WPNP
* Mr. Ahmed Bee Buhari – Sustainable National Party, SNP
* Mr. Tope Fasua – Abundant Nigeria Renewal Party, ANRP
* Mr. Ade Fagbenro Bryon – Kowa Party
* Moses Shipi – All Blending Party, ABP
* Alhaji Yahaya Ndu – African Renaissance Party, ARP
* Mr. Chuks Nwachukwu – All Grassroots Alliance. AGA
* Pastor Habu Aminchi – Peoples Democratic Movement, PDM
* Yabagi Yusuf Sani – Action democratic Party, ADP
* Mr. Babatunde Ademola – Nigeria Community Movement Party, NCMP
* Mr. Martin Onovo – Conference of Nigerian Political Parties, CNPP