Recent elections in other parts of Africa may be pointers to what we can expect in 2023. The elections in Zambia in August 2021 and Kenya in August 2022, can be described as the “oncoming wave of change”.
In Zambia, young people came out in their numbers and chucked out the incumbent president, Edgar Lungu (Patriotic Front, PF). They elected opposition leader, Hakainde Hichilema (United Party for National Development, UPND), through a landslide victory. Also, in Kenya, former Deputy President, William Ruto, led his Kenya Kwanza Coalition to narrowly beat veteran presidential aspirant, Raila Odinga’s Azimio la Umoja Coalition.
In both countries, the electorate chose to cast their lot with the political outsiders. Hichilema had unsuccessfully contested for his country’s presidency in previous elections. But last year, he re-enacted the Muhammadu Buhari feat of 2015. In Kenya, the intention of outgoing President Uhuru Kenyatta to replace himself with his former foe-turned-friend, Raila Odinga, flopped. His estranged former Deputy, Ruto, managed to get a slim majority of the Kenyan electorate behind him. The result is being disputed by Odinga.
In Zambia, the people proved that power was in their hands. This time, the youth drove the momentum for change and succeeded in ousting an incumbent president. But in Kenya, the youth were not so assertive. They still did not believe that voting would change anything. Those who voted, however, were driven by economic considerations. Food inflation, which is a current worldwide concern, led the voters to go against the candidate seen to have the incumbent’s backing.
Here in Nigeria, we have severe economic and security challenges. The All Progressives Congress, APC, government of President Muhammadu Buhari, appears at its wits’ end in tackling the myriads of issues in the economy. Though the military appears to be making some headway of late in the multi-frontal fight against terrorism and banditry, it is left to be seen how far they can go before the February/March 2023 general elections.
The main issues that could determine the outcome of the presidential elections next year include the protracted Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, strike, massive oil thefts, mismanaged oil sector which has denied Nigerians the benefits of the current oil boom, unsustainable heavy debt stock, unprecedented corruption, ultra-high cost of petrol subsidy, poor power supply, the crash of the naira against foreign currencies, among others.
Like Zambia, the Nigerian youth have taken matters into their hands. We now have a choice between retaining the APC in power to continue on the trajectory of the past seven years, or bringing back the PDP, which ran our affairs for 16 years before they were voted out. We also have fresh new options favoured by the youth, especially the Labour Party, LP.
Will the wave of change get to Nigeria?