By Miftaudeen Raji

The 2023 presidential election is less than 177 days away and the momentum is growing for the candidate of the Labour Party, LP, Peter Obi. Will it be enough to pull a surprise victory in the 2023 presidential election? It becomes imperative to examine what else Obi can do to make such a victory happen.

As a matter of fact, Obi needs to win to prove that his millions of online-savvy supporters are real and up to the task. The criteria for winning the political contest are always in place, but the challenge is how to seize the opportunity to take power at the centre.

As the September 28 flag-off date for presidential campaign approaches, the Obi-dients need to sustain the existing tempo perfectly till February 2023 to be able to spring surprises at the poll.

Until recently, many underestimated Obi’s dexterity in comparative socio-economics; his will to bring a change in governance; and the support he enjoys from young Nigerians. Many leaders have claimed to have achieved a lot while trying to fix the problems of Nigeria, but obvious metrics suggested they have sorely failed.

The Labour Party candidate already stands a chance of winning the 2023 presidential election, but here are some few other things that he still needs to put into consideration.

Harnessing the Diaspora support base

Already, Obi is galvanizing the campaign with outreach to the Diaspora community, with series of visits to the US, Canada, Germany and still counting.

Obi needs to accelerate engagement with the Diaspora community to garner more support from groups, business community, students network and professionals and committees to spearhead more initiatives for the party and Obi presidency.

He needs to interface with patriotic Nigerians clamouring to contribute to the success of the party and the growth of the course. But an integral part of the course is the necessity to have the earmarked programmes well coordinated.

The party has a huge role to play in identifying well-meaning Nigerians from the place of integrity to drive this project to achieve the desired goal.

Raising momentum for fund raising :

To meet the needs of a perceived structure Obi built around 100 million hungry Nigerians and 35 million unemployed persons, including unpaid pensioners, funding is key to provide the enabling resources for these structures to carry the burden of national election for the Labour Party in 2023.

But, to achieve this goal, the party has set action in motion for Obi, with the National Chairman of Labour party, Bar. Julius Abure, recently inaugurating an 11-man Diaspora committee to generate about $150 million, N100 billion crowdfunding for the presidential campaign of Peter Obi.

While the party and Obi supporters keep raising money to fund campaign and election operations ahead of 2023, stakeholders have to ensure adequate monitoring of the organized fundraising activities and donations to the party.

Read also : Reasons Peter Obi’s running mate Yusuf Baba-Ahmed can’t be underrated

If Peter Obi wants to truly win the 2023 elections, his handlers should be putting up their thinking cap on setting up a crowdfunding plan to boost his campaign.

The need for a viable political structure in winning an election cannot be overstated. Obi’s existing political structure is practically scanty; he is only riding on the strength of social media populism, which may not be able to soak up the daunting political challenges, particularly in the North where his brand is yet to be felt.

Besides, considering the financial wherewithal of Obi’s contenders (Abubakar Atiku of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, and Asiwaju Bola Tinubu of the All Progressives Congress, APC), it is obvious funding is a problem that must be immediately addressed by the ‘Obedients’ .

With good funding, the LP can begin to look at expansion strategies – accommodating aggrieved members in other parties, aligning with oppositional political parties that are putting up a good fight against the ruling government as well as robustly migrating the #Obidient ideals into the northern part of Nigeria. All these will require great costs.

If Obi intensifies media appearances and campaign spending, a lot of angry voters who are already dissatisfied with the two major mainstream political parties will take him more seriously. Imperatively, if the huge online supporters all get their PVCs and translate online activism to realtime votes, Obi will be a formidable candidate come 2023 election.

The 2023 election is coming at a time when the entire country is intensely charged. The Obi camp needs to bear in mind various issues and unforeseen circumstances that could mar his chances at the poll, considering the Nigerian peculiarities.

It may not be certain yet what the 2023 situation would look like, but previous elections have witnessed issues such as rigging, vote-buying, arrest of key chieftains of some parties, organized violence in major states, towns or areas where a candidate has a higher advantage of votes.

There is a huge amount of planning and resources that will go into the entire process as the election is approaching, which Obi cannot look away from.

Promoting Labour governorship candidates:

Labour Party needs to put its governorship candidates in the face of the people in all the states where elections are holding, to ensure the party gets closer to the people and to put up a good fight ahead of 2023.

By taking this action, Obi would be able to ride on the strength of the candidates and leaders of the Labour Party in each state to reach out to the grassroots and essentially win more people to its camp in order to do a good number at the polls.

A good example is Osun, where Yusuf Lasun, a strong political force in the state who is contesting for governorship, is left alone. Obi has done more of a one-man show. He has not been at the forefront of campaigning for the party’s governorship candidates.

At the June 18 Ekiti election, Obi was not on ground to support his party candidate, Olugbenga Daramola; at the time, he chose a trip to Egypt to study the country’s education and power system, among others. The vacuum between Obi and state politics, if resolved, will make his journey to Aso Rock in 2023 possible.

He needs to be reminded that he cannot win the presidential election in isolation, he needs more foot soldiers across all social divides.

Intensifying voter registration:

Only a few years ago, people were not as adamant about voter registration or election, but the narrative has changed now. The people feel so much violated by the government of the day that they are now trooping out en masse to get their PVC and initiate the change they care so much about for the country.

So far, Peter Obi appears to be scoring high here, most of his campaigns and messages are targeted at not just increasing his supporters base, but majorly getting voters card.

Luckily for Obi, celebrity artistes like P Square, Okon Lagos, and Phyno, as well as actors from the Nollywood industry are pushing the ‘get-your-PVC’ campaign really hard. The more young people and the youth raise this awareness and civic right the better the chances of Obi winning.

Revisiting alliance and merger:

There’s no denying that Obi is the arrowhead presidential candidate from the South-East extraction of Nigeria. But, it is not enough to win a presidential election in a country where the majority of votes come from the North.

It’s still expedient for Obi to revisit joining an alliance with other forces in the North; despite picking a Muslim Northerner, Yusuf Baba-Ahmed, as his running mate, he still needs more allies who command huge followership in order to appeal to mass majority votes from the region.

Obi also needs to reach a truce with the political leaders in the South-East, who are not convinced with his presidential ambition, regardless of political affiliations. No matter how difficult, the Labour Party needs find a strategy to ensure togetherness within his own homestead and political kinsmen.

Until lately, many had envisaged that Obi would successfully form an alliance with the presidential candidate of the New Nigeria People’s Party, NNPP, Rabiu Kwankwaso.

But contrary to expectations, the alliance proved unfruitful as the candidates failed to reach a compromise on who becomes the presidential/vice-presidential candidate status.

Also, Obi could form alliances with parties and candidates who have lost out in concluded elections to leverage on their structures in all states ahead of the 2023 election.

Reaching out to core Arewa leadership:

Obi needs the support of the Arewa leadership to have a smooth ride in the North. A prominent voice in the North and chairman, Dialogue Group, Mahdi Shehu had said Obi has yet to visit them in the North to present his plan for the region and Nigeria.

The Labour Party candidate, for a fact, needs Northern states like Kano, Kaduna and Katsina, President Muhammadu Buhari’s homestead. These states turn in the highest votes in virtually all Nigeria’s presidential elections.

Already, former President, Olusegun Obasanjo, and the president of Northern Elders Forum, Ango Abdullahi, had ruled out the presidential candidates from the two major political parties; the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC and the People’s Democratic Party, PDP. Obasanjo is already promoting Obi, which is a positive signal for an Obi presidency.

Abdullahi, while speaking on Arise Interview, had said Nigerians need to intensify their search for presidential candidates beyond the mainstream political parties, stating that the current crop of mainstream Nigerian politics cannot fix the problem of the country.

In this light, Obi needs to connect more to Northern leaders and the people in real-time to be able to earn their votes in 2023.


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