By next month, electioneering for the 2023 general election would kick off. From then till February next year, candidates for various elective positions would woo the electorate in political campaigns. It would be an opportunity for the candidates to convince voters to support them.

During the period of campaigns, voters would see manifestoes, listen to the candidates and make their assessment on the capability, capacity and fitness of those who have offered themselves to be chosen to serve. There is no doubt that it would be an interesting time, when drama, intrigues, brickbats and subterfuge would reach a crescendo, as the candidates and their political parties fight for space in the minds of voters.

For the ultimate election, the presidential poll, the signs of things to come are everywhere. In the major political parties fielding frontrunners in the election, there are already unfolding drama, controversies and anxiety, all emanating from the outcome of the primaries that produced the candidates. The political parties, their candidates and supporters are fretting about their opponents and trying to deliver some deadly punches, instead of making efforts, in the true sense of it, to put their houses in order.

For the All Progressives Congress (APC) and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), there are rumbles within. The APC is suffering from a self-inflicted injury caused by the error in the choice of its presidential candidate. Those who have followed the politics of Nigeria closely knew that the emergence of former governor of Lagos State, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, was bound to put the APC in a difficult situation. Being a Muslim from the South and somehow in the eye of the storm caused by past exposures and utterances before the presidential primary election of APC, Tinubu was primed to put APC in dire straits. It is because Tinubu is a Muslim from the South that APC is entangled in the web of religious imbalance regarding its presidential and vice presidential candidates.

The issue APC has in the coming presidential election is not only that the political party has a Muslim-Muslim ticket. The other issue is that Tinubu’s running mate is not Fulani, the political class in the North which controls power. The fact is that Senator Kashim Shettima, former governor of Borno State and vice presidential candidate of the APC, is Kanuri. Though a Muslim and one who has worked and preserved the interests of the North, Shettima is from the minority stock in the North. Therefore, in the Tinubu presidency, if the APC candidate were to win the presidential election, the Fulani would be out of the power.

Indeed, it appears that APC has been stung by what one would call the “mistake bug.” From the controversy of Muslim-Muslim ticket to the exclusion of the Fulani from its presidential ticket, which some northerners consider a big deal, the political party landed in another controversy, as regards the invitation of “bishops” to grace the occasion of the presentation of Shettima as Tinubu’s running mate. Discerning Nigerians have not come to terms with the APC showcasing “bishops” whose identity was questionable at the Shettima public presentation. Who could have advised APC to do that?

The recent invocation of the name of the Catholic pontiff, Pope Francis, by the director-general of the Tinubu Campaign Organisation and governor of Plateau State, Solomon Lalong, is yet another mistake that trails the activities of the APC. That Lalong would say that the Pope had not told him not to be the DG of a campaign organisation projecting a Muslim-Muslim ticket is the most absurd thing one has heard in recent times. It was an unnecessary comment, a clear case of playing to the gallery. People say in Lagos, “wetin concern agbero with overload (what concerns a motor park tout with overloading a vehicle)? What is the business of the Pope with Lalong being DG of Tinubu’s campaign organisation? Is Lalong a Cardinal, Archbishop or Bishop that the Pope talks to? Does the Pope know Lalong that the governor would have the temerity to invoke his name to justify his support for his political party and its presidential candidate? Although Lalong has apologised, the error is unpardonable.

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The way APC is going, the political party may make more errors in the coming months, prior to the election. The political party’s situation is not helped by the state of the nation under the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari, an APC member and one who, at his coming, was presented as messiah of Nigeria but whose government is rated low by Nigerians owing to the situation of things in the country. At a time when people are contending with terrorism, kidnapping, killings, poverty and distrust under an APC federal government, the APC sure has an uphill task to convince Nigerians for another chance to steer the ship of state.

In the PDP, it is not a bed of roses either. The opposition political party is grappling with the fallout of its presidential primary election, with a controversy unwittingly drowning other activities. The PDP has found Rivers State governor, Nyesom Wike, a bone stuck in the throat. It has found itself negotiating with one individual endlessly because of its indiscretion in the zoning of the presidency. In PDP, Wike has become a bull in a china shop. Considered by many as one of the strongest voices in the South, Wike is unconsciously trying to muscle the PDP down.

One has been wondering what the issue is between Wike and the PDP. The Rivers State governor contested for the presidential ticket of the PDP. He did his best and came second in the race. It was an impressive outing, but not good enough to give him the presidential ticket. Someone else won. Wike was considered for the vice presidential ticket. He came tops in the recommendation on those who could be chosen. There were two other names. The PDP presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, and the PDP, in their infinite wisdom, chose Delta State governor, Ifeanyi Okowa, out of the three people recommended. This should not be an issue, most certainly.

If really Wike is angry that he was not picked as the vice presidential candidate of the PDP, he certainly has no case. When three people are recommended for a position, any of them could be picked. The Rivers State governor, as a politician and chief executive of a state, knows this. In his Rivers State, for instance, there were many aspirants for the position of governor for next year’s election. Wike stood behind a particular aspirant who eventually picked the ticket. The other aspirants had no choice than to accept their fate. If Wike has the privilege to pick his preferred candidate for the post of governor, why does he want to deny another person the same right? He has no moral right whatsoever to complain or get angry that Atiku/PDP exercised the same right as he did in picking the Rivers State governorship candidate.

If there is anybody Wike should be angry with, it should be his good friend, Governor Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto State. It was the coup executed by Tambuwal at the PDP primary election, by his withdrawal from the race at the 11th hour, that turned the tables swiftly against Wike and other aspirants. One had expected Wike to have a feeling of betrayal against Tambuwal, knowing that he stuck out his neck in 2019 for the Sokoto State governor in the race for the PDP presidential ticket. We know how Wike vented his anger against South East politicians on the notion that the region did not support his choice of Tambuwal.

In PDP, the people who should be aggrieved are those from the South East. The South East expected that the PDP would micro-zone the presidential ticket to the region, being the only one that has not produced the President, Vice President or presidential candidate on the platform of PDP since 1999. This did not happen. Wike and others from the South South did not support the South East in its quest for justice. Rather, they contested for the same position. When they lost, it was also the South South that was considered for the vice presidential ticket. The South East lost on all fronts. That, to me, is the real betrayal.

Wike has the right to be sad over his loss. However, that his grouse about PDP is propelled by selfishness leaves much to be desired. The Rivers State governor has made his point. It is time to move on and stop the drama. It is not in his best interest to fight PDP because doing so would also undo him politically. Or is Wike no longer interested in helping his preferred candidate in PDP win the Rivers State governorship election?