Why the voting pattern will change in 2023
The political sagacity of some of the presidential candidates, the disruptive moves by Peter Obi, candidate of the Labour Party (LP), the presence of Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, candidate of the New Nigerian Peoples Party (NNPP), among other factors are expected to change the voting pattern in the 2023 general election, BusinessDay findings have shown.
Observers also listed among other factors the frustration and raging anger in the polity over the state of affairs in the country.
There is the general disenchantment among Nigerians on the President Muhammadu Buhari’s style of leadership, which is believed has led to unprecedented rise in insecurity, rising cost of living, and a comatose economy, which has also resulted in a despondent citizenry.
Thus, there is increasing clamour that focus should be more on the candidates’ track record rather than parties in 2023.
Furthermore, there is the issue of same faith ticket in the APC and the neglecting of some regions in the zoning decision of some political parties ahead of the 2023 general election.
Prior to now, the Southern Governors’ Forum had raised the issue of returning power to the south after the expiration of incumbent President’s tenure in 2023. This argument has gained majority support across the South and the Middle Belt regions.
Despite pressure from the South-East, the party’s presidential ticket was thrown open and subsequently won by Atiku Abubakar.
Pundits believe that the massive participation of Nigerians in the INEC CVR would definitely impact positively on the voter turnout in 2023 general election and possibly bring about a different kind of leadership and paradigm shift in governance.
It is observed that there is renewed determination by the electorate, especially the youths to vote for competent, credible and quality candidates, no matter the political party they belong to.
Few months to the 2023 general election, the politicians and presidential hopefuls, especially from the two major parties; All Progressive Congress (APC) and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), seem to be jittery for obvious reasons.
Unlike the previous elections since the return of the country to civil rule in 1999, the 2023 election is showing signs of deviation from the norm and this bothers many politicians, who are used to doing things in a particular way and getting expected result.
Moreover, the provisions in the New Electoral Act now make it a bit difficult to rig.
But the major challenge for political moneybags and their collaborators is the ‘youth rising’ syndrome that is now real, a development many think will alter and influence the voting pattern in 2023.
In the recent past, Nigerians voted along religious and ethnic lines, except in the Moshood Abiola and Bashir Tofa ticket, though Muslim-Muslim, it did not raise much eyebrows because of the need to end military dictatorship in the country then.
The electoral umpire has also recorded the worst voter apathy among youths since 1999.
But all that is changing now considering the confrontational way the youths engaged the government during the #EndSARS protests and since then, making some crucial demands they hitherto lacked courage to make yesteryear.
That has also influenced the high number of youths that participated in the Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) embarked upon by the INEC, which updates have shown that the registrants between 18-34 years are high.
Considering that the youths constitute bulk of the registered voters for the 2023 election, pundits think that the voting pattern is definitely going to change in the direction the youths are going with their massive votes.
“Do you know what over 40 million youth votes mean? If the youth vote in one direction and defend their votes, victory will be in favour of their chosen candidate”, Godfrey Otiono, an Ndokwa, Delta State-born Political Science lecturer-turned politician, said.
“The youths are the only hope of the country in 2023. Already, they are asking and insisting on change in 2023. I don’t see them sitting on the fence again because their future is at stake and N5000 for a vote cannot put food on their table for the four years corrupt politicians will be in power, or give them job,” Otiono said.
Read also: 2023: Beam searchlight on child-voting, Nigerians task INEC
The former university don also pointed out that voting patterns will change in 2023 considering that the members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has been on strike and the government does not care because their children are overseas, hence 2023 is seen to be payback for the suffering and helpless students.
“I have data on the current number of voters at the Continuous Voter Registration by INEC. The youths are leading and students are among them too. INEC’s data showed that students lead the freshly registered population with 2.33 million while people in business follow with 1.21 million.
“They are angry and they will express it with their votes and that is why the voting pattern will change because everybody is now looking for real change and not the 2019 Change or the Next Level of suffering we are in now,” he said.
Samson Itodo, executive director, Yiaga Africa, who once was dissatisfied with youth voter apathy, thinks that the youths can cause a major change in the voting pattern if they all get their PVCs and also make an effort to vote on the Election Day.
Taking a critical look at the voting pattern and the way it could change in 2023, Otiono said, the issue of states and areas that are the strongholds of some parties may not work again and that parties may struggle to win 25 percent votes cast at each of the 36 states or two-third majority of all the votes cast across the 36 states and Abuja.
“Look at Kano; it is no longer an APC thing, because Rabiu Kwankwaso will share the votes with his NNPP, and Ibrahim Shakarau will give some to PDP.
“Nyesom Wike is making noise in Rivers, but the Igbos have the majority of the votes because they have always voted for PDP. For me, PDP has lost the grip in Rivers because the Igbos will vote for Labour Party with anger and every other Niger Delta person who is angry that PDP denied the Southern part of the country its presidential ticket, as APC zoned its ticket to the South West,” he explained.
Speaking further, the Political Science guru said that religion is also key because the Muslim-Muslim ticket did not augur well with many Nigerians, especially Christians bearing in mind that Nigeria is a circular state.
“So, you will see many Christians in the South West voting for their faith rather than for their tribe, Middle Belt and Kaduna will toe the same line, as well, those who think the Fulanis are planning to retain power with Atiku, will vote their conscience too. It is going to be different results altogether for the first time in the history of our politics,” he said.
Also taking a critical look at the possible change in the pattern of voting, Chijiokje Umelahi, a former Abia lawmaker and an Abuja-based legal practitioner, thinks that the youths will cause a major change with their numbers.
“I don’t see a reasonable youth voting either of the two major parties because they have seen the bleakest future under the two parties. Yes, I am a PDP member, but we did not do well, if not, the opposition would not have had enough reasons to convince Nigerians to vote against us in 2015. Today, we have more than enough reasons to unseat and sack APC and the youths can help facilitate this real change that Nigeria needs in 2023,” Umelahi said.
Kelly Osunbor, president, faculty of peace organisation, a civil society organisation, said there would be a huge turnaround in the voting pattern for the 2023 general elections because majority of the eligible voters are now enlightened and conscious of certain happenings across the country.
Osunbor, who also cited the #EndSARS protests as one of the things that has informed the decisions of Nigerians and will be pivotal to the shift in voting pattern, noted that “what we are going to see in 2023 is going to be a ballot revolution.”
According to him, “#EndSARS was like a birth of a new generation and it had a way of triggering so many things in the minds of Nigerians. The #EndSARs triggered the factor and that is what we are seeing playing out today.
“Nigerians feel that this is our time, a new generation is about to be born, new political leaders are about to emerge in all political spheres. These persons, largely made up of youth and are attentive on the internet, have been rejuvenated. There have been a lot of discourse around the social media platforms and these have metamorphosed to what we have been seeing recently.
“Another thing is this present administration. They didn’t do much and that has a way of affecting the people. Nowadays, most people cannot even feed themselves; prices of goods and services have gone up. People just feel that if they cannot do a proper revolution, they should do ballot revolution.
“And if a candidate wins and fails to perform, he should be aware that there will also be a revolution to replace him. This is good for our politics and development because we will now have leaders who will be conscious and mindful of the seat they are sitting down on,” Osunbor said.
Wale Bakare, a political scientist, said: “I think it is becoming obvious that the narrative could change this time around, which would affect the voting pattern. Across board, candidates with proven antecedents, with verifiable track record of performance would get Nigerians’ votes.
“It is obvious that the APC has made Nigerian poorer and people are disappointed with the way the country is. A lot of things are happening, so when you refused to zone power and think some people can always rule, you should be ready for the consequences at the 2023 general election.”
Perhaps, a sign that the situation may not remain the same in next year’s elections, could be seen in the ‘Obedient’ movement across the country.
The term coined from the LP presidential candidate’s surname, Obi, represents a people that have pledged allegiance to his presidential ambition.
In recent months, the movement has lightened up the political space, giving support to the candidacy of Obi, in the build-up to the presidential 2023 election in a manner that has not been seen before.
However, while some Nigerians argue that the movement strength is merely on social media, others are of the opinion that the movement has what it takes to rock the boats of the APC and PDP come 2023, and even stands a great chance of unseating the ruling party.
Proponents of the ‘Obedient’ movement said their existence had become necessary due to bad governance in which the youths are most affected.
They noted that the youths are the ones largely affected, whether it is economic issues, social issues, or insecurity.
“We believe that the current political class doesn’t have what it takes to give us the new Nigeria.
“We need new players, we need new faces, we need people who will come into the political environment and begin to midwife the new Nigeria because the current political class doesn’t have what it takes; which has been the major problem of the country over the years, and we have continued to recycle them,” Emeka Okiwe, a member of the movement, said.