FOUR DAYS TO PRESIDENTIAL POLL: Race too close to call

  • Candidates jostle for votes from 93 million registered voters
  • South West leaders, APC Diaspora back Tinubu for president
  • We’ll lead by three million votes – Kwankwaso group
  • Thabo Mbeki leads Commonwealth observer mission


Uba Group

With four days to Nigeria’s general elections, which kicks off with the presidential run on Saturday, the current standing of the major presidential candidates and their parties, gleaned from assessment of public opinion, is still too close to call.

There are 18 presidential candidates jostling for the number one position in the country.

The most popular contenders are Bola Tinubu, All Progressives Congress; Atiku Abubakar, People’s Democratic Party; Peter Obi, Labour Party; while on the extreme fringe is New Nigeria Peoples Party’s Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, who could help shape the fortunes of any of the candidates, if he eventually decides to align or form alliances.

On Monday, sons and daughters of Yoruba race convened in Lagos State for a special summit to discuss the way forward ahead of Saturday’s presidential elections.

Elder statesmen, traditional rulers, religious leaders, frontline politicians, youth groups, cultural and market leaders took a unanimous stand, adopting the candidature of Tinubu.

It was at the Yoruba and South West Leaders of Thought Summit hosted by Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu at Eko Hotels on Victoria Island.

Tinubu attended the summit in company of his running mate, Kashim Shettima.

Also at the event were the Ekiti State Governor Biodun Oyebanji, former Ogun State Governors, Olusegun Osoba and Gbenga Daniel, former Osun State Governor, Gboyega Oyetola, APC gubernatorial candidate in Oyo State, Teslim Folarin, first class traditional rulers across the South West and retired Methodist Archbishop of Ilesa and Ibadan, Pa. Ayo Ladigbolu, among others.

Besides, the Council of Imams and Ulama of Lagos State threw their weight behind Tinubu and Governor Sanwo-Olu.

The stand, the Yoruba elders said, was taken after they thoroughly reviewed the situation in the country and examined programmes of all candidates vying to succeed the outgoing president.

The South West elders said their endorsement of Tinubu was predicated on the assessment of the APC candidate’s political trajectory and his ability to offer the kind of leadership the nation required in the next dispensation. They stressed that their decision to support Tinubu was a reflection of the political desire of the South West region.

Former Oyo State Deputy Governor, Iyiola Oladokun, who spoke on behalf of the Yoruba Leaders of Thought, described Tinubu as the most qualified person among the contestants, saying the South West would not sacrifice capacity on the altar of political correctness.

Oladokun moved a motion for the assembly to openly endorse Tinubu. The motion was seconded by Akin Oluwadare, after which the assembly unanimously approved the resolution.

Other members of Yoruba Leaders of Thought at the event included Prince Oluyole Olusi, Otunba Gbenga Daniels, Prince Segun Adesegun, Princess Remi Adebowale, Engr. Adekunle Olayinka, Bayo Aina, Chief Mutiu Are, Chief Akin Oluwadare and Lolade Shonibare.

Tinubu described the solidarity as “overwhelming”, saying the wishes of the South West leaders were on the verge of becoming a reality.

The APC presidential candidate said winning his party’s nomination was not an easy task. After his victory at the primaries, Tinubu said he rolled out his campaign, during which he visited all the 36 states to canvas for votes.

He told the South West leaders to put their minds at rest, stressing that he would coast home to victory.


He said: “We are on the verge of changing our story and charting a new path forward. We have won the ticket not only to stand for a good cause, but also to show we have the capacity to deliver. We have done all required of us, after winning the party nomination.

“There is no state we have not touched across the country. Some people were even afraid, given the level of energy we have put in. They had thought our energy would fizzle out along the way, but we are as strong as the idea we represent.

“This evening, I urge you to go and put your mind at rest. We shall be victorious. This history unfolding before our eyes shall end in good memories for us. I am not going to reveal everything about this journey here; there shall be a day for that. Let us go out en masse and vote. We are bringing home the victory.”

Describing the move as historic, Sanwo-Olu said Tinubu’s endorsement by his kinsmen was appropriate, given the prominence brought to the Yoruba race by the APC presidential candidate in the politics of the country.

The Governor said Tinubu remained a detribalised politician and national figure who never subscribed to religious bigotry and ethnic profiling.

Osoba recalled that Tinubu’s presidential aspiration was ignited in 2007 shortly after he completed his two-term tenure as Governor of Lagos, disclosing that all Yoruba leaders unanimously resolved that he moved to the national level.

The former Ogun State Governor accused former President Olusegun Obasanjo of frustrating various attempts by the South West leaders to unify the region under a political philosophy synonymous with ideology of the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo.

He said: “This is an auspicious moment in our history and I urge all the people of South West to come together and stand behind Tinubu. There is no tribe in Nigeria that never benefits from the economic system of Lagos. The Yoruba race is happy with the status of Lagos today. Let us come out and support him. We must do this to bring Awolowo’s dream back to life.”

I.6m Diaspora Nigerians with PVC to boost Tinubu’s chances – APC Diaspora

Also, the Director, Directorate of Diaspora, All Progressives Congress Presidential Campaign Council, Ade Omole has said that more than 1.6 million Nigerians with Permanent Voters Card in the diaspora will brighten the chances of Tinubu in Saturday’s election.

Omole said this on Monday in Abuja while speaking with newsmen at the party’s national secretariat.

Omole who doubles as the leader of APC in the United Kingdom said registered Nigerian voters in the diaspora were willing to return to the country to cast their votes during the forthcoming general elections.

“We are all Nigerians, though we live outside the country, we have families in the country, we have sisters, brothers, fathers, mothers and our employees.

“Nigerians in the Diaspora matter a great deal, not just because of the amount of money we remit to the country annually which equal the amount from the sales of crude oil.

“But because we are all stakeholders in the country and the electoral process, most Nigerians in the diaspora are registered voters.’’

Omole revealed that the directorate had gone into agreement with British Airways and Lufthansa Airlines to offer rebate tickets to such Nigerians irrespective of party affiliation to make travelling easy for them.

“From our last research, more than 1.6 million Nigerians with PVCs live outside Nigeria and would surely return to the country to vote during the coming elections.

“This is probably more than the number of people in some states within the country, so Nigerians in the diaspora do matter. There are progressive Nigerians and supporters of Bola Tinubu, APC presidential candidate with PVCs who will come back to the county to vote for him.”

The UK based APC Chieftain added that even if the entire 1.6 million registered Nigerian voters in the diaspora do not return to the country to vote during the election, over one million of them would return.

He said though there was no law that currently permits Nigerians in the Diaspora to vote from their country of residence, a bill to that effect; the Nigeria Diaspora Voting Bill was presently in the National Assembly.

According to him, “That bill went as far as the third reading before it was eventually voted down at a joint meeting between the Senate and the House of Representatives.”

He argued that the directorate had been deserting the action plan of Tinubu for Nigerians to understand it better and had also put up a site called; which he said had the profile of Tinubu and Shettima his running mate and all that Nigerians needed to know about them.

He further explained that the essence was to correct the erroneous narratives about Tinubu and his running mate that had been circulated in the social media and provide answers to them.

“Knowing the importance of the international community in the affairs of nations, the APC PCC Diaspora Directorate had been meeting with officials of most countries and Nigeria`s international partners.

“Because we know how very important it is to have very positive feedback from international communities, partners, associations and foreign governments.

“Especially the United States and the United Kingdom among other countries because they do support us in several ways, security being one of them. The diaspora directorate had been meeting with officials of these countries to assure them that Tinubu, our principal, believes in democracy and his ethics,’’ he added.

He explained that the meetings were to ensure that the international community continued to extend hands of friendship to Tinubu if he was elected as the country`s next president.

“He understands and feels the pulse of the nation, he is a detribalized Nigerian, he walks his talk and he is ready to take tough decisions and do the right thing to take Nigeria to greater heights.

“Tinubu has done it before, and he has done it exceedingly well, he has the experience, integrity and character and that is why the feedback within and outside the country has been positive.

“Tinubu is the only aspirant that had been talking to Nigerians with an organic crowd wanting to listen to him anywhere he went to campaign,” he said.

We’ll lead by no less than 3m votes – Kwankwaso group

Meanwhile, the Rabiu Kwankwaso Presidential Campaign Council says its presidential candidate will defeat its nearest rivals by no less than three million votes at the February 25 polls.

The PCC made this known on Monday in a statement by Precious Elekima, Coordinator, South-South and member of Kwankwaso’s PCC management team.

According to the Council, Rabiu Kwankwaso will convincingly win the forthcoming presidential election to prove that Nigerians can elect very competent and vibrant leaders.

The Kwankwaso group also said that it was not true that it would collapse its political structures to accommodate the former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar.

The council said that Atiku would rather “collapse his structure and join the Kwankwaso Presidential campaign team at an event scheduled for February 22, 2023, at the Transcorp Hilton Hotel.”

“His supporters are expected to be compensated with some good positions in government, but not Atiku Abubakar, the PDP Presidential candidate, for obvious reasons.

“We are putting everything to ensure that we don’t carry baggage that may rob the Kwakwanso government of trust,” it stated.

The statement also appealed to “the good people of Nigeria to come en masse and vote for a man known for his trust and integrity which will save Nigeria.”

Elekima also expressed the Kwankwaso team’s appreciation to “all those who have been calling to authenticate the false statements.”

He also advised members of the media “to verify all stories before publishing because falsehood spreads like a virus.”

.Thabo Mbeki leads full complement of commonwealth observer mission

Also, Thabo Mbeki, Head of the Commonwealth Election Observation Mission to Nigeria for the 2023 general elections has assured the Independent National Electoral Commission and Nigerians that he led a full complement of the Commonwealth observer mission to monitor the elections on Saturday.

The former South African President said, “We came here with the full complement of the Commonwealth observer mission. This is the seventh election in Nigeria that we are observing. Of course, I don’t need to say that the Commonwealth is more than a country. Nigeria is a very important country. It has an impact on itself and the continent as a whole. So, it is always very important that as the Commonwealth, we should come and be with you as you hold this all important election and to observe the conduct.

“We come very hopeful and confident that we will have a successful, peaceful and inclusive elections and at the end, there will be no complaints. But that depends on INEC and the many other people that constitute your team. So, we have come here to listen and to understand as much as we can your own views in terms of the preparations for the election and all other things that fall within the limit of the commission.

“That understanding on our part is important because at the end, we will make a statement about the election and more importantly, make recommendations about whatever we see in the conduct of this election and give a comprehensive picture of what we see during the election as much as possible.

“INEC, being a critical player in the process, it is very important that we listen carefully about what INEC says and all those things that fall within the limit of the commission so that we take them on board as we observe this election and be able to make a proper recommendation at the end of all of this.

“We look forward to a peaceful election and what we have to say to you is that you should make sure that all machineries are in place throughout the federation.”

Responding, the INEC Chairman, Mahmood Yakubu said the 2023 general election is the 7th elections since the restoration of democracy in 1999, saying it is the longest period that the country has had electoral democracy.

He said, “We have a voter population of over 93 million. That means that we have 16.7 million more registered voters than the other 14 countries in West Africa put together. So, each time Nigeria goes to the poll, it is like the whole of West Africa and more are going to the poll. We have benefited from your previous election observation mission. So much innovation has been introduced over time.

“So, we don’t take your observations lightly. Your observations that require administrative intervention by the commission has been to implement legislations, especially subsidiary legislation, we engage with the National Assembly to carry out the necessary legislations. Our constitution, the Electoral Act and our guidelines constitute the ground norm. Elections are governed by law. We look forward to your recommendation after your observation of the election. It is the past recommendations that have kept us going in terms of the reviews and improvement of the electoral process.”

Yakubu said the Commission is aware of the responsibility that lies on its shoulders but cannot do it alone.

“Our work is clearly cut out with assigned responsibilities for the security agencies, the parties and others. As a commission, we have constantly engaged with all stakeholders. Every three months, we meet with stakeholders made up of political parties, civil society organisations, the media and the security agencies. But we can meet several times in a year depending on the issues.

“We are committed to a free and fair process. I want to assure you that INEC is not a political party. We don’t have a candidate in the election. The choice of who becomes what during the general election is entirely the choice of the Nigerian people. We are committed to free, fair, credible, inclusive election and verifiable elections.

“Elections in Nigeria are huge. We understand the magnitude of the responsibility placed on our shoulders and we also understand that a credible election is the pillar on which good governance rests. I want to assure you that we will never let Nigerians down and we will not let the international community down,” he said.