The G-5 governors of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) have been unable to decide which candidate to support in the February 2023 presidential election. However, the preference of the group of five when it happens is unlikely to alter the decisions of the majority of the voters who have decided on his election for president.
In late November, five governors elected on the platform of the main opposition PDP and some aggrieved party stalwarts announced the formation of the intra-party Integrity Group. The group of five, including Samuel Ortom from Benue State, Seyi Makinde from Oyo State, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi from Enugu State, Okezie Ikpeazu from Abia State and Nyesom Wike from Rivers State, have been clamoring for the president’s resignation. PDP national, Iyorchia Ayu. since Atiku Abubakar won the party’s presidential bid in May 2022.
The internal revolt of the five has left the PDP and Abubakar badly weakened and struggling to maintain a reasonable modicum of party unity and discipline.
In December 2022, Wike had said that he would start the campaign for his preferred presidential candidate in January.
Earlier this month in Ibadan, Oyo State, during the flagship of Makinde’s re-election campaigns, the Rivers State Governor and his host assured that the G5 will soon ‘announce’ their preferred choice of presidential candidate for the elections. of February 25. elections in Nigeria.
In an interview with the BBC Inline image
Wike last week promised that there will be no turning back once the G5 governors make a decision on the choice of a presidential candidate.
“The point I’m trying to make to you is that the PDP should have its chance because there will come a time when the door will be closed and nothing will happen. If that day comes, if the sky wants to come down, let it come down, ”he said.
“No one should threaten anyone. If we (G5) make the decision today that we will not support the PDP candidate, we will give the reasons why we will not support him and nobody will do anything about it. They better be careful,” he had warned.
Atiku has put aside the ability of the G-5 to derail his election. “The interesting thing is that our campaign has advanced. We said at the beginning, it’s about Nigeria, it’s not just about the PDP. The problem is that the PDP is one big family… It’s not about Governor Wike. Governor Wike is just a governor, a member of the PDP, and he only has one vote, just like the other four governors who are members of the G-5 governors,” responded Phrank Shuaibu, senior communications assistant to the PDP presidential candidate. .
“So, we expect a situation where we all come together and if they join the train because the train is moving and we are sailing at a very good altitude, it could be an election day, it could be a month. for the election, it could be 39 days for the election and they decide to join the team and work with the team, everything is fine and good,” she added.
A series of polls over the past three months shows that while most voters have decided who they would vote for in next month’s presidential election, there are large numbers of registered voters who have yet to decide.
A survey by the ANAP foundation published in September 2022 showed that “undecided voters make up a whopping 32 percent of registered voters.” The result of the ANAP poll is further validated by the results of other polls, including a poll conducted by Bloomberg also in September, which suggests that the percentage of undecided voters is around 17 to 45 percent.
A Nextier poll conducted among rural voters in 12 states further suggests that 19.8 percent of voters or one-fifth of voters surveyed are still undecided.
“The reasonable inference that can be drawn from these three credible polls,” opined politician and public affairs analyst Dakuku Peterside, “is that undecided voters may turn out to be underestimated deciders in which direction the pendulum will swing. the 2023 elections.
While it may be hard to believe that in an election as polarized as this one, voters are still up for grabs with only a month to go until the presidential election, undecided voters are out there and they would be instrumental in determining who becomes president of the nation’s greatest nation. from Africa. economy.
It is this group of ‘influential’ voters that the G-5 would be trying to influence and attract towards their preferred candidate.
However, its ability to do just that is limited. With the PDP presidential candidate trailing in third place behind Labor Party (LP) Peter Obi and All Peoples Congress (APC) Bola Tinubu in all major polls conducted so far, it is unlikely that the governors and the party bureaucrats The PDP possesses the prevailing popularity and gravitas to sway most undecided voters to their side and their endorsed candidate.
It is highly unlikely that the governors of Enugu and Abia states, as well as G-5 de facto leader Nyesom Wike, will be able to stop the LP candidate’s growing popularity in their states. In the Southeast and South-South regions, Mr. Obi’s popularity is unmatched by any other presidential candidate. It is clear that this popularity will most likely translate into votes in February for the LP candidate.
“Governor Wike cannot convince the majority of Rivers voters to change course and it would be shocking if Peter Obi does not win this state,” said a member of the opposition PDP in the House of Representatives.
“The political reality on the ground is that if the governor’s choice is not Obi, then he will be humiliated and he knows it, which is why they have not been able to reach a consensus on a preference. candidate and announce his favorite choice to the country,” he added.
Peter Obi is the only option for good governance – Amuga
What is clear is that the irruption of Peter Obi has taken the candle off the governors and political leaders of the Southeast and South-South regions. His ability to influence voters has been greatly diminished by the popularity of the LP candidate; a surge fueled by general pessimism and disenchantment with the present and the optimistic desire of many young Nigerians for a better future.
In the 2022 Bloomberg poll, more than 65% named Obi as the candidate most capable of improving the economy, fighting corruption, and reducing insecurity.
Many of his followers agree with an October 2022 Economist magazine article that noted: “Mr. Obi’s sudden promotion represents a rare opportunity for Nigeria. The country should be rich: it has huge reserves of oil, gas, and other minerals, plenty of fertile land, and a young, enterprising population. Yet Nigerians are poorer today than they were ten years ago, with 40 percent of them surviving on less than $1.90 a day.
“The reasons why Nigeria is poor are rotten politics, bad governance and corruption. Nigerian politicians have long stirred ethnic and religious divisions by promising to direct state resources to members of their own group.
“Once in power, they followed twisted economic policies, such as a fixed exchange rate and massive fuel subsidies. Some policies seem to make sense only as a way to allow cronies to siphon cash… If he (Obi) held his lead until the February elections, he would be the first politician in decades to show that a new kind of politics is possible in Nigeria.
Bob-Mike, an oil worker in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital, says he likes and respects Governor Wike, “but he (Wike) can’t stop Obi. We don’t have a problem with Wike; We like him and he has done well in the state. The prevailing opinion on the streets of Rivers is that we will vote for Obi for president and we will vote for the PDP for other positions. Most of us don’t even know the Labor Party’s gubernatorial candidate in Rivers State.”
In Benue state, Dr. Manzo Abubakar, former secretary general of the Alliance for Democracy, says the LP would clearly win the state’s presidential election, while the governorship would be a clear fight between the PDP and APC.
“Ortom is unlikely to back any candidate outside of Obi because that is the choice of the majority of Benue voters and indigenous people who see the APC as a party and the PDP presidential candidate as responsible and sympathetic respectively to the mass killings. of thousands of natives and destructions of Benue. of properties by terrorists of the Fulani ethnic group against indigenous people of the state,” he said.
“The reality is that, apart from Oyo, where ethnic solidarity forces Governor Makinde to be cautious in supporting a candidate outside his Yoruba ethnic group, none of the other G5 governors have the ability to attract decided or undecided voters. by his side.
“Those who haven’t made up their minds are unlikely to be swayed by governors who don’t necessarily represent their interests. Governors are politicians, and all professional politicians are obsessed with self-preservation rather than the public good. Most of the genuinely undecided understand what constitutes a public good and will likely vote that way,” Abubakar added.