The President Democratic Leadership, Dr. Ray Onwuelo in a Press Conference in Abuja.
The Nigeria Nation is indeed at a crossroad and never before have we had it so colourful. Every Nigerian at home and abroad feel it so bad one way or another. But for most of us it does seem that there is very little we can do to improve things. This is because the path to the much needed transformation is riddled with immense difficulties with near impossibilities some will say.
We have been through different developmental processes but have generally been so slow and sometimes retrogressive. At 62 years we have passed middle ages in any life, including that of any independent nation.
The entity we call our Nigeria is in reality made up of different Nation states. As we all know, there are different nations in northern and southern regions of Nigeria. These are subsumed by the quest and desire for one united free and fair nation. We have a federal republic but in reality the federating units are majorly dependent on the centre who hold enormous powers. This has led to ever subsisting struggle. One that has brought in agitations, intimidations, marginalisation and control. These are the very factors that tear apart the desired unity and progress of the country.
Nigeria as we have it today has a huge land area of 923,768 sqkm, with Niger and Borno states leading with over 70,000 sqkm each. This is a good fraction of the land mass of the 2nd largest and 2nd most populous continent on planet earth. It is blessed by its prime location in sub-Saharan west Africa, just north of the equator and just east of the Greenwich meridian. This has diverse good weather and geographic conditions stretching from the sahel to gulf of guinea. There are vast reservoirs of natural resources beneath the land and into the sea. Apart from these, God in his infinite mercies have bestowed a population of 220,000,000 of talented and gifted males and females as Nigerians. We are fast growing and currently 7th most populous country in the world.
Incidentally in the midst of these blessing, there are abject poverty, suffering and hardship in the land. There is loss of hope and those who could migrate are doing so in doves. The situation has not been different since soon after the excitement of independence. Sadly it has progressively worsen. Developmental indices have plummeted. How did we get this far and why?
The general election of 2023 gives us another opportunity to adjust the trajectory. For the purpose of this conference, three frontline political parties, APC, PDP and LP have been painstakingly considered by the group known as Democratic Leadership. They have traversed the entire 36 states of the federation and the federal capital territory conferring with ordinary voters. The prime emphasis is on the scheduled presidential contest of 25th February 2023. The candidates of the three major parties are Bola Ahmed Tinubu of APC, Abubakar Atiku of PDP and Peter Obi of LP. These are great Nigerians who have served the country in various capacities and contributed to our advancement as a nation in many ways. We shall look at their various attributes and the multifaceted factors that will influence their votes in a truly fair and free contest devoid of any adverse manipulations.
There are 93.4million legibly voters registered by INEC some of whom have not yet collected their PVC. Of this, Lagos state tops the list with 7,06m followed by Kano state 5.92m, Kaduna state 4.33m, Rivers state 3.53m, Katsina state 3.51m. These are followed by the following states; Oyo 3.27m, Delta 3.22m, Plateau 2.78m, Benue 2.77m, Bauchi 2.74m, Niger 2.69m, Ogun 2.68m, Anambra 2.65m, Borno 2.51m, Edo 2.50m and Imo 2.41m. Akwa-lbom, Jigawa, Sokoto, Adamawa, Abia, Enugu, Kebbi, Taraba are 2m, with Ondo, Osun, Kogi and Zamfara 1.9m voters each. These are followed by other 8 states with FCT having 1.57m voters.
Other demographics as published by INEC are well known. Female voters are 47.5% and the North West zone with 7 states has highest number of voters at 22.25m. SW is 17.95m, NC 15.36m, SS 14.44m, NE 12.54m and SE with 5 states has 10.90m.
Each of the presidential candidates have areas of strength and weakness, intertwined with the facts beholding of themselves and the nation. Their various manifestos and proposed contract with Nigerians are now known to us. Of Importance are factors related to the Candidates and to the Nation. Amongst the former are; Credibility, Health, Previous Performance. Nation variables include; Unity, Security, Corruption, Reforms and Economy.
As it stands now, two of the candidate are likely to get the requisite 25% of the votes cast in 24 or more states and the FCT with the candidate of Labour Party (LP), Mr Peter Obi securing the widest and largest number of votes in a fair presidential election. I am not unaware that some will be unpleased to hear this but that is the true situation on the grounds across the country with a small margin of error.
Having arrived at the above conclusion following independent consideration of the choice of the candidates available to us, Democratic Leadership with its arrays of domestic and diaspora resources have aligned with the candidature of Mr Peter Obi of Labour Party to intensify campaign in 11 Northern states towards actualisation of a landslide victory at the Presidential Poll. May God help us.