One of the saddest commentaries of the just concluded presidential and parliamentary elections in Nigeria must be that the election was still between our regular customers, APC and PDP.
The abysmal performance of the so-called alternative parties or third forces, as they made us believe they were, leaves one wondering if Nigeria is ever going to mature politically.
Running for the office of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is now as easy as running for councillorship. So, we had 73 of them.
Many Nigerians still believe these candidates wasted people’s time by slowing down the process from voting to collation and wasted tax payers’ money with INEC having to accommodate them on the ballot.
Citizens who found it funny asked INEC to focus on the major parties and ask others to buy a scratch card to check their result online, just the way we ask our children to check their JAMB.
It was that bad, but the rest of us did not find it funny.
While the campaigns went on, many Nigerians would have predicted the third position would go to one of Kingsley Moghalu of YPP or Omoyele Sowore of AAC because their candidates were popular… or so we thought.
In the end, APC won with 15,191,847 votes and PDP came second with 11,262,978 votes while the third place party scored 97,874 and it was neither Sowore nor Moghalu.
Others in the top six are ADP’s Yusuf Sani, with 54,930 votes, SDP’s Donald Duke with 34,746 and AAC’s Omoyele Sowore with 33,953 votes.
The African Democratic Congress came third! This is despite presenting an unknown, unprepared and largely unpromoted candidate whose campaign poster or jingle many of us never saw anywhere.
You can ask me who their presidential candidate is now because I have quickly Googled it. He is Obadiah Mailafia, a former deputy governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria.
This is where it all gets interesting. From ADC’s 97,874 overall votes, Oyo state alone gave them 40,830 votes while over 20,000 of that came from one senatorial district, Oyo South.
Even Obadiah Mailafia himself could not score more than 558 votes in his own highly divided home state, Kaduna.
The phenomenal Oyo South is the senatorial district where a sitting APC governor, Abiola Ajimobi went head-to-head with a sitting senator, Adesoji Akanbi, whom he forced to the ADC.
Both lost that senatorial seat to PDP’s candidate, Kola Balogun, but the result shows us that the Nigerian electorate is becoming more politically intelligent.
Dapo Lam Adesina is another Oyo South politician who made an impact for ADC during this election.
He represents Ibadan North East/South Federal constituency in the Federal House of Representatives and was hoping to retain his seat.
He is another former APC member who had to embrace an alternative platform to fulfil his ambition.
The PDP won his seat, but it will be safe to say one major reason why the performance of these ADC candidates in Oyo state dwarfed that of many others is the good old saying that ‘politics is local.’
With less funds and little time to run their campaign, let alone buy votes, the ADC made a major impact at the national level because their candidates connect at the grassroots.
One of the biggest upsets so far in 2019 is Ifeanyi Ubah, the YPP candidate in Anambra South senatorial election defeating the ‘almighty’ Uba brothers in Anambra.
If singer/actor, Bankole ‘Banky W’ Wellington with his MDP, had won the Eti Osa federal constituency election in Lagos, this would have had a bigger impact on Nigeria’s political landscape than the presidential poll.
Nigerians of this generation are beginning to understand why they should vote for the people they know or want, not just the political party they know or get paid to vote for.
However, if there will ever be a viable alternative in Nigerian politics, first we need to agree as a nation that having over 90 political parties is a waste of time, space and resources.
Next will be for the political parties to see the sense in making realignments and allowing coalitions that will give birth to stronger political forces.
Our politicians then need to understand that Nigerians are now paying more attention to the things that matter – your past, your character and your plans.
At least, this is the good news for those intending to disrupt the status quo in the nearest future.
On a final note, the voting pattern in the 2019 presidential election in southwest Nigeria shows a people more driven by their conviction rather than a political party’s popularity.
That is how to explain the massive votes for an Atiku/Obi ticket (PDP) in an election that had one of their own, Prof Yemi Osinbajo in the supposedly most popular party in the region, APC.
Dear Nigerian politicians, do yourself a favour ahead of 2023, build your politics around the people, the masses and everyone will be happy.
Akintoye is a media strategist and political analyst who writes from Ibadan.