As Nigeria gears up for elections on February 25, the question its over 200 million inhabitants will be desperately seeking an answer to will be, which presidential aspirant has what it takes to move the country out of its current economic crisis – defined by high inflation, diminishing foreign reserves, high insecurity in the North and falling oil prices. The country has not recovered post-pandemic.
For millions of voters affected by the economic hardships, the elections present an opportunity to find a candidate who can finally move the country forward and usher in a new age of prosperity. The 2023 elections to determine the President and Vice President have become more significant than ever.
In her speech honoring the country’s 62nd Independence Day last year, Nigeria’s First Lady Dr Aisha Muhammadu Buhari apologized for the harsh economic realities, saying “the regime might have not been the perfect one”.
Of the 18 potential presidential candidates, only three hopefuls reportedly stand a realistic chance of getting the top seat. Nigeria’s top two parties are the All Progressives Congress (APC) and People’s Democratic Party (PDP), who have traded power since Nigeria’s first democratic elections in 1999. The frontrunners are Bola Ahmed Tinubu, 70, for APC and Atiku Abubakar, 76, for the PDP.
Both candidates have years of experience in Nigerian politics. Tinubu, widely known as the godfather of Nigerian politics and kingmaker, was a former governor of Lagos State as well as a former senator of the federal republic of Nigeria. Abubakar was also the former Vice President of Nigeria during Olusegun Obasanjo’s presidency.
And hoping to upset these two candidates is Peter Obi, 61.
A wealthy businessman who exited the PDP party last year, Obi is running under the relatively unknown Labour Party (LP) and has been focused on galvanizing Nigeria’s teeming youth population by leveraging social media as a key strategy. He is also a former Governor for Anambra State. His experience in the business world and understanding of the Nigerian political landscape make him the perfect candidate for the job, according to his supporters.
And while many believe it will be a tall order to unseat the two leading political parties, the anger, frustration and dire economic outlook faced by the Nigerian youth that account for about 70% of the population, according to recent figures from Worldometer, makes Obi a viable candidate to potentially upset the power dynamics in Africa’s most populous economy.