During the week there was an unnecessary squabble over the purported endorsement of the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress, Bola Tinubu, by the Yoruba socio-cultural group, Afenifere.
Recall that Tinubu had visited Pa Reuben Fasoranti in Akure, Ondo, and the elder statement prayed for him and wished him success. It was interpreted as an endorsement and the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) went haywire.
The spokesperson of the Atiku/Okowa presidential campaign organisation, Daniel Bwala, poked holes in the endorsement, noting that the absence of Adebanjo and others was an indication that the endorsement was faulty.
Similarly, Ayo Adebanjo, the acting leader of Afenifere, who had earlier endorsed the presidential candidate of the Labour Party, Peter Obi, as the preferred candidate of Afenifere for the 2023 presidential election, said there is a conspiracy to divide the socio-cultural group. He said Fasoranti informed him about the notice of Tinubu’s visit and that he encouraged the elder statesman to allow the visit.
I was surprised at the controversy generated over the purported endorsement of Tinubu by Afenifere. The question I ask is: what’s the worth of an endorsement by socio-cultural groups? Presently, what is their political value?
I recall that the presidential candidate of the New Nigeria Peoples Party( NNPC) Rabiu Kwakwaso shunned the Arewa Joint Committee interactive session with presidential candidates because his team had credible information that some people behind the engagement had been compromised, and the event will be used to “clandestinely endorse” a candidate.
In my opinion, I think endorsements by Afenifere, Ohaneze, and Arewa Consultative Forum are inconsequential. Maybe in previous elections but not in 2023. I don’t think the herd mentality syndrome will work next year.
For example, the fact that I am a Christian does not mean I will vote for the candidate any Christian body endorses. Or because I am a northerner, I will queue behind the candidate the ACF endorses. That simply won’t work.
Endorsements by ethnic groups are just like opinion polls, they don’t matter. Just like debates in Nigerian elections, eloquence in debates counts for nothing. It will only earn you brownie points and not votes. The man on the streets will tell you “na English we go chop?”
I have said severally on this page that most people have already made up their minds on who to vote for in 2023. No amount of blackmail, mudslinging, and cyberbullying can make them change their mind. Only a few Nigerians are undecided.
I think sociocultural groups should refrain from endorsing any presidential candidate. People should be allowed to think for themselves and decide on the candidate which they feel will serve their interests and that of the nation.
We should by all means avoid turning the 2023 presidential election into a tribal war and endorsements. Right now we are steadily going down that path and we must halt that slide. It will further exacerbate our fault lines of ethnicity and religion.
We should interrogate the candidates and they should tell us the ‘how’ of their promises and how they intend to deliver their mandates. Based on that, we can make our final decisions, and as we say in local parlance, the socio-cultural groups should “park one side“.
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