TOPE FAYEHUN in this report presents parties that have presented their presidential candidates to battle the so-called big parties in the forthcoming general elections
With less than four months to the nation’s critical general elections scheduled for 16th February and 2nd March 2019, the political parties that intend to participate in the election have held their primaries to select candidates for the various electoral positions.
The race is now before the candidates and the parties, whose only goal is to win and occupy the positions of their choice after the polls.
The candidates, having emerged from their respective party primaries as victors, are now prepared to test their popularity among the electorates whose votes would determine their fate.
The political parties and their candidates will now deploy all political arsenals at their disposal to ensure victory at the polls. The parties and their candidates will also start to crisscrossing the length and breadth of the country with campaign messages in order to woo the electorates.
Although there are about 91 political parties, only a fraction of the political parties and their candidates are standing for the 2019 election, including but not limited to the fringe political parties. The parties that are not well known in the political scene in the country have shown seriousness in the race by picking those they believe can sell the parties to the electorates.
Those parties that have shown interest by picking their candidates for the election Include: All Progressives Congress (APC), Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Alliance for Democracy (AD), Abundance Nigeria Renewal Party (ANRP), Kowa Party (KP), Social Democratic Party (SDP) and All Blending Party (ABP).
Others are: National Rescue Movement (NRM), African Action Congress (AAC), Alliance for New Nigeria (ANN), Alliance for People’s Trust (APT), Allied Congress Party of Nigeria (ACPN), Young Progressive Party (YPP), National Interest Party (NIP), Sustainable National Party (SNP),Yes Electorates Solidarity (YES), Independent Democrats (ID), People’s Party of Nigeria (PPN), We the People of Nigeria
(WTPN) and Zenith Labour Party (ZLP).
Before now, other political parties, apart from the big parties like the ruling APC and the PDP were considered as underdogs, but recent happenings, aggressive campaigns and media engagements that had played out few months to the election, are a pointer to what upset these ‘underdogs’ could muster come 2019.
Clearly, the election is going to be a shift from a two-horse race that was prevalent in many of the previous elections.
Political pundits observed that there is much preparedness on the part of the smaller parties for the task of dislodging both the PDP and APC in the next year general elections.
No doubt, the ruling APC is the party to watch in the forthcoming elections based on its track record in less than four years in office.
Before President Muhammadu Buhari came to power, expectations were high as most Nigerians expected the coming government to wave a magic wand and make all their problems disappear. The Buhari campaign which ran on a ‘Change’ mantra made numerous promises to Nigerians during the campaign.
Less than four years in office, the party is very proud of its record. The party is said to have fulfilled many of its campaign promises in the area of economic development, security and anti-graft war.
With the performance of Buhari in his current term, and huge followership in some parts of the country, other political parties may find it difficult to compete with APC come 2019 election.
The PDP, after sailing through a very ferocious and turbulent political tide, may give the ruling party a good fight in the coming polls.
It would be recalled that the PDP did not just suffer defeat at the presidential election in 2015, the party also lost many states in which it had been in charge since the return to democracy in 1999.
By the time the results of the April 11, 2015 Governorship elections were announced, the then opposition APC had succeeded in winning all but two states of Gombe and Taraba in the northern part of the country. It lost the control of Kaduna, Adamawa, Niger, Benue, Plateau, Kebbi, Bauchi, Katsina, and Jigawa states to the APC.
The effect of the unexpected and humiliating defeat at both the presidential and some state elections that year, shook the party to its root.
The party became a shadow of its former self, considering that the party held Nigerian politics in its sway for 16 years and was at the time regarded as Africa’s largest political party.
After so many internal wrangling, the party came out rebranded, reinvigorated and held a successful convention at the weekend.
With the recent return of some notable bigwigs of the ruling party back to PDP, coupled with the rancor presidential primary, the party may spring a surprise in the forthcoming elections.
The SDP, prior to this time, was not on the political radar, but with the likes of Prof Jerry Gana and Prof. Tunde Adeniran’s defection to the party after the controversial PDP convention held last year, coupled with the coming of Senator Banabas Gemade and emergence of its presidential candidate, Donald Duke, the fortune of the party has changed.
Although many had thought the party would emerge as the real third force for the nation’s polity, the poor performance of the party at the July 14 governorship election in Ekiti and Osun states, cut the long assumptions of the people short.
But in the last few weeks, SDP has been embraced by some notable political players across the country and the party may spring surprise during the National Assembly elections.
For ADC, although the party is one of the fast-growing political party presently in the country.
This fact was corroborated by the national chairman of the party, Chief Okey Nwosu when he was speaking in Akure recently where he said, former Olusegun Obasanjo had transformed the fortune of the party.
Nwosu said, “The party had transformed from the small shop to the continental supermarket.”
No doubt about the fact that with the coming of political heavyweights in Adamawa and Oyo states respectively, the party may pose a serious threat to the so-called big parties in the 2019 elections, although, there is a lot of work still needs to be done before they can match the existing established parties like PDP and APC.
In the case of Labour Party (LP), the party which was brought to the political consciousness of Nigeria by former Governor of Ondo state, Dr. Olusegun Mimiko, on December 14, 2006, is one of the leading opposition parties in the country.
Since then, the former governor has been the chief promoter of the party in the country, until recently when he again dumped the party for Zenith Labour Party, due to the crisis that greeted his return to the party.
Although, nothing has been heard about the party in recent times apart from the recent decamping of the Mimiko and his few aides back to the party, the party is still one of the fringe parties that can actually make an impact in the forthcoming polls.
All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) is currently been seen as a regional party which purportedly belongs to the East. The leadership of the party is not currently giving expansion a thought ahead of the 2019 polls.
Although, the survival of APGA has always rested squarely on Anambra State where it has consistently maintained its hold on power.
But one thing that is of great interest is the fact that APGA has survived the exit of a key political gladiator and one regarded as its life-wire, the late Ikemba of Nnewi, Chief Emeka Odimegwu Ojukwu.
It had also withstood many leadership conflicts in its short lifespan. Despite all the challenges, APGA has continued to maintain its ground and dominate the electoral contest in Anambra state.
Apparently, the party is striving to have its feet in Zamfara, Nassarawa, Abia and Imo states in the coming elections.
Although the party was not able to field a presidential candidate in the last two general elections, it has picked its candidate for the forthcoming election and has remained a force to be reckoned with in the political equation of the country.
It has managed to retain the third position behind the two big parties, APC and PDP with only one state in its kitty.
However, things appeared to be looking up for the party in recent times and the perception of an Igbo party is giving way to an emerging new entity ready to take on other frontline parties in an election.
Zenith Labour Party (ZLP) is a relatively unknown to many political conscious people in the country until recently when the former governor Mimiko joined the party.
Mimiko’s coming to contest the presidency on the platform of Zenith Labour Party has rekindled hope in the possibility of fringe political parties taking over from the big parties in the 2019 polls.
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