One of the remarkable highlights of the pre-election activities is the appearance of three of the top four contestants at Chatham House, a world-leading policy institute and think-tank forum in London. Also, the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Mahmood Yakubu, discussed plans for the elections at the forum.
Bola Tinubu of the All Progressives Congress (APC)
On December 5, 2022, the candidate of the President’s party, Bola Tinubu made an appearance at the think-tank forum where he shared some of his plans for major sectors like defense, economy, education, and technology if elected to succeed President Muhammadu Buhari whose term ends on May 29, 2023.
At the event, he promised to provide student loans and reform the Almajiri educational system ubiquitous in northern Nigeria, recruit and train more teachers to boost the education system, and introduce technology hubs for youths to acquire digital skills.
He also insisted that his birth, academic, and professional records are consistent, adding that his critics are only wasting their time and money.
Tinubu’s appearance attracted stark criticism from his detractors after he delegated some of his allies including serving governors and lawmakers to answer questions posed by participants at the world-leading policy institute.
Peter Obi of the Labour Party (LP)
On January 16, 2023, the flag bearer of the Labour Party (LP), told attendees at Chatham House that he will tackle Nigeria’s multifarious challenges including oil theft, debt servicing, secessionist agitation, youth unemployment, electricity problem, and insecurity, amongst others if elected.
According to the 61-year-old businessman, the “structure” currently in Nigeria is that of criminality and it has impoverished the West African country. He, therefore, vowed to dismantle the “structure” if elected next month.
The former Anambra State governor said he would provide enabling business environment that will attract foreign investments, adding that as President, he will ensure that Nigeria borrows for consumption and not for investment. “When you borrow for consumption, you have a crisis,” he said.
Obi said he would “turn around the power sector” if elected by February 25. According to him, he would move Nigeria’s power generation capacity from 4,000 megawatts to 7,000 megawatts by the end of 2023.
He vowed to tackle youth unemployment through investment in education, research, and quality entrepreneurial education, noting that he won’t have any sacred cow or untouchable in tackling insecurity.
Rabiu Kwankwaso of the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP)
A former Minister of Defence and ex-governor of Kano, Nigeria’s northern state with the highest voter turnout in the last six elections, Rabiu Kwankwaso told participants at Chatham House on January 18, 2023 that Nigeria’s current realities are the culmination of over two decades of leadership mistakes and wrong choices.
He promised to end the challenges the country is presently facing including insecurity, poverty, uncontrolled inflation, fast-rising unemployment, infrastructure decay, poor education system, weak healthcare services, oil theft, amongst others.
Kwankwaso said he is aspiring to become the next president of Nigeria because “I understand the issues involved, the mistakes that were made, the wrong priorities that were set, and together with our team, we are better connected with the hopes and aspirations of the Nigerian citizens.”
Mahmood Yakubu of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC)
On January 17, 2023, the Chairman Nigeria’s electoral body, Mahmood Yakubu said the February 25 and March 11 general elections won’t be postponed, saying security agents will stave off security challenges that seemingly pose a threat to the polls.
The don also said INEC is prepared to handle a presidential run-off should in case no winner emerge after February 25 poll for Aso Rock.
“The truth of the matter is that for every general election, the commission prepares, at least for some time now, in the last three electoral cycles, we also prepare for that possibility,” he told participants during his appearance at the global think-tank forum.
Yakubu said with the amendment to the constitution, INEC now has three weeks between the presidential election date and the run-off date.