It is a common knowledge that no politician can win a national election in Nigeria without the massive support of voters from Northern Nigeria.
According to official figures from the Independent National Electrical Commission (INEC), the North had a voting population of 44,813,463 out of the 84,004,084 registered voters in he 2019 general elections. This represents 53.3% of eligible voters. This figure is projected to increase ahead of the 2023 presidential ballot.
Peter Obi, a former governor of Anambra State and the presidential aspirant of the Labour Party must leverage on the voting population of the North to stand any chance of becoming president in 2023.
Despite enjoying a large following in the South, Mr Obi is relatively unknown in the Northern part of the country.
He also has a large support base among the youths who see him as a model of the ideal Nigerian leader due to his track record of excellence in public and private life.
Here are a few things Peter Obi and his team must do to garner support from the north ahead of the general elections in 2023.
Translate all Peter Obi’s speeches, interviews and jingles in Hausa, Fulfulde, Tiv, Kanuri, Igala, Birom and other indigenous northern languages. This will be played in major radio and television stations in the north to educate the people at the grassroots about Peter Obi, his party and why he is the best candidate for the job in 2023.
Peter Obi and his team must look for an influential northerner as running mate. The individual must be someone who commands respect from the establishment and followership from the masses. It will be an added advantage if the choice of running mate is from Kano, Kaduna or Katsina due to their large voting bloc.
The role and influence of religious and traditional institutions in the North cannot be overemphasized. Peter Obi must court their support through intense consultations as well as assuring them that he will not be a sectional leader.
The Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF), Northern Elders Forum (NEF), Coalition of Northern Youths and other interest groups wild strong influence in the north. Peter Obi must do everything possible to win their support. Intense lobbying is needed to win the hearts of the Northern political establishment.
Supporters of Peter Obi must avoid getting into social media wars with Nigerians from Northern extraction.The insults of Northerners on account of their religious or cultural beliefs must stop. Also, stakeholders from the the South-East must prevail on the people to stop the unwarranted attacks on people of Northern extraction doing their legitimate businesses in the East. This will help build bridges and improve the trust deficit that currently exist between the North and the South East.
If Peter Obi is successfully marketed in the north, a Political Tsunami is not only possible it is achievable.
Michael Onjewu is a journalist and public affairs analyst. He writes from Abuja.