It is about two months since the start of the 2023 election campaigns on September 28, yet the electioneering has been dominated by some controversies.
While some of these controversies might have served as comic relief to the heat the campaign season has so far generated, others have deepened disagreements among the leading political parties.
Some pundits have described the race for presidency in 2023 as the most competitive in the history of the country, considering the standing of the candidates.
Below are highlights of some major events that make up parts of the campaign activities, as the candidates set to battle for about 93million votes.
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Atiku’s convoy attacked in Maiduguri
The campaign of the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, was in the eye of the storm when his convoy was attacked during a rally in Borno State.
Reports had it that many persons were injured and vehicles destroyed in the attack.
While the campaign council of the former vice president insisted that the convoy was attacked during the rally, the Borno State Police Command and the state government faulted the claims, insisting that the event was held peacefully.
Conversely, a police report stated that one thug was arrested with a stone; even the force had earlier passed the report of the attack as fake news.
Even though the circumstance of the said attacked was shrouded in controversy, the former VP said that hoodlums wielding APC flag attacked the convoy of vehicles conveying dignitaries to the venue of the event.
He said, “It is rather unfortunate that the APC in Borno State mobilised some of its members to attack the convoy carrying dignitaries who had earlier paid a courtesy visit at the Shehu of Borno Palace to the venue of the rally.”
The ruling party however debunked Atiku’s claim.
Tinubu goofed at campaign flag off
The presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, goofed at the kick-off of his campaign in Jos, Plateau State on November 15, 2022. The former Lagos State governor mistakenly said “God bless PD…” But quickly corrected himself to say APC.
The gaffe generated a lot of reactions on social media. Tinubu in a video that surfaced days after said he no longer pay attention to social media bevause it gave him high blood pressure.
Soludo asked Peter Obi to withdraw from race
It came as a blow below the belt to many Peter Obi’s supporters, when the Governor of Anambra State, Prof. Charles Soludo, urged the presidential candidate of the Labour Party to not toy with the destiny of 60 million Igbos, saying he cannot win the 2023 presidential election.
Soludo, in an article titled ‘History Beckons and I Will Not Be Silent,’ said Obi would not win, claiming that the LP lacked the structure to defeat either the ruling APC or PDP.
He said, “Let’s be clear: Peter Obi knows that he can’t and won’t win. He knows the game he is playing, and we know too; and he knows that we know. The game he is playing is the main reason he didn’t return to APGA.
“The brutal truth (and some will say, God forbid) is that there are two persons/parties seriously contesting for president: the rest is exciting drama! That many Americans may not like the fact that Joe Biden (79 years) and Donald Trump (76 years) are two frontrunners for president in their parties does not remove the fact that if both of them emerge as candidates, definitely one of them will be president in 2024.”
He said available polls showed that Obi’s popularity was declining and he was taking votes away mostly from Atiku.
In a statement, Okechukwu Isiguzoro, secretary-general of Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide, an Igbo socio-cultural association, said the group had taken Soludo before “two famous divinities and deities” over his comment.
The group said it is “unreasonable public behaviour” for Soludo to “cast aspersions” on Obi who is his kinsman and presidential candidate from the south-east.”
Obi, Tinubu pulled crowd same day
Obi and Tinubu pulled massive crowds at different locations in Delta State on November 20.
While a huge crowd welcomed Obi at Catholic Charismatic Renewal camp ground at Ubulu Uku, Tinubu held a rally at Warri Township Stadium.
Wike’s pledge to support Kwankwaso, Obi’s campaigns
It came as a surprise when Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State invited the New Nigeria People’s Party (NNPP) presidential candidate, Dr Rabiu Kwankwaso, to commission a project in Rivers State.
Wike, who is at daggers drawn with Atiku, had invited Kwankwaso to his state to inaugurate Mgbutanwo Internal Roads in Emohua Local Government Area of the state.
During the event, Wike promised to support Kwankwaso’s campaign.
What made the move more controversial was that Wike, had a few days earlier, offered support Obi.