THE MEN WHO WOULD BE PRESIDENT: First Plenary Session Engages 2023 Candidates on Democratic Transitions in 21st Century Nigeria
Even before the Session began, one paradox was already apparent: the conspicuous absence of one of the leading candidates in the 2023 presidential election from a Conference being held in his backyard.
Other than that, according to NEWSWIRE Law and Events Magazine correspondent at the 2022 NBA-AGC in Lagos, the consensus was that all the candidates on stage acquitted themselves fairly well – except, perhaps, for Professor Peter Umeadi of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) who seemed rather ill at ease and hesitant in his responses, preferring to read from notes rather than off-the-cuff – another paradox, considering that he is a one-time Chief Judge of Anambra State, and a gathering of lawyers should be a happy hunting ground.
Other candidates at the session included Nigeria’s former vice-president and candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Atiku Abubakar; former Governor of the said Anambra State, Peter Obi; Borno State Governor and vice-presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress, Kashim Shettima who stood in for the presidential candidate, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
In his opening presentation was polished but a bit glib with his promises about what he and Tinubu will do if elected. He extolled the achievements of Tinubu’s stewardship as Governor of Lagos State, and his own tenure in Borno, and asked the audience to give their ticket a chance to replicate their achievements on the national stage. His promise to personally lead our troops into battle against the insurgents was received with mixed applause.
On his part, Atiku looked composed – even presidential – and measured in his responses. He received grudging but sincere applause from the house, especially in response to his proposals on education, growing the economy and restructuring of the polity.
Governor Obi simply repeated the main talking points that have come to define his campaign so far – to change Nigeria’s economic profile from consumption to production; to stabilise the exchange rate; to reduce the cost of governance, etc. Unlike his rivals, his mere presence seemed to energise the attendees, especially the young (and seemingly Obidient) lawyers in the hall, and his every contribution to the discussion was greeted with rapturous applause. All in all, he and Atiku appeared to be most at home at the AGC.
The two other candidates that came onstage a bit later, started off by emphasising their relative youth versus the advanced ages of the Atikus and Tinubus. But that tactic wasn’t well-received by the audience, so they also focused on how they’d build the economy and create jobs – to the admiration of the assembled conferees.