The current political configuration in Plateau State ahead of the February 25, 2023, presidential election is a sharp departure from what obtained since the return of democratic structures in 1999.
Since 1999, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has won the presidential elections in the State.
Even though the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) took over in 2015, the PDP has come out tops in both the 2015 and 2019 polls, with Atiku Abubakar getting over 80, 000 votes against President Muhammadu Buhari in the last election.
However, the upcoming presidential election presents a different scenario in the State, with the emergence of Peter Obi as the Labour Party candidate.
As widely believed that the next president should come from Southern extraction and should be a Christian, that view is not different among Plateau people.
While the ruling APC is presenting a Muslim Southerner, with a Muslim northerner as running mate, the Plateau people are not at home with such an arrangement, and have vehemently kicked against it, and that has made the Tinubu-Shettima ticket unpopular in the State.
Despite the APC having the Governor of the State, Simon Lalong as the Director General of the Presidential Campaign Council, whose acceptance of the position was greeted with anger and despair in the the state, it will be a difficult task for that ticket to be sold to the people who believe that Tinubu should have picked a Christian as running mate.
Even though the party is informing the citizens that voting a Tinubu-Shettima ticket will enhance their chances of retaining the governorship of the state, an average Plateau person is never comfortable with a Muslim-Muslim ticket.
For the PDP’s Atiku-Okowa ticket, the scenario is far from the APC ticket, as citizens believe that outgoing President Buhari is a Muslim (Fulani North). Their question is: why bring another?
However, the Atiku-Okowa ticket is not as unpopular as that of the Tinubu-Shettima, being that Okowa is a Christian and from the south.
The PDP has been seriously canvassing for votes for their candidate, portraying him as an experienced personality and a detribalised Nigerian.
The Party has also urged the citizenry to vote for the Atiku-Okowa ticket, saying that doing so will further brighten the chances of their gubernatorial candidate, and will give the state better opportunities at the federal level.
Feelers within many communities in Plateau North and Central show that the PDP is making last minute inroad to ensure they deliver the Atiku-Okowa ticket.
For the Obi-Datti ticket, many citizens even from both the APC and the PDP have thrown their weight behind that ticket.
The Obi-Datti ticket is widely believed as a true representation of an ordinary Plateau citizen.
The Obi-Datti movement was behind many youths getting registered to ensure it is delivered in the state.
There were over 300 support groups for the Obi-Datti ticket in Plateau State but have now been trimmed to 10.
The Obi-Datti candidature has enjoyed tremendous support with or without financial backing in the state.
On the whole, it is likely a two horse race between the Atiku-Okowa and the Obi-Datti tickets.
No disrespect to the Tinubu-Shettima candidature, but indications show that it will be a difficult task for them in Plateau State.
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2023 Presidential election: It’s a two-horse race in Plateau – Daily Post Nigeria