What will become of the 3rd Force if they lose the Presidential election-Tolu Ogunlesi

 Tolu Ogunlesi, special assistant to the President, Digital and New Media as some question on the 2023 election.

One of the most important questions that we will face in 2023 is this: what will become of the 3rd Force if they lose the Presidential election. 

How will they deal with it, and to what new ends will the impressive civic energy and enthusiasm and political awareness be deployed?

It's all very interesting to see a new generation of potential voters discovering the power and excitement of political activity. It can only be a plus for democratic culture and practice in Nigeria. 

The 2023 elections are going to be really interesting, and the current 3rd Force will put up what is likely to be strongest 3rd Force showing in Nigeria's presidential elections since 1999. 

But what happens if (when?) they do not win. 

For all the shortcomings and dysfunctions of the two main parties in the land, you have to acknowledge that they do not -- unlike the LP -- have EVERYTHING hanging on the thread of a single person's ambition. 

Both APC and PDP will produce several elected Governors each, as well as dozens of Senators and hundreds of Representatives each. It's a given. 

In the very unlikely event that either party were not to produce the next President, they'd still have hundreds of other influential elected officials, who would carry on as party members. (Of course there will be defections and depletions, and an inevitable re-arranging of the political space, but those two parties would still very likely carry on in or close to current form). 

They are better positioned to more quickly settle into the new status quo, possessing the shared experience of having been in active opposition for extended periods of time, at State and Federal levels. They can deal/live with being in opposition, and patiently plotting their way back. 

It is very different for the Labour Party. The Party looks very unlikely to produce any Governors come February next year, and will at best pick up only a handful of Parliamentary Seats. 

Also, it has no legacy experience as an opposition vehicle, it is an assemblage of people who believe they are destined to win in 2023, and will brook no debate along the 'what if you don't?' line. 

So what happens if/when they lose the Presidential election? 

Without a solid base-structure (at least nothing comparable to the APC and PDP), and without a pool of elected officials, the fate of the Party will hang squarely on whatever the Presidential candidate (and driving force) decides to do afterwards. 

Unlike the case of Buhari and CPC, or BAT and AC/ACN, Peter Obi did not establish the LP, and likely doesn't have any deep emotional or ideological connection to it. It's a borrowed vehicle, borrowed last-minute for a journey that wasn't going to happen by the preferred means. 

So -- will Obi carry on with LP (and his movement) after February, if he loses? Parties are central elements in our democracy, so there's no getting around this. Even if he were to ditch the LP he'd still need another Party. 

Will he try to fully take over the LP and build it up into a permanent political machine, the way Buhari and BAT did with their own movements in the 2000s/2010s?

Or will he drop and abandon the borrowed vehicle? If he abandons, what happens to the movement, and to their revolutionary energy and rhetoric? 

Will they take their loss calmly? Will cooler heads prevail, or will the anarchic undertones/tendencies of the movement (evident in the general tones and undertones of their social media engagement) have the upper hand?

I think the answer(s) to this question will be among the biggest issues Nigeria will need to confront in 2023. 

-- Tolu Ogunlesi 

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