Anthony Obi OgboColumnsNigeriaOpinionConsolidating the South-East—Atiku’s ‘Dan Ulasi’ Move is a Smart Choice

Avatar PilotnewsOctober 16, 2022

“Dan Ulasi understands Nigeria’s electoral maps and could read them with his eyes closed” ―Anthony Obi Ogbo


Campaigns for the 2023 general election officially commenced on September 28, in line with the timetable and schedule of activities of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). This date signaled the beginning of a process of shaping the electioneering landscape ahead of the general election. In the succeeding weeks, all the major political parties unleashed their supporters on the campaign trail to wave the flags of the electioneering crusade.


From the major streets of the core cities, as can be seen on social media, the Nigerian election campaign is trending. For instance, the Labor Party (LP), with Peter Obi as its flagbearer, touted highly attended October 1 rallies all over the country. The All Progressive Congress (APC), even with its flagbearer, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, out on an unexplained foreign visit, showcased highly attended rallies in the core cities of the North-West and South-West zones. The presidential candidate of the New Nigerian People Party (NNPP), Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, upon commissioning his presidential campaign office in Kano, bragged that his party was the fastest-growing political party Nigeria had ever seen. There was massive attendance when the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) flagged off its campaign in Uyo with its candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, leading the cause and urging Nigerians to vote for his party to ensure good governance.

However, what we must understand is that rally attendance or intimidating images of campaign gatherings do not determine the outcomes of elections. In my recent article, ‘The test of translating a movement into electoral victory votes,’ I outlined a pathway to victory and explained how strategic alignment can sustain a winning approach. I clarified the three most crucial winning structures: facilitating and sustaining an on-the-ground poll army, strategic coordination of electoral maps, and the ability to counter ballot mishandling and falsification of ballot figures. Strategy is key.

So, when Atiku Abubakar appointed Chief Dan Ulasi as the Technical Adviser on Contact and Mobilization for the South-East geopolitical zone, we can be sure that his party is strategically working the electoral maps. After all, the South-East is bitter with the Nigerian system over an unfavorable political arrangement that isolates it from core political leadership positions. This situation was made worse when another chance eluded them in the presidential nomination process of the PDP, a party they have passionately supported.

He has been working the electoral process since the Second Republic politics of the late 70s

The appointment of Chief Ulasi to walk this troubled cause might be a lucrative political gamble. He is a Nnewi-born ballot strategist and political technocrat; he has been working the electoral process since the Second Republic politics of the late 70s, was chairman of the National Republican Convention (NRC) in Anambra State in the aborted Third Republic, and also served as chairman of the PDP in 2003.

He understands Nigeria’s electoral maps and could read them with his eyes closed. During the 2015 contentious presidential race between former President Goodluck Jonathan and the incumbent, Muhammadu Buhari, Chief Ulasi also coordinated strategic structures and was the only PDP strategist to predict that his party was in trouble. His party at the time did not listen.

At the presidential level, the South East has been a PDP stronghold. Upholding that position requires strategists who understand the political landscape, and Atiku realizes that. Within his party’s framework, Chief Ulasi has strategically helped raise the South-East geopolitical ethnic group to the national political setting. In his recent media outing, he presented his insights on where the Igbos would be headed under each of the major political parties. He explained the danger of the Igbos voting for other major parties, especially the LP. “There is no way that those votes will lead us to victory. First, an election has happened in Osun and they failed woefully.” Chief Ulasi argued that voting for losing parties would isolate the Igbos once again from the central government. A situation they have been enduring since the current administration.

A lone candidate without considerable legislative support is limited in how they can help their base.

The role of electoral maps is crucial in a democracy. A lone candidate without considerable legislative support is limited in how they can help their base. As I stated in my previous article, in Nigeria’s organizational structure, the executive branch does not make the laws; it carries them out. The judiciary evaluates the laws but often has the power to preside over crucial decisions. The National Assembly, which consists of a Senate with 109 members and a House of Representatives with 360 members, exerts significant power in making structural changes. In fact, should the President reject a bill, the Assembly could pass it by a two-thirds majority of both chambers and overrule the veto—in which case, the President’s consent is not required.

Under the current legislative structure, in the Senate (109 seats), the APC has 66 seats to the PDP’s 38 seats, while the other parties combined have two seats, with three vacant seats. In the House of Representatives (360 seats), the APC has 227 seats to the PDP’s 121 seats, while the other parties combined have 11 seats, with one vacant seat.

In conclusion, by transcending a quest for a new president, this election must involve strategies to mobilize for substantial control of the legislative chambers. Atiku’s invitation of Chief Ulasi to the PDP’s campaign strategy suite is specifically addressing this purpose. Without a doubt, he made a smart choice.

♦Publisher of the Guardian News, Journalism and RTF Professor, Anthony Obi Ogbo, Ph.D. is on the Editorial Board of the West African Pilot News. He is the author of the Influence of Leadership (2015)  and the Maxims of Political Leadership (2019). Contact:

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