How To Become a Nigerian Third Force President – Taking Lessons From El Salvador By Israel Oladipupo Ogunseye​

Salvadorans have just elected Nayib Bukele as it’s President in the just concluded National elections and it’s shaping conversations in Nigeria because Mr Bukele was representing the third force in the elections.

It’s an interesting scenario because the 2019 elections have been arguments for and against third force candidates. While those for them believe that it can happen anytime and 2019 is the year for the third group, those against have tons of reasons why they feel it’s not their time in 2019. While some think that they stand a better chance forming a coalition to challenge the incumbent All Progressives Congress (APC) and the roaring opposition, the Peoples Democractic Party (PDP), some also think that it’s a little too late for any third force to pull a victory due to the lack of political structures across the country. 

Owing to these arguments, let’s take some lessons from Salvador where a third force candidate just won an election after the two main parties have ruled the country in different tenures for 30 years.

Lesson 1; Build a Structure Before Gunning for the Presidency 

Nayib Bukele may be 37 years of age, he is not new to the Salvadoran political system. He’s been a Mayor of two different Municipals namely, Nuevo Cuscatlán and San Salvador – this is in equivalent of being the Governor of two different states in Nigeria. He started with Neuvo Cuscatlán where he won with 2754 votes while gaining 89,164 votes to win the Mayor of Salvador elections. 

If a third force candidate would emerge as the President of Nigeria, he or she would need to build structures first. Contest for a House of Reps seat and win it. Contest for a Gubernatorial seat and win it and build a structure from there.

Lesson 2; He Joined a Major Political Party and Cut Out From It

Often at times, advocates of Nigerian third force feel that part of being an advocate is to demonize both major parties, a third force candidate should not have anything to do with them. Bukele’s case is quite different though as he won his two Mayor seats on the platform of the governing Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front, or F.M.L.N. He won elections on this party’s platform! 

After vying for offices on this party’s platform twice, left to become the third force and won the election. Like the first lesson from his story, you need to build a structure with the existing Political structure. The singular reason why it appears as though the third force isn’t strong is that there isn’t any existing structure for the third force candidates really in terms of the party and not just the candidate.

Even in Nigeria, every successful attempt at a third force victory have been offshoots of the main ruling parties at different points and times. 
Democracy is in two folds and you need a good candidate and a good party to achieve electoral victory anywhere in the world. 

Lesson 3; Be Financially equipped

While Nayib Bukele’s electoral financial books may not have been made open as at the time of writing this piece, it is widely reported in Salvador how much he has spent in seeing himself and his party become victorious in the elections. The world over, election financing isn’t a strange topic and neither is it alien to elections. 

Israel Oladipupo Ogunseye, a political strategist writes from Lagos.


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