December 9, 2022
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2023- Blue Ocean Politics

Just like diapers, every now and then politicians are changed for the same reason. 

 

Peeping through elections we can correlate politics and business, for voters and customers are very much alike; no loyalty. When we study the attractiveness and dynamics of the registered voters in Nigeria, it is imperative to note that our political landscape can statistically and realistically become more than just a two-horse race between the APC and the PDP. 

 

If we agree that business and politics are alike then strategists have to start looking at the possibility of pushing their candidates into the market with Blue Oceans Strategy. INSEAD professors Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne were the first to introduce the concept of Blue Ocean Strategy.  It is basically about creating and capturing uncontested market space, thereby making the competition irrelevant. Blue Ocean is sort of like the opposite of a Red Ocean. The Red Ocean involves fierce head to head competition where each party is trying to outperform their rivals in the same shared market size; in this case the regular voters. 

In today’s political environment, most candidates operate under intense competition doing everything in their power to gain the votes of the politically enthusiastic citizens but fail to give any attention to the politically unenthusiastic and independent citizens. The latter actually has the largest number with no competition. Blue ocean strategies in the political environment, would give a candidate who has a slim shot of winning the election, simply by engaging a totally different target market with little to no competition.

 

Prof Ndubuisi Ekekwe, a Nigerian author, wittingly dubbed the section of the politically unenthusiastic and apathetic citizens as the “People’s NoTurnout” party. This unofficial party refers to the categories of citizens who have registered for their permanent voter’s card(PVC) but fail to show up at any of the polling units to cast their votes.

 

An  interesting statistic that Mr. Ndubuisi cited concerning the People’s NoTurnout party stated that 82,344,107 people registered for a PVC during the 2019 election but only 28,614,190 showed up to vote. This left 53,729,917 PVC holders who never turned up to vote. This norm has always led to a two horse race between the two major political parties in the country who apply red ocean strategies in competing for the vote of these 28 million people. However, these approximately 54 million people(as at 2019) from the PNP remain an unexplored part of the market. It is now up to the candidates from the secondary political parties to critically analyse this uncontested market space and contest for votes, as well as dedicated support from this group. The first step to critically analyse this market size is to use the marketing term, TAM, SAM & SOM metric.

 

TAM, SAM & SOM in the political landscape

I admit, when I first heard these three concepts I thought they were names of newborn triplets. However, these concepts were not born yesterday. They have been around for a while and help us to discover the potential of a market, in this case, the market for the politically independent and apathetic PVC holders. 

  • TAM or Total Available Market is the total market demand for good governance.
  • SAM or Serviceable Available Market is the segment of the TAM targeted by our manifestos and campaigns.
  • SOM or Serviceable Obtainable Market is the portion of the SAM that we can capture.

Let’s take the earlier example of the 2019 election as a case study to explain these concepts. As I noted earlier; about 54 million (53,729,917 to be exact) PVC holders never turned up to any polling unit to cast their votes. There may be different reasons, from the lack of motivation and inertia to step out of their house on a lazy Saturday to queue, to the lack of belief or trust in either the electoral process of even the PDP or APC candidates that were headline contestants. Many have lost hope to fight for their country, especially when it comes to choosing the lesser of the two evils. This is where and when a third candidate can come in. The fantasy belief of a  knight in shining armour who would hopefully deliver the citizens from the other two evils is where the battle can be fought. It’s that mind game player that can make those 54 million people get up from their slumber and fight for their country. 

 

Whoever this candidate has to see the 54 million PVC holders as his Total Available Market. The upside potential of his political campaign can see him garner 54 million votes as against the 28 million votes being battled over by the other parties. 

However, this is unrealistic as there are many factors that will prevent each one of those people from voting for this candidate. Campaigns are all about giving people an ideal to strive towards and winning over supporters with these promises. Unfortunately, not  everyone is going to subscribe to your promises and ideas. That’s when the concept of Serviceable Available Market will come in. 

 

For a fact, not all the 54 million electorally independent people ( TAM)  are going to subscribe to an idea, so you have to filter your SAM out of your TAM. You have to target your manifestos, structure and baits at a peculiar set of people. I will suggest the youths, because this group of people make up the largest demographic in Nigeria and also make up a large part of the politically independent and apathetic group. Most youths don’t vote as they overrate political structures and believe their votes do not count. 

The youths are also the most energetic group in the country, therefore stirring the passion they have in their country, could lead to a unique revolution last seen at the #ENDSARS protest. This protest brought about mixed results but once again demonstrated the power of the youths. 

 

This “third” candidate has to harness this power of the youths to defeat the powerhouse of Nigerian politics. INEC has stated that youths make up 66% of continuous voter registration. Therefore our SAM can be estimated as 35, 640, 000 ( about 36 million)

 

The Serviceable Obtainable Market comes in because there are not only three political parties in Nigeria. After PDP, APC and our knight in shining armour, there still exist 15 other registered political parties in Nigeria. This means that this third candidate will have to compete with other secondary political parties for 36 million votes. This is because our SOM is the portion of our SAM that we can realistically capture.

 

Quick Maths

PDP and APC as usual contested for the 28 million votes and split it 15 million and 11 million while some of the other secondary parties took a small piece of the pie with 2 million.

Our third candidate now has to compete for his SOM with 15 other political parties. 

For our candidate in question to win this election, he needs to garner 16 million votes out of the 36 million. This means, our candidate needs to devise strategies to target a SOM of 44% of his SAM ( 16 million votes). To drive this experiment of a 16m SOM, we need a specimen. Someone who represents or talks mainly to the uncontested market size with no market share!

 

Conclusion

Looking forward to the 2023 election, it might make more sense as to see why this article was written.

Recently, Peter Obi resigned from the People’s Democratic Party to join the Labour Party to contest for the 2023 presidential elections. A lot of doubters, naysayers and red ocean enthusiasts have already written him off as an impossible winner. These doubting Thomases raise a valid point, since it has been extremely difficult in the history of Nigeria to win a federal election as a candidate from a “secondary” political party in Nigeria. However, my objection remains that Peter Obi or any candidate in his shoes have a bigger chance at this election than people realise. 

 

There’s actually a place of disruption in today’s global trend. Old rules are being beaten, it’s just something that is a wave. To ride that wave beyond idealism,  they just need to convince the youths that they have them as priority. If the youths believe, this candidate will rise from being the underdog to the top dog. We have seen this strategy with Joe Biden who focused his campaign on a specific Serviceable Available Market. Black votes lifted Biden’s bid for the white house and was maybe the major driving force to his election success. The black and other minority vote was a thing in the  US, our version of it is the ‘no turnout young voters’ that can be converted to ‘Obi-dients’. 

As for the youths, it’s time to realise that we always have options. If we are short of options, our voice is enough to create options.

 

Peter Obi as a specimen for the experiment is worth the try. He poses a threat no one should neglect; an uncontested market place. That demography is getting more involved, as of June, the  number of fresh voters registered by the Independent National Electoral Commission in the ongoing registration currently stands at 10,487,972; they didn’t get their PVC because of APC or PDP, they are mostly undecided; perception is what they’d vote for based on the Abilene paradox-  Abilene paradox, a group of people collectively decide on a course of action that is counter to the preferences of many or all of the individuals in the group.

The Abilene paradox  as a bandwagon  effect simply explains that the majority of Nigerians vote for whoever they think will win. So the perception to increasingly show likelihood to win the game must be played right by Obi’s camp. He needs a structure for that. Even though he seemingly lacks the party structure; he has the potential of 13m vibrant young people who define social trends. That age grade understands structure more than older folks can imagine. If you’ve  ever seen how content goes  viral online or how protests spread then you should fear the youths. 

 

It’s to the youths that we owe social trends, riots, uproar, digital content creation and  distribution, retail channels and black economy underground  logistics, and entertainment. As far as we know, elections are a social game. The best strategy in anything is the ones that people enjoy, our youths are the most social and enjoyable.  That witty nature of the youth uncontested  can be harnessed by winning over the socially influential  entertainment class to drive campaigns loudly. 

 

Camps matter in politics, the bigger and fiercer  the better. Yes, Peter Obi is a man of kind words. But there’s a saying that you can get a lot done with kind words and a gun than you can get it done by kind words alone. He needs a camp ( with deep pockets, the guts and people mobilizers as NADECO was). He also needs a camp to do a few dirty jobs like it’s 1993 again. Nigeria politics is still primitive for a nice guy, except if he has camps and a mafia ally for the ‘language we understand’. Beyond social media frenzies, he needs actual camps standing behind while he remains the face of kind words should push come to shove. That ally and the 13m witty ones is a thing. It’s to that 13m that we owe also the disgruntled and a subset of armed ones. Luckily they are  rising from different regions; need I say more? 

 

What the youth has is more than enough to disrupt the status quo. We need volunteers and leaders. They are natural volunteers but not leaders yet; that’s what they need now-strategic direction and champions. 

 

Finance is a major part of winning any election. No matter how deep a pocket is, decentralization of financing will raise a more intimate crowd by different but interdependent clusters. We saw this in how the EndSars campaign was funded, including through payment means and platforms off the radar of regulators. Crowd funding and remittances  should be encouraged. Campaign and communication distribution should also be controlled yet decentralized; classic retail style. The good thing is that  the targeted 13 millions all belong to retail structures ( schools, circles, POS stands, gamble centres, sports viewing centres, churches; these can be campaign, accountability and  distribution networks). Campaigns should be driven like we drive religious cell meetings, crusades and branch set ups, since they already exists, they can plug Peter Obi in. They already have a template they need to realize. necessity, social media and a few advocacy events and uproar in the last few years have shown that they can raise structures in the shortest possible time even easier than imagined. 

 

Eizu Uwaoma
Eizu Uwaoma

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Eizu, ©Hexavia!

Strategy. Business StartUps and Corporate Restructuring Consulting

T: 08035202891

Uwaoma Eizu is the lead strategist at Hexavia! He is a graduate of Mathematics with two MBAs and over a decade of experience working with startups and big businesses. His core is in building startups and in corporate restructuring. He is also a certified member of the Nigerian Institute of Management, Institute of Strategic Management of Nigeria and the Project Management Institute, USA. By the side, he writes weekly for the BusinessDay newspaper.


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