The African Confidential Magazine Projection for 2019 Elections – By ThankGod Ukachukwu
Africa Confidential Magazine, abbreviated AfC published (late October 2018) an article on the outlook for 2019 elections and I reckon it is one of the most incisive and interesting so far. Coming from a media organisation with a continental perspective, its projections are plausible and very convincing.
This is a review of the main talking points and my take in the epilogue section which concludes. I inculcated feedback from Nigerians who reacted to the article on twitter on a post I made.
The article is titled “Now the race looks serious” and it starts by taking cognizance of President Buhari’s populism in northern Nigeria (that populism as at 2015 was widespread across the north and SW but has waned and only exist in the north today but not with the same momentum it had in 2015). It started properly by recognising the endorsement of ex-VP Atiku by ex-President Obasanjo (having buried the hatchet) as an epoch in the build up to 2019. It noted with glee the preponderance of patronage networks and plutocratic competition (diversion of government funds by contractors) which are crucial to political ambitions in Nigeria. Basically, AfC claims that money controls political loyalty.
In picking Atiku by PDP delegates, they flirted with the conviction that only him can match Buhari’s clout and defeat him. AfC revealed that Gen Gusau assured delegates of the support of northern generals — on the eve of the convention — precisely IBB and Abdulsalami Abubakar for Atiku. This support amongst other realities cast a shadow on Buhari’s chances which soared on his anti-corruption campaign which was instrumental in ousting ex President Goodluck Jonathan.
The article gives Atiku credit for being a coalition builder. He is able to rally the bigwigs around him. Atiku’s previous party PDM was a brainchild of Shehu Musa Yar’dua, a respected political figure in Northern Nigeria whose younger brother is ex-President Yar’dua. The PDM was a powerful block in the formation of PDP in 1998.
Regional strategies dominates the winning models devised by PDP and APC according to AfC given the constitutional requirements of winning the presidential elections with a certain percentage spread in all regions.
One of Buhari’s weak point, management of the economy, is seen as Atiku’s strongest edge over him. Citizens frustrations at Buhari as a result of a harsh economy on the back of recession which they last experienced 25 years earlier remain Buhari’s albatross.
The crisis and consternation of APC primaries, which Buhari couldn’t rein in was a blessing in disguise for PDP which had a decent convention devoid of rancour.
AfC noted that INEC has been complicit in conniving with APC to deploy power of incumbency to cancel elections in opposition strongholds using the recent Osun State election as a case study and this presents a challenge for the general elections
It noted that; “At 71, Atiku is more energetic and comfortable with speaking on the stump than the taciturn, 75-year-old Buhari.”
What the race looks like is illustrated in the diagram of Nigeria featuring all the regions and which party is most likely to win each state. From the projections, Buhari will win North West and 2/3 of North East, Edo State, Niger, Nassarawa, and FCT; PDP will South South, South East and North Central. The catch 22 is that South West will be the tie breaker.
Epilogue: The article gives credit to Prof Jega for introducing the biometric voter cards and electronic card readers, without acknowledging President Jonathan who signed the Electoral Act to effect the reform. They failed to state that the reform is undermined by President Buhari’s failure to sign the new Electoral Bill passed under Sen President Saraki which makes biometric voter cards and electronic card readers compulsory to avoid use of incident forms to further eliminate rigging.
In effect, non-signing of the bill implies Buhari is not interested in further strengthening Nigeria’s electoral system. History beckons on INEC under Prof Mahmood Yakubu to write his name in gold in the annals of history to call on Buhari to sign the new electoral act.
The importance of the South West for PDP and APC requires that they give the region attention. They have already zoned SGF and Speaker House of Representatives to the region while APC has already given it VP. I hope the PDP does more by appointing positions to the region in the campaign at party and candidate and post-election victory levels because the region is where Atiku has much entrenched opposition from the youth population in all the regions.
The AfC got it wrong by saying that Nigerian voters are social media-savvy. Most of those who vote are the older people from 40 and above who are not on social media living in the country -sides as seen in many recent elections like Ekiti and Osun. Most people on social media do not have PVC.
AfC noted: “Buhari-Osinbajo ticket will also struggle with the president’s flagging popularity and the fact that Lagos’s Igbo voters, who constitute perhaps 40% or more of the population, may find the Atiku-Obi ticket more convincing.” Igbo voters make up 40% of Lagos. HUGE for PDP!
Penultimate, feedback from Nigerians shows that Buhari has never won Edo and Nassarawa states even in his prime and so given the state of play, AfC is wrong in that aspect.
Finally, prior to PDP convention, pundits and most Nigerians perceived the race as a walk over for President Buhari. However, the success of PDP convention and emergence of Alhaji Atiku Abubakar has stood the race on its head. As we speak, it’s too close to call as AfC opined.
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