Its a gradual countdown to the much awaited and anticipated Presidential election which presently stands between the two major frontline candidates of the Peoples Democratic Party and the All Progressives Congress which presently is Nigeria’s ruling party.
The die is cast and there is no hiding place anymore. On Saturday, the main and fringe contenders for the Nigerian presidency will file to the polls. It has been a campaign season, filled with undulating curves, bends and edges. The issues have been varied and far between. The candidates have crisscrossed the land with their varietie of theor of messages. Their messages have been dotted with lamentations (about insecurity and other vices), corruption war, hope, promised consolidation, renewed growth and other promissory notes have been on offer. With 91 political parties and 72 candidates on offer, the presidential election promises some interesting twists.
With Nigeria having scaled the 2015 elections, which exploited its fault lines to the hilt, a number of political observers believed that it would take a while before the citizens are faced with another nerve-racking election as that of 2015. But here we are in 2019. Just four years after, Nigerians are here faced with another testy election that has kept the country divided, almost as sharply as it were in 2015. Though there are 72 presidential candidates contesting Saturday’s election, the poll has been categorised largely as a two-horse race. There appears the consensus that a third party would only make some impacts in certain areas; surely not as widespread as you expect the two dominant parties that are nearly equally matched.
But the two-horse race categorisation was not a natural divide. There were attempts at pulling off a form of Third Force. The Coalition for Nigeria Movement (CNM) attempted a united front, intended to produce a formidable candidate. It ended up teaming up with one of the emerging parties, the African Democratic Congress (ADC). The National Intervention Movement (NIM), another group that toyed with the Third Force option later registered the People’s Trust (PT), with which it is contesting the February 16 election. The Coalition of United Political Parties (CUPP), which brought together the main opposition PDP also midwife a coalition, which has, however, remained a loose option, though it appears to still nurse a common agenda for the presidential race. Thus comfortably, we can safely conclude that the leading forces in Saturday’s election remain APC and PDP. Our checks around the country have confirmed that, even though some of the other parties would slice a bit of the ballots in some sections of the country, their spread cannot sufficiently shake the leading positions of APC and PDP.
Our findings revealed that the two main contenders have their support base evenly spread across the country. While President Buhari is set to win big in 13 states of the federation, his challenger, Atiku, is set to record big margins in 14 states. Nine states are classified as battleground states and they cut across the six geopolitical zones.
At the level of geopolitical zones, Buhari is expected to take the lead in the North-West and South-West, while the spoils are to be shared in the North-East and North-Central. Whereas, the president is expected to perform better in the South-East and the South-South states, reports gathered indicated he is still dogged with the jinx that have dotted all his previous elections in states like Edo, Rivers and Bayelsa.
While Buhari is poised to win big in Kano, Kebbi, Zamfara, Katsina and Jigawa, in the North-West, the wins are projected to be smaller than those recorded in 2015. In each of the states mentioned, the PDP candidate is projected to score between 35 per cent of the votes in Kebbi and Jigawa, while scoring 40 per cent in Zamfara and Kano. The Atiku impact in the North-West is said to have been influenced by direct campaigns of the Kwakwansiyya Movement of former Kano State governor, Senator Rabiu Musa Kwakwanso, as well as the old allies of the candidate spread in the states. Sokoto and Kaduna states are projected as battleground states in the North-West.
In Katsina, the president’s home, a Buhari victory of 60 per cent is projected, owing to the growing influence of the traditional loyalists of the Yar’Adua family as well as the influence of former Governor Ibrahim Shema. Somehow, that clan appeared to have increased in size during the recent bye-elections, which APC managed to win.
In the South-West states, President Buhari will see his lead in 2015 deeply cut by the PDP candidate. Whereas Buhari is projected to win states like Lagos, Ogun and Osun, the margin has been put at 51/49 per cent in his favour. The battleground states in the zone include Oyo and Ekiti, while Atiku is projected to win Ondo, following the resurgence and unity among PDP in recent months. By and large, Buhari is projected to win the zone but with a tighter margin than seen in 2015.
In the South-South, Akwa-Ibom and Cross Rivers states present some battlegrounds. It is however projected that Atiku will take the zone at 70/30 approximately. The states of Edo, Delta, Rivers and Bayelsa, which have always voted PDP in presidential elections, are set to retain that status. The movement of bigwigs like former Akwa-Ibom governor, Senator Godswill Akpabio, as well as the movement of Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba (SAN), Senator John Ewa Enoh and the Minister of Niger Delta, Usani Uhuru Usani, would fetch Buhari the numbers he has never ever scored in the South-South, but PDP is projected to win with 70 per cent.
In the South-East, the scenario is close to that of the South-South. A late rally by vice presidential candidate of PDP, Mr. Peter Obi, in the states of Abia, Anambra and Enugu, appears to have shaped things better for the party in the zone. The endorsement of the party by the Ohanaeze Ndigbo as well as the Southern/ Middle Belt and Northern leaders has upscaled PDP figures in the zone. What the adoption has done is to rein in those who were sitting on the fence of the Atiku/Obi ticket initially, opinion leaders in the zone said.
Despite the influence of former Abia State governor, Chief Orji Kalu and the younger brother of a former Senate President, Adolphus Wabara, Sir Mac Wabara, who are campaigning for APC in the Northern and Southern Senatorial Districts, investigations revealed that Buhari might, this time, score 20 per cent in the state, with PDP coasting home here. In Ebonyi, the impact of the Minister of Science and Technology, Dr Ogbonaya Onu and his supporters would fetch the president some votes. It was however projected that their efforts would only lead to a marginal increase in the figures.
The North-East is presenting some interesting figures going by analyses from the field. Whereas, Atiku Abubakar is projected to win Adamawa State, the figures stand at 55 per cent, while President Buhari would garner some 45 per cent votes there. The mixture of power brokers around the president, including the First Lady, Aisha Buhari, an indigene of Adamawa; Secretary to the Government of the Federation, (SGF), Boss Mustapha, former chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Nuhu Ribadu, Ibrahim Magu and former SGF, Babachir Lawal, as well as Governor Jubrilla Bindow, all striving to drop votes in the Buhari pot would pave the way for a big challenge in the home state of the PDP candidate. President Buhari is projected to win Bauchi (65 per cent), Yobe (70 per cent) and Borno (70 per cent). Atiku Abubakar is projected to win Adamawa (55 per cent) and Taraba (65 per cent), while Gombe will retain the battleground status.
In the North-Central, Buhari is regarded with some contrasting fortunes in relation to the 2015 scenario. Benue and Kogi are projected as battleground states with Benue turning out 51 per cent for Atiku and Kogi returning a similar margin for Buhari. The president is however projected to lose Kwara with Atiku scoring 55 per cent. Buhari is projected to take Niger at 60 per cent, while Nasarawa (55 per cent) for Buhari and Plateau (55 per cent) for Atiku complete the numbers.
Here are some further scenarios as per the states.
In Kaduna especially, it will be difficult for APC and its presidential candidate winning the election. Predictably, it is going to be a tough battle for Governor Nasir el-Rufai to get the mass of the people of the state to vote for the APC presidential candidate and the reason is not far-fetched. The governor will have to contend with the thousands of the supporters and faithful of the Shiite leader, Malam El Zakzaky, who has been in detention for years now, while his followers are still being persecuted by the government, both in the state and at the centre. Expectedly, these Islamic faithful would seek to cast their votes not for their persecutors, and the alternative being the PDP presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar.
Similarly, majority of teachers in the state who were sacked from the employ of the state government by Governor el-Rufai as well as Christians from Southern Kaduna cannot be said to be favourably disposed to the APC administration in the state. Consequently, this set of voters in the state may seek to draw their own pound of flesh from the ruling party by voting for Atiku and PDP on Saturday.
- Source: Tribune Online
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