2019 Nigerian General Election: Meet the Contenders & the Pretenders in the Presidential Race
Meet 2019 Presidential Election Contenders & Pretenders
The biggest event in the political sphere of Nigeria is less than 24 hours away, as Nigerians make a critical decision; whether to continue with the current regime or flout the power of incumbency and usher in a new regime.
In any case, we’ll be taking a critical look at the leading candidates in the forthcoming presidential race, including their respective chances of becoming the next president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria come May 29, 2019.
A Brief History of General Elections in Nigeria (1999 to 2019)
Since 1999, when Chief Olusegun Obasanjo became the first substantive democratically-elected president, there have been five general elections. Out of these five elections, the first four elections were, expectedly, won by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), which, during this period, was the ruling party, under the leadership of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo.
In 2015, the year of fifth general election, the unexpected happened; an opposition party emerged victorious, which brought to a halt the 16-year rule of PDP in Nigeria. The victorious party, All Progressive Congress (APC), came with the slogan of “change”. And with the economic challenges being faced by Nigerians during this time, a change in government was all they need.
On May 29, 2015, the new government, led by President Muhammadu Buhari, was sworn in amidst fanfare, hope and optimism. He was branded the “Nigerian messiah”, who has been sent to deliver Nigeria from the shackles of hardship. Three and half years down the line, the story has changed, and the man who was branded a messiah is now seen as “incompetent” by the same set of people.
With the 6th general election less than 48 hours away, a critical question that needs to be answered by every well-meaning Nigerian is: Has this government done enough to warrant a second term or the mantle should be handed over to some else? Answering this critical question should be what guides every rational Nigerian citizen on who to vote, in the forthcoming election.
So, in the next section of this article, we’ll be looking at the presidential candidate who poses the greatest threat, as well as those who pose lesser threat to the reelection bid of President Muhammadu Buhari (GCFR).
The Contenders in the 2019 Nigerian Presidential Race
With all due respect to other presidential candidates, the forthcoming presidential election is technically between the sitting President, Muhammadu Buhari (GCFR), and former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar (GCON), both of whom are contesting under the platforms of APC and PDP respectively.
According to several international and national political analysts, the forthcoming presidential election would be the most keenly contested election in the democratic history of Nigeria. And come 17th or 18th of February, either of the two “contenders” would emerge victorious.
Here, we will be making attempts to analyze how the votes would swing (in favour of PMB or Atiku).
President Muhammadu Buhari
Despite the perceived ineptness of the incumbent president, he still commands arguably the largest fan base, compared to other presidential aspirants. As such, his reemergence as president lies more on sentiments rather than his achievements.
In a recent analysis carried out by a US-based political consultancy firm, PMB stands a better chance of garnering more votes in the northern region of Nigeria than anywhere else in the country. This is not surprising; as a northerner, he surely has the backing of his people, who are motivated by religious and tribal sentiments. However, the outcome of the forthcoming election in Kano and Adamawa States remain highly volatile.
Down south, the president is expected to garner fewer votes, especially in the South-East and the South-South. In the South-East, President Buhari is expected to have the fewest votes compared to other regions.
While President Buhari is expected to win massively in the North-West and the North-East, he is projected to lose woefully in the South-East and the South-South. Hence, his relection hinges on the votes from the South-West and the North-Central.
The North-Central states have been blighted by insecurity for over three years now, with the impunity of Fulani Herdsmen and the so-called “armed bandits”. The issue of insecurity, to a large extent, has affected the president’s reputation and fan base in the region. And this would significantly reflect in the outcome of the forthcoming election. Nevertheless, he is expected to garner up to 30 or 40% of votes in the region.
The South-West (Yorubaland), which contributed immensely to the election of PMB in 2015, has another important role to play in this year’s election. The Yorubas have always bbeen known and applauded for their open-mindedness in issues like this. Elections in Yorubaland are hardly won by landslides. And with the near-miss (for APC) at the gubernatorial election in Osun State late last year, coupled with the recent event, earlier this week, in Ogun State, it is obviously not business as usual.
In essence, PMB is expected to have fewer votes in the South-West this time around, compared to the 2015 election. In fact, he could end up having fewer votes than his closest rival, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar.
Alhaji Atiku Abubakar
PDP presidential candidate, former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar (GCON), is, without doubt, the main threat to Muhammadu Buhari’s reelection bid. Atiku, unlike his rival, is riding on the promise of redemption; to resuscitate the failing economy and improve the well-being of the Nigerian populace.
The PDP presidential candidate has been able to muster enormous political strength, which has been reinforced by the defection (from APC to PDP) of political heavyweights like Senator Rabiu Kwankwaso and the Senate President Bukola Saraki.
Unlike in 2015, when the sitting president, Goodluck Jonathan (GCFR), lost woefully in the North, the story is expected to be different this time around. Atiku, as a core Fulani man and a Northern chieftain (a Turaki), wields enough influence to sway a good number of votes in his favour. And as a muslim, religion would do little harm to his election bid. Hence, analysts have projected that the PDP presidential candidate would rack up 30 to 40% of the votes, in the core northern region of the country.
The main battleground in the forthcoming presidential election is the middle belt (north-central) and the Yorubaland (southwest). The North-Central’s votes, as critically analyzed, would either sway in favour of Atiku or the votes would be shared (between Atiku and Buhari). In any case, both contenders are expected to garner significant votes in the region.
With the look of things, the prospective stalemate in the North-Central could be replicated in the South-West. However, unlike the North-Central, the southwestern votes are expected to sway a little in favour of President Muhammadu Buhari, who is the presidential candidate of the APC; the ruling party in all the six southwestern states. In figures, estimates have been set in the range of 40 to 50% votes for Atiku in the South-West.
Atiku’s stronghold is obviously down south, in the South-East and the South-South. The PDP Presidential candidate is expected to stroll home with a landslide margin in these regions. And while the votes in this region might not be as significant as the northern votes, it would go a long way in deciding the fate of the PDP presidential candidate.
The Pretenders in the 2019 Nigerian Presidential Race
The pretenders in the forthcoming general election include Kingsley Moghalu, Fela Durotoye and Omoyele Sowore, who are running under the platforms of Youth Progressive Party (YPP), Alliance for New Nigeria (ANN), and African Action Congress (AAC) respectively.
At the risk of sounding disrespectful, the aforementioned trio are technically contesting for prominence, rather than for the presidential seat. Together, they make up the so-called “third-force”, whose agenda is to wrestle power from the claws of the ” old geeks” (President Buhari and former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar).
Professor Kingsley Moghalu is a seasoned political economist and lawyer. He has the intellectual capabilities to do well, if elected. However, like his fellow pretenders, he lacks the so-called “sentimental base” (religion and tribe) and popularity. Moghalu is expected to garner most of his votes from the south, as he is practically unknown in the north.
Sowore, who is less educated and less accomplished compared to Moghalu, is riding on his youthful advantage. And his aim is to rally the youth to “take it back”. He practically stands no chance of winning the race. Nevertheless, he is expected to rack up most of his votes in Lagos and few other areas in the South-West.
Lastly, Fela Durotoye, who, just like Sowore, is a Yoruba man is expected to get most of his votes from Lagos state and other southwestern states. In the end, he would most likely end up contesting for the third position, against the likes of Sowore and Moghalu.
The 2019 general election is less than 48 hours away, and the anxiety level of all stakeholders is now at its peak. As expected, the eventual winner would most likely be between APC candidate, President Muhammadu Buhari, and the PDP candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar. These two candidates are the “contenders”.
Other candidates like Omoyele Sowore, Kingsley Moghalu and Fela Durotoye would probably end up contesting for the second runner-up position, with the aim of boosting their respective popularity and fan bases. The trio are the “pretenders” in the forthcoming presidential race.
We pray and hope for a violent-free election.
God bless Nigeria!