The spirit is high. The tension is up. The embers are stirred. A crescendo is reached. The momentum is built. The moment is here. Tomorrow is the D-day!
Nigerians are heading to the polls tomorrow, Saturday, February 16, 2019 to elect a President and members of the National Assembly for another four-year term in office. The elections for Governors and members of the State Houses of Assembly are to happen on Saturday, March 2, 2019.
The approaching general election in Nigeria is the sixth since the return of democracy to Africa’s most populous nation in 1999. It also heralds a major milestone as this year marks Nigeria’s 20th anniversary of uninterrupted democracy.
Facts and Figures
Before I forge to analyse the chances of the two leading candidates in the presidential elections, may I avail you of some basic facts and figures worthy of notice.
*According to a release by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), a total of 91 political parties are participating in the 2019 general elections.
*There are 84,004,084 registered voters for this 2019 elections. This represents an increase of about 20% over last years’ number of registered voters which stood at 67,422,005.
*Across Nigeria’s 774 Local Government Areas in its 31 states and FCT, there will be 119, 973 polling units and the results will be collated in 8,809 wards.
*Of the six geo-political zones in Nigeria, the highest number of registered votes is in North West, 20,158,100; the lowest is in South East, 10,057,130.
*The total number of registered voters in South West is 16,292,212; the number for South South is 12,841,279; the figure for North Central is 13,366,070; while the figure stands at 11,289,293 for North East.
*Lagos State has 6,048,156 registered voters while Kano State comes second with 5,149,070.
*Bayelsa State has the lowest number of registered voters, 754,394, while the FCT comes next with a voting strength of 952,815.
*The 109 Senate seats will be contested by 1,904 candidates; the 360 House of Representatives seats will be contested by 4,680 candidates; while the 991 State Assembly seats will have a total of 14,583 contenders.
*INEC has accredited 116 local observer groups and there are 28 foreign observer groups for the elections.
*While 2,412 governorship and deputy governorship candidates will square up on March 2, a total of 72 presidential candidates are standing election tomorrow. February 16.
*Also important to note: a total sum of N189, 207,544,893 had since been approved by Nigeria’s Senate for the conduct of the 2019 general election.
Factors and Factorials
For tomorrow’s presidential election, though there are a total of 72 candidates, the contest appears a two horse race. It appears a contest between incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari who is seeking a re-election on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and Nigeria’s erstwhile Vice President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar who is the candidate of the lead opposition party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
There are some factors which could conspire to determine who becomes Nigeria’s President in the next stretch of four years.
In the bill up to 2015 presidential election, then contender and now incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari enjoyed a cult-like following. He was mouthed and trumpeted as the G-All to Nigeria’s problems, past, present and future. Three years ten months later, he is generally adjudged to have underperformed in two of the three trunk areas of his party’s campaign agenda.
Similarly, Nigeria is today not better in terms of security. Insecurity has ballooned from being a Boko Haram thing to including ISIS, Fulani Herdsmen, and pockets of killer groups. Though Nigeria has never fared better on the Global Corruption Index, methinks the proclivities of corruption have generally reduced considerably. It is generally assumed Nigeria under Atiku would be more corrupt than Nigeria under Buhari.
Aside low performance, another key factorial is the North-South sentiment. In 2015, Buhari’s opponent was a Southerner, so it was easy to stir up the embers of Northernism. Now, both Buhari and Atiku are Northerners, both of them are Fulanis and both of them are Muslims. While Atiku is perceived as being more accepted in Southern Nigeria, Buhari is perceived as being the most clannish President Nigeria has ever produced. An appraisal of Buhari’s appointments and budgetary allocations across Nigeria in the last three plus years speak eloquently of such clannish propensity.
The power of incumbency is yet another factor. Unfortunately, incumbent President Buhari is not as democratic as erstwhile President Goodluck Jonathan. While it is our collective wishes and prayers that the elections go peaceful, free and fair, the incumbency factor is one that run in favour of Mr. Buhari.
Between the duo of Muhammadu Buhari and Atiku Abubakar, one will sure emerge victorious. From my personal review of available figures, facts, factors and factorials, methinks Buhari is likely to have an edge over Abubakar in 3 of Nigeria’s 6 regions – North West, South West and North East. Conversely, Alhaji Abubakar is likely to obliterate Mr. Buhari in the other three regions – South South, South East and North Central. What will make the difference therefore will be the margin by which each of the duo will inch on the edge over the other in their respective 3 favorite regions.
A tight race with a slim victory hangs in the balance. But the question is: Victory for Who? Time will tell.
By Umoh Joshua
Umoh Joshua is a Media Relations Specialist and writes from Uyo, the Akwa Ibom State Capital Metropolis.