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By Abdulkabir Olatunji
The 2019 presidential election in Nigeria is likely to be a very tight race with the 2 leading candidates President Muhammadu Buhari of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and Alhaji Atiku Abubakar a former vice president, running for the presidency on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Let me do a basic analysis of why Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, the PDP candidate is in all likelihood making another losing run for the presidency in the 2019 election in Nigeria after failing in 1992 as a party aspirant in the old Social Democratic Party (SDP), 2007 as a candidate in the defunct Action Congress (AC), 2011 as a party aspirant in the PDP and in 2015 as an aspirant in the APC.
So far his supporters want us to believe all or any of these:
1. President Buhari never wrote SSCE, even after the examining body, the West African Examinations Council (WAEC) has delivered proof that he did write it.
2. President Buhari is actually not PMB but “Jubril” from Sudan, a body double.
3. Atiku is a good businessman although nobody can quite place a hand on his startup story — I mean people tell stories of startups I was either a part of at a point or currently am with, why is it difficult to get his own story that we can follow logically?
4. PMB has wrecked Nigeria in his first term.
Now, try reconciling the 4 positions? “Impossible” you say? Maybe because you are rational.
Now, let us look at the breakdown of likely votes. We should look at the North together, majority of people in the North will be offended by these arguments of Atiku supporters, let’s not talk about PMB’s popularity there. There are very few things like it in the world, maybe the following Michael Jackson had in his lifetime. So, the North comprising of 3 geopolitical zones namely the Northwest, North central and Northeast is a place where PMB will likely get majority votes overall. The Waziri Adamawa’s allies in the North Central states in particular like Senate President, Bukola Saraki from Kwara and Senator Dino Melaye of Kogi state are not likely to muster enough support to overcome the overall Northern deficit for their candidate.
Looking at the Southwest, PMB’s party, the All Progressives Congress (APC) controls all 6 states now, and it is clear that it will try to ensure it doesn’t lose ground. Some might argue “party doesn’t count” there. Actually, it does, that is why the PDP has never won in Lagos and outside of the time of former President Obasanjo’s “do or die” elections remains a largely APC (or its predecessor’s domain). What is true though is that there’s a good population of voters who consider themselves independent in choosing candidates — this takes us back to the arguments of Atiku supporters, they are unlikely to convince the majority of independents in the Southwest, regardless of their ethnicity.
The ‘Southsouth’ will see any PDP candidate doing well, it is one of its strongest bases. However, the margin of victory is likely to be closer than the landslide in 2015. Remember, with the PDP landslide in this region in 2015, former President Goodluck Jonathan still lost. Without what has been conveniently termed “federal might” this time around, the APC can expect to cut some of the PDP’s humongous figures from 2015.
The Southeast is the surest place for Alhaji Atiku Abubakar but the problem is, he will be having majority in a region with minority number of voters. So at best, he may be falling behind a few million votes but that’s exactly what is required for President Muhammadu Buhari to win. Then there is the Independent People of Biafra (IPOB) whose disputed leader, Nnamdi Kanu has resurfaced in Israel (as he claims) and might call for his supporters to boycott the election thereby cutting Atiku votes the more.
For Alhaji Atiku Abubakar to have any valid chance of winning the presidential election in 2019, he has to win the North overall and be highly competitive in the Southwest. The odds are stacked against him and the current approach to the campaign by his party and supporters is not likely to help his cause. It will be interesting to see how he tries to surmount these great hurdles towards his decades old ambition to lead Africa’s largest economy and country with highest population.