In six days, Nigerians across the 36 states would be queuing up in their millions to decide the 2019 presidential contest. In this piece, Yusuf Alli, Managing Editor, Northern Operation; Sam Egburonu, Associate Editor and Dare Odufowokan, Assistant Editor, report on the chances of the parties – especially the biggest one – the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and main opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP) – who given their spread have best chance of claiming the prize.
It is not a quantitative projection where percentage of likely votes would be assigned. Rather it is based on our analysis of traditional voting patterns, current trends, the issues driving the current campaigns as well as the critical personalities who determine which way zones and states may go. It bears repeating that our projections for the 2015 polls – reproduced on page 27 – were largely correct.
NIGERIANS go to the polls in less than a week to decide who of two septuagenarians would run the country for the next four years.The voters’ register published several weeks ago by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), shows that 84, 004, 084 million Nigerians are eligible to vote. Although, significantly less than that number are expected to make it to the polling booths because as at Friday, February 8, millions of permanent voters cards (PVCs) were yet to be collected across the country – forcing INEC to extend the collection deadline to Monday, February 11.
The zonal summary of registered voters is as follows: 12,841, 279 (South-South); 16, 292, 212 (South-West); 10, 057, 130 (South-East);
13,366,070 (North-Central); 20,158,100 (North-West); and 11, 289, 293 (North-East).
Irrespective of the benchmarks adopted, the battlegrounds remain the Northern axis with 44,813,463 votes and the South-West having 16,292,212 votes. Out of the nation’s 84,004,084 eligible voters, the North and the South-West control 61,105,675: whatever happens in these zones could be decisive.
Not surprisingly, the frontrunners – APC and PDP – have been trying to outwit each other from state to state. Last year witnessed a flurry of movements of key political figures across party lines. Some of these individuals are very influential and could have a say in determining the outcome, come February 16.
However, on-the-ground assessments by our correspondents in different states suggest that despite these defections and the nation’s security and economic challenges, we may not see radical changes in the electoral map.
The main contest is expected to pitch Muhammadu Buhari of the APC against long-standing aspirant, Atiku Abubakar of the PDP. The Social Democratic Party (SDP) has adopted Buhari as its candidate – citing the legal tussle between former Cross River State Governor Donald Duke and former minister Professor Jerry Gana for the party’s ticket. Atiku has equally been endorsed by some elders of known socio- political groups like Ohanaeze, Northern Elders Forum, Afenifere, Middle Belt Forum and Niger Delta association. Some other members of these bodies have repudiated the endorsement and have instead either adopted Buhari or other candidates. Commodore Dan Suleiman of the Middle Belt Forum, for instance, has kicked against the adoption of Atiku and reinterated the adoption of businessman Gbenga Olawepo- Hashim of the Peoples Trust Party.
Other notable candidates include former former Central Bank of Nigeria Deputy Governor, Professor Kingsley Moghalu of Young Progressives Party (YPP), Fela Durotoye of Alliance for New Nigeria (ANN) and Omoyele Sowore of the African Action Congress.
Dr. Oby Ezekwesili of the Allied Congress Party of Nigeria (ACPN), has voluntarily dropped out of the race, but INEC is refusing to accept her withdrawal, insisting her party’s name would still be on the ballot.
A lot of youths appear to be rooting for Sowore and Durotoye. They don’t want both Buhari and Atiku. Many of them know that their preferred candidates cannot win, but they don’t want the two grandees. Many of them in Lagos, Abuja and other cosmopolitan cities could cast their votes for these fringe candidates. The real loser here will be Atiku, as Buhari’s base – the grassroots – seems to be very solid.
In the Southeast, Moghalu may also get sizeable votes. Many voters in the region believe he is the best candidate in terms of articulation and capacity to solve the nation’s socio- economic problems. Again, Atiku will be the loser as the zone is traditional PDP territory.
In the Middle Belt or North Central, Atiku could also lose votes to Olawepo-Hashim if those backing the latter truly work for him. Any loss of votes to third party candidates depletes what should ordinarily go to the PDP’s candidate.
As the clock ticks away towards Election Day, these are our projections regarding likely outcomes in READ HERE