2019 Race For Presidency: Buhari Or Atiku Who Laugh Last?

By Abdullahi Isa

The 2019 Nigeria’s presidential election, there is no doubt its going to be a most fascinating contest ever in the history of the country. It is not just because that, the onetime ruling people’s democratic party (PDP) is going to the poll  as opposition party for the first time since 1999; rather, it is the contest between the two gigantic heavy-weights northern-based politicians; ’’therenowned incorruptible sitting president, in the other hand; the nation most  doggedness politician of this generation’’.

For those looking from behind the scene, we feel that, this contest will be a turning point for the country journey to successful two decades of uninterrupted democracy. Another ingredient that made this election beautiful is that; it is on records, since the inception of democracy in 1999, no northern sitting president ever face an opponent from the same region he came from. Therefore, this election is about to offers us the opportunity to witness this historical event and will be the first of its kind.And in this piece, I will try as much as possible to analyst the chances of those two heavy-weight contestants.

But before then, let’s briefly, look at their political backgrounds: Muhammadu Buhari: The Daura born incumbent president ofthe federal republic of Nigeria and also the candidate of the ruling AllProgressive Congress (APC) is a retired military major general and former military head of state who rule from 31st December 1983 to 27th August 1985;former minister of petroleum, ex-chairman of Nigerian oil company, former managing director Nigerian national petroleum corporation, (NNPC) and also a former chairman of the defunct Petroleum Trust Fund (PTF).

Though his military rule was short live but even his worst enemies agreed that, it had made this impact that change the lives and attitude of many Nigerian people within the short period of twenty months,especially his renowned war against indiscipline forced many Nigerian to rebrand themselves, while his determination to eradicate corruption of democracy and appreciated by many Nigerians. History heard it that, within the short period of less than two years, he successfully stopped embezzlement of public treasury, he jailed many politicians caught siphoning the public treasury to the benefit of their self and family. In another word, he fought corruption with iron fist. But his rule had been accused for curtailing civil liberties.

Perhaps, his close aide believes that, his political career dated back to the millennium, though, his active involvement in partisan politics began in 2002, a year to the 2003 general election. He unsuccessfully ran for the office of president of Nigeria in 2003, 2007, and 2011. In December 2014, he emerged as the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress for the March 2015 general elections. Buhari won the election, defeating the incumbent President Good luck Jonathan.

Atiku Abubakar: A retired deputy director of Nigeria’s custom service and former vice president of the federal republic of Nigeria; was born on 25 November 1946 in Jada Adamawa state. He retired in April 1989 and took up full-time business and political career. He ran for the office of governor in the defunct Gongola state now (Adamawa and Taraba States) in 1991 and for the Presidency in 1993.  In 1998, he was elected Governor of Adamawa State. While still Governor-Elect, he was selected by the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) Presidential candidate Olusegun Obasanjo as his running mate. The duo went on to win election in February 1999, and Abubakar was sworn-in as Nigeria’s second democratically elected vice president on 29 May 1999.

Atiku Abubakar second term as vice President was chaotic as relationship between him and his boss soured. His bid to succeed Obasanjo did not receive the latter’s support; it even took a judgment of theSupreme Court to allow him contest after he was initially disqualified by theIndependent National Electoral Commission. Atiku was also  indicted for money laundering and due to that,his house in United States was raided by federal bureau of Investigation (FBI).He also unsuccessfully tried to run for the office of the president in 2011 and15.

Nevertheless, after revealing few of their backgrounds and journeys to active participation in politics, I will now concentrate on their chances in this coming election in 2019.  In doing this, I will divide the country into six geopolitical zones and see how a winner will emerge between those two gigantic politicians. Like we all knew, Nigeria has six geopolitical zones as such: ‘’’North West, South West, North Central, South East, North East andSouth-South’’. Both the six geopolitical zones are very important to Nigerian corporate existence; therefore gaining their support is very crucial. 

But, it is also a well-known fact that, in politics each party or candidate must have his or her or its support base. Thus, the analysis will be best on geopolitical zones and as well as the current reality on ground as so many things have change from last election conducted in 2015 to date and it was just recently that, the two major contestants (Muhmmad Buhari and Atiku Abubakar) unveiled their policies plan.

Let me start with Northwest, the most populous among the six zones in the country and also had the highest number of registered voters, with seven states (7) in its disposal this made it highest in the country. The zone is now comfortably control by the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC) leaving the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) a weaker and ineffectual opposition.

In addition, the current incumbent president Muhammadu Buhari is also from the zone which is an added advantage to him over the other contestants. though, it seem as the slumber PDP might have bounce back after the defection of some prominent politicians and federal lawmakers from the ruling All Progressive Congress led by former governor of Kano state Senator Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso and Sokoto state governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, as some political observers assert that their defection will put more pressure on the ruling party (APC). 

But after the emergence of Atiku Abubakar as candidate of the peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) even those boasting that the PDP might have risen from its long slumber has now ate their initial words. Battle of supremacy threatened the chance of the party in many states as a result of new comers. In Kano for instances, the most populous among the nineteen states of the region, the party had engulf in supremacy battle on who should get what and who shouldn’t. As a result of that, the party divided into two. One faction is enjoying the backing of Senator Rabi’u Musa Kwankwaso who is still nursing his unexpected defeat at the PDP presidential primary in the Garden city. The other faction is led by both Ambassador Aminu Bashir Wali (former minister of foreign affairs) and Senator El-jibril Doguwa, the factional chairman of the  party in the state.

According to many political analysts, the recent misunderstanding among the members of the party may tear it aparts and cause it the chance of making any relevance at next year election. Some observers believe that, the situation now is going out of control leaving the teaming supporters in doubt about their chances after the emergence of Kwankwaso in law (Abba Kabir Yusuf), as gubernatorial candidate. And the worst part is the defection of Malam Salihu Sagir Takai, who is now contesting on the platform of  people’s redemption party (PRP).

By the way, that doesn’t mean that the ruling APC is free from internal crisis, it has its own share of misfortune in the following states: Zamfara, Sokoto, Kano and Kaduna, some political observers are of the opinion that, if the solution to the crisis is not found in due course, it will definitely affect the party’s chance in 2019. For instance, in Zamfara, the supremacy battle between the political bigwigs in the state which as a result, the independent national electoral commission (INEC) said, the party do not have candidates in 2019 elections. While in Kaduna, the rivalry between Governor Nasir El-Rufai and Senator representing Kaduna Central Shehu Sani, which led the senator and other federal legislators in the state to defect and the emergence of Muslim—Muslim ticket, bookmakers, believe that it will reduce the popularity of the party, especially in the southern senatorial district.

While in Kano, the recent viral trending  video footages that showed governor Ganduje allegedly collecting bribe from contractors and the rhetoric of some political aspirants that attached their defeat to the governor during primary election, will really work against the party chance except if the party make an urgent amendment and clear itself of the embarrassment.     

My verdict: I think, no matter what happen, best on the past records and current reality on ground, it is incredibly difficult for Wazirin Adamawa to make an impact or defeat Buhari in northwest. In this way, the incumbent president may likely get at least 70 percent of the total vote casts in that geopolitical zone.   

Reasons: Majority of eligible voters aren’t card carrying members of any of those two political parties, which according to our own observation most of them still prefer Buhari than Atiku, while in the other hand, the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC) at the campaign rallies will definitely explore some of  Atiku’s  weaknesses such as: God does not answer poor people’s prayer; northerners are too lazy, poor, live in mood houses, Restructuring, resource control and corruption. And when you say all these to a common northerner, only God can save you.

South East: There are five states across the Niger, which consists of mainly Igbo’s speaking people of defunct Eastern region of Nigeria. Traditionally, people from that axis always eschew the opposition politics; they always tend to support the ruling party right from the first republic up to 2015, but at this time, it seem as they prefer to play a hide and sake politics.

Some political observers attributed the latest Igbo ambushing politics to their long agitation for separate country of their own, or if it is not possible to at least get restructuring, devolution of power to states or resource control etc. In doing this, south east will the independent to work with any candidate that promise to make them achieve at least the the above goals, even if he is lying to them. Secondly, it is on recordbacked then in 2002, when Buhari ventured into active politics, he was accused of saying , ’’Muslim should vote for only Muslims’’ while some PDP bigwigs at that time used that opportunity to woo Christian voters and told them that  if Buhari should be elected he will introduce sharia in Nigeria. Since then, majority of Igbo considered Buhari as number one  enemy of Igbo race.

In addition to that, since the assumption of office of this current administration people from south east region felt that they were shortchanged on appointment at federal level which they attributed to the hatred they believe the president had for them; they also had  grudges with the president over deployment of military to south east to curtail the upraising of Nnamdi Kanu led indigenous people of Biafra (IPOB). The Igbo’s socio cultural organization (Ohaneze Ndigbo) on the other hand, through some of their prominent mouthpiece such as: Chikwas Okorie, Ezeife and John Nwodo on separate occasions blacklisted Buhari as number one enemy of Igbo race, they asked Ndigbo from all walks of life to rise against the president interest. And the last but not the least, the nomination of former governor of Anambra state Dr. Peter Obi as running mate to Atiku will really favor PDP, especially among Ohaneze Ndigbo.

My verdicts: Looking at the issues raised above, and the current reality that the four of the five states of the region is controlled by both PDP and All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA)  no doubt about that, PDP and its candidate Atiku Abuabakar will definitely get at least 70 to 75 percent of the votes cast in that region.

Reasons: PDP will explore Buhari’s shortcomings as thus: No Igbo man among the service chiefs, Python dance, alleged Islamizing the country and Herdsmen/farmers crisis.

South West region: The Yoruba dominated tribe of the defunct western region. Traditionally, they had been known to play opposition politics, right from the action group (AG) to UPN. But it looks like the table had turned downed in the fourth republic when Olusegun Obasanjo emerged as president in 1999. Though, to be justice to them, even after the victory of one of their own in 1999, they still believe to their principle of opposition. As it is a known fact that Yoruba nation, even after the emergence of Obasanjo in 1999 they never hide their hatred for him; the southwest region remained in the opposition at states level despite the fact that, PDP captured five of the six states in 2003. With all this but they still did not bow to the pressure of ruling people’s Democratic Party (PDP).

After the PDP Tsunami, a man defied the pressure of the government at the center and remained the Iroko three among the dominated PDP control south west states and that man is Bola Ahmed Tinubu; the then, governor of Lagos state. Today most Yorubas considered Tinubu as new Awolowo because of his incredible political persuasion not only in south west but in the country as whole. He is Mr. Strategies that knew when to strike and systematically control the future of south west politics. He decide who should get what and who shouldn’t; in fact, in my opinion he is the strongest political figure in this country at the moment in which, losing his support will be a big political Tsunami to any presidential candidate.

Although, there are other factors that may influence and decide the outcome of politics of south west; people like former president Olusegun Obasanjo, Yoruba socio cultural group (Afenifere) and some top PDP big wigs such as: Bode George, Ayodele Fayose etc, but to be sincere to ourselves those aforementioned subjects cannot compete with Tinubu’s  prowess.

Therefore, in my opinion APC will easily capture at least five of the six states of south west due to the reasons highlighted above.

The remaining three regions of North East, North Central and South-South will definitely become a battle ground for the two major candidates of PDP and APC due to some factors. For instance, north east where the PDP candidate Atiku Abubakar came from doesn’t look to be easy ride for him not even in his home state of Adamawa; the only state that it seems easy for him is Taraba due to these factors: Farmers herders crisis and the state is control by his party i.e PDP therefore there is no gain saying that, PDP may win Taraba state. While on the other hand APC will capture Bauchi, Borno, Yobe, while Gombe and Adamawa only time shall tell. Likewise in north central states, PDP may win in Benue and Plateau states while APC will definitely capture Niger and the remaining three states of Kwara, Kogi and Nassarawa and the federal capital may be a fifty-fifty encounter.

The last geopolitical zone but not the least, (South South), unlike in 2015 in which the then president Good luck Jonathan who came from there smoothly got almost ninety percent of the total valid votes cast, it clearly shows that it is not going to be a business as usual this time as some of the reasons that made it materialize in 2015 such as: ‘’’My brother, religion, incumbency’’ are no longer in existence and in addition, some PDP gladiators like former governor of Akwa Ibom state Senator Godswill Akpabio defected to the ruling All Progressive Congress, which it clearly added value to the party.

MY verdict: Despite all these, PDP may still emerge victorious in at least four of the six states while APC may win in Akwa Ibom and the status of River state is still the balance.

Finally, after thorough, deep examination the chances of these two favorable contestants, I will now draw the curtain of this pieces by using hypotheses to explain my finding as follows: Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressive Congress (APC), wins in seventy states (17) including the two most densely populated Kano and Lagos, while on the other hand, Atiku Abubakar of the People’s Democratic party (PDP) captured twelve (12) and the remaining seven states and the federal capital territory seems to be a fifty-fifty chance. In this way, Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressive Congress (APC), will emerge at the end of the contest and return elected.

Reasons: In South East states where Atiku Abubakar have his major supporters, the indication has shown that many of the eligible voters in that zone are not ready to vote no matter the persuasion PDP use due to the following reasons; boycotting order from Nnamdi Kanu. Secondly, in north western zone, the area that has the highest number of eligible voters; the PDP will definitely not have the require vote. In APC camp, the president will be happy to enjoy the support he lost in 2015 which will really help him especially in the states such as: Rivers, Akwa Ibom, Edo, Cross River and Delta. 

 Anyway,that is just my assumption and things may change later than then, but as of now that is how I see it.


Abdullahi Isa is a Kano based Journalist who can be reached on 0806048290


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Abdullateef Abubakar Jos is a Practicing journalist of about 20 years experience. He's a multimedia person. He was trained both in Nigeria and abroad. He was the head of News of Freedom Radio in Kano. He has Master degree in Communication and Technology from Bayero University Kano.

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