TOPE FAYEHUN in this report, looks at the chances of the Peoples Democratic Party(PDP) presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, to unseat President Muhammadu Buhari, despite alleged gang up against his re-election bid by some former leaders
Barely few days to February 16, the deciding day for political players in a contest that some political analysts consider to be the most competitive presidential election ever since Nigeria returned to a democratic dispensation, the political firmament is astir.
As it is, the electorate can now distinguish from those that are competing for the numbered seats in the country and those that are just out to make name for subsequent elections.
With the look of things ,the two leading candidates, that is, President Muhammadu Buhari of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and former Vice President Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), are living no stone unturned to ensure that they sway the vote of the electorate in their various directions in the forthcoming poll.
No doubt about the fact that both President Buhari and Atiku Abubakar are on their feet crisscrossing the length and breadth of the country, wooing eligible voters and at the same time playing politicking that is currently leading to aligning, re-aligning, endorsement and equally oiling their various political machines in readiness for the crucial election.
To some, President Buhari’s re-election is a done deal, as there is nobody in the country’s political terrain both dead or alive, that is capable of defeating him in the coming election.
President Buhari is regarded as a decisive leader, one who would make tough decisions, irrespective of whose ox is gored, but analysts noted that winning the coming election is beyond rhetorics, as anyone among the duo who will the February 16, will work very hard.
According to them, gone a the days when the electorate will just unknowingly be manipulated to queue and vote for any politician with no plan for the country. Pundits noted that the political stake of Nigeria voters in politics now more than before because people are now interested in who govern them. Hence, the need to check records, both past and present of those aspiring to govern them in the next four years is inevitable.
President Buhari, observers said part of the reasons he may likely win the forthcoming election, is the issue of acclaimed integrity with the fight against corruption which had seen many political wavelengths in the last administration arrested and some convicted.
In the area of security, the President always prides himself for recovering 18 local councils which were under the control of Boko-Haram before he took over the mantle of leadership. According to him, Boko Haram has been pushed back and largely degraded to the point that they are no longer capable of launching attacks on major cities and Abuja, the nation’s capital.
Some of the president’s supporters also believe that he had been able to navigate the country out of recession. They also said the president’s social investment programmes including the recently launched TraderMoni is one of his numerous achievements in lifting the economy of the country.
Judging by the sea of people that usually converge to welcome him and entourage to all his campaign venues, winning the forthcoming poll may have been a done deal for him and his party. But analysts observe that that crowd may likely not translate to vote during election base on the previous experience.
For his major challenger, Atiku Abubakar, his supporters strongly believe that his political network across the country would boost his chances of becoming the next president of the country in the February 16 election. They are of the view that Atiku whose name has been ringing in the political game in the country since 1993, is the only one among the numerous politicians presently in the country that can challenge President Muhammadu Buhari and defeat him in the poll.
They posited that Atiku has a deep pocket and only one of few who could fund a robust presidential campaign against an incumbent. According to them, “Though a Fulani Muslim, Atiku has connected with many parts of Nigeria. His businesses are run by people from different parts of the country. He also has family linkages across the three main parts of the country.”
However, despite about 150 support groups working for the re-election of the President Muhammadu Buhari, some political observers are of the opinion that the president would strive harder to beat the Atiku at the forthcoming poll, because “more Nigerians are getting fed up with the APC administration. ”
Some of them cited increasing unemployment, insecurity, unstable economy, poor business environment, and one-sided anti-corruption war under the Buhari administration as justification for their opinion.
While giving a narrative on how the voting may likely go, they opined that it might be an easy victory for the PDP in states in the South-East, South-South and the Middle Belt, while the PDP and the APC would slug it out in the North-East and North-West, as well as the South-West.
Pundits also cited the recent Economist Intelligence Unit Africa report that the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, Atiku Abubakar will win the February 16 election. In the report made available last week Friday, EIU said the margin of victory was getting narrower as the election approaches, but Atiku and his political party will win the historic election.
According to the report, “#NigeriaDecides2019 : Less than 2 weeks before #Nigeria‘s presidential election. Abubakar has floated the idea of corruption amnesty. It is arguably an impolitic time for such a delicate proposal,” EIU Africa tweeted.
“Abubakar is hard-pressed to convince voters that he is a clean politician, having been on the receiving end of numerous graft allegations in the past. We retain our forecast for #Abubakar to win, but expected the margin of victory is narrowing as the poll approaches.”
Recall that in 2015, the magazine also predicted victory for Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress over the then-incumbent, Goodluck Jonathan. It added then that Buhari was “the least awful choice,” which would be chosen “with a heavy heart”.
“Voters have ample cause to send Mr. Jonathan packing. In a country where power has often changed through the barrel of a gun, the opposition All Progressives Congress has a real chance of winning through the ballot box,” The Economist said in 2015.
Also, a field work conducted by the Pollster, Williams and Associates, predicted that the candidate of the PDP, Atiku Abubakar, will win the election as posted on the website of the company on Monday .
Williams and Associates had in a similar field work in 2015, predicted the defeat of the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan in the last presidential election in Nigeria.
Information posted on the website of the company shows that it deployed the same methodology used in the 2015 prediction to conduct the field work for 2019 election. The activity was conducted between January 11 and January 16, 2019 across all the six geo-political zones of the country.
The result of the poll shows that the PDP candidate, Atiku will win other candidates in the election with 45 per cent of the total vote cast, 12 per cent higher than his closest opponent, incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari, who polled 33 per cent.
According to the result, 64 per cent of respondents disapprove that President Buhari has done his job well enough to deserve re-election.
It added that the contentious issues that would shape the direction of the election are unemployment, poverty, corruption, insecurity among others.
While responding to a question on whether respondents expect the economic situation next year to get better or worse, a whopping 53 per cent are pessimistic on the future of the economy.
Also, the polls showed that there is an 11 per cent improvement on the number of people who will turn out to vote in the 2019 presidential election, over the turn out for the 2015 election and 80 per cent of the respondents say that they have already collected their Permanent Voter Card (PVC).
Also, 54 per cent of the respondents also say that regardless of who they support in the election, Atiku stands a better chance of winning the election compared to 38 per cent who believe that incumbent President Buhari would win.
Apart from this, some sociopolitical groups, like Ohaneze Ndigbo, Afenifere, and host of others, are currently rooting for the emergence of the former vice president. Although some traditional rulers from Ebonyi state had endorsed President Muhammadu Buhari for the second term during his presidential campaign visit to the state, 24 hours later, the traditional rulers changed their mind and promised Atiku Abubakar 90 percent votes from the state.
While endorsing President Buhari, Chairman of the traditional ruler’s council, Eze Charles Mkpuma, said the endorsement was born out of the robust relationship the president had with the governor, David Umahi.
Mkpuma said Buhari was deserving of their votes irrespective of party differences and applauded his determination to tackle insecurity in the country and fight against corruption.
“We appreciate your dogged determination to maintain utmost security of the country especially your effort to eliminate Boko Haram and fight against corruption which has brought respect and integrity to the country among comity of nations.
“We believe that your robust relationship with our son the governor and your love for him and the state will surely earn you votes in Ebonyi irrespective of party differences,” the monarch said.
Barely 24 hours after, the Ebonyi State Council of Traditional Rulers also ‘adopted’ and assured former Vice President Abubakar Atiku 90 percent of their people’s votes in the February 16 presidential poll.
Addressing members of the PDP presidential candidate’s entourage in the Exco Chamber, the Chairman of the Council of Traditional Rulers, Mkpuma, pointed out that although the monarchs had assured President Buhari that he would get some votes in Ebonyi, the council would vote overwhelmingly for all PDP candidates.
He said, “We humbly attribute the success achieved so far by our dear governor to your great party, the PDP. Accordingly, we wish to state unequivocally that our state, Ebonyi, is a PDP state and we shall overwhelmingly vote for all PDP candidates. Indeed, not less than 90 percent of our votes, notwithstanding the fact that we had assured His Excellency, the President that he would get some votes in Ebonyi.”
That notwithstanding, other issues raised by political watchers are the instances of some eminent Nigerians who may equally work against the reelection of the president. Prominent among the leaders, according to analysts, are former president, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo; Edwin Clark, T.Y Danjuma and Buba Galadima among others. They appear determined to pull the necessary strings to ensure that the president did not return for the second term in the forthcoming poll.
Also, at a meeting, tagged: ‘Summit of Nigerian Leaders and Elders’, held at Ladi Kwali Hall, Sheraton Hotel, Abuja, some ethnic leaders throw their weight behind the candidate of PDP.
Present at the meeting were leaders of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Northern Elders Forum, Pan-Niger Delta forum, the Middle Belt Forum, as well as a faction of Afenifere, the Yoruba socio-political group. The forum said they agreed on endorsing Atiku after meeting with various presidential candidates.
According to them, the decision not to support President Muhammadu Buhari, currently seeking reelection on the platform APC, was based on the President’s loss of control of the government.
In a swift reaction, the Presidential Campaign Council of APC, described the endorsement of Atiku Abubakar as fraudulent.
Speaking through its director of Strategic Communications, Mr. Festus Keyamo (SAN), the campaign council noted that some individuals had in the past used the groups purportedly to represent their people and as such enjoyed huge government patronage.
He disclosed that these same groups supported the PDP presidential candidate in the 2015 elections, which President Buhari won. The feat, according to Keyamo, was possible because Buhari worked his ways directly to the mind of Nigerians.
While expressing the confidence that Nigerians would again put the PDP in the dustbin of history during the 2019 elections, Keyamo said: “In the past, it used to be that some of these individuals have used the names of these groups and platforms to purport to represent their people and as such enjoyed huge government patronage. The proceeds of this patronage have never trickled down to their people they purport to represent but ended up in their pockets and benefitted only their immediate families. This is in perfect tune with the campaign promise of Atiku Abubakar to enrich only his friends. Therefore, like bees and honey, these people and Atiku Abubakar are attracted to themselves.
“Unfortunately for them, President Muhammadu Buhari has managed to navigate his way directly to the masses, who they purport to represent, and is ensuring that the dividends of democracy reach the people directly. Their annoyance is that they have been eliminated as middlemen. That is why the bond between the masses and President Buhari continues to grow on a daily basis,” Keyamo stated.