I was invited to a political-risk assessment firm here in London and we studied diverse data around tomorrow’s presidential elections in Nigeria, and these are my takeaways from that attempt to predict Nigeria’s next President, between @MBuhari and @atiku:
Predicting Nigeria’s next President is tricky. It would’ve been easier if individual sentiments are indeed scientifically assessable. So it’s a frustrating and amusing attempt to ease the firm’s predictions of the outcomes, but I built my forecast on existing data and trends.
I shared that that the elections would’ve been a walkover for Atiku if Buhari had not advertised a certain ascetic lifestyle not in line with the mainstream elite fashion, and had thus long established himself as renegade member - an outsider among Nigeria’s political parasites.
So what is considered Buhari’s poor performance, especially among the non-partisan urban demographic, is interpreted as calculated sabotage (corruption fighting back) by the larger lower-class, more concentrated in rural areas.
Despite the masses having the number, it’s not going to be an easy battle for Buhari tomorrow. Atiku has built on where Jonathan failed in 2015, and even at the peak of Buhari’s popularity in the buildup to the 2015 election, he had only a slight margin higher than Jonathan’s.
So with a maligned Buhari meeting an Atiku who has the sympathy of the pro-Jonathan, the ex-Buharists, the anti-Buhari, and the the South-East and South-South infuriated by the idea of “illiterate,” “nepotistic” and “body doubling” Buhari, the numbers don’t look promising.
Unlike the 2015 elections that the North were brainwashed with a dangerous conspiracy theory that the Jonathan government was funding the Boko Haram to destroy the region, Atiku has no such baggage. His main shortcoming is being a poster-child of the “16 years of the PDP.”
This crime of PDP’s 16-year misrule resonates more with the larger masses as it does with the educated neutrals who are quick to list from Audu Ogbe, down through Nasir El-Rufai to Rotimi Amaechi to share that the two leading parties are in fact just two sides of a coin.
Buhari’s strength is no longer the “12 million” block votes of the North. That advantage, even though it’s still real, is now under threat as a result of Atiku’s alliances with regional mobilizers, especially former Governors Rabiu Kwankwaso in Kano and Bukola Saraki in Kwara.
Buhari’s strength today, strange as it may seem, is not his large support base. It’s his office, and the last election has shown how a more advanced voting system and prodding eyes of the international community checkmated the once dreaded “incumbency factor”. #NigeriaDecides2019
So, unless there are indeed body bags waiting to convey foreign observers back to their home countries, and unless the elections are marred by apathy which is very likely, I foresee a relatively free and fair elections. And if this happens, you do your maths.
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