There are large incumbency advantages in Nigeria’s politics stemming from control of the electoral agency (inspite of it been nominally designed to be an “Independent” National Electoral Commission INEC), police, armed forces, Department of State Security (DSS) and NNPC! More than any of its predecessors, the Buhari Presidency (or more accurately the unelected clique led by Mamman Daura which has seized control of it!) has shown a willingness to pervert the institutions of state, including or especially security services to maintain an otherwise tenuous hold on power. In spite of these incumbency advantages, which are supplemented by the propensity of our elite to support (Any Government in Power) “AGIP”, our analysis suggests it is virtually impossible for incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari of the APC to win a free and fair elections against his main opponent, Alhaji Abubakar Atiku of the PDP!
Our analytical model starts from the numbers of registered voters provided by INEC-13,366,070; 11,289,293; and 20,158,100 from the North-Central, North-East and North-West regions respectively and 10,057,130; 12,841,279; and 16,292,212 from the South-East, South-South and South-West respectively. In the absence of data on numbers of collected Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs) from INEC, we proceed to make projections for voter turnout in each of the regions ranging from 60% in the South-East; 55% in the North-East; 50% in both the North-West and South-South; and 35% in the North-Central and South-West. These projections reflect historical trends and produce a national voter turnout of 46.6% which compares favourably with 2015 in which INEC recorded a voter turnout of 43.65%. These projections of voter turn-out also take into account our estimates and analysis of potential PVC collection, voter enthusiasm, voter roll inflation and socio-political conditions in each of the regions.
We then estimate voting trends across the country based on a multiplicity of local, regional and national factors including party popularity, candidate popularity, ethnic/regional/religious affiliation, voter sentiments and behaviour, political trends, campaigns and campaign feedbacks and our analysis. Based on these factors, we make very conservative assumptions about the performance of the two dominant candidates, marginal third-party candidates and undecided voters. In our model, the undecided portion has shrunk dramatically over the last 60 days from as high as 15% of the electorate to about 2.5% of voters. Third-party candidates perform poorly in the framework, scoring not more than 1% of overall national ballots cast, confirming that this 2019 election is a straight Buhari (APC) versus Atiku (PDP) affair. Votes for third-party candidates are negligible and they fare best in the South-East and South-West with 1.5% and 2.5% of votes cast.
We project Atiku Abubakar to win in the North Central by 51% of votes cast to Buhari’s 47%. Buhari has lost the Middle-Belt of Nigeria, who have been the victims of the horrendous murders and pillage attributed to herdsmen. Buhari’s performance in the region should infact be weaker than we projected but for lower turnout by traumatised residents and pro-Buhari votes in some of the non-Christian parts of the North-Central. Overall Atiku scores 2,385,844 votes in the North-Central to Buhari’s 2,198,719. In the North-East, we award victory to Buhari by a margin of 52% to Atiku’s 46% translating into 3,228,738 votes for Buhari to Atiku’s 2,856,191 votes. We expect Buhari to win in Borno and Yobe, while Atiku is strong in Adamawa, Taraba and Gombe.
We also award the North-West to Buhari even though we expect Atiku to also perform strongly in that region. Indeed recent campaigns especially in Kano (which were conducted after we completed our analysis suggests we may have underrated Atiku’s strength in the region and the impact of the Kwankansiya-Atiku affiliation. We project Buhari winning 55% of the votes (5,543,478) to Atiku’s 44% (4,434,782). Even though the total number of votes in the South-East and South-South are lower relative to other regions and particularly the North-West and North-East, they will be significant in this election because one candidate, Atiku Abubakar will have an overwhelming proportion of those votes. In the South-East we expect Atiku to get 83% of votes cast, and 80% in the South-South to Buhari’s 15% and 17.5% respectively. In terms of numbers these amount to over 10 million votes to Atiku in the two regions compared with just over 2 million votes for Buhari. The net differential from those two regions is large enough to offset Buhari’s modest advantage from the North-West and North-East in which votes are essentially shared.
In the South-West, the percentage of undecided voters is the highest in the country, with 10% of South-West voters still undecided (as at January 31st 2019) with the region also giving the highest votes (2.5%) to third-party candidates such as Fela Durotoye, Kingsley Muoghalu and Omoyele Sowore. We project Buhari to win with the South-West with 47.5% (2,708,580) of the votes, but Atiku recording a strong 40% (2,280,910) of votes cast. It also seems the momentum is in favour of Atiku and he may secure a greater proportion of undecided voters.
Overall our analyses suggest victory for Atiku Abubakar of the PDP by 56.5% of the votes to Buhari’s 40.2% representing a healthy victory for the opposition candidate. Our analysis is based on the assumption that the election, though not perfect, will be reasonably free and fair, and will reflect the will of the voters in each of the Nigeria’s regions. Our analyses will, of course, be irrelevant in the context of a blatantly rigged process!
*This article is based on research and analyses conducted by Opeyemi Agbaje and Kehinde Ayanbadejo both of RTC Advisory Services Ltd based in Lagos, Nigeria.