Ten African countries have elections scheduled to hold this year, but only that of Nigeria, the most populous in the continent, has its own rated among the leading risks in 2019.
The Eurasia Group, a political risk consultancy based in New York, which listed the forthcoming general elections as one of the world’s “Top Risks 2019”, said Nigeria faces its most fiercely contested election since the transition to democracy in 1999.
“One candidate is the incumbent, Muhammadu Buhari. He is an elderly, infirm leader who lacks the energy, creativity, or political savvy to move the needle on Nigeria’s most intractable problems. His opponent is Atiku Abubakar, another gerontocrat who would focus on enriching himself and his cronies, avoiding the difficult and politically unpopular tasks necessary for reform,” the report stated.
Nigerians will go to the polls on 16 February 2019 to elect the President and National Assembly members. On March 2 they will vote for the state governors and members of the states Houses fo Assembly. This will be the sixth quadrennial election since the end of military rule in 1999.
Other African countries with elections this year are Senegal, Angola, South Africa, and Malawi. Others are Mauritania, Mozambique, Botswana, Namibia and Tunisia.
Most of the candidates in these polls are seeking re-election, but political analysts said that Nigeria’s size and violent nature stand out in the list.
“In Nigeria, our nature is set to be notorious, violent, dare devils, boko haram etc. And that is why foreign countries are focusing on our election in February,” says Idowu Omolegan, a political analyst. “If there is trouble here it will affect other West African countries in terms of refuges, war, etc.,” Omolegan warns.
Nigeria is meant to set examples for other African countries, so whatever happens in the country, “the world will watching and as a result of that Nigeria is very important, unique in the world map,” he notes.
However, some analysts believe that the anticipated violence represents a counter attack by the forces that the current administration says it has been fighting.
“This is in light of its size and the seeming elite backlash against the Buhari administration due to its anti-corruption stance,” said Rafiq Raji, chief economist, Macroafricaintel. “Besides, most of the other upcoming African elections are not really contests in the real sense of the word,”.
“In South Africa, the ruling African National Congress is almost certain to win,’’ he pointed out.