President Muhammadu Buhari continues to divide opinions out there. But don’t rule him out of the 2019 election battle just yet.
They are those who say he’s failed so woefully, a second term is well beyond his and the APC’s reach. They are those who beg to differ, telling everyone who cares to listen that Buhari is still the best thing to happen to this country since sliced bread.
For all the hoopla over Buhari’s perceived ‘incompetence’ out there, the man is on the cusp of getting re-elected and here’s why:
- Registered voters in geopolitical zones
Out of the 73,944,312 registered voters across Nigeria, as of January 2018, the Northwest had a total of 18,505,984 voters while the Southeast had 8,293,093.
The North central had 10,586,965 registered voters, while the North east zone had 9,929,015.
The Southwest had the second highest number of registered voters with 14,626,800.
The South south as a whole had 11,101,093 registered voters.
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Look at those numbers again and it begins to hit you—the APC strongholds of Southwest and North, have the highest number of registered voters. The Southeast and South South where anti-Buhari sentiments are pretty strong, are still playing catch-up.
For all our social media rants, when the North votes, it often votes big. Ask Kano.
If the North and Southwest settle for Buhari again, the smart money is on him getting re-elected.
- There is no opposition
The PDP has become a joke since it lost the center in 2015. The party spent two years trying to put its house in order after Goodluck Jonathan got trounced by Buhari.
My big brother in this business, Simon Kolawole, captured it all in his latest Sunday column:
“PDP, as presently constituted, is still the strongest opposition platform. But its brand image is not sparkling. After overcoming the storm-in-a-tea-cup internal imbroglio which many swore had the hand of APC, the PDP is now perceived as the property of one or two Governors.
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“Meanwhile, the SDP has been telling us that Governors and senators will defect to “our fold” in large numbers “next week” but next week never seems to come. There is also the third force as well as the third farce.
“The youth are mobilising and saying they are not too young to run. A lot is going on, but where is the harmonisation? It’s less than 10 months to the nomination of candidates!
“By this time in 2014, APC was already consolidated and ready to do battle. Today, much of opposition’s hope is built on the assumption that people are disappointed with Buhari and will automatically vote against him. Yet we know you don’t defeat an incumbent in Africa through wishful thinking. Anywhere an incumbent has lost, it is usually because the opposition played smarter”.
The opposition hasn’t been playing smart since 2015 and that gives Buhari an edge ahead of 2019.
3. Buhari is still much loved on the streets of the north
I was in Kano the last time Buhari visited that city you can call a swing State. I had to duck to the car so I wouldn’t get caught in a stampede.
Everywhere Buhari has visited in the North has been the same story. Surging crowds chanting ‘sai Baba’ and delving into a frenzy each time the president puts that legendary fist up.
For all his faults, Buhari remains a huge factor in the politics of the North.
Of course crowds during State visits don’t necessarily translate to votes, but there are a barometer or harbinger of some sort.
Most of the lawmakers and Governors from APC controlled States got voted in just because Buhari raised their hands at campaign rallies.
The president enjoys a feral, cult following in the north and there’s nothing to suggest that has changed.
Besides, the president continues to enjoy instant name recognition out there. No other politician comes close.
- Defections to APC
The APC currently has 24 States in its kitty. Juxtapose that with the PDP’s 11 and APGA’s 1.
In its prime, the PDP controlled 29 out of 36 states. That was in 2007 when Obasanjo systematically decimated the opposition.
Those were the days when the PDP boasted it was going to rule Nigeria for 60 years.
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When the PDP ceded plenty of grounds to the APC in 2015, most of its members began to empty into the APC. The mass defection continues at a frenetic pace today.
Nigerian politicians don’t like to play opposition because their default setting is to align with the party that guarantees them food for their bellies. Nobody wants to die of hunger in the name of opposition.
Don’t be surprised if the APC sweeps more States in 2019 because PDP members are daily emptying into the governing party in droves.
We may just end up with a mono party democracy in 2019 and that would be bad for everyone.
- Corruption fight perception
The joke on social media after Yusuf Buhari’s power bike accident, revolved around folks on the streets saying something along these lines:
“Buhari is a poor man who can’t afford a car for his son. That is why his son had an Okada accident”.
Now, that may be a stretch, but I have interacted with average Nigerians who tell me that Buhari is running Nigeria badly but at least he is no thief.
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The APC’s anti-corruption agenda may be scoffed at on social media but it remains ingrained in many minds on the streets.
Nigerians who actually possess PVCs may just hand Buhari another term because “he is not a thief”. These Nigerians have also been told that the thieves are the ones frustrating Buhari and who want to stop him from getting another term.
So, yes, there you have it. Barring a miracle, it will be sai Baba till 2023 and there will be just enough humble pies to go around.