2019 Presidential Election: APC Holds The Ace By Ayantunji Gbenro (@bengbenro)

I published an article with similar headline in October 2014 where I made a prediction on the likely outcome of 2015 Presidential Election. As at then, former President Goodluck Jonathan was certainly going to emerge as the ruling party’s (PDP) candidate while the opposition party (APC) has myriads of presidential hopefuls. I did an analysis and concluded that then General Mohammadu Buhari, a candidate under  the auspices of APC will emerge as the winner of the presidential election if he manage to get the APC’s ticket. With the benefit of hindsight, I was right. Buhari defeated President Goodluck Jonathan.

Fast forward 2019, barring any unforeseen situation, President Mohammadu Buhari will be the flag bearer of the ruling APC in 2019 election. All attention is now shifted to PDP’s primary election to determine his major challenger. I am not taking other political parties and candidates outside the two major political parties into consideration here not out of disrespect but because no political party outside the two major parties as of today has the spread to win a national election.

Also, most candidates presenting themselves as alternatives will hardly be able to muster enough votes to win councillorship seat from their wards. This, coupled with over bloated egos as displayed by the recent debacle (PACT) resulting from an attempt by some of the so called alternatives to forge a consensus showed that they not ready yet.

Back to the two major political parties and the quest to produce the next president. As at this period in 2014, the then sitting president and his party were losing almost all polls conducted online and offline. The failure of the administration was so glaring, especially in the area of corruption and security (Boko Haram).

The economy has nosedived with the crash in oil price and analysts within and without are all warning of doom that lies ahead. The opposition party (APC), with well oiled propaganda machine capitalized on the dissatisfaction to sell itself as a better alternative. The crack within the ruling party due ambition of various gladiators have always weakened it. All the opposition party needed was a strong candidate that can muster enough votes on his or her own and Buhari met the specification.

Once these conditions were satisfied, it was a matter of election day to kick out the PDP. As we approach 2019 elections, the PDP seems to be finding it hard to recover from the 2015 defeat. The media team of the party appears confuse. The same failed strategy adopted in 2014: fake news, fear mongering and religious profiling appears to be the modus operandi. If these failed in 2015, why should it succeed in 2019. PDP has a 16yrs of governance they can tap from to show why they are better than APC but they will rather want us to believe that every project completed by Buhari was initiated by PDP.

That in itself is telling Nigerians that PDP cannot be trusted. Aside lack of proper articulation of view by PDP, none of the candidates aspiring for PDP’s ticket today can boldly say that he/she can defeat Buhari even in his/her local government due to the fact that they are majorly from regions where Buhari has a cult like followership. Another major problem with PDP’s strategy is that it only appeal to people that will naturally not vote for Buhari. Rather than devising a strategy to break into Buhari’s area of strength, PDP is amplifying it campaign in the region where he has least support while alienating itself from areas where Buhari has majority of his supporters.

With these failures steering PDP in the face, Buhari may end up contesting against himself in 2019. However, a day is a very long time in politics and PDP can still redeem itself.

Let’s now examine what Buhari brings to the table in 2019 election. It will be unfair to examine Buhari’s or APC’s scorecard without looking at the situation that was inherited. The Buhari’s campaign in the build up to 2015 election was based on a tripod (economy, Security and fight against corruption). Why did the campaign focused on these three issues? The economy was nose-diving at an alarming rate. States couldn’t pay salary. Reserve was dwindling at a rate faster than Usain Bolt. inflation was rising etc.

On security, Boko Haram was threatening to overrun the country. Nowhere in the country is secure. Attending places of worship or social function is a herculean task, security operatives will search you to the point of embarrassment. Any bag you carry is a suspicious item. Security check points on our roads will make you to believe that you are in Syria or Yemen. Herdsmen and Rustlers were killing daily, kidnappers were having free rein and nobody seems to care because of bigger menace represented by Boko Haram. On corruption, it became a norm. The president even inform the nation that what we call Corruption is “mere stealing”. $20bil decided on it volition to work out of the Central Bank and the governor that raised the alarm was shoved out of the way with impunity. Deziani became a law unto herself. A jet was impounded in South Africa with Nigeria’s fund and nobody was punished. These are many more was the situation Buhari and APC inherited.

Where are we today? To stabilize the economy after taking over, the Buhari administration policy direction was to remove wastages by blocking loopholes, diversify the economy to improve revenue from non oil sector and to spend our way to prosperity by investing heavily in infrastructure. These efforts were at the onset of the administration hampered by dwindling revenue occasioned by drop in oil price and production. These factors force the economy that was nose diving into recession. But for the discipline of the administration, Nigeria would have today be sharing the same fate with Venezuela, Argentina, Turkey and even Egypt. However, due to astute management, the economy has been on the rise in the last eighteen months. This can be seen in drop in inflation for consecutive eighteen months. The GDP is positive. Import bill is dropping while export is  rising. We are witnessing an unprecedented investment in infrastructure across the country. Our foreign reserve has risen from about $29bil when the administration took over to about $46bil today with lower oil price and production. Recurrent bill is dropping due to weeding of ghost workers and pensioners. The naira was recently adjudged by The Spectator Index as the best performing currency against dollar in the last one year. The Yuan swap deal is expected to aide commerce. These are not happening as a result of wishful thinking but proper policy planning and implementation. In addition to these, the administration’s social investment programs is been applauded. At the end of 2018, about 500,000 youths would have benefitted from npower program. The multiplier effect of this program cannot be overemphasize. The school feeding program is feeding over 8million children across the country daily, over eighty six thousand food vendors are involve and the farmers benefitting cannot be quantified. The conditional cash transfer is putting five thousand in the pocket of the about one million poorest of the poor daily. The #tradermoni would have given a soft loan to about two million traders before the end of the year. On diversification, many have taken to farming and the anchor borrowers scheme and the recently announced 9% loan is helping out. As a testimony, Kebbi State governor recently said that the State earned about  #150bil from rice farming. We might not be at Eldorado yet, but when compared to where we were coming from, Buhari and APC have something to present to electorates. What PDP will present to counter this beyond the culture of money sharing is left for conjecture.

On Security, Boko Haram was holding unto seventeen local government when APC took over and bombs were going off like fire cracker across the country. Boko Haram has not been completely eliminated today, but they have been sufficiently degraded that an attack by Boko Haram is now regarded as an unusual news. Armed herdsmen and rustler were neglected when Boko Haram held sway. They became the news as Boko haram disappeared but the last few weeks have shown that even that is gradually becoming a history. The restive youths in the Niger Delta have been largely pacified and if the government can maintain the confidence developed, it would have achieved a lot in that regard. More can be done, but considering the immediate past, Buhari and APC government would be said to have achieved in this regard.

On fight the fight against corruption, even the greatest critics of Buhari’s administration are not denying the effort of the administration to fight corruption, the argument has always been on the mode and reach. No administration has ever recovered looted fund as this administration has done. In the area of prosecution, this administration has filed more cases against corrupt individuals than any administration in history, the judiciary can help by been more proactive in the area of conviction. Three former governors have been convicted and they are all members of the ruling party. The TSA has curb wastages from government coffers. Though the TSA was not initiated by this administration, the  commitment and political will to see that it work from the administration is unprecedented.

Overall, Buhari and APC will bring to the electorate the scorecard of their stewardship in the last 4yrs and the electorate will judge them in comparison with what the opposition have in stock. Base on performance, candidates popularity and the political party’s strength, I will make prediction for 2019 election.

Barring any last minute changes, Buhari’s cult followership, Social security shemes, infrastructural development and the degradation of Boko Haram  will secure a minimum of 70% for APC in Northwest and Northeast. NorthCentral may look like a battle ground but when the voting strength Niger, Nasarawa, Kogi which appear secured for Buhari is taken into consideration, couple with  the fact that the opposition cannot in all honesty boast of been certain of winning any State except Benue in the region, the region can be called for Buhari at a minimum of 60 %.

The Southwest is all for APC presently. Osun election may alter that if any other party wins the gubernatorial election. Even at that, Buhari should comfortable get a minimum of 60% votes cast from the region. Buhari didn’t get up to 10% of votes casted in any of the Southeast and South- South States in 2015 except Imo and Edo. 2019 will be different. APC has been waxing stronger in these regions since the 2015 election. Many bigwig politicians have moved into the party in the regions. In addition, various infrastructural projects and social investment programs may sway a lot of votes.

The PDP has also lost the instrument of coercion that was employed to dissuade people from voting for Buhari in these regions in 2015. When all of these factors are taken into consideration,  Buhari should be securing a minimum of 40% of votes from these regions on a worst case scenario. If the voting strength of each geopolitical zone is taken into consideration, Buhari/APC will win the 2019 Presidential Election by between 56% to 65%.

This prediction is done using semi-empirical process, other factors not taken into consideration may alter the final result but that will not change the eventual winner.

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