After months of flamboyant but bitter campaigning, President Goodluck Jonathan and General (rtd) Muhammadu Buhari anxiously await the verdict of the Nigerian people. With less than 48 hours to go until voting, the ruling PDP and the opposition APC must be frantically putting measures in place to ensure that the turnout at their gargantuan rallies translates into the much needed votes.
For the first time since the return to democratic rule in 1999, the PDP is meeting a party which matches it in national appeal. The APC was formed early in 2013 as a coalition of the major opposition parties. The party was boosted by high-level defections to it from the PDP. The APC elected Buhari, a former military ruler and a 3-time presidential candidate with loyal following in parts of Northern Nigeria, as its presidential candidate. Buhari chose Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, a civil servant and a pastor in RCCG (Nigeria’s largest church) as his running mate, apparently in an attempt to win votes from Nigeria’s South-West and to calm fears that he has an Islamic agenda.
The issues which have stood out in this campaign have been security, the economy, corruption, electricity and fuel supply, unemployment and infrastructural development. President Jonathan’s handling of the Boko Haram insurgents and his response to the abduction of the Chibok girls has been widely criticised. His government has also been hit with corruption scandals including a case where the central bank governor alleged that US$20bn had been diverted from federal accounts. The fall in world crude oil prices has also significantly affected the economy. Reserves have dwindled and the currency has depreciated against major trading partners.
Jonathan’s campaign has been focused on infrastructural development, agricultural policy, electoral reform, improving free speech and, in the last few weeks, beating back the Boko Haram terrorists. His campaign has also attacked Buhari’s age (72), his excesses as a military dictator, his support for Sharia and his educational qualifications.
The Buhari campaign has responded by proclaiming Buhari’s acceptance of democracy, his choice of a pastor as a running-mate, for this election and the last, and his success in destroying an insurgency similar to Boko Haram in the 1980s. The campaign has also attacked Jonathan’s governance record especially with regards to security, corruption, electricity and fuel supply, and the economy.
The international community is keenly watching this election. Nigeria’s economy is the largest in Africa and a successful election would be good for the world as whole. There is fear that a disputed election or post-election violence could further affect the country’s struggling economy.
It is difficult to call this election. Jonathan is expected to win the South South (his home region) and the South East. Buhari will also likely carry the North West (his home region) and the North East. This leaves the South West and the North Central as the geopolitical zones that will decide the election. In order to win, a candidate needs to secure more than 50% of the total vote and at least 25% of the votes in two-thirds of the 36 states.
The winner of the election would have to work hard to earn the trust of regions that supported the other candidate. Such an intricate task must be coupled with the defeat of an insurgency, the revival of the economy, reducing unemployment, fighting corruption and fulfilling Nigeria’s potential as a major player in regional and global politics.
To the Nigerians reading this, your Ghanaian brother wishes you all the best.