President Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress came atop 72 other candidates that contested in the just concluded presidential election in Nigeria. There was much news heralding the number of candidates gunning for the presidential seat this year. It was an all-time high, a note that there are many people interested in ruling Nigeria; the genuineness of their ambition, however, remains to be seen.
Some of the candidates threw in the towel even before the real race began by forming an alliance and endorsing Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party, while some collapsed their structures and supported Buhari. Others remained in the race.
One interesting fact, however, is the number of younger candidates who contested as an alternative to the duopoly of the APC and PDP. Chief among them were Omoyele Sowore, founder and publisher of Sahara Reporters; Kingsley Moghalu, former Deputy Governor of Central Bank and Fela Durotoye, motivational speaker and entrepreneur.
Prior to the election, all the candidates tried to lure the electorate with a promise of a new Nigeria once they take back Nigeria. Some other ones promised privatization policies to enrich family and friends. The dreams were lofty, the campaign was intense and polity was sufficiently heated till it all climaxed.
Buhari was eventually announced the winner of the election polling 15,191,847 votes, defeating the closest opponent, Atiku, with a margin of 3,928,869. Atiku, out of the painful loss, has publicly rejected the results, saying he would challenge the result in court. According to him, had the election been free and fair, he would have won. The other set of young candidates have been stunned and since remained silent, understandably so, after being unable to get 100,000 votes altogether.
While Buhari gets set to rule the country for another four years, here are other things that played out from the presidential election.
APC Right to Field Buhari
While millions of Nigeria felt Buhari was not healthy enough to lead the country after spending over 100 days outside the country for medical attention, the stalwarts of APC stuck with the president insisting he is fit for a rerun. This appears to be the saving grace of the six-year-old party, as they could not have presented a candidate with credibility, popularity and acceptance in the stature of Muhammadu Buhari.
The party could have fielded Vice President Yemi Osinbajo; Governor of Kaduna State, Nasir Ahmed el-Rufai; or a former presidential candidate, Nuhu Ribadu, but none of them can boast of the wide acceptance and popularity Buhari has.
Sticking with Buhari appears to be the only option APC had; they took it and it paid off for the party.
Atiku Has Lost All That is Left of Him
Atiku came into the contest boasting of skills to run a country, branding himself as a progressive individual with a very rich resume of business success. He proclaimed himself as the one with the right economic strategy to solve Nigeria’s problems, but he is leaving with all of his qualifications tainted.
The election shows Atiku was not as popular as he perceived and he could not be trusted with the number one position in the country. His past positions as Deputy Director of the Nigeria Customs Service and Vice President of the country from 1999 – 2007 brought him more questions than the acceptance he envisaged.
In fact, Festus Keyamo (SAN), in an interview with SaharaReporters before he emerged, said if Atiku decides to contest for president, he would spend half of his campaign period defending his involvement in corruption, and that is exactly what happened.
The former Vice President is the worst loser of all the candidates and he is trying to redeem himself by seeking legal redress.
We would wait and see how this plays out.
Nigerians are Still Angry with PDP
The massive margin recorded by Buhari in the presidential election shows that Nigerians are yet to forgive PDP for how they mismanaged the country for 16 years of their rule, 1999 – 2015.
Buhari won two of the states he failed to win in 2015 – Ekiti and Nasarawa – and that showed his acceptance increased.
Though PDP also won some states they lost in 2015, the margin with which Buhari won the 2019 election was wider than that of 2015. In 2015, Buhari defeated former President Goodluck Jonathan with 2,571,759 votes and in 2019, he thrashed the same party with a margin of 3,928,869, That is 1,357,110 more Nigerians supporting Muhammadu Buhari.
Some people are of the opinion that Nigerians voted Buhari and not APC, but it is obvious that Nigerians are still angry with PDP and are not ready to forgive the party.
Sowore Proved He is the Best Alternative
Prior to the election, Sowore, Moghalu, Durotoye and Tope Fasua of the Abundant Nigeria Renewal Party were slugging it out as to who is the most qualified to lead the third force. Each not ready to step down for another made it hard for the young candidates to form an alliance, with many Nigerians eager to see a merger, but that did not happen.
However, when the election was conducted, each of the young candidates got their votes accordingly and Sowore came out strongest.
AAC (Omoyele Sowore): 33,953
YPP (Kingsley Moghalu): 21,886
ANN (Fela Durotoye): 16,779
ANRP (Tope Fasua): 4,340
The total votes they got as appeared above showed Sowore is the best young alternative candidate Nigeria has, but the question is: ‘Would he have won Buhari?’
North Owns Nigeria
Restructuring the country has been one of the major things on the lips of Nigerians even as the elections approached. The resurfacing and drama that followed Nnamdi Kanu’s Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) further heightened the demand for separation with the Yoruba’s Afenifere movement also supporting the clamour.
The influence of the North in the direction of election in the country has played out once again in 2019, helping Buhari win re-election; with the high number of votes they bring during electioneering, which eventually determines who become the President. All presidential candidates in the election relied on votes from the North to complement whatever votes they could pull from their respective regions. This made candidates who are not Northerners always pick a running mate from the Northern part of the country.
Both Atiku and Buhari relied heavily on votes from the region, but Buhari got more votes, winning the election with such margin. Buhari appeared as the clear winner after votes from Kano, Katsina and Kaduna were announced, putting him ahead of Atiku with over two million votes; all these have expressly shown that the North indirectly owns the country.
As the dust settles on the 2019 general election, Nigerians are set to be under the APC rule for another four years, that is if Atiku Abubakar does not succeed in his bid to challenge the results. There were many issues raised against them in the last four years: economic woes, unfavourable policies, slow action and the physical and mental health of the president. This new tenure offers an opportunity to prove to Nigerians that they have made the right choice. 2023 is around the corner. We wait to see how it all plays out before then.