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Actors, Likely Alliances And Winner Of Nigeria’s Presidential Election



Major Presidential candidates Atiku,Obi, Kwankwaso and Tinubu


By Hamisu Hadejia

Voters in Africa’s biggest democracy, Nigeria, prepare to go the polls February 2023. They will elect governors, state and federal legislators and the president to lead the biggest African economy when the tenure of the incumbent president Muhammadu Buhari ends on May 29, 2023. Mr Buhari of the All-Progressives Congress (APC) came to power on a wave of populist support with the triple promises to fix Nigeria’s economy, address insecurity and ‘kill corruption before corruption kills Nigeria’. The extent of the success or failure of president Buhari and the ruling APC in fulfilling these promises remain for Nigerians to assess. However, on November 17, the federal government of Nigeria through its statistics bureau (the National Bureau of Statistics) reported that 63% of Nigerians (133 million people) are multidimensionally poor. According to the CIA factbook, Nigeria has a total population size of 225,082,083 million people as of 2022, and most of it consist of young men and women between the age bracket of 18 to 40 years.

Since Nigeria’s return to democratic rule in 1999, the high rate of poverty in the oil-rich West African country especially in the rural areas had forced many voters to barter their votes for monetary and or material rewards from power-hungry politicians. However, two recent developments could significantly curb electoral malpractices related to vote buying and results manipulation. First is the insistence by Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, the chairman of Nigeria’s electoral body, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), to deploy the Bimodal Voter Accreditation (BVA) system and to transmit ‘elections results to the INEC Result Viewing Portal (IReV) in real-time on election day’. On this issue, the INEC chair is backed by section 50 sub-section 2 of the Electoral Act, 2022 which states that ‘voting at an election and transmission of results under this Act shall be in accordance with the procedure determined by the Commission.’ If this is done, election rigging which usually manifests in manipulation of results at the local and state collation centres could be greatly curtailed, if not eliminated. Also, the rampant use of ‘incident forms’ by manipulative politicians to transform registered ghost voters into accredited ones will be significantly minimized by the adoption of the BVA system. Secondly, the decision in October by Nigeria’s apex bank (the CBN) to redesign and replace the country’s top three-naira notes (N200, N500 and N1000) within a three-month window (until January 21, 2023) is seen by many analysts as targeting political moneybags. The CBN though maintains that its currency redesign policy was to mop up the excess unbanked N2.7 trillion (85%) of money in circulation out of the total supply of N3.23 trillion. Whether or not and the extent to which currency redesign policy, introduction of the BVA system and new provisions in the electoral act 2022 will help engender free and fair elections remains to be confirmed in the forthcoming 2023 polls.

However, president Buhari’s vow to bequeath a legacy of free and fair elections in 2023 may be a promise Nigerians can hang onto if the president’s apparent neutral posture during his party’s primaries meant his absence of personal stakes in the next elections. The presidential election is of particular interest to Nigerians and to the international community. Of the 18 presidential contenders, four appear to be the most prominent, namely: former Lagos state governor Bola Ahmed Tinubu of the ruling APC, former vice president Atiku Abubakar of the PDP, former Anambra state governor Peter Obi of the Labour Party (LP) and former Kano state governor Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso of the New Nigeria People’s Party (NNPP). What are the strengths and weaknesses of these presidential contenders? Who is likely to carry the day?

To address these questions, I should begin with the caveat that Nigeria’s 2023 presidential election scheduled for February 25th has never been this complicated for the political bookmakers to forecast. There is no doubt that two major political parties—the ruling APC and opposition PDP—still remain the dominant parties. However, the emergence and increasing popularity of such third-party candidates as Peter Obi and Rabiu Kwankwaso has made the presidential contests unprecedentedly unpredictable. This is even acknowledged by no less a stakeholder than the electoral body, INEC, which stated on November 18 through its commissioner, Mr Festus Okoye, that it prepares for possible presidential run-off. This position is obviously underpinned by certain new dynamics on the political scene in Nigeria.

Since first republic’s Chief Nnamdi Azikiwe, no Igbo politician—perhaps not even the Biafra secessionist commander-turned-politician Chief Odumegwu Ojukwu and his All-Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA)—has succeeded in uniting the hitherto politically passive and rudderless mainly Christian south-eastern Igbo voters under one political umbrella (the Labour Party). Thus, effectively, each of Nigeria’s three major ethnic groups—Hausa/Fulani, Yoruba and Igbo— now has a formidable presidential candidate in Atiku, Tinubu and Obi, respectively. Historically, region (or ethnic group) and religion have exerted huge influence on politics and voting patterns in Nigeria. Against the backdrop of these and other factors which will be highlighted as we go along in our analysis, how could one rate the chances of these four prominent presidential contenders?

A Yoruba, Muslim and former governor of Lagos, Tinubu hails from the south-western zone which accounts for the second highest number of registered voters (18.3 million out of the total 96.3 million i.e., 19%) in the country. As a candidate of the ruling APC, Tinubu should enjoy the incumbency advantage. However, the circumstances of his winning the party’s primaries—without the overt support of the incumbent president whom he had earlier publicly lampooned in the build up to the primaries when he allegedly got wind of him not being the preferred presidency choice—meant that the incumbency factor may not yet be assured for Asiwaju. Also, the choice of a Muslim vice-presidential candidate in former Borno state governor Kashim Shettima, has pitted Tinubu against the Christians Association of Nigeria (CAN)—the umbrella body for Nigerian Christians which, justifiably or not, feels threatened by the APC’s same faith ticket. Tinubu’s choice of a northern Muslim (rather than a northern Christian) candidate as running mate can hardly be faulted on tactical ground; for although a choice of a northern Christian vice would have indeed balanced the APC ticket on both the regional and religious fault lines, that choice would have alienated the majority of voters in three predominantly Muslim northern geopolitical zones—NW, NE and NC (see figure 1)—which collectively account for 53.1% of total registered Nigerian voters. However, although sentiment of religion—as opposed to that of region (or ethnic group)— is the main thing that makes the average northern Muslim voter tick, it is highly unlikely if APC/Tinubu’s same-faith ticket will confer any extra electoral advantage on Tinubu for two reasons. First, the mood currently in the Muslim-dominated north is that of deep and widespread resentment with the ruling APC and, surprisingly, with Buhari himself who was, before coming to power, almost deified in the region. This dramatic change is attributed to worsening multi-dimensional poverty and pervasive insecurity which seem to have now thrown the average northern (and of course Nigerian) voter in to such a despondency and disillusionment that they have now effectively surrendered the choice of the next president to God—since they, without deferring to His omniscience, voted for Buhari and the result was not as expected or, for many, even catastrophic. Secondly, the PDP’s candidate, Atiku, is also Muslim, which means that both candidates cannot weaponize what Lewis (2007) rightly identifies as the most potent instrument for collective action in the Muslim north—i.e. religion. However, the apparently neutral impact of Tinubu’s same-faith ticket on the majority Muslim northern voters contrasts sharply with the protest it elicited from CAN and other prominent Christian figures and followers.

But Tinubu is a politician with vast “political logistics” (a euphemism for money required to win elections in Nigeria) and astute organizational capabilities. He also appears to have understood the rudiments of patron-clientelist politics that typifies Nigeria. At the inauguration of his campaign in Jos, Tinubu was able to assemble all 20 APC governors, ministers, and president Buhari to flag off his campaign. He also has significant political capital to make from the rebellion of a group of five (G5) PDP governors who have, since the end of PDP primaries, appeared unwilling to support the candidate of their own party—Atiku. Moreover, northern APC governors’ open support to Tinubu before, during, and after the APC primaries will, if sincere, see them deploy institutional and monetary ‘resources’ to help Asiwaju sweep substantial amounts of the bloc northern votes. I use the conditional ‘if sincere’ to underscore the growing unease among influential northern elites/powerbrokers and electorates with the treatment Atiku is subjected to at the hands of the G-5—a group made up of all Christian governors and all (but one) southern governors. It remains to be seen whether the rebellion of G-5 governors would be an un-disguised blessing for Tinubu or one in disguise for Atiku—if the seeming G-5’s attempt to play the regional/religious cards triggers an equal and opposite reaction up north. For now, two major uncertainties face the APC presidential candidate Bola Tinubu: One, uncertainty about the commitment of the presidency and northern governors/elites whose apparent stakes in Tinubu’s candidacy appear to be limited to the fear of post-tenure probe—something they can risk negotiating with Atiku on if the current general disenchantment with APC lingers on and INEC insists on the use of BVA system which will severely curtail governors’ influence to swing their states to their favourite presidential candidate as they used to. Two, uncertainty about the real electoral consequences of the Christian community’s protests against his Muslim-Muslim ticket. Based on weight to 6 variables (political logistics, home advantage, away (dis)advantage, party popularity, ticket sensitivity, and internal/external networks)—which I codenamed Phaptien Presidential Election Predictor (PPEP)— Tinubu/APC has 35.0% probability of winning the next presidential election.

A Hausa/Fulani, Muslim, and former Nigeria’s vice president, Atiku hails from Adamawa state in the north-east— a zone which has the second least number of registered voters (12.8 million or 13.3%). Atiku’s major strengths are built on five pillars. First, the northern region he comes from has substantial electoral strength with a combined total of 53.1% of registered voters—and should it go down to the wire, he’ll be the clear favourite to sweep most of these votes . Secondly, his party’s balanced (Muslim-Christian) ticket has attracted no opposition from the Christian community. Thirdly, Atiku is also a man of enormous ‘political logistics’ and experience in political mobilization having contested for the presidency on five previous occasions. Fourthly, although without de jure incumbency advantage, Atiku looks set to gain from the lukewarm attitude of some APC politicians, ministers and other interests not favourably disposed to the Tinubu candidacy. For instance, in an interview in October, the current Minister of Labour and Employment, Mr Chris Ngige, refused to show open commitment to the presidential candidate of the ruling party. The body language of almost all current federal ministers betrays this palpable nonchalance to Tinubu’s candidacy. Fifthly, connecting some critical dots together, Atiku appears to enjoy the support of one of the two powerful camps of former military officers/rulers i.e., the camp of former General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida (IBB) consisting of such influential retired Generals as T.Y Danjuma and Aliyu Gusau. The other one-man camp of former General/President Olusegun Obasanjo appears to be somewhat neutral—that is, if we gloss over the surprisingly very warm reception Obasanjo recently accorded the APC candidate Tinubu with whom he has had bitter political bones to pick.

However, the major challenge for Atiku now is the rebellion of the G-5 governors led by Mr Nyesom Wike—the Governor of Nigeria’s oil-rich Rivers state, which also has the fourth highest number of registered voters in the country. The extent to which G-5 rebellion will affect the chances of Atiku in the presidential election will substantially depend on whether or not INEC deploys the BVA system, which, as argued above, will significantly curtail the influence of governors to swing their states as they desire. Also, the open belligerence of G-5 members to Atiku appears to be having the unintended effects of slowly but surely shifting the sympathy of northern elites and electorates in Atiku’s favour. Just the same way the persistently vehement opposition to APC’s Muslim-Muslim ticket by some prominent northern Christians (such as the former SGF Babachir Lawal and former HoR speaker Yakubu Dogara) is beginning to shift the sympathy of sections of voters in the north towards the APC candidate. Based on PPEP, Atiku currently has 37.5% probability of wining the presidential election.

An Igbo and Christian, former governor of Anambra state, Mr Peter Gregory Obi, comes from the south-eastern zone which has the least number of registered voters (11.5 million or 11.9%). However, Obi’s strength comes from his passionate youthful supporters (nicknamed Obidients) who appear to be in the majority among the registered voters in the south-eastern and south-southern zones. Being the only prominent Christian candidate, Obi also appears to enjoy the sympathy of some voters from this community across the zones. Like the PDP, Labour Party’s Obi’s ticket is also balanced with his vice-presidential candidate, Datti Baba-Ahmad, being a northern Muslim—although an insignificant figure politically. However, in terms of ‘political logistics’, it is doubtful if Obi or his Labour Party has the potentials to ‘mobilize’ voters on a national scale. I can, on a first thought, project Obi to, hands down, win the majority of votes in the south-east and south-south and, possibly, secure the 25% minimum votes in Lagos and, probably, a few other states—that is, if current opposition against Tinubu’s same-faith ticket is of any real electoral significance. However, I can wager my bottom dollar that Obi cannot garner the minimum required 25% votes in 24 states and a simple majority in the first round just like it is also quite unclear who can actually pull that feat between Tinubu and Atiku. Now who, between Atiku and Tinubu, stands to gain or lose from the Obi phenomenon? I think the fact that the bulk of Obi’s supporters were hitherto traditionally pro-PDP and could have otherwise been supporting the PDP/Atiku would plausibly mean that Atiku has lost one of his strongholds. However, Atiku’s loss is obviously no gain for APC here. In fact, if the presidential polls go down to the wire and a re-run is required as widely speculated, alliances between Obi and Atiku look more likely than between Obi and Tinubu—for albeit sharing the same region (south) and, to a large extent, religion (Christianity), the Igbos and Yorubas do not see eye to eye politically. The two major southern ethno-linguistic groups still struggle with solving the Olsonian collective action problem, unlike the predominantly Muslim north (see Lewis, 2007). This highlights the ambiguity of Obi’s impact on the candidates of the two major parties (APC and PDP). Based on PPEP, Obi has 17.5% probability of winning the presidential elections in February.

Former Kano state Governor and Minister of Defence, Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso is also a Hausa/Fulani Muslim contesting on the platform of the NNPP. Kwankwaso’s main strength derives from his influence in Kano—a state with the highest number of voters in the north (over 6 million). Kwankwaso’s populist policies have earned him the support of voters among the peasantry in many northern states. However, Kwankwaso’s political reach outside the north is limited mainly to communities of northern migrant workers resident in a coterie of affluent southern states. Like Obi, Kwankwaso is also of limited ‘political logistics’ and looks set to be to Atiku what Obi is to Tinubu. Falling out with the PDP and its top brasses including Atiku, Kwankwaso broke away to form his NNPP apparently on a personal mission to assert his influence or play the spoiler role for PDP/Atiku as some allege. If the presidential election goes down to the wire, it is more likely for Kwankwaso to ally with Tinubu than with Atiku—especially if Kwankwaso is able to weather the storm of multi-faceted pressure currently directed at him by some northern elites/powerbrokers to drop his ambition. Based on PPEP, Kwankwaso 10.0% probability of winning.

To sum up, it is obvious that the emergence of two increasingly popular third-party candidates in Peter Obi and Rabiu Kwankwaso have, to an extent, altered what would traditionally have been a two-horse race between two major Nigeria’s political parties—the APC (Tinubu) and PDP (Atiku). However, when the evidence are considered, none of the two third-party candidates has the real potentials to win the presidential contest—although they now look set to, unprecedentedly, have a significant, even indispensable, role to play in who eventually wins the ticket. Other important factors/variables that can influence the outcome of the presidential election pertain to recent amendments in the electoral act especially regarding the use of the Bi-modal Voter Accreditation (BMA) system, and electronic transmission of results from the polling units to the collection centre in real time. Also, depending on dynamics related to the actions, inactions and utterances of political actors, we can expect alignment and re-alignment of forces in both predictable and unpredictable directions going forward. But, in the final analysis, and for now—because time is of the essence in politics—the odds seem to slightly favour the PDP presidential candidate—Atiku Abubakar.


Juicy Ministries and the Geo-Political Zones of their Respective Senior Ministers.



Abubakar Dauda

By Abubakar Sadiq Dauda

The region of the bosses of the Super Ministries i.e. Ministries that have either a large budget size for capital expenditure or juicy parastatals under its supervision are as thus:

Works – South-East
Transportation – North-East
Power – South-West
Petroleum – South-South
Gas Resources – South-South
Finance – South-West
Communications – South-West
F.C.T. – South-South
Interior – South-West
Marine – South-West
Aviation – South-South
Defence – North-West
Police Affairs – North-East
Education – North-East
Health – North-East
Agriculture – North-East
Solid Minerals – South-West
Humanitarian – South-South

Take it or leave it, the North-west and the North-central zones did not get their fair portions, due to the fact that, this administration secured more votes in the Northwest and North-central zones combined, if compared to the total score secured in the remaining four Geo-political zones combined.

Read also: Ministerial Nominee’s: Between Fair Proportions and Political Relevance.

However, delivering his remark after the swearing-in, President Tinubu reminded the Ministers that they are ministers of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and not Ministers of a particular region or state.

I want to believe and pray that the Ministers will be fair to all states and regions in terms of project delivery and job allocations.

Sadiq is a political analyst and observer, writes from Kano and can be reached via, sadiqdauda55@gmail.com

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EXCLUSIVE:Crisis in Former Governor Ganduje’s Camp Halts President Tinubu From Sending Ministerial Nominations From Kano



Last week, President Bola Ahmad Tinubu submitted 28 ministerial nominations, excluding 11 states, including Kano. A source revealed to NIGERIAN TRACKER  that the former Governor of Kano state, Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, is insisting on submitting the name of APC returning officer for the Gubernatorial election in Kano, Engineer Rabiu Suleiman Bichi.

However, the APC Gubernatorial candidate in Kano, Alhaji Nasiru Yusuf Gawuna, is also pressuring to have his name included in the list for onward submission to the Senate for screening.

Exclusive: Kano Political Crisis Delays Tinubu From Sending Ministerial Nominations From Kano

The source added that the APC Governorship candidate is now sending emissaries to Governor Ganduje, urging him to submit his name as the ministerial nominee from Kano.

President Bola Ahmad Tinubu promised two ministerial slots for Kano, one for the NNPP National leader, Senator Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, and one from the Gandujiyya camp of former Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje. Since Ganduje did not scale through the hurdles required to become a minister in President Tinubu’s cabinet, the President gave him the right to nominate a minister, which is now causing tensions within former Governor Ganduje’s political camp.

The source also informed NIGERIAN TRACKER that when President Bola Ahmad Tinubu submits the next nominations from Kano, it will be Senator Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, the NNPP National leader, and one other nominee to be chosen by former Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje.

Another source has informed NIGERIAN TRACKER that the camp of the defunct Action Congress Of Nigeria in Kano, led by President Tinubu in the 2007 and 2011 elections, is insisting on appointing the Gubernatorial candidate of the party in 2011 and former Deputy Governor Of Kano state, Engineer Abdullahi Tijjani Muhammad Gwarzo.

The reasons given by former ACN stalwarts for President Tinubu appointing Engineer ATM Gwarzo into his cabinet are that President Tinubu is known for rewarding loyalty, and being his long-time ally, Engineer Gwarzo is among the most suitable candidates for a ministerial position in Kano.

Accordingly, President Tinubu is expected to contact the former Governor of Kano state, Malam Ibrahim Shekarau, despite currently being in PDP, due to his role in the formation of APC in 2011.

The source also mentioned that President Tinubu is not rushing to appoint ministers from Kano, as the appointment may have the blessings of the 14th Emir of Kano, whom President Tinubu may contact before finalizing the list from Kano.

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Exclusive:Tinubu’s Plan to Strengthen Political Base: Kwankwaso Considered for Cabinet Position”



Senator Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso

In order to consolidate his political base across the country, strong indications have shown that President Bola Ahmad Tinubu has finally decided to bring in NNPP National leader, Engineer Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, into his cabinet.

A source, who is privy to the situation, informed NIGERIAN TRACKER that Senator Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso has made it to the list of ministerial nominees of President Bola Ahmad Tinubu.

Before being sworn in on May 29, 2023, indications emerged that there were twists in the effort to make Kwankwaso one of President Tinubu’s cabinet members. However, the former Governor, who used his political influence to capture the whole of Kano, faced stiff opposition from the APC led by the former Governor of Kano, Dr. Abdullahi Umar Ganduje.

It was reported that Kwankwaso laid down some stringent conditions that could not be met by President Bola Ahmad Tinubu. Despite that, Tinubu still wants to make him his cabinet member due to the political influence of Senator Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso.

The Senate was expected to read the names of the nominees, including Kwankwaso’s name, but the Senate adjourned to the following Tuesday.

The source confidently said, “Kwankwaso’s name is on the list because President Bola Tinubu is highly interested in working with him. He was impressed by how Kwankwaso’s party, NNPP, captured an important state like Kano.

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