How Buhari Might Lose The 2019 Presidential Election

President Muhammadu Buhari

Despite his perceived popularity and vantage position to win the 2019 presidential election, President Muhammadu Buhari may face some major stumbling blocks which might overwhelm him if the obstacles are not well managed.
The lanky leader of the most populous black nation in the world has several hurdles to scale as he throws his hat in the ring with a very low approval rating. His major challenger is a former Vice President Atiku Abubakar who is a member of the main opposition party in Nigeria, Peoples Democratic Party, PDP. The 2019 presidential election is expected to be a close contest between Atiku and Buhari despite producing a record of 73 presidential candidates from different mushroom political parties.
Popular views have it that Buhari would come out on top in the February 16 presidential election but some Achilles’ heel might militate against his success despite the perceived power of incumbency.
Political analyst, Osayimwen Osahon George examines some factors that could affect Buhari's chances of success in the forthcoming presidential below:
(1) General underperformance:
Aside the record investment in infrastructural facilities (N1.3 trillion in 2016), is there any positive change Buhari has brought that the masses can boldly attest to? The war against corruption has been blighted by politics. Only three high-profile cases have been concluded in the past three years with no transparency in the recovered loot. The economy slid into recession and has been able to muster just 1.8% growth since recovery. Over 90 million Nigerians still live in extreme poverty as Nigeria consolidates her stand as the world's poverty capital.
As for security, data from the Nigeria security tracker showed that since the beginning of the current administration, crisis situations mostly Boko Haram attacks have caused the death of 10,108 persons in the north-eastern states of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa. Armed bandits are still having a field day in Zamfara, Katsina, Adamawa, Kaduna, Taraba, Plateau and other areas. In the last two years, armed bandits have reportedly killed over 3,000 people in Zamfara state. At least N1.2 billion has been paid as ransom to secure the release of those abducted during the period. The governors of Borno and Katsina States recently ate the humble pie as they admitted that their domains are no longer safe.
(2) Divided Army
One of the greatest mistakes the APC made was the appointment of a former Edo State governor, Adams Oshiomhole as its national chairman. Oshiomhole has been confusing the leadership role with his days at the helms of affairs of the Nigeria Labour Congress. He has presided over one of the most controversial and corrupt primary elections in Nigeria which Aisha Buhari raised her voice against. The resultant effect is the divided loyalties of Governor Ibikunle Amosun, Governor Rochas Okorocha, Governor Rotimi Akeredolu, Senator Magnus Abe, APC Zamfara crisis, Adamawa crisis and the mass exodus of lawmakers. Members of the APC are either openly or discreetly aggrieved. Buhari will be approaching the 2019 election with a divided and uncoordinated army. As at October, 2018, 15 governors alongside their allies in the presidency reportedly wanted the chairman out of office.
(3) Health factor
Political analysts believe the health of a president determines that of the country and that is why the mental and physical fitness of a leader will always be paramount in politics. President Buhari spent a cumulative period of 6 months in the UK recovering from an ailment that almost claimed his life. He is 76 and will be president till the age of 80 if given a chance. His sickness has been rumoured to be lingering prostrate flare-up, Crohn’s disease, amnesia other chronic conditions amid lack of transparency by his handlers. Considering Buhari's age, recent health history and work demands; there is the possibility that he will suffer a relapse in the nearest and the dreaded cabal might seize that opportunity to rule by proxy. There might be a replay of the late Umaru Musa Yar'Adua scenario in Buhari's second term in office.
(4) The Obasanjo factor
The ex president of Nigeria, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo is a powerful force as far as Nigerian politics is concerned. He is one man in a million. Former President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan underrated him and learned the hard way. He has apparently installed several Nigerian leaders including Buhari in 2015. An ordinary open letter from him in January, 2018 which reinforced over flogged issues trended for months in the media. He has turned his back against Buhari and backed Atiku. 
Obasanjo's cause to oust Buhari will also be backed by a coalition of angry military generals namely; former military president Ibrahim Babangida, General Aliyu Gusau, General Theophilus Yakubu Danjuma and others in their class. Will the Ebora Owu get it wrong this time around or will he be missed as Real Madrid secretly does about Cristiano Ronaldo? Time is about to tell a shocking story.
(5) Buhari's perceived clannishness:
President Buhari is seen more as the president of the north rather than the Nigerian president. Nigeria has never been this divided due to his actions and inactions. 16 out of 17 service chiefs are from the northern part of Nigeria. In October, 2017, there was a controversial report by the BusinessDay newspaper that 81 of the president’s 100 political appointees since he assumed office in 2015 are northerners.
Buhari excluded the South-South, and the South-East from Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC board thereby generating uproar in the senate. His alleged pampering of Fulani herdsmen and brutal crushing of the Biafra separatists will forever linger in the heads of the Igbos despite all the capital projects he allocated to the region. There will be protest votes in 2019. The Southeast will not follow him.  Buhari sold a dummy to the South-south with the promises of restructuring and Ogoni clean-up exercise. They will be aiming to pay him back with their voter's cards.
(6) Fear of the unknown:
With due respect, Buhari is a democrat by face and dictator by heart. He recently blamed the judicial system for allegedly derailing his anti-corruption war. Buhari also daringly told a community of lawyers at the 2018 Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) conference in Abuja that the rule of law would now be subservient to national interest and national security. That sounds fascist!
The controversial Presidential Executive Order 6 and travel ban reek of the human right abuses during his days as a military Head of State in 1983 to 1985. His refusal to release the former NSA Sambo Dasuki and the leader of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria – Sheikh Ibrahim El Zakzaky despite existing court orders for their release is a tip of the iceberg on the doom that might await Nigerians  and his political enemies in his second coming. He is already used to the speedy but inexpert trial of suspects by Kangaroo military courts. Most of his critics have been silenced by the DSS, police and the regular state weapon, EFCC.
There is a general fear that Buhari could show his hidden or suppressed colours when given a second chance as this time around, he would have no reason to be accountable to Nigerians. The fate of the economy of a 23.1% unemployment record from the 14% Buhari met it alongside our burgeoning foreign debts also constitute contemplative fears among people. Nigeria might head the Venezuela way under President Nicolas Maduro if nothing changes positively till 2023.
(7) Poor media relationship:
Buhari is one of the few if not the only president in the world that hates the local media. The monthly media chat has been observed only once by him and that was in December, 2015. Yet, Buhari has spoken with the CNN, BBC, Al Jazeera and other international media platforms outside Nigeria. 
What we get mostly is regular press statements and written speeches he might have only aligned with for political correctness. Buhari has also showed no signs of participating in the upcoming January 19, 2019 presidential debate. There seem to be a disconnect between him and the people and this gave credibility to the spurious Body Double claims made by separatist leader, Nnamdi Kanu.
Buhari's campaign team appears grossly incompetent with one of his media aides, Lauretta Onochie unrepentantly spreading fake news on Twitter. There is no clear cut strategy to market Buhari. Rather than focus on his achievements, and sell the Next Level agenda, they are more fixated on how corrupt Atiku has been in the past and how Nigeria might be sold if the billionaire politician is given a chance. That song has been overplayed on radio!
(8) Similarities between Atiku and Buhari
The 2015 presidential election between Buhari and Jonathan was close despite the euphoria that ushered in the latter. The difference in votes was just 2,571, 759 million. Apart from the contentious Kano votes of 1.9 million, Jonathan gave a tough fight in Buhari’s political strongholds. Majority of the northerners followed Buhari on ethnic and religious grounds. The followership was sparsely motivated by his vision or leadership qualities. It was more of a contest between Christians and Muslims and also the north and south. Today, the Atiku candidacy seems immune to religious and ethnic differences. He is an Hausa/Fulani Muslim just like Buhari with a considerable popularity in the north. There will be a fair fight in the northern part which is Buhari's major support base.
(9) Influence of pressure groups:
The minimum wage debate will either make or mar Buhari. The Nigeria Labour Congress is a lethal pressure group that could shape the public perception of the Buhari administration. The influence of Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU and Academic Staff of Union of Polytechnics, ASUP also counts. They are on strike and the longer the strike lingers, the more damage it causes to the image of Buhari.
(10) External factors:
The HSBC, The Economist, IMF, World Bank, Brookings Institution, former Secretary of State for International Development in the United Kingdom, Priti Patel, the Defence and Foreign Affairs Department of the International Strategic Studies Association and other influential international bodies have picked faults in the Buhari administration which can be translated to lack of faith. Nigeria has also been topping odious charts across the world and this has reduced the morale of the supporters of Buhari.
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About Osahon

I'm a journalist and a Political Scientist undergoing a doctoral programme focused on media, democracy and governance in Africa. My mission is to uphold the role of the media as the 'fourth estate of the realm' and also tell the Nigerian Story to the world. You can contact me on Phone number: +2347053302356.
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