A victory for either of the two front runners poses risks for Nigeria, according to Eurasia Group.
Eurasia Group, a United States political risk consultancy corporation, has offered a bleak outlook over the possible electoral victory of Nigeria’s biggest presidential candidates, President Muhammadu Buhari and Atiku Abubakar.
With the 2019 presidential election just five weeks away, one of Buhari and Atiku is expected to be elected Nigeria’s president at the polls.
However, according to Eurasia’s recent report, victory for either of the two might not best serve the country as they both have limitations that might prove troublesome in the future.
The group described Buhari, 76, as lacking energy to solve Nigeria’s problems while Atiku is likely to enrich himself and associates if he becomes president.
The report read, “He (Buhari) is an elderly, infirm leader who lacks the energy, creativity, or political savvy to move the needle on Nigeria’s most intractable problems.
“His opponent is Atiku Abubakar, another gerontocrat who would focus on enriching himself and his cronies, avoiding the difficult and politically unpopular tasks necessary for reform.”
Buhari’s victory poses risks of political crisis – Eurasia
The report further noted that a second term victory for Buhari would bring Nigeria little progress “on critical policy priorities like tax reform or a restructuring of the energy sector”.
“Buhari would be a lame duck from day one, with powerbrokers in his own party quickly shifting their focus to the next electoral cycle in 2023,” the report read.
The group also expressed worry that a repetition of Buhari’s mysterious health problems, like during his first term, would worse the situation.
The report concluded, “A Buhari reelection also carries tail risks. A politically weak president, for health or other reasons, would open the floodgates for political infighting, increasing the chances that his ruling All Progressives Congress implodes.
“That would turn a policy slowdown into paralysis. The risk of attacks on oil infrastructure would also rise, because the absence of strong leadership in Abuja would make it harder to negotiate with the Niger Delta’s various militant groups.”
Atiku’s policies are unclear and untested – Eurasia
Eurasia also poured cold water on the possible victory of Atiku, a former vice president, noting that his policy priorities are unclear and untested even though he’s credited with keener intellect than Buhari.
The group noted that his victory would create a brief, superficial boost to the country’s image, even at the risk of Nigeria returning to “an even more rent-seeking governing style”.
The report read, “Atiku’s policy priorities are unclear and untested: He had previously promised to deregulate the oil and gas sector but recently pledged to reduce gasoline prices by 50% from already below-market levels. That would swell subsidy costs and endanger long-term debt sustainability.
“He’s also unlikely to champion a tax reform that’s critical to Nigeria’s fiscal sustainability. Atiku would face significant infighting within his People’s Democratic Party as well, as leaders try to hold him to his promise to serve only one term (a pledge he’s likely to retract).”
Post-election crisis is possible – Eurasia
Eurasia also expressed worry over a possible crisis that’ll trail the results of the election which it noted will be close and might be challenged or inconclusive.
The report read, “Then there’s a dangerous wildcard outcome. The election will be close, and a challenged or inconclusive result is possible.
“That, in turn, could trigger a political crisis in which neither candidate has a legitimate claim to power.
“If the vote is close enough to trigger a runoff, Nigeria’s constitution requires the second round of voting to occur within seven days of the first, a tough timeline to meet given the complexity of organising national elections in the country.”
Other presidential candidates
Even though the February 16, 2019 election is expected to be keenly-contested between Atiku and Buhari, they face competition from other candidates including Kingsley Moghalu of the Young Progressive Party (YPP) , Obiageli Ezekwesili of the Allied Congress Party of Nigeria (ACPN) , Fela Durotoye of the Alliance for New Nigeria (ANN) , and Omoyele Sowore of the African Action Congress (AAC).
Others are Tope Fasua of the Abundance Nigeria Renewal Party (ANRP) , Eunice Atuejide of the National Interest Party (NIP) , Adesina Fagbenro-Byron of the Kowa Party (KP) , Chike Ukaegbu of the Advanced Allied Party (AAP) , Hamza Al-Mustapha of the People’s Party of Nigeria (PPN) , Obadiah Mailafia of the African Democratic Congress (ADC) , and many more.
79 candidates will contest in the election , the highest number ever in Nigeria’s electoral history.