It was unexpected. But it is the reality. Former vice president, Atiku
Abubakar, is the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic
This will be the second time Atiku will be on the ballot for the
presidential contest. The first time was in 2007. But he was only
cleared to run barely 48 hours to the contest. His performance was
abysmal. Since then he had made two other unsuccessful bids to
be on the ballot.
With his emergence on Sunday, he will be slugging it out with a
fellow Muslim, a fellow Fulani man from the north, President
Muhammadu Buhari. Buhari was affirmed on Saturday night as the
presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), at
its special national convention, in Abuja. But Atiku is from the
North-east, while Buhari is from the North-west, a zone that has
produced three presidents since 1979, including Buhari.
However, the late Tafawa Balewa from Bauchi State was the first
and last country’s leader, produced by the North-east zone.
At the APC’s convention, national chairman of the party, Adams
Oshiomhole, said next year’s election will not be about religion or
ethnicity, but about character, personal integrity and antecedents
of the opponent.
But Daily Sun’s investigations reveal that character and personal
integrity alone may not be enough to win the support of the
electorate in 2019.
Also, contrary to Oshiomhole’s assertion, religion and ethnicity will
play a decisive role in the election. Since both of them are
Muslims, the votes of the northern Christians and other minority
groups in the North-central, North-west and North-east will matter.
In the build up to the 2015 elections, one of Buhari’s major backers
was former president, Olusegun Obasanjo. He single-handedly de-
marketed former president, Goodluck Jonathan in the international
community. He contributed to undermining the fortunes of the
Today, like he did to Jonathan before the contest, he has asked
Buhari not to run, just as he said he has forgiven the PDP for the
mistakes of 2015. But he is also opposed to Atiku. Since the
presidential contest will be a straight fight between Atiku and
Buhari, Obasanjo will have to decide who to back?
But the APC leadership must close ranks. The crisis rocking the
party in the aftermath of the party primaries may eventually lead to
a “disastrous” outing for the party, especially in the North-west
zone, which is arguably one of the party’s strongholds, if the crisis
are not resolved and quickly too.
The party, pundits say must also take deliberate steps to reassure
the people of the North-central zone where it made appreciable
impact in 2015 that its government really care about their security
The fresh hurdles
Before President Buhari declared his intention for the 2015
presidential contest at the Eagle Square, Abuja, in 2014, there was
no guess about where Senate President, Bukola Saraki stood with
National leader of the party, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and
Kaduna State governor, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, who began the
Buhari project as far back as 2012, were on the same page.
Governor Ibikunle Amosun, who joined the defunct All Nigeria
Peoples Party (ANPP) in 2007, was on the same page with Buhari.
Senator Suleiman Hunkuyi and El-Rufai were on the same page in
Kaduna. Former vice president, Atiku Abubakar and all the five
PDP governors, senators, and members of the House of
Representatives, had all defected to the APC. All these, made
APC’s prospects promising ahead of the 2015 contest. It was
therefore not surprising that it eventually won the contest.
But today, almost all the political heavy weights that left the PDP
for the APC before the 2015 elections, have all returned to the
PDP. The only person yet to return is former Sokoto State
governor, Senator Aliyu Wamakko. Investigations also revealed
that the current crisis rocking the party may force a few more to
move out of the party before next year’s election.
However, the party has also gained some heavy weights from the
PDP too. Former Kano State governor, Ibrahim Shekarau has
returned to the party, just as former Akwa Ibom State governor,
Senator Godswill Akpabio, has joined the party. They too will help
to boost the chances of the APC in 2019 presidential contest.
How the zones voted in the 2015 presidential election
In the South-east, Buhari scored 198,248 votes, Jonathan polled
2,464,906; in the South-south, Buhari had 418,590 votes, Jonathan
had 4,714,725 votes; South-west, Buhari had 2,433,193 votes,
Jonathan scored 1,821,416; in the North-central Buhari polled
2,411,013 votes, Jonathan recorded 1,715,818 votes, in the North-
east, Buhari polled 2,848,678 votes, Jonathan had 796,580 votes
and in the North-west, which is Buhari’s base, and where he enjoys
a cult-like following, he polled 7,115,199 votes, and Jonathan
managed to poll 1,339,709 votes.
Interestingly, Kano alone accounted for about two million votes in
favour of Buhari against the PDP’s candidate, Jonathan. Ironically,
the difference between Buhari and Jonathan’s votes was 2.5
million. Whereas in 2011, when Jonathan defeated Buhari at the
time the PDP was intact, with Buhari running on the platform of the
defunct Congress for Progressives Change (CPC), the margin was
about 10 million votes.
In Kaduna too, in 2011, when Hunkuyi and his group were in the
PDP, the party won the governorship, but lost the presidential
election to Buhari’s CPC with 1, 334, 244 to PDP’s 1, 190, 179.
PDP had fielded Jonathan in that election.
But in 2015, when Hunkuyi and his group joined the APC, the party
which fielded Buhari as its presidential candidate, PDP lost both
the governorship and the presidential contests with wider margin.
While Buhari’s APC polled 1,127, 760 in the presidential contest,
PDP which again fielded Jonathan polled 484, 085. Today, Hunkuyi
is back in the PDP. If the PDP is able to manage its post-
primaries’ crisis well, it may deliver the state and the presidential
contest to the PDP.
Likely scenario in the zones in the 2019 presidential contest
To win 2019, Buhari and his party may have to do more in the
North-central and North-east. Saraki’s exit may see the party
losing Kwara and Kogi in the North-central. If he could assist the
APC to win Ondo State recently at the time he was still in the party,
it means he would be playing a decisive role in Benue too.
Daily Sun gathered that having lost Governor Samuel Ortom to the
PDP, APC’s chances of winning Benue State appears slimmer.
Also, because of the incessant killings on the Plateau, whether the
governor defects or not, the state would pose a big challenge to the
APC. Although it won the governorship in 2015, PDP floored it in
the presidential contest in the same year.
Nasarawa State is supposed to be the APC’s stronghold. But since
2011, Buhari has never won the state. This is despite the fact that
his party, CPC, at the time won the governorship in the state.
Today, there is nothing on ground to suggest that the situation will
likely change in 2019. But in Niger, even if the party loses the
governorship, Buhari may still carry the day.
In the North-east, with the exit of Senator Bayero Nafada, APC may
find it difficult to re-enact the 2015 magic in Gombe State.
Investigations also show that the party lost Taraba State in 2015,
and since PDP still controls the state, it may be impenetrable for
the APC. The exit of the former minister of Women Affairs, Hajia
Aisha Alhassan from the APC, will further compound its woes in
Adamawa, investigations reveal, is another dicey state for the
APC. Majority of those who helped it win it in 2015 have either
deserted the party or have been forced out by the party. The
governor is still in the APC. But some of his cabinet members have
defected to the PDP, yet they have not been fired by the governor.
It is uncertain if the APC can afford to go to sleep banking on the
state. With the emergence of Atiku, his benefactor as the
presidential candidate of the PDP, the state governor may not take
long before relocating to the PDP. Besides, the disposition of the
Wife of the President, Hajia Aisha Buhari, may compound the
party’s woes in the state.
Buhari and APC are home and dry in Bauchi State as far as the
presidential contest is concerned. But the governorship is still very
contentious. The combination of former FCT minister, Bala
Mohammed as PDP’s candidate and Speaker of the House of
Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, may make the task of winning
the state a daunting one for the APC.
Yobe has always been a comfort zone for the party. Whatever
happens in Borno will have effect on Yobe. In Borno however, APC
by itself appears to be trying to instigate crisis for itself. There are
persons working for Buhari within the presidency who believed that
Governor Kashim Shettima needs to be checkmated by his
estranged god-father, Senator Ali Modu Sheriff. Sheriff had shortly
before the 2015 contest asked then President Jonathan to hold him
“responsible if Borno is not delivered to the PDP.”
But by the time the election was won and lost in 2015, Sheriff did
not only fail to deliver Borno to the PDP, he could not even secure
the constitutionally required 25 percent votes for the party’s
presidential candidate, Jonathan. Shettima delivered 473, 543
votes to Buhari, representing about 97 percent of the total valid
votes cast, leaving Jonathan with just 25, 640 votes.
The South-south and South-east appears APC’s no-go areas,
leaving the South-west as a battle ground between the two parties.
How well Tinubu is treated ahead of 2019 will determine where the
APC support in the South-west will go. But with the recent outcome
of the Osun governorship, APC leaders in the zone may have to do
some introspection. Its handling of its Ogun crisis will go a long a
way to determine whether or not it will retain the state.
Daily Sun recalls that in 2011, PDP’s presidential candidate,
Jonathan, floored defunct Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN)
presidential candidate, Nuhu Ribadu, in most South-west states,
including Lagos. But Ribadu won Osun State, where Governor Rauf
Aregbesola, who had just been sworn in then, after winning in the
court, needed to prove a point.
Three years after however, the APC only struggled to win the state
by less than 500 votes, whereas it won by over 100, 000 margin in
The first time Buhari posed any serious challenge to the PDP was
in 2011. In that contest, Buhari ran against Jonathan, a Christian
and a southerner. In Kaduna for instance, the contest was fierce.
Although, Buhari eventually defeated Jonathan in that election in
Kaduna, the margin was slim. While Buhari polled1, 334, 244 votes,
Jonathan polled 1, 190, 170 votes. But in the final analysis,
Jonathan won the contest, beating Buhari in seven of the 19
northern states and the FCT. The states are: Adamawa, Benue,
Kogi, Kwara, Nasarawa, Plateau and Taraba.
In the north, Daily Sun investigations reveal, politics is like war.
But in prosecuting any war in the north, be it political or otherwise,
religion and ethnicity play major role. These two factors may
perhaps be responsible for why Buhari only post 12 million votes
and above each time he runs against a southerner and a Christian.
For instance, in 2003, which was the first time he was coming into
the race, Buhari polled 12, 710, 022 votes against Olusegun
Obasanjo of the PDP, who polled 24, 456, 140 votes. Buhari ran on
the platform of the defunct All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP),
which was in firm control of the north at the time.
But in 2007, which was Atiku’s first time on the ballot, Buhari was
PDP’s major challenger in that contest. Atiku was however not the
PDP’s candidate in that contest. Umaru Yar’Adua, a fellow Muslim
and northerner, was the PDP’s candidate. In the end, Buhari only
managed to poll 6, 605, 299 votes, against Yar’Adua who polled
24, 838, 063 votes. Yar’Adua, who was rounding off his tenure as
the Katsina governor at the time, also floored Buhari, a fellow
Katsina man in the state.
However, when Buhari again squared up against Jonathan, a
southerner and a Christian in 2011, he recorded 12, 214, 843 votes.
But Jonathan carried the day with 22, 495, 187 votes.
Again in 2015, when Buhari ran against Jonathan, he not only
defeated Jonathan in the north, he went ahead to win the contest
for the first time, polling 15, 424, 921 votes, against Jonathan’s
12, 853,162 votes. He may have won because of the crisis that hit
the PDP, ahead of the 2015 contest.
It was unexpected. But it is the reality. Former vice president, Atiku