Presidential Poll: Buhari, Atiku Stand Head-To-Head

By Bayo Bernard

President Muhammadu Buhari is not happy that his party, All Progressives Congress, APC will not present candidates for governorship elections in Rivers and Zamfara states.

APC has been bared by the courts from presenting candidates for parliamentary elections in the two states due to factional issues.

“I’m not happy that our party would not” present candidates for election in Rivers state, Buhari said in Port Harcourt on Wednesday barely four days to presidential election on Saturday, February 16.

Whatever happens in the two states will impact the result of the election in which the two frontline candidates, Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples’ Democratic Party, PDP and Buhari stand head to head.

From all indications the PDP candidate appears to have gained ground in some states, once regarded as Buhari’s base.

Atiku’s popularity has soared in Zamfara, Kano, Katsina and other Northern states in recent times.

This must have become a source of worry for the Adams Oshiomhole led APC leadership, some analysts say, adding that the situation is more worrisome considering feed-backs from other states where APC recently held its campaigns.

In Ogun state for instance, the party is polarized between the Governor Ibikunle Amosun faction and another led by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.

The governor is supporting the candidate of APM for governor while the party has thrown its weight behind Dapo Abiodun, the party’s candidate for the March 2 governorship election.

The fact that President Buhari was pelted with stones by those alleged to be Governor Amosun’s supporters, underscore the deep seated acrimony that exist in Ogun APC, keen political watchers told the magazine.

In Imo state, Governor Rochas Okorocha is still not happy that his son in-law, Uche Nwosu was denied APC governorship ticket, though the governor is APC senatorial candidate, he may work against president Buhari re-election to prove a point, some say.

“No doubt that what’s happening in these APC states will have grave effect on Buhari’s re-election bid,” Yemi Amusan, an analyst based in Lagos told the magazine on Tuesday.

His assertion came on the heels of a US Polling firm, Williams and Associates prediction which gave victory to Atiku.

Also, Teneo Intelligence, a New York-based analysis firm, had last September predicted that Atiku could beat the president.

Recall that William and Associates was hired in 2015 by ex-President Jonathan to determine his chances in the election.

The firm had then predicted that Buhari will win the election.

The firm said in its latest polls that Atiku will coast to victory by 45 percent vote margin, while Buhari will get below 33 per cent.

It said its prediction was based on its interaction with a cross section of Nigerians on who they will vote for during the election.

Meanwhile, a global research and political risk solutions firm, Eurasia Group, predicted victory for President Buhari in the forthcoming presidential election.

The firm said Buhari will defeat his closest rival in the election, Atiku, by 60 percent.

But the fate of the two presidential candidates will largely be determined by their local support s, analysts said.

The two candidates have polarized various groups in the country countdown to the presidential election on Saturday.

For instance, Afenifere, the pan Yoruba group has been polarized between the two presidential hopefuls.

The same with Ohaneze Ndigbo, the Igbo pan cultural and political group.

The candidacy of Buhari and Atiku has also largely divided the Arewa Consultative Forum, ACF, the Northern political body.

The way things stands today, votes from the northern part of the country will be divided by the APC and PDP candidates where the two candidates hail from.

Atiku is from Adamawa while Buhari hails from Katsina.

The same is likely to happen in the six south west states where the two candidates are popular, even though APC governors are controlling these states.

But Atiku has a good affiliation with some south west leaders since his days as Vice President between 1999 and 2007 under the administration of President Olusegun Obasanjo.

Besides, his wife, Titi hails from Ilesha, Osun state and has been meeting women groups and other political leaders from the region in the last few weeks on the need to support her husband for the presidency.

This might work in Atiku’s favor, according to analysts.

What is likely to weaken Atiku’s bid for the presidency, is the perceived recalcitrance of some PDP governors in the south east to fully throw their weight behind him.

In the south south where PDP governors are in control, APC has also made an inroad after the defection of former Senate Minority Leader and ex-governor of Akwa Ibom state, Godswill Akpabio.

PDP controls four out of the five states in the south east but, there has not been much support from these governors for Atiku.

Most of these governors have stayed back from the PDP presidential campaigns, fueling suggestions that they are not happy with him taking a shot at the presidency.

The acrimony among PDP leaders in the south east started after Atiku picked Peter Obi, a former governor of Anambra state as running mate.

But staunch PDP leaders from the region told the magazine that fences have been mended and that they are now fully behind Atiku.

This position is however contrary to Eurosia’s position, which stated in its report that Atiku’s chance is still being threatened by the divisions among party stalwarts from the region.

“The lack of enthusiasm on the part of some PDP governors is a problem for Atiku because these officials control significant discretionary funds at the state level (known as “security votes”) that are easier to access without triggering graft concerns.

They can also leverage strong relationships with security, judicial, and election officers in their respective states. Governors are thus critical to mobilizing voter turnout on Election Day,” the firm said.

Few minutes ago, the two presidential candidates signed a peace accord in Abuja, the nation’s capital to abide by the result of the election.

“One of you will be elected our president” on Saturday said one of the facilitators of the peace accord on Wednesday. Indeed.

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