Countdown to February 2019: A look ahead at Nigeria’s elections - UK's Chatham House

Countdown to February 2019: A look ahead at Nigeria’s elections - UK's Chatham House

- Ahead of the 2019 election, Chatham House has released a latest report overlooking the current political trends in the country

- The UK think tank in its report, stated that over the coming months, a few key factors will determine if the ruling APC will repeat its sweeping 2015 victory or risk defeat

- It added that APC's performance in the 2018 Ekiti and Osun governorship elections could also become determining factors

The Chatham House in its latest report titled ‘Countdown to February 2019: A Look ahead at Nigeria’s elections’ released on Wednesday, July 25, took an overview of the political trends in Nigeria.

NAIJ.com gathered that the UK think tank projected that President Muhammadu Buhari’s popularity may yet rebound if he is able to meet some of his manifesto promises or it may slide further if he seeks re-election having failed to make tangible progress in addressing the country’s socio-economic and security challenges.

The report which was authored by two researchers, Matthew T. Page and Sola Tayo, stated that over the coming months, a few key factors will determine whether the APC will repeat its sweeping 2015 victory or risk defeat.

"The first is the degree to which the party either remains united behind Buhari’s candidacy or sees existing factional divisions widen. The second is the president’s performance in the last six months of his term, and his party’s performance in off-cycle governorship elections,” it said.

READ ALSO: What we discussed with President Buhari - APC senators

According to Chatham House, President Buhari’s own record in the last six months of his current term, and his party’s performance in off-cycle governorship elections in the states of Ekiti and Osun – in July and September 2018, respectively could also become determining factors.

Recent party congresses have deepened intra-party rifts. Regardless, the congresses will have determined which APC power brokers will enjoy an advantage when they meet to select party candidates later this year.

“Recent developments suggest that tensions and divisions within the party continue to escalate. Notably, in early July 2018 a group of prominent APC members held a press conference to announce the establishment of the Reformed APC (R-APC).

This breakaway faction from the party core, led by Alhaji Buba Galadima, a former ally of Buhari, presaged the defection later the same month of dozens of federal legislators from the APC to the PDP. Additional ‘crosscarpeting’ may follow. As at previous elections, political parties and party membership will remain fluid at least until the primaries.

“The second factor is the President Buhari’s own record in the last six months of his current term, and his party’s performance in off-cycle governorship elections in the states of Ekiti and Osun – in July and September 2018, respectively.”

READ ALSO: My chances of leaving APC very high - Saraki

Another issue dogging Nigerian elections – and one that resurfaces with every election – is that of underage voters. An INEC official has claimed that underage voters have been registered in certain parts of the country after some members of those communities intimidated INEC staff.

But despite such challenges, INEC claims that it will be ready for 2019 and its incumbent chairman, Mahmood Yakubu, insists he will not be intimidated by partisan pressure.

Security remains a serious problem in the northeast of the country, with Boko Haram and other militant groups still very active in the region. The 2015 polls were delayed to allow for a military offensive to secure the area.

If the military is called into action again for 2019, this will further weaken the government’s often-repeated claim that the insurgency has been eliminated.

Security conditions during the pre- and post-election period will greatly impact INEC’s ability to conduct credible and well-executed polls.

However, the authors projected that the 2019 polls ”in all respects, will follow the pattern of other recent national polls”.

”Although the prospect of renewed military involvement in politics should never be totally discounted, on the surface at least it appears that Nigeria’s democratic trajectory will continue without interruption. Now that the PDP monopoly has been broken, legitimate questions are being asked about the manner in which politics is conducted in Nigeria,” they said.

The researchers urged foreign countries not to abandon Nigeria as it prepares to undergo the crucial polls.

”US policy towards Nigeria, in particular, has been weakened by a shift in emphasis away from democracy and governance towards counter-terrorism and trade.

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"To make up for the lack of interest in Washington, the UK, the EU and their Nigerian civil society partners will need to redouble their efforts to support – but also closely and objectively scrutinise – INEC’s performance in the run-up to and during the elections.

"Just like Nigerians’ all-important participation in the democratic process, international engagement will be critical to the success of Nigeria’s elections.”

In a previous report by NAIJ.com, a socio-cultural group, Yoruba Ronu Leadership Forum (YRLF), said that the defection of some National Assembly members from the All Progressives Congress (APC) on Tuesday, July 24, would not affect President Muhammadu Buhari’s re-election bid.

The secretary general of the group, Akin Malaolu, made this known on Tuesday, July 24, in a statement he signed in Abuja.

Malaolu said that some political elements are making futile efforts to pressurise democracy.

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Source: Naija.ng

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