Nigeria housekeeping ahead of 2019 polls

Nigeria’s general elections are now three months away and the two main parties are gearing up for the campaign trails beginning in December: (a) The ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP) have picked their candidates for the presidential poll, (b) Both parties are still trying to build internal consensus.

  • PDP candidate Atiku Abubakar drew some disapproval from state governors of the southeast region last month when he chose former Anambra State Governor Peter Obi as his running mate. The governors wanted a more senior party member such as the current deputy senate president Ike Ekweremadu (Enugu State), who considered quitting the party for not getting the VP position.

  • Meanwhile, APC chair Adams Oshiomole is facing pressure from within his own party for his role in the party’s state primaries; he’s been accused of manipulating the results. Abdullahi Ganduje, governor of Kano (the largest voting state) is also entangled in a corruption scandal that could weaken his ability to influence the presidential poll next year in President Muhammadu Buhari’s favor.

  • Some significant economic and security events are also happening in the background. The Nigeria Labor Congress is threatening to go on strike unless the government raises the minimum wage from NGN18,000 to NGN30,000, while government forces killed dozens of Shi’ite protesters last week in the latest crackdown on the religious group, and ethnic violence in Kaduna (another key voting state) has led to government-imposed curfews.

  • We expect that labour will continue to pressure the government for a pay raise now that it has the attention of the politicians, and will likely get a piecemeal concession consistent with the government’s preference for tokenism rather than reform.

For now, the presidential poll appears too close to call as both APC and PDP try to put their house in order. However, the opposition appears to have more momentum and unity than the ruling party, and is likely to maintain this advantage under the present circumstances.

Written by Analyst Adedayo Ademuwagun (Lagos)

Nana Ampofo