It is less than four months to the presidential election, but the shadow boxing has begun in earnest. The two leading contenders are bragging about their chances.
Former Minister of Information Prince Tony Momoh yesterday said he was confident President Muhammadu Buhari will win.
Momoh told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on telephone that the president deserved re-election.
The Atiku Abubakar camp disagreed. It said the former Vice President would retire President Muhammadu Buhari to his village in Daura after the election.
Momoh said Atiku, the candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), could not stop Buhari as he (Abubakar) was only popular with the elite and not the masses.
Momoh, a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC), said the Buhari administration had impacted on many ordinary Nigerians, and they would vote him in 2019.
He, however, said Buhari would lose some votes in the North because Atiku is from the region, but that the APC candidate would make up in other regions to win.
“I don’t think Atiku can defeat Buhari. No; he can’t, Buhari has done well in the delivery of his electoral promises and he will get the support of the people.
“Look at the war against insurgency, for instance, has he not done well? Is the situation in the Northeast as it used to be? Of course, there is relative security in the region and the people will want to vote for an administration that made that possible.
“Again, the school feeding programme, the conditional cash transfers and the other social programmes of the government, tens of thousands of Nigerians have benefited. You don’t expect them not to vote Buhari.
“These are the real people that will vote, not the people on Facebook or Twitter. The people who are moving against the President now are the elite, not the people, and the reasons are obvious.
“Yes, Atiku is popular with the elite, but how many are they? So I don’t see him winning, though, he will get votes in the North as he is from that region and he is a Fulani and a Muslim like Buhari.
“However, the President will make up for lost votes in other regions like Southeast and South-South where he has delivered many projects to win,’’ he said.
The former minister said the achievements of the President’s fight against corruption and the power of incumbency would work in his favour.
To Momoh, it is an illusion for the PDP to believe the selection of former Governor Peter Obi of Anambra as Atiku’s running mate will deliver the region to the party.
He said the Igbo are politically sophisticated and it had never been easy predicting their direction in any election.
Momoh argued that Buhari picked running mates, the late Chuba Okadigbo and the late Ume Ezeoke, on two occasions for elections, but still lost in the Southeast.
The former minister said the region was open to both candidates in 2019, based on the large number of both APC and PDP members in the area.
He urged Nigerians to participate in the electoral process and obtain their Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs) to vote leaders of their choice.
“The power to choose in 2019 belongs to the people. For that reason, I urge Nigerians to obtain their PVCs to participate in the process.
“It is only when we participate that we can vote people of our choice to help realise the development objectives of our nation,’’ Momoh said.
He urged the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to do its best to deliver credible elections in 2019.
In an email message last night by Atiku’s Media Adviser Paul Ibe, the former Vice President said the 2019 election will be a referendum on the “failed” All Progressives Congress (APC) administration.