Can one prophesy the outcome of the March 28 presidential election in Nigeria? Rather than “prophesy”, I want to “predict”: the former word suggests a revelation from God, which I don’t have.
I won’t toe the line of Prophet Temitope Balogun Joshua, general overseer of The Synagogue, Church of All Nations, in Lagos. If no airplane crashed on the Nigerian soil by the end of tomorrow, “Prophet” TB Joshua would have explanations to give. Last Sunday, he prophesied that an air crash should be expected between March 19 and 23. But he cleverly called for prayers to avert the disaster. So, if no air crash happened, he would say the prayers worked! Yet, this same prophet did not foresee the collapse of his own building that killed about 120 people (most of them South Africans) in September last year. So much for prophecies!
In the matter of this Saturday’s polls in Nigeria, I can only make intelligent guesses. First off, as I write these words, I’m not sure the elections will take place. There are strong indications they will hold this time round, but I’m not sure. Let’s assume there’s no going back and that somebody won’t force INEC chairman Attahiru Jega, at gunpoint, to throw in the towel.
It’s the presidential election, not the National Assembly election expected on the same day, that will truly matter. And the INEC card reader will be the cynosure of all eyes. The device to be employed for the first time in Nigeria is sure to spark either a revolution or a commotion at the first round – and the second or third round – of the general elections. It will be the game changer.
Henceforth, let the reader replace “will” with “may” wherever it appears; it’s the printer’s devil! But the card reader will not work at several polling stations: it will malfunction or be forced to malfunction. Where it fails, INEC says, voting will be postponed to the next day. Therefore, voting may not be concluded even four days after – and no final result will be announced.
It will be Jega’s moment to shine or dim. Election fraudsters pervade all of Nigeria’s political parties. The two leading parties, PDP and APC, have large numbers of them. Each shouts only when a policy or action appears to put it at a disadvantage.
If the card reader works and “incident” forms do not run into millions, there will be a free and fair poll. No more than 20million votes will be recorded nationwide.
The results? Jega may not announce them even by April 4. My guess is that if the poll turns out to be credible, APC candidate Muhammadu Buhari will get up to 10million out of the projected 20million. PDP candidate Goodluck Jonathan may get about 7.8million. The 12 also-rans will share the rest.
The issue of a winning presidential candidate not getting the required spread – a quarter of votes cast in 24 states – is not likely to arise. President Jonathan is likely to get 25 per cent in 25 or 26 states: he may not get it in Niger, Kano, Kebbi, Bauchi, Zamfara, Gombe, Sokoto, Borno, Yobe, and perhaps Katsina and Nasarawa. Buhari may meet the requirement in all but eight or nine states: he may not get 25 per cent in Enugu, Abia, Bayelsa, Cross River, Anambra, Akwa Ibom, Delta, Ebonyi and perhaps Imo.
If vote thieves had their way, we would have a different outcome. Malfunctioning card readers, pockets of violence, acts of terror and (possibly) a strike by policemen may be concocted as reasons for an “inconclusive” election. The results would not be announced. A repeat of the presidential and National Assembly polls may therefore be called for April 18 or 25, that is, after the April 11 governorship and state legislature polls. Protests may follow.
Should the mafia (that often determines how Nigeria is ruled) succeed in marching the nation into a deadlock, there would be an interim government. It could be by way of a “government of national unity” or an extension of the tenure of incumbent officeholders by six months as envisaged by section 64 (2) of the constitution.
Would Nigeria survive it? It has not survived the one provoked in June 1993. In any case, the economy already portends enough crises – rising prices, dwindling government revenues, falling value of the naira, mass unemployment, mass poverty, mass discontent and mass hysteria now pervade the land. Generating another major crisis would be like pouring petrol into a raging fire.
My prayer – like the one recommended by TB Joshua – is that everything would go well. My vote alone will not determine the winner of the presidential election. But I will use it judiciously. Those buying up voter cards have not come my way, maybe because they know it will be impossible to convince me.