Defeating Buhari Is Like Extracting Gold From Concrete

By Ikenga Chronicles October 2, 2018

Defeating Buhari Is Like Extracting Gold From Concrete

— Philip Odoemena

I will start this article with this: incumbency is a powerful advantage and President Muhammadu Buhari has it.


Nigeria’s general election is coming up in February 2019 and the political climate in Nigeria seems to be reaching a boiling point yet the campaign hasn’t even started. On February 16, 2019 the citizen’s will vote for the next President. Voters will also elect the governors and all federal and state legislators. The main battle will be between the governing party,All Progressives Congress (APC) ,against the main opposition party Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and many other minor parties. The ruling party,APC,has been in power less than four years as opposed to the main opposition party,PDP,that was in power for sixteen years before being defeated a little over three years ago.

The question on the ground now is; can PDP defeat the incumbent president, Muhammadu Buhari? Three and half years ago, Muhammadu Buhari defeated the then incumbent President ,Goodluck Jonathan. Will it be reasonable to deduce that since he defeated the former incumbent President,he now knows what to do to avoid defeat in next year’s presidential election? Maybe President Buhari has been asking himself the all important question. Why did the former President lose to him? Asking this question may be a good reason to help him to come up with strategies that will aid the President to avoid defeat next year.


Hopefully, PDP may be better prepared to tell voters what they intend to do different that they didn’t do in the 16 years that they were in power. Though this may not be enough to defeat the incumbent President, however, PDP can start out a campaign with great intensity capitalizing on the three factors that mainly helped President Buhari’s victory in the last election, namely the promise to rid Nigeria of its endemic corruption, to fix the economy,and to defeat the threats to security. PDP must look for all the areas where the current government has undergone scandals or have neglected or overlooked their official duties to the public, capitalize on these areas and other areas President Buhari  reneged on promises such as the promise of defeating Boko Haram within three months of assuming office.

Capitalizing on the aforementioned factors may or may not help PDP especially when considering what transpired in the last two State gubernatorial elections. If those two elections are indications of how the presidential election will be conducted next year, defeating the incumbent President Buhari will be an art as well as science.

In as much as there is no guarantee of who wins or loses in an election, empirical studies have shown that it is a huge task to defeat an incumbent President. For this reason alone,  PDP has an arduous task ahead. Considering that elections in Nigeria are very unusual,complemented with the incumbency factor, PDP’s chance to unseat Buhari is very slim. As the President of Nigeria, Buhari has more name recognition among the electorates than whoever his challenger may be, after all  he is the one occupying the office of the presidency right at the moment and that office is very powerful and has very addictive effect to voters.


At this point, President Buhari has everything at his disposal to use and win the election either by intimidation or by any means he chooses. It is easier for him to access campaign finance and government resources directly or indirectly to boost his campaign.  President Buhari has structural advantages over PDP and all other opponents. He can use those structures on the election day as he wishes. President Buhari has the power to set the agenda for the general election, as the leader of his party, he has the formidable advantage to control the party’s apparatus and can call on the support and activism of party loyalists.

Since the constitution gave the President the power to control the military and other security agencies, he can also use that power to intimidate the electorates and opponents prior to or on the election day. The presidency may also influence the Independent National Electoral Commission(INEC)to tilt the electoral results in his favor.


Finally, regardless of the setting and the advantages incumbency may provide to President Buhari, he is still vulnerable to a defeat. After all, unemployment in the country is stubbornly high, Nigeria’s economy seems unsettled.Besides, politics and political activities in recent times defy the laws of psychology and physics. Will these reasons help  PDP the major challenger to APC win the presidential election in 2019?

Your guess is as good as mine, however, if you ask this writer about PDP’s victory in 2019, the answer is;  PDP’s prospect remains daunting unless there is some form of civil insurrection.

I rest my case.