Credible intelligence suggests that, even at this late stage, the Independent National Electoral Commision (INEC) may make the crucial decision to postpone the election tomorrow. If they do go ahead, the latest polls suggest that the presidential election between incumbent Goodluck Jonathan and the All Progressive Change (APC) candidate, former military ruler General Muhammadu Buhari, is too close to call.
For the first time since the return to civilian rule in 1999, the APC provides a viable alternative to the previously hegemonic People's Democratic Party (PDP), and Buhari’s campaign is focused on the two issues of corruption and security, both of which carry currency with voters across Nigeria.
It is entirely possible that, should the election proceed, the results will be so close that a presidential run-off will ensue. Due to Nigeria’s deep-seated religious, ethnic, and regional divides, many states may follow predictable voting patterns leaving the south west and the central states as the major electoral battlegrounds.
If Jonathan loses, it will be the first time since Nigerian independence in 1960 that an incumbent civilian president will have been displaced in an election; Nigeria has no history or experience of an incumbent losing or handing over power peacefully to an opponent. An APC win which was accepted by the PDP would be an extraordinary fillip for Nigeria and a major landmark for democracy in Nigeria. If the election is very tight, and especially if there are substantiated allegations of rigging, the potential for instability and violence is considerable. At the 2011 elections when Buhari lost, the northern states erupted in violence that left more than 800 people dead.
Nigeria’s commercial centers have demonstrated a remarkable resilience to political and security challenges and in the longer run oil prices pose a greater threat to economic stability; 90% of foreign earnings are derived from oil revenue.
K2 Intelligence has unique access in Nigeria, including a team in country, and will be providing regular updates as the election progresses.