After months of speculation, on 9th April 2018, President Muhammadu Buhari confirmed that he would be seeking another term in the 2019 presidential elections, setting the scene for another four-years under the incumbent president. While the ruling APC has been quick to stipulate that Buhari will not be given an automatic ticket in the upcoming presidential primaries, no sitting president in Nigeria has ever not been nominated by his party for a second term.

Thus far, there appears to be no clear indication of who Buhari will be running against. Nobody has yet emerged as a PDP front runner– Nigeria’s main opposition party – despite announcements by several high-profile personalities that they intend to run. These include former Vice President Atiku Abubakar (who only recently defected from the APC in November 2017); current Governor of Ekiti State, Ayodele Fayose; former governor of Jigawa state, Sule Lamido; and former chairman of the PDP National Caretaker Committee, Ahmed Makarfi (African Arguments, 28.03.2018).

While Nigeria’s main opposition party appears not to have been able to shake the perception as a corrupt party (Bloomberg, 19.03.2018), and has suffered from damaging public infighting since 2015, Buhari now faces a serious challenge in 2019 following what some have perceived as an unproductive and frustrating three years in power.

Despite enjoying some successes in his war against corruption, Buhari has drawn repeated criticisms for his failure to live up to his promise to defeat Boko Haram, his lack of response to the worsening farmer-herdsman conflict currently playing out across Nigeria’s central states, and his handling of Nigeria’s economic crisis, in which he oversaw Nigeria slip into – and out of – recession.

Ultimately, Buhari’s success will largely depend on where he can draw further support from outside his established backing from the north east.

Key Points

  • Following his announcement that he would seek re-election in 2019, President Buhari faces a monumental challenge in ensuring that the wave of public support that brought him to power in 2015 is repeated.
  • Rising public discontent over Buhari’s perceived failure to deliver any significant political achievements throughout his first term is likely to damage his chances – even across his northern strongholds.
  • In an attempt to gain support across the traditionally PDP-voting south east region, the APC appears to be relying on the south east agreeing that a second term for Buhari would facilitate an Igbo presidency in 2023.