President Muhammadu Buhari believes his chances of losing the February 16 presidential election are slim to none, declaring that it “sounds like if impossible”.
The president said this while speaking during a two-hour town hall programme, tagged ‘The Candidates’, in Abuja on Wednesday, January 16, 2019.
When asked if he would concede defeat if he loses the election, the president was evasive and unwilling to address the possibility of it because of the support he believes he enjoys among Nigerian voters.
When the moderator, Kadaria Ahmed, pressed for an explicit answer, the president digressed again, noting that it wouldn’t be the first time he would lose. He lost the presidential elections in 2003, 2007, and 2011, challenging all the results in court.
He said, “That wouldn’t be the first time I lose election. I tried in 2003, and I was in court for 30 months; 2007, I was in court for 18 months; 2011, I was in court for eight months. And I went up to the Supreme Court.
“The third time, I said, ‘God dey,’ and the fourth time, God and technology came in, the PVC and card readers, you know, the opposition took it for granted.”
Buhari became the first opposition candidate to defeat an incumbent democratic president in Nigeria when he won the 2015 presidential election over then-president, Goodluck Jonathan.
Jonathan conceded defeat to the former military Head of State in a phone call before the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) officially declared him the winner.
His act of conceding defeat was widely hailed for having prevented post-election violence in the country as experienced after the 2011 presidential election.
While speaking during a dinner event at the Presidential Villa on October 18, 2018, Buhari said Jonathan’s gesture earned his undying admiration.
He said, “I’ll continue to hold former president Jonathan in high esteem as a result of that singular act. He was in power as Deputy Governor, Governor (Bayelsa), Vice-President and President, all for about 10 years and he voluntarily accepted defeat and surrendered power to me.”
The opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has relentlessly expressed fears that the president plans to hold on to power even if he loses the February 16 election which is billed to be a keen contest between him and former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, the PDP’s candidate.
Others are Tope Fasua of the Abundance Nigeria Renewal Party (ANRP), Eunice Atuejide of the National Interest Party (NIP), Adesina Fagbenro-Byron of the Kowa Party (KP), Chike Ukaegbu of the Advanced Allied Party (AAP), Hamza Al-Mustapha of the People’s Party of Nigeria (PPN), Obadiah Mailafia of the African Democratic Congress (ADC), and many more.
79 candidates will contest in the election, the highest number ever in Nigeria’s electoral history.