“Conscience is an open wound, only truth can heal – Sheikh Uthman Dan Fodio”
As a design thinker, strategist, and policy consultant, I thought to emphasize the importance of design thinking as a research methodology as against the traditional approach to research and poll-taking which has characterized recent studies, by applying its methods to the 2019 election in arriving at plausible outcomes – something that needs to be applied more often in Nigeria’s public and private sector, especially considering the wicked problems confronting Nigeria and a dearth of data.
On application of design research or thinking, the results were astonishingly leading to a different narrative, as against the strong held views of what the elections could look like. I must state that this is neither the case of ‘Paul the Octopus’ in an Arsenal vs. Chelsea match nor a dog backing at food to predict the outcomes of an election. Design thinking is a simple but rigorous approach to arriving at innovative outcomes in difficult situations.
Firstly, let us start with the 2019 elections in February. The plausibility of it not holding in February 16 is 55% as against 45%, which means it is likely to be shifted by a week or more. This is based on certain indications in the polity such as the case of Justice Walter S.N. Onnoghen, cases in Rivers and Zamfara, the legality or illegality of Justice Ibrahim Tanko Muhammad’s appointment and the tribunal sworn-in (even not appointed by him), the suit seeking for President Mohammadu Buhari’s disqualification on health grounds, and most importantly, Independent National Electoral Commission’s (INEC) internal logistics. However, this will not in any way affect the outcomes of the elections – Nigerians can remain calm if this shift happens. Also, the predicted results here will remain the same, whether the elections were held in February 16 or shifted till later week(s). Also, if most of the issues are resolved before February 16, the odds will change in favor of elections holding.
Secondly, on the Presidential elections, against popular believe in the power of the incumbency and the perceived Northern support for President Muhammadu Buhari, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar will win President Muhammadu Buhari in over 21 states out of the 36 states, with Alhaji Atiku winning more than 25% in the remaining state to achieve the required 24 states as provided in the 1999 Nigerian constitution, to become President. Interestingly, a large number of the votes will also come for Alhaji Akitu from the Northern states, where President Buhari seem to have a base. This is partly due to strategic covert alliances with Atiku, as well as his strategic messaging across the country, pitching his messages to the situation and partly due to Buhari’s overt flaws. Buhari’s loyalists will not be as motivated to come out en-mass as they did in 2015 – his aura of being a movement has been demystified and dwindling.
In Nigeria, is there hope for the newer candidates with great passion for nation-building? Yes, there is, but in 2023/2027, if and only if they continue the momentum of visibility and act as a shadow-cabinet critiquing Atiku’s government (and many promises), and proffering pragmatic solutions after elections. In addition to a lack of widespread structure and consensus, one of the reasons why 2019 is not the year for new leaders, is because Buhari’s conceivably lack of performance in the most critical sectors, has led some voters to decide voting for Atiku, instead of risking the return of Buhari for another four years, especially in the South West. In addition, the millions of students (a major voting bloc for new candidates) are at home due to ASUU key strike, whereas they have their PVC registered in School.
In Oyo state, the pacesetter state, Engineer Seyi Makinde of the PDP will win – APC’s house is divided against itself and the Buhari-effect has diminished in the state. In addition, there is a trend in Oyo State where a Gubernatorial candidate who had previously shown skin, but lost in the previous election gets voted in, after decamping to a major party – a case study is Governor Abiola Ajimobi. This will repeat itself with Seyi Makinde. Interestingly, Senator Abiola Ajimobi’s candidate as well as he himself, will suffer a marginal defeat at the Senatorial polls, despite massive campaign spending. Barrister Hazeem Gbolarumi will emerge surprisingly as Senator for Oyo South.
In Ogun state, the APC Senatorial candidates, including Governor Ibikunle Amosun will lose as a result of the “Articulated” effect, and also due partly to a grudge with displaced Senators such as Senator Lanre Tejuosho, Senator Segun Adesegun, who did not make the Governor’s Senatorial list. In same light, for the PDP, the battles between Senator Kasamu and Adebutu, as well as between President Olusegun Obasanjo and Buruji Kashamu, will cost the party. A divided house cannot stand – sending mixed signals to the potential voters including Party members, but PDP will deliver for Atiku-Obi. Senator Amosun is not supposed to lose, but most Ogun Central voters will be carried away and forget he is running in the National Assembly election. This is a dangerous case for his ambition – he needs to thread carefully to avoid that voting error. However, in the Governorship elections, the governorship candidate of APM, Hon. Adekunle Akinlade will win the election as against the PDP and APC. But the PDP will give them a good fight after winning the Presidency – this might change the tide, if Adekunle relapses or gives up due to APC’s Presidential defeat. However, if he persists, the sympathy for Ibikunle Amosun will work for him.
In Osun, Senator Isiaka Adeleke will reclaim his mandate at the courts because the overwhelming vote for Atiku in the Presidential elections, will overtly validate to the court of public opinion that Senator Adeleke won the Gubernatorial elections, and also the emergence of Alhaji Atiku will facilitate it.
In Lagos, Pharmacist Jimi Agbaje will give a good fight against Babajide Sanwo-Olu, with little efforts than he did in 2015. But Babatunde Gbadamosi will get a high number of votes to the surprise of many, depleting votes meant for Jimi Agbaje. This will open up opportunities for Babatunde Gbadamosi to become a candidate of choice and a movement for the emancipation of Lagos in 2023. There can be a change in tide against Sanwo-Olu and for Jimi Agbaje, if Gbadamosi decides to align with Jimi Agbaje after the results of the Presidential elections. Atiku, Moghalu, Sowore, and Durotoye will get good votes in Lagos, to the surprise of many.
In Imo state, PDP’s Ihedioha will emerge, beating AA, APC and APGA. In Ekiti, Enugu, Rivers, Cross River, Delta, and Akwa Ibom, the status-quo will remain the same. No court case, will dislodge APC’s Governor Kayode Fayemi. These states will be delivered for Alhaji Akitu Abubakar.
This is no magic, this is design thinking at work – And this is to underscore its important to all Nigerians. And you can take it to the bank anytime, it will clear.
This is to the extent covered, but for time, we would have done design inquiry into other geopolitical zones across Nigeria. Thank you for reading, discussing, and sharing. Please #VoteNotFight
Timi Olagunju is one of Nigeria’s foremost technology (Cyber/AI) lawyer and design thinking consultant.