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2023 Election: Tinubu on course to beat Atiku, Obi – Fitch predicts

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2023 Election: Tinubu on course to beat Atiku, Obi – Fitch predicts
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The subsidiary of Fitch Ratings, a global rating company, has disclosed in its latest report that the former Lagos State Governor had a higher possibility of winning, but predicted that the country might slip into a political unrest following that outcome.

It therefore warned that a Tinubu victory in 2023 will most likely lead to increase in protest and social discontent in the country.

Fitch also predicted that a win for the APC candidate will likely trigger sentiments of perceived marginalisation among Christians while supporters of his opponents may take to the streets to question the credibility of the electoral process.

The agency revealed that recent polls which only captured a small fraction of Nigerians have overstated support for the Labour Party presidential candidate, Peter Obi.

Fitch said: “Indeed, we maintain our view that the ruling party’s Bola Ahmed Tinubu is the candidate most likely to win the presidential election as a split opposition vote will favour the All Progressives Congress. Protests and social discontent are likely to ramp up in the aftermath of a Tinubu win since this would end the recent trend of the presidency alternating between Muslims and Christians.

“At Fitch Solutions, we believe that recent polls are significantly overstating support for Peter Obi, the Labour Party candidate running in Nigeria’s February 2023 presidential election. Surveys showing that Obi is ahead of his opponents Bola Tinubu (All Progressives Congress) and Atiku Abubakar (Peoples Democratic Party) were mostly based on responses gathered online. Since only 36.0% of Nigerians use the Internet (World Bank, 2020), we believe that these results are skewed towards urban, affluent voters who are most likely to support Obi. We also highlight that these polls suggest that a large share of voters remain undecided.

The report also predicted that Obi’s lack of penetration into Nigeria’s Muslim dominated North will make it difficult for him to emerge victorious next year.

The global rating agency also said it didn’t expect a significant policy changes under a Tinubu presidency, especially regarding fuel subsidy.

However, the report said the APC candidate’s chance of winning will likely reduce if public concerns around his health persisted.

Fitch added: “While Tinubu has stated that he would phase out Nigeria’s costly fuel subsidy, we are sceptical this will happen in the short term. There appears to be limited appetite within the APC to remove the subsidy, and with inflation remaining elevated in 2023 – due to high food prices – the cancellation of the subsidy would negatively affect the new president’s popularity. Indeed, the PDP tried to remove the subsidy in 2012, but had to back down after large-scale protests.

“In addition, we believe that Tinubu’s aim to raise oil production is unfeasible in the short term. Crude production has declined significantly to 1.1mn barrels per day in September – a multidecade low – due to rising oil theft and previous underinvestment. Given the country’s weak fiscal position, we believe that there will be limited room for more security and social spending to combat oil theft and attract more investment.”

As regards Abubakar Atiku‘s chances, the report predicted that Obi’s growing popularity as a relevant third party candidate will chip away at votes of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate.

Fitch said: “…we believe that Obi’s popularity will most likely split the opposition vote, at the expense of the PDP. The PDP’s candidate (Atiku Abubakar) is a northerner and we believe that the party’s only route to victory is expanding its vote in the South-West and North-Central states while retaining large majorities in the South-South and South-East.”


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