Four years ago Wood McKenzie, the global firm of oil industry analysts, “predicted” that a victory by Goodluck Jonathan, then Nigerian president and candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, “would be the least disruptive for the oil sector”.
As another Nigerian Presidential election looms, the British firm has circulated a briefing in which it weighs the chances of the two top candidates, in the country’s sixth general elections in 20 years.
This time, Woodmac isn’t discussing the election outcome in terms of the oil industry, even though that is where its primary subscribers are in Nigeria.
Rather, it talks politics all the way.
“Incumbent presidents in Nigeria had an unblemished election record until Buhari’s triumph in 2015”, the company writes in the briefing. “Another win for the challenger cannot be ruled out, especially since Buhari’s presidency has been lacklustre and dogged by ill-health”.
Woodmac describes Atiku as Buhari’s “more dynamic and liberal opponent”, and goes to argue that the PDP candidate is “focused on the economy and jobs”, issues which “will resonate with Nigeria’s younger generation”. It then asks: “Will they turn out in sufficient numbers”? The briefing contends that Buhari’s trump card is his reputation for incorruptibility and tighter fiscal oversight and “he can be sure of support from his northern heartlands and from conservatives, but he may lose votes in the central states where Abubakar is from; while the south will remain a PDP stronghold”.
ONE SIGNIFICANT PART OF THE BRIEFING IS where Woodmac says that its sister company Verisk Maplecroft “predicts that Buhari has only a 45% chance of success, so the election result could be very close. Indeed, if the result is not clear cut, tension and uncertainty is likely. Civil unrest is a risk, particularly if the fairness of the election is disputed. This would be uncharted territory”.
Unlike this year’s, Woodmac’s 2015 briefing focused so directly on the oil industry and it turned out to be close to prescient. “A victory by the opposition APC would be the most uncertain scenario for the oil sector, both from a security and legislative perspective,” it said. “An APC victory would also finally kill off the PIB, and could well herald major changes to how oil revenue is managed “.
The security and legislative “predictions” came to pass.