Highly respected London-based magazine, The Economist has tipped President Muhammadu Buhari to win the 2019 presidential election in Nigeria.
According to its latest edition, “The World in 2019”, the Economist also predicted that the opposition coalition led by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) may collapse before the general election.
In its country appraisal for Nigeria, the magazine said: “The president, Muhammadu Buhari will win re-election in February as a new opposition coalition may collapse before the vote.
“Given the outlook for continuing political weakness, there is little prospect of progress in the fight against the Islamist insurgency in the north, nationalism in the oil-producing Delta and secessionism in the Biafra region. Market-based reforms will languish, holding back growth yet again.”
In a swift reaction to the predictions on Monday, the PDP presidential candidate said the forecasts of the magazine failed to meet the attributes of objectivity, balance and fairness.
According to a statement issued through Mr. Phrank Shaibu, his Special Assistant on Public Communication and Strategy, Atiku described the forecast as a poorly-executed hatchet job.
The statement read: “The political camp of the PDP presidential candidate has described as a poorly-executed hatchet job, the prediction by The Economist of London, in which the magazine put on the garb of a partisan and made no pretences to professionalism while predicting that President Buhari will win next year’s poll.
“With the tacit endorsement of President Muhammadu Buhari for a second term in its current edition, the erstwhile influential news magazine has hit a new low by throwing all pretences to the wind to take up the job of presidential spokespersons.
“It is common knowledge that the Economist’s fortunes have taken a nosedive in recent months with its flip- flop on issues, especially as it pertains to the upcoming presidential election in Nigeria.
“But the magazine hit a new low in its current edition, The World in 2019 where it made projections of issues and events that will shape the year 2019 across many countries including Nigeria.”
Shaibu maintained that even if the APC or President Buhari’s spokespersons had written the story, it could not have been so ‘recklessly partisan, so undisguisedly biased and so devoid of any shred of professionalism’.
Shaibu said it was scandalous that the magazine went ahead to predict a victory for the APC candidate even when it said Buhari’s re-election portended disaster for Nigeria, wondering why the magazine, whose Intelligence Unit had earlier predicted Atiku’s victory in 2019 has now made a U-turn to endorse Buhari.
“But we hasten to say that with or without the endorsement of The Economist or any news medium for that matter, we will defeat Buhari fair and square,” he added.