Pita Ogaba Agbese, Ph.D.
It is axiomatic that the two most important factors for winning elections in Nigeria are money and the power of incumbency (Adamu and Ogunsanwo; Ihonvbere and Shaw, 1985 and Joseph, 1987). Going into the 2011 presidential election, President Goodluck Jonathan had both of those factors in his favor. He had been either a vice-president, acting president or a substantive president since 2007. Money and incumbency proved a decisive advantage to him and his political party in 2011 when he beat his nearest opponent, General Muhammadu Buhari, by over ten million votes. Jonathan stood for re-election during the 2015 presidential election and again, Buhari was his main rival. Even much more than in 2011, Jonathan went into the election with a formidable financial war-chest. In a single night, over twenty-one billion Naira was raised for his re-election bid. His incumbency power was also quite impressive. By the time the election was held on March 28th, 2015, Jonathan had had almost six years in the saddle as Nigeria’s president. Unprecedented revenues from petroleum exports had substantially increased his power of patronage. He did not face any challenge to his candidacy within his political party. Money and incumbency placed Jonathan in a seemingly unassailable position over his main challenger. Buhari had contested on three other occasions without coming close to winning. Moreover, Jonathan had beaten him quite decisively in 2011.