*Estimates N6trn to be spent to win presidential election 
*Says moneybags ready to pay whatever price to secure victory
Dike Onwuamaeze
A member of President Muhammadu Buhari’s Economic Advisory Council and Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of Financial Derivatives Company Limited, Mr. Bismarck Rewane, has said the 2023 elections would be the costliest in the country’s history, with the marginal cost of winning the presidential poll estimated at N6. 094 trillion.

Rewane addressed some of the 2023 election challenges in the July edition of the Lagos Business School’s breakfast presentation titled: “Analysts Bemused, Markets Confused and Speculators Amused,” a copy of which was made available to THISDAY at the weekend.

He projected that 34.65 million voters would be vulnerable to sell their votes, which politicians would be eager to purchase at N1.1 trillion, adding that the eventual winner of the presidential election would recoup his electoral expenditures within two years at a juicy fair return on investment of N1.741trillion.
This return on investment, according to him, would represent 40 per cent of two-year capital expenditure (CAPEX) of country’s annual budget of N18 trillion.
According to him, “2023 election (is) to be the costliest election in the history of Nigeria. Moneybags are ready to pay whatever price to win it. But it could be a case of ‘damned if I win, damned if I don’t,” adding: “the marginal cost of winning presidential election for a single tenure (is) N6.094 trillion,” in 2023.
He also gave the breakdown of the estimated cost of achieving electoral victory in 2023, including the cost of emerging as presidential candidates from various political parties’ presidential primaries that were concluded last month.

His words: “Cost of winning party primaries, which included cost of compensating rivals that lost is estimated at N1.178 trillion; Cost of campaign and ground game  = N950 billion; Vote buying costs, including logistics for vote buying = N1.1 trillion; cost of electoral victory = N3.288 trillion; cost of litigation N20,000 (sic); cost of funding at 17per cent = N1.104 trillion and fair return on investment of 40 per cent = N1.741 trillion.”

Rewane, which tagged the 2023 general election as “weaponising poverty,” arrived at the costs estimated above based on the following assumptions: total registered voters in 2019, estimated at 84 million; voters turn out in 2019 – 34.75 per cent; expected registered voters for 2023 election (2019 numbers plus 25 per cent) – 105 million; voter turnout in 2015 – 44 per cent; expected voter turnout in 2023 – 57.75 million voters.”
He further assumed that 34.65 million voters, representing 60 per cent of eligible voters, would be vulnerable to sell their votes to politicians, projecting that the, “number of years to be used to recover electoral expenses will be two years,” at 17 per cent cost of capital, adding that there was, “high correlation between poverty and vote buying.”

The economist stated that the 2023 election could be a referendum on the performance of Buhari’s administration and on the past administration or none of the above, but stressed that, “no matter who wins, reforms are inevitable.”

Rewane projected that massive youth voters’ registration would tilt in favour of the newer parties like the Labour Party and the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP), while, “the voting pattern will reflect anger, frustration, poverty, fear, resentment and characteristics similar to the EndSARS protests.
“Traditional voting myths and patterns will be shattered. Our model shows that there will be no winner in the first round. In the second round, a simple majority is required. But elections are 220 days away and as Harold Wilson once said. ‘24 hours is a long time in politics.”
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