International Business Times quotes Africa Center Director J. Peter Pham on how Boko Haram could affect the Nigerian elections:
While the disenfranchisement of a significant portion of the electorate in the opposition stronghold of the north may on the surface appear to favor Jonathan, the reality of Nigeria’s formula for calculating electoral victory means that neither candidate would benefit from the situation. “It’s unfair to say that either side benefits by not having people vote,” said J. Peter Pham, the director of the Africa Center at the Atlantic Council, a Washington think tank. “It’s a double-edged sword. Voter suppression in the north would tend to suppress votes that would likely go to the opposition but it would also suppress those that may have gone to the incumbent that they would need to meet the vote threshold required by the Nigerian constitution.”
Despite this reality, a narrow electoral margin could turn the spotlight on the north’s disenfranchised voters, who could become the focus of postelection rhetoric by the loser of the presidential race. “Even if the [winner] is elected cleanly, legally and otherwise, a sore, irresponsible loser has plenty of scope to blow smoke because of the situation created by Boko Haram violence,” said Pham, who warned of the possibility of an “asterisk mark” next to the winner’s legitimacy.
It will be up to the loser of the election to not “irresponsibly stoke the flames for political gain,” said Pham. “Just like last time, the real danger of that is it could produce violence … and Boko Haram can step in and capitalize on a situation they helped bring about,” he said. “Boko Haram will be the only winner if that happens.”