The two leading candidates for the February 16, 2019 presidential election have failed to clearly express how they'd react to a possible defeat at the polls next month.

President Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) are favourites to win at the polls that open in five weeks time, but both have recently evaded questions on how they would handle defeat.

While speaking during a two-hour town hall programme, tagged 'The Candidates', in Abuja on Wednesday, January 16, 2019, President Buhari said defeat "sounds like if impossible".

When asked if he would concede defeat if he loses the election, the president was evasive and unwilling to address the possibility of it because of the support he believes he enjoys among Nigerian voters.

Buhari believes he'll get another four-year term to remain president will 2023
Buhari believes he'll get another four-year term to remain president will 2023

When the moderator, Kadaria Ahmed, pressed for an explicit answer, the president digressed again, noting that it wouldn't be the first time he would lose. He lost the presidential elections in 2003, 2007, and 2011, challenging all the results in court.

He said, "That wouldn't be the first time I lose election. I tried in 2003, and I was in court for 30 months; 2007, I was in court for 18 months; 2011, I was in court for eight months. And I went up to the Supreme Court.

"The third time, I said, 'God dey,' and the fourth time, God and technology came ‎in, the PVC and card readers, you know, the opposition took it for granted."

Atiku also evasive on conceding defeat

Atiku is Buhari's biggest challenger ahead of the polls
Atiku is Buhari's biggest challenger ahead of the polls
AFP

In a BBC interview that was published on Thursday, January 17, Atiku also failed to directly answer a question about conceding defeat if he loses, especially since he's expressed worry over the fair conduct of the election.

"The problem is that we are working hard, and that's why I appeal to the international community also to work together with us to make sure the elections are not only seen to be free, fair and credible, but that they actually are," he said.

The opposition PDP has relentlessly expressed fears that the president plans to hold on to power even if he loses the February 16 election.

Buhari became the first opposition candidate to defeat an incumbent democratic president in Nigeria when he won the 2015 presidential election over then-president, Goodluck Jonathan of the PDP.

Jonathan conceded defeat to the former military Head of State in a phone call before the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) officially declared him the winner.

His act of conceding defeat was widely praised for having prevented post-election violence in the country as experienced after the 2011 presidential election.

73 candidates to battle in February 16 election

Other candidates that will contest in the election include Kingsley Moghalu of the Young Progressive Party (YPP)Obiageli Ezekwesili of the Allied Congress Party of Nigeria (ACPN)Fela Durotoye of the Alliance for New Nigeria (ANN), and Omoyele Sowore of the African Action Congress (AAC).

Others are Tope Fasua of the Abundance Nigeria Renewal Party (ANRP)Eunice Atuejide of the National Interest Party (NIP)Adesina Fagbenro-Byron of the Kowa Party (KP)Chike Ukaegbu of the Advanced Allied Party (AAP)Hamza Al-Mustapha of the People's Party of Nigeria (PPN)Obadiah Mailafia of the African Democratic Congress (ADC), and many more.

73 candidates will contest in the election, the highest number ever in Nigeria's electoral history.