by Oluseun Onigbinde
Disclaimer: Election results in Nigeria are very difficult to analyze because beyond the figures churned out by the central electoral body, there are huge errors in terms of rigging and possibly voters’ manipulation.
I have decided to revisit the data of the 2011 elections and spot the uncommon trends that might serve as a guide in the 2015 elections which feels like tomorrow. So I have a disclaimer on the validity of these results but however, if one recalls the election drama especially the I-had-no-shoes story, the opposition merger that never happened and the alleged last Presidential flight of Bola Tinubu, the data actually tells a compelling story. It might not be accurate but the actions and inactions of such times tended towards the results.
Block Voting of Goodluck Jonathan
In the 2011 elections there was total of 73.5m registered voters out of which only 38.2m citizens voted in the Presidential Elections representing a national turnout of 52%. 2011 election produced the first elected South-South president, hence the turn-out was expected to be huge in a region with the feeling that ‘it is our turn to eat’. Empirically in my datasheet, South-South and South-East provided Goodluck Jonathan 50% of his tally.
Critical to a smart opposition move will be how to divide the block votes from two regions by being sensitive in its choices of candidates and appeal. Also note that simple things like Jonathan adding Azikiwe to his middle name and coming with an underdog mentality to the Northern establishment counted.
For the APC’s chances, Owelle Rochas Okorocha has to be a heavyweight and using his leverage to connect to the aspiration of the region will be so vital. He would have to test his mettle within that region with the Anambra gubernatorial elections. He would need another ‘twin’ in Anambra and also stamp his feet on a shaky Abia State to really cut influence. APC will need to rule more than Imo state to divide the block votes of South-East.
For the South-South, a Goodluck Jonathan might be the single narrative in 2015. Why not recruit Rotimi Amaechi and add that to Oshiomhole within that space? Anything that fidgets the ruling party will not be bad for the opposition.
Illusion of One North
Usually when I see the sea of heads in General Buhari campaign rallies, I see a man with huge electoral votes. But to think the North is homogenous in its composition will make one a victim of a single story. Out of 19 states, CPC won in 12 Northern States losing five in North Central (Plateau, Nasarawa, Benue, Kogi and Kwara) and two in North East (Adamawa and Taraba). In fact, General Buhari could not muster a 25% of total votes cast in any Southern state in the 2011 elections. He only got above 25% of votes in sixteen states of the North with the exception of Benue, Kogi and Kwara.
Kindly think of how he did not lead in seven Northern states and also could not even get 25% of votes in two North Central states. It tells that the influence of General Buhari might not be that broad based as we think. He might not have the clout to stamp his feet in the entrenched structure within the states which PDP Governors rule. Understanding that he did not win in Adamawa and Taraba is also glaring. CPC came a distant third in the Adamawa State gubernatorial elections even with purported clout of General Buba Marwa as its candidate.
General Buhari led Goodluck Jonathan by only 3.33m votes cast in the North while on the other side Goodluck Jonathan led General Buhari by over 10m votes in the South. 37% of the Jonathan votes even came from the North.
Profiting from the chaos
The opposition merger which failed in the late hours of 2011 elections can’t go undocumented. The South West had the least turnout (32%) of all the regions during the elections. Goodluck Jonathan got 60% of the votes within the South West region that should have been a quick run for the ACN.
Nuhu Ribadu did not have 25% of votes cast in Lagos, the stronghold of his principal corroborating the last minute sell-out of his party influencers. He only got 25% of votes cast only Ekiti, Osun, Oyo and Ogun States. Ondo State, loyal to the ruling party in 2011 Presidential elections had the highest margin win for President Jonathan. So it tells that opposition that never settles its own trouble would leave gaps for the ruling party to take advantage of.
Even if you add the elections results of the component parts of the APC viz ACN, ANPP and CPC in the 2011 elections, Goodluck Jonathan would have still won with a simple majority. PDP had 22m votes while the hypothetical APC would have gathered 15m votes.
To complete that rout as stated in the electoral law, Goodluck Jonathan had the mandatory 25% of votes cast in 32 states which is more than the required 24 states. He could not muster 25% of votes only in Bauchi, Borno, Yobe and Kano State. Jonathan got 26% of votes in Katsina, the home of the General.
If you read this striking piece on The Scoop, one would understand PDP grassroots strategy and clearly affirm that to unseat PDP will require a lot of strategy, tact, strong will and effective communication. The opposition would have analyse the complexities of the Nigerian nation and its people woven around ethnicity and history. They should be ready to make real sacrifices and be unwavering in supporting their own who finally grabs the ticket. Unlike the CPC in the 2011 elections, a robust structure especially promoting strong internal democracy in its choices of gubernatorial candidates will be needed. It will require hard work to unseat a party that thumps it chest and vows to rule for 60 years.
PS: This article strictly conveys the personal opinion of Oluseun Onigbinde and is unrelated to the position of his organization, BudgIT.
– Follow this writer on Twitter: @seunonigbinde