Less than 3 days to the handover date and long after the inks have dried on the ballot papers, the election result is still generating ripples in the polity. The result was really a first in the country- a civilian handover between different political parties. Some supporters of PDP, the losing party, have opined that Muhammadu Buhari’s victory was a conspiracy against the South. More importantly, one against the minority, South-South. The election was seen as a contest between the North and the South. According to them, a contest between the ‘Born-To-Rule‘ & the ‘Neglected‘.
In reality though, the contest was the closest in recent history. Both contestants had almost equal chances. The incumbent president and a former Head of State, Muhammadu Buhari were the major candidates during the election. The campaigns were massive and well-planned. Even though, Muhammadu Buhari had contested in the three previous elections, his chances this time around were attractive.
Permutations before the election had placed the two main candidates on a scale that measured the strength of their support. Nigeria is divided into 6 geopolitical zones- North-West, North-East, North-Central, South-East, South-South & South-West .
The pre-election permutations have predicted Goodluck Jonathan to win in the South-South and South-East while Buhari’s major support came from the North-West and North-East. Jonathan hails from the South-South while Buhari hails from the North-West. Thus, the battle for votes was predicted to be in the North-Central and South-West. However, the South-West was slightly inclined towards the APC, Buhari’s party. This is because out of the 6 states that make up the region, the party controls 4 states. It is because of this that I am amused when some people say the South-West was a tool used by the North to ‘usurp’ power from Jonathan. The region has mostly been in the opposition and now that the opportunity to be at the centre presented itself, they threw their weight behind the party.
Now, I’ll attempt to analyse the voting patterns of different regions while comparing it with the 2011 elections where the PDP won with a landslide. The analysis of how the geopolitical zones voted for Goodluck Jonathan and Muhammad Buhari will allow us understand the mindset of those regions. Was it a conspiracy against Jonathan or not?
From the table, it can be seen that, expectedly, both candidates won convincingly in their regions of strength.
Back to the question of conspiracy against Jonathan, it is seen that Buhari did not get up to 90% of votes from regions he controlled, while Jonathan got a minimum 90.6% from the 2 regions he controlled. Moreover, the total percentage of votes Buhari got in the South-South and South-East is less than the percentage of votes Jonathan got in the North-West alone. So is it really a conspiracy? When the issue if conspiracy comes up, I ask if it’s expected that Jonathan wins in the North-West? Even at Jonathan’s peak of goodwill in 2011, he didn’t win any state in that region. In the North-East, however, he won 2 states (Adamawa and Taraba). Even in 2015, he won in Taraba, a state in the North-East. So Taraba has always been on lockdown for Jonathan.
On the other hand, in 2011, Buhari lost all the states in the South. In 2015 too, he lost all the states in South-South and South-East states. In fact, he had less than 10% in all the South East states, except for Imo state where he got 19% and less than 10% in all South-South states except for Edo where he got 41.7%. So, who conspired against who? The percentage of people that voted for Jonathan in the North-East (21.69%) eclipses the percentage of those that voted for Buhari in the South-East (7.29%) by 3. And we all know that percentage isn’t determined by the number of votes, right? Yet, these folks believe that the Northerners erred by voting for their man while it’s completely alright for the South-South to do same. I’m not supporting ethnic-coloured choice for national leadership but ‘he who must come with equity must come with clean hands’.
Those folks also accuse the South-West of betrayal by voting against a Southern man. My response to them is that the birthplace of APC is in the South-West. It’s also its stronghold. In fact, some people still believe APC to be a Yoruba party. This shows the extent to which the South-West have influences in the party. So, should it come as a surprise that the region voted along that line? Moreso, Jonathan won all the southwestern states in 2011, save for Osun states. Where were these conspiracy theorists then?
The conspiracy theorists also conveniently overlooked the campaign strategies employed by both parties. While PDP went on a mudslinging spree, it afforded Nigerians the opportunity to know more about the man PDP, the ruling party exerted so much energy to vilify. They also conveniently overlooked the issues on ground- economy, security, corruption, unemployment et al. It was on these basis that APC based their campaigns on. The implosion of PDP also contributed to their loss at the polls. The massive exit of chieftains took a heavy toll on them. I believe the allegation of conspiracy is an insult to millions of Nigerians who went out to vote without coercion. It’s an insult on their choices and decisions. Or how else does one explain the triumph of Buhari in Kogi and Benue states, states currently with PDP leadership and traditionally had always gone with PDP?
So, when next someone alleges conspiracy as a run reason for Jonathan’s loss, I’ll just giggle and walk away.