One of the highlights of the month of February; apart from those who got pregnant as a result of their valentines day escapades – is the Nigeria Decides 2019. Going to the polls in one of the many reasons I looked forward to the year 2019. This is not because I have a personal interest as to who win what seat or office, but because I am invested in the Nigerian project and while we keep recycling expired and out of touch leaders and alternatives, the election gives me a chance to put into perspective, my thoughts on the entire process. My blog cannot be left empty na.
Going back into 2015, the Presidential election was between former President Goodluck Jonathan of the People’s Democratic Party and Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressive Congress; the incumbent who just won a reelection into another term of four years; and what his supporters call the NEXT LEVEL. Heading into the polls in 2015, the nation was divided between the North and the South; testament to Nigeria’s polity that is built on tribal and religious sentiments. Need I say Jonathan is a Christian and Buhari a Muslim.
To most well meaning Nigerians, the election offered a chance to depart from the old order of incompetence and a chance to experience change in every sense of the word. Little did they know the chanters of change were simply the disgruntled opponents of Goodluck Jonathan who would support anything or anybody against the President at the time.
And there was the deep seated division. I mean, from the results of the Presidential election of 2015, Buhari won with a landslide in the North, while Goodluck did same in the South East and South South(his home region)
For many PDP stalwart, the reason Jonathan lost was not because he was incompetent, it was because Buhari had the support of the Northern majority. And the South West as the tie break gave Buhari a win because of the influence of former President Olusegun Obasanjo, former Governor of Lagos state Bola Tinubu and the fact that Buhari appeased the sentiments of the South Westerners by picking a Christian Vice presidential candidate in Professor Yemi Osinbajo, a Yoruba man from Ogun state.
That is not to take away the fact that the defection of the G-8 governors led by former Rivers state governor and current Minister of Transport; Rotimi Amaechi. And an influx of Senators led by Dr. Bukola Saraki into the opposition. And a final blow was dealth when Rt.Hon Aminu Tambuwal, the PDP speaker of the House of Representatives left for APC. In essence PDP lost the House of Reps in the build up to the election.
Going to the drawing board, PDP anticipated a repeat of 2015 in 2019 and attempted to prevent that by all means. Starting from the zoning of the Presidential ticket to the North, hoping that whenever they go to the polls their Northern candidate will effectively divide the vote from the North.
Hence, the candidacy of Atiku Abubakar, a former Vice President of Nigeria, a businessman and a leader with contact both nationally and internationally.
Heading to the polls there was no tribal or religious division in the polity, because both candidates are Northerners and as such, no tribalistic comments could be made. Except for when the joke of Atiku being a Cameroonian broke out.
WHY BLAME THE NORTH?
In 1993, MKO Abiola ran for presidency on the ticket of the Social Democratic Party against the candidate of the NRC, Bashir Torfa, a Northerner from Kano. It would interest you to note that MKO, a Southerner from Ogun state defeated Torfa, Nationally, not only in the North, but in his homestate of Kano. Why blame the North?
In 1999, Obasanjo was the favorite to win, but not in his home region; the South West. He lost squarely in the South West but won massively in the North. Why blame the North?
We cannot ignore the fact that Buhari has a cult-like followership in the North, especially the Northwest and the North East. Like I was telling a colleague at work yesterday, Buhari is a religion in the North, it’ll be difficult to beat him or share in his vote. The 2003, 2007 and 2011 elections he lost were not without him emerging victorious in the North. At least, 12million votes from the North is certain. So, in 2015, he aligned with Southern leaders and opinion leaders and as they say, the rest is history.
So, with Atiku now, PDP thought they stood a realistic chance of dividing Buhari’s vote in the North and of course, win the election. After all, just like in 2015, Bukola Saraki, now an APC Senate President led a number of his colleagues back into the PDP, and Yakubu Dogara, an APC Speaker of the House of Representatives led some members of the House back into PDP. Governor of Benue and Kwara States were some of the governors who left the APC for PDP.
In essence, political pundits thought a repeat of 2015 was on course. Senator Rabiu Kwankwaso, a Kano state bigwig had also left for the PDP.
So, we entered February and Nigerians were divided between going to the NEXT LEVEL or GETTING NIGERIA WORKING AGAIN. But not between a Muslim and a Christian or between a Northerner and a Southerner. But why blame the North?
With the results released on Monday when the Collation center opened, we say Yobe state giving APC maximum number of votes. And Abia doing the same for PDP. But people conveniently ignored the South, but would rather blame the North for giving their vote to their preferred candidate. Meanwhile, the South East and the South South did the same. Why blame the North?
While Kano gave Buhari and APC about 1.4million of their votes, while giving the PDP a measly 300thousand votes. They conveniently ignored the fact that Rivers state did exactly the same in favour of Atiku and the PDP. But, it’s totally okay if we all blame the North.
The election has come and gone, politics remain a game of numbers. If Kano could present over 1.7million voters, why didn’t Abia with her 1.7million registered voters present at least 1million votes cast? But instead had a measly 300thousand votes cast.
Why blame the North when most Southerners are politically apathetic?
Southerners think they are educated and sophisticated to participate in the electoral process, yet they wanted Buhari and the APC out of office. You want to do that without actually voting? Okay. Well, Buhari is President for the next four years suck it up.
Also, I must add that we just spent two productive days of our life as a people counting the result of a presidential election. Something that should have take a few hours at most. But we prefer doing things the archaic and obsolete way. Going forward into 2023, something must change.
Durodola Oláwálé. Y