2019: Shifting sands of Buhari’s electoral invincibility
It is generally believed that President Muhammadu Buhari has a near unshakeable stranglehold on the electorate in the North, especially in the North-west zone consisting Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Kebbi, Jigawa, Sokoto and Zamfara states.
For a fact, in the last 15 years, PMB has consistently garner between 11 and 12 million votes in the three zones of the North. The only exception was when he contested against the late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua in 2007 when his acclaimed domination of northern electorate was broken almost along the middle. Yar’Adua polled 48 per cent to Buhari’s 52 per cent. This might be due to the fact that both men are Fulani Muslims from same Katsina State.
The question therefore arises that: Is it not better for any party that intends to defeat the Buhari administration democratically to field a candidate with similar influence and pluses like Yar’Adua from the North-west?
There is the need, at this point, to point out that Yar’Adua’s exemplary performance against Buhari was not all due to political attributes of the former Governor of Katsina State. Two factors were at play here, the most important being that Yar’Adua contested against Buhari with the solid and strong backing of a highly respected national icon, President Olusegun Obasanjo who was then the incumbent President.
Obasanjo was in firm control of the Presidency and he had tried to stay in power through a third term agenda, which ordinarily going by the culture of politics in Africa, was not too difficult an ambition to achieve. However, the plan failed. The Northern reaction, from both the elite and the grassroots was that of gratitude and relief that Obasanjo was finally leaving and giving the North a chance to gain power back. It was made a lot easier because the candidate, Yar’Adua was a Northern aristocrat and a Muslim.
Against such considerations and situations mentioned above, the Buhari phenomenon paled into insignificance when put alongside an overriding and collective Northern interest and intense desire to get power back. In that particular election, head and tail, the North was sure to win. Sacrificing Buhari was a no issue. However, today, the situation is completely different and not comparable to what existed in 2007.
None of the aspirants in the opposition party – Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, Alhaji Attahiru Bafarawa, Barrister Tanimu Turaki, Senator Rafiu Musa Kwankwaso, Alhaji Sule Lamido and Sen. Ahmed Makarfi has the political clout capable of doing any significant havoc comparable to that done by Yar’Adua.
First, as common to all of them their maximum influence is nearly limited to their states of origin. This applies to Saminu Turaki, Tambuwal, Bafarawa, Lamido and Makarfi. Only Kwankwaso has a not too significant spread outside Kano, his state of origin. The Kwankwansiya movement, essentially exist, at least 90 per cent of it, in Kano and its environs. It is not distinctly noticeable in Sokoto or Kebbi, and neither in Yobe or Adamawa, not to talk of Niger and Nasarawa.
Unfortunately, even in Kano, its influence has been slightly whittled down by Mallam Ibrahim Shekarau’s recent defection to Buhari’s All Progressives Congress (APC). The combination of two of the three strong political pillars in Kano (Gov. Umaru Ganduje and Shekarau) being in APC is a mortal injury to the Kwankwansiya movement in Kano.
Second, as clearly stated in the Yar’Adua case, the existence of a supportive incumbent Federal Government assisted the candidate in no small measure and the absence of such incumbent support presently, totally renders impotent any dream possibility of depleting or eroding Buhari’s support base in the North West or the North in general by any of the acclaimed opposition aspirants from the North West.
Third, none of these aspirants from the North-west has any known or politically appreciable presence, followership, support or acceptability in any of the southern zones. Their penetration in the South is abysmally poor and insignificant and they can only rely on ineffectual acolytes to mobilise support for them in the South.
In conclusion, therefore, none of the six aspirants in the PDP from the North West has what it takes to even reduce Buhari’s electoral value by as much as 10 per cent in the North West or North in general. And also, none has a known or visible following in the south with which they can upstage Buhari’s entrenched political associates in the South, especially in the South West, which is the second largest voting population in the country.
The greatest political fallacy concerning the 2019 elections however is the postulation that a President cannot emerge in Nigeria without the person winning in the North-west zone. Nothing can be farther from the truth than this assumption or perception. The reality, the national political antecedents and bare electoral facts based on past results do not support this position.
First, if the votes of the North West were of such electoral indispensability, why was it impossible for Buhari to win in his first three attempts at the Presidency, despite his consistent six million votes from the North West and approximately 12 million votes from the entire North in all previous three elections; 2003, 2007 and 2011.
Second, in 2003, Obasanjo polled a total vote of 24.2 million against Buhari”s 13.12 million. If ALL the votes OBJ garnered from the North Central, North East and North West (9 million) were to be removed from OBJ”s votes, he would still have won with a total of 15.2 million votes against Buhari’s total 13.12 million across the country.
Third, in 2011, former President Goodluck Jonathan defeated Buhari, polling a total of 22.2 million as against Buhari’s 12.09 million. Of this vote for Buhari, a whooping 10.7 million came from the three northern zones.Also, as it was with Obasanjo in 2003, so it was with Jonathan in 2011. If all the 8.3 million votes scored by the former President in the three Northern zones were to be totally deleted from his votes he would have still have defeated Buhari because Jonathan would have had 13.9 million votes left to Buhari’s 12. 09 million votes.
To be continued tomorrow
• Dass, a political analyst, wrote from Abuja
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