Relating presidential election to national census
The voting graphics had, with mathematical precision, reproduced Nigeria’s primordial three-regional political map: The Eastern region overwhelmingly voted for their own, the Peoples Democratic Party candidate; the Northern region replicated this pattern in every material particular by voting for the All Progressives Congress candidate; while the Western region, which had only a vice-presidential candidate on the APC ticket voted less from sentiment and thus split the votes virtually 50-50 between the two major parties in the presidential election.
However, upon studying the voting results geopolitically, I was struck by yet another telling observation. In the South-South and the South-East zones, voters’ turnout in relation to registered voters for each state ranged from an average of 500,000 to a high of 1,000,000 or thereabout. About half of the states in these zones experienced average voter-turnout, while the other half experienced a high turnout.
In the South-West, the purportedly most politically-sophisticated geopolitical zone of the country, voters’ turnout was essentially low. In Lagos State, which compares favourably with Kano State, and which has over five million registered voters to its credit, the turnout approximated 1,400,000.
But this article is not about election victories or otherwise; another topic of great historical import inadvertently thrown up by the 2015 presidential election is the focus here: The controversy-arousing claim that Northern Nigeria is more populated than Southern Nigeria.
The claim is one of Nigeria’s enduring colonial legacies; it, however, runs against the grain of established knowledge. Universal knowledge holds that population density of living organism decreases as they migrate away from littoral (coastal) regions.
Mortality rate is said to have a linear relationship with proximity to the coast: The nearer the coast, the lower the mortality rate and vice versa. By universal dictum, therefore, Southern Nigeria is supposed to be more populated than Northern Nigeria.
The controversy is undiminished, but until the just-concluded presidential election, Nigerians had not been winked a hint of a scientific basis for resolving the over half-a-century old colonial legacy.
The interesting checkmating device that was introduced into the 2015 elections may well hold the clue. Welcome to the electronic biometric device – the device made a number of interesting revelations. Though both local and international observers had acknowledged that the 2015 elections recorded unprecedented voters’ turnout, yet the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) recorded over 10 million voters less than it did in 2011 elections! And, contrary to expectation, there had been no landslide victory in the presidential election.
As noted above, the presidential election was won by a margin of 2,500,000 votes, the smallest margin in presidential elections since the 4th Republic.
This is the point of this article. Presiding over the national government had subconsciously become the preserve of the northern elite. If, as borne out by recent experience, unforeseen circumstances made it constitutionally necessary to install a southerner as president, such a person must be to the liking of the northern ruling class: Look to the Ota farmer.
As in the 1979 handover of power to civilian administration, the ever-loyal southerner had reaffirmed his loyalty in 2007 (after placating the frayed sensibilities of June 12, 1993 advocates) by returning the presidency to where it supposedly belongs. President Umaru Yar’Adua’s untimely demise, much to the discomfiture of the North, again broke the trend. Against the robust resistance of the North, the southern vice president succeeded to the presidency in 2009.
By 2015, 16 years into the 4th Republic, a northerner had been president for only two odd years (2007 – 2009). The South has been in power for unprecedented 14 years in the extant Republic and looked good to continue for another four years till 2019! The North must have felt bested in a game in which it believed itself to be an all-time past master; all stops had therefore to be pulled to return the presidency to the North.
Little wonder the word “continuity” was regarded as a taboo in the North while the presidential election lasted. The North had to turn out in their numbers to ensure “change” occurred.
On the other hand, the South-South geopolitical zone regarded the word “change” as a taboo in relation to the incumbent presidency, while it worked its thumb to the bone to ensure “continuity” to 2019.
It would be recalled that during the protracted 2009 succession brouhaha that culminated in a so-called “Doctrine of Necessity” at the National Assembly, the predominant sentiment in the South-South was, rightly or wrongly, that the demise of President Umaru Yar’Adua had provided the long overdue opportunity to right the decades of injustices to the South-South dating back to the agitative days of Isaac Adaka Boro.
The South-South had therefore, earned the presidency by the sheer weight of economic and environmental consequences, which the Niger Delta people had borne; thus entered the South-South presidency in 2009.
Having regard to how long the region has had to wait to ascend the presidency, relinquishing it after six short years, even as a mere thought, would have been looked upon as mass-suicide by the South-South. So the South-South thronged out to ensure “Continuity” to 2019.
Somewhat surprisingly, the much-talked about passionate southern solidarity failed to emanate from the Ndigbo of the South-East; the geopolitical zone recorded a middling relative voters’ turnout of about 500,000 per state in the presidential election.
That less-than-impressive performance by the South-East lends credence to the speculation that the South-East might have been a little miffed that the South-South ascended the presidency ahead of Ndigbo.
Agitation for Ndigbo presidency has been ongoing forever; 2003 had presented the South-East its best chance when former Vice President, Dr. Alex Ekwueme, challenged the incumbent president for the PDP candidacy.
The well-tried and proven cerebral South-Eastern aspirant had been widely preferred over the over-bearing incumbent ex-military dictator. But the cleverly contrived Eagle Square PDP convention denied the South-East its best chance at the presidency.
Since then (2003), the South-East had by slow degrees grown somewhat less aggressive towards presidential elections. By selfsame token, the agitation for the State of Biafra, the envisioned nation of Ndigbo, has by slow degrees become impossible to ignore or wished away.
So, voters’ turnout in the South-East for the 2015 presidential election was at best less-than-impressive. Not unlike the South-East, the South-West has had more reasons than one to collectively develop a less-than-enthusiastic outlook towards presidential elections.
From 1964 in the First Republic to 1979 and 1983 respectively in the Second Republic culminating in June 12, 1993 in the Third Republic, distinguished Nigerians from the South-West had been blatantly denied universally acclaimed national electoral victories.
Inevitably, the South-West became better schooled in Nigeria’s political sophistry than the other geopolitical zones; this fact largely accounts for the zone’s apparent political sophistication. With sophistication came unpredictability, and the South-West once again proved itself utterly unpredictable in the 2015 presidential election.
It would be recalled that the zone had overwhelmingly voted against one of its members in the 1999 presidential election; the South-West PDP presidential candidate had not won even in his ward! In spite of fielding a vice presidential candidate in the 2015 election, turnout in the entire South-West was disappointingly low relative to registered voters.
Finally, voters’ turnout in to relation to registered voters in the six geopolitical zones of the country could be summarized as follows: North-East High North-West High North-Central High South-South High South-East Average South-West Low Now, if in spite of the unprecedented voters’ turnout across the North in the March 2015 presidential election against the backdrop of the South’s aggregate less-than-impressive voters’ turnout, the northern candidate could only attain a mere 2,500,000 victory margin, then it requires little imagination to agree with leading southern politicians of the First Republic that indeed the North’s unsubstantiated population superiority over the South was no more than a convenient colonial myth to facilitate British continued rule over Nigeria beyond independence.
The electronic biometric device that had been employed in the 2015 elections had inadvertently exposed a monstrous colonial fraud against the people of Nigeria:
The pre-independence census figures were generated to perpetually rig elections in Nigeria. Virtually every Nigerian politician worthy of the name had openly averred that rigging is the only gateway to elective office in Nigeria.
Little wonder defeated Nigerian politicians, more often than not, head straight for the courts rather than concede victory. Little wonder also, an Awolowo in spite of sterling credentials, could not win a national election in his days! The Nigerian nation had been corrupted at its foundations; any meaningful attempt to expunge corruption from Nigeria must start at these foundations.
No credible elections could be conducted on fraudulent census figures. The true national winner in the 2015 elections is the electronic biometric device. It should be factored into the next national head count. Nigeria, onto yourself be true! Only righteousness exalts a nation. •Nkemdiche is a Consulting Engineer in Abuja.