Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Why 2015 will be Nigeria’s closest presidential election in history

As can be seen from the table below, only three Presidential elections held in the first 39 years of post-independence in Nigeria while only 7 presidential elections have been held in the history of Nigeria. The 2015 Presidential election will be the eigth and this clearly shows that Nigeria has a long way to go in buidling a sustainable, people-oriented democracy. 

Presidential Elections held in Nigeria since 1960

Date of Election
Total Registered Voters
Total Valid Votes
Winning Candidate
Number of Votes
Percentage of candidate votes to the Total Valid Votes
Political Party
Runner Up
Number of Votes
Percentage of candidate votes to the Total Valid Votes
Political Party
Alhaji Shehu Shagari
National Party of Nigeria (NPN)
Chief Obafemi Awolowo
Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN)
Alhaji Shehu Shagari
National Party of Nigeria (NPN)
Chief Obafemi Awolowo
Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN)
Bashorun Moshood Kashimawo Olawale ABIOS
Social Democratic Party (SDP)
Alhaji Bashir Othman Tofa
National Republican Convention (NRC)
Chief Olusegun Obasanjo
People's Democratic Party (PDP)
Chief Olu Falae
Alliance for Democracy (AD) (AD-APP (All People's Party))
Chief Olusegun Obasanjo
People's Democratic Party (PDP)
Alhaji Muhammadu Buhari
All Nigeria People's Party (ANPP)
Alhaji Umaru Musa Yar’Adua
People's Democratic Party (PDP)
Alhaji Muhammadu Buhari
All Nigeria People's Party (ANPP)
Dr Goodluck Ebele Jonathan
People's Democratic Party (PDP)
Alhaji Muhammadu Buhari
Congress for Progressive Change (CPC)

Variance of winners and runners-up of all Nigerian presidential elections

Since 1999 (the fourth republic) every winning candidate in the Presidential elections has won by over twenty-five percentage points as can be depicted in the chart above. This is at variance with Presidential elections conducted pre-1999. This is probably not unconnected to the number of political parties fielding candidates in the elections. While in 1963 there were five presidential candidates, by 2011 there were a total of twenty-two candidates. Even though twenty of the parties could not muster up to 10% of the total valid votes, it shows a new era of politics where ‘everybody’ wants to be President. 

However as at the time of writing this document the opposition parties are coalescing and merging into a new mega party currently being proposed as the ‘All Progressives Congress (APC)’ with the intent of winning the presidential polls in 2015. If the merger is a success, then it will be a departure once again from the former situation where every tom, dick and harry wants to vie for the highest political office. It is a clear indication that the nation’s politicians are maturing and also realising that cooperation is the only way to develop the political system. This is another evidence that the country is developing politically.  

Looking at the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and the APC it is clear that the 2015 elections will probably be the closest in the history of Nigeria.
First of all, the PDP as it stands has an overwhelming strength and potential votes from the South-South and South-East geopolitical zones. As long as President Goodluck Jonathan is the flag bearer for the PDP, these regions will most likely vote comprehensively in favour of the ruling PDP.  This was the case in 2011, and there is little to suggest at the moment that 2015 will be any different. Considering that these two regions comprise of 11 states, this bodes well for the PDP. However the challenge is that these two zones comprise of only 17,051,639 registered voters, which translates to just 23.2% of the total registered voters in the country as of 2011. 

The North-Central zone will be split between both the PDP and the APC with the PDP likely getting the majority of votes in the region. 

Distribution of votes in the North-Central Geopolitical Zone in the 2011 Presidential Election

In 2011, the North-Central geopolitical zone had 11,627,490 total registered votes or 15.8% of the national total. The PDP won 62% of the votes in the region translating to about 10% of the total registered voters. There are strong indications that the PDP will likely win the majority votes in the North-Central again in 2015. Thus from the south-east, south-south and north-central geopolitical zones the PDP may be able to win about 32% of the total votes cast. 

The APC is dominant in the North-East and North-West. These two zones comprise of 30,552,748 registered voters or 41.6% of the national total. As can be seen from the pie chart above the APC (i.e. ACN, ANPP and CPC) garnered 69% of the total votes in the region in the 2011 presidential election. With the clamour for return of power to the North in 2011, the PDP would be lucky to receive 25% of the total votes cast in the region. Consequently the APC should be able to obtain at least 31% of the total registered voters from its votes in the North-East and the North-West. 

With the PDP potentially winning 43% from the five geopolitical zones excluding the south-west and the APC possibly winning 38% from these same zones, the south-west will probably turnout being the deciding region. 

The South-West geopolitical zone is strongly ACN/APC and this will likely be a critical blow for the PDP. The 2011 presidential election was different because the ACN candidate at the time was not popularly seen as nationally viable. The region hence voted in huge numbers for the PDP (2,786,417 votes translating to 62% of the total votes cast in the region). It would be inconceivable to imagine that the South-West will vote this same way in 2015 if the APC merger is successful. It would be more likely that the APC would obtain 60% of the total votes cast and the PDP 40%. The South-West geopolitical zone has 14,296,163 of the total registered votes which translates to 19.2% of the total registered voters in the country. Based on the assumption above, the APC should be able to obtain about 11% of (i.e. out of the total national registered votes) the votes cast in the South-West and the PDP about 8%. 

Distribution of votes in the North-East and North-West Geopolitical Zones in the 2011 Presidential Election

This leads to the PDP potentially receiving 51% of the total votes and the APC about 49% depicted in the pie chart below. This is purely a hypothetical analysis, which could be affected by unexpected changes in the political terrain. 

      Possible Outcome of the 2015 Presidential Election

The essence of this analysis is not to predict the exact outcome of the 2015 Presidential election but to show in a comprehensive manner that the landslide victory margins seen in the fourth republic of over 25% are unlikely to be repeated in the 2015 presidential election. The margin of victory by whichever party will most likely be in the single digit range.  

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