By Tonye Barcanista
Nigeria is made of 36 states with the north and south each having 19 states. The north also has FCT as added advantage in the equation.
In 2015, there was shift in power to the north when President Goodluck Jonathan (as then was) from Bayelsa state of Peoples Democratic Party suffered a historic defeat to General Muhammadu Buhari RTD of All Progressive Congress from Katsina state. Buhari assumed office as President on 29th May, 2015.
By May 2023, President Muhammadu Buhari is expected to conclude his 8 year presidential double terms, and the popular expectation, especially of southern extraction, is that the next president of the country in 2023 should come from the region.
Should the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, accede the popular demand for the southern part of the country to produce the next President of Nigeria in 2023, the party will be one leg into the Presidential Villa in 2023 even before the election day because the south, which is the party’s stronghold is guaranteed of giving block votes to their “son”.
Contrary to concern of some stakeholders, which is fuelled by sections of the media, that the “north” will not vote for any candidate from the south under PDP, facts on ground show that a candidate from southern extraction is guaranteed to enjoy support in the entire Northcentral except Niger state, some parts of Northeast and Southern Kaduna part of Northwest. This is because the north, which is made of 19 states and FCT, is neither politically homogenous nor do they vote in same direction in any President contest.
Since the return of democracy in 1999, all the six the states in the north central except Niger state have always voted in similar political direction. Specifically, Kwara, Kogi, Benue, Plateau, and Nasarawa states alongside FCT have always been aligned with candidates of PDP in Presidential elections.
In fact, in the 2003 and 2011 elections, these states resisted General Muhammadu Buhari movement and preferred southerners Chief Olusegun Obasanjo and Dr Goodluck Jonathan from Ogun and Bayelsa states respectively. In 2007 these states, like other states in the south, supported Umaru Musa Yar’adua against Muhammadu Buhari to actualise shift of power to the north after Obasanjo’s term.
The 2015 election was the first time since 1999 that these Northcentral states voted against a PDP candidate due to the Boko Haram insurgency and propaganda that General Buhari of All Progressive Congress was coming with his military might to nip it to the bud. Sadly, Buhari, as president, only succeeded in worsening the woes of Northcentral people with rising spate of terrorism (banditry), Fulani herdsmen brigandage and ethnic cleansing of Indigenous tribes.
In 2023, I see no reason these Northcentral states (save Niger state) will not vote en-mass for Southern candidate under PDP platform going by their electoral tradition.
The voting pattern of the six (6) states of Northeast, like other parts of the north, is heavily influenced by religious bias.
Areas like Taraba state, 60% Adamawa, Southern Gombe, Southern Bauchi and Southern Borno areas usually align with choices of electorates from the southern part of the country in any presidential election due to religion. In fact, they display strong preference for someone of Christian religion.
In Adamawa state, PDP has only lost Adamawa state on two occasions in any Presidential election since 1999, and that was when Musa Yar’adua (2007) and Goodluck Jonathan (2015) were flag bearers. Furthermore, Demsa, Ganye, Gayuk, Jada, Mayo-Belwa, Numan, Sheleng, Tungo, Lamurde LGAs in Adamawa south, Yola North, Yola South, Fufore, Girei and Gombi LGAs in Adamawa central, and Madagali and Michika in Adamawa North have always shown preference for Christian candidates from the southern part of Nigeria as witnessed in 2003, 2011 and even 2015 Presidential election. In 2011, Jonathan, without the support of Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, gave Buhari a resounding defeat in Adamawa state with 508,314 votes over 344,526 gotten by Buhari.
In Taraba state, not even the “Sai Baba” wave of 2015 could swing the state away from Goodluck Jonathan of PDP despite the Boko Haram insurgency. Taraba is one state that any candidate from Southern extraction is guaranteed of popular votes in any Presidential election.
In Gombe state, Katunga, Shungum, Billiri and Banaga local government areas are solid PDP stronghold and sure bet for a southern Christian candidate due to religious factor. This is in addition to other seven (7) local government areas where 30-35% are almost guaranteed for the southern PDP candidate. In this state, PDP is guaranteed a minimum 35-40% votes in Gombe state.
While states like Yobe, Bauchi and Borno may not be favorable to southern candidate of Christian religion due to religious influence, PDP is almost guaranteed of 25% valid votes.
Northwest Nigeria is likely the only geopolitical zone that may not be favorable to voting for candidate of the south.
Traditionally, all seven states in the Northwest usually tilt towards Muhammadu Buhari direction. Chief Obasanjo and Dr Goodluck Jonathan as incumbent Presidents fall short in this zone.
However there is respite for the PDP in Kaduna state. This is because areas such as Sanga, Zangon Kataf, Kaura, Kauru, Kachia, Jaba, Jema’a, Kajuru, Chikun and Kaduna South local government areas are sure bankers for PDP due to the predominant Christians in these areas. Historically, these areas have strong bias for Christian candidates. In 2015, despite the APC wave in the entire northwest, these areas massively supported President Jonathan, and gave PDP its only Senator in the entire zone. The areas make up about 49-52% votes of Kaduna state.
Going by the aforementioned facts, it will be foolhardy for anyone to continue to hold that presidential candidate from the south will not deliver victory to PDP in any part of northern Nigeria. On the contrary, PDP will find it challenging in 2023 should it present a candidate from the north to succeed incumbent President Buhari, a northerner himself.
Conclusively, the demand for the National Zoning Committee of PDP to zone the Presidential ticket of PDP to the south is a right step in the right direction.
Written by Tonye Barcanista Inioribo