Even before the Independent Nationals Electoral Commission (INEC), concludes its boring announcement of results of this year’s Presidential election, it has become clear to any dispassionate observer that unless a miracle happens, which we hardly envisage, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, the Presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), is already out of the race, defeated by the incumbent, President Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress (APC), whether by fair or foul means.
For majority of the Igbo both at home and in the diaspora, as well as many others like them, who supported the candidature of Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, and his running mate, Peter Obi, that was a very big loss, a bitter pill very difficult to swallow.
But what went really wrong? Why was Atiku Abubakar defeated?
Naturally, every accusing finger would be pointing towards the direction of the electoral umpire, that is, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), as well as some other agencies of the federal government like the police, the army and other security forces.
But watching and listening to various news and commentaries about the ongoing election exercise, apart from the reported cases of electoral malpractices like ballot box snatching, illegal thumb printing of ballot papers, alteration of election results figures, etc., we would be tempted to advert our minds elsewhere, to a serious issue, which we believe had contributed to the defeat of Alhaji Atiku Abubakar.
Rightly or wrongly, we have observed that supporters of Atiku Abubakar don’t vote. They may be very vocal, great in Facebook, but they don’t have electoral value. This could be seen from the huge gap in voters’ turnout between those from the northern part of the country, particularly the core north, and their counterparts from the south.
From the figures already released by INEC, while people in the core north had turned out in their numbers to register during the voters’ registration exercise and equally had turned out massively to vote during last Saturday’s election, their counterparts in the south not only had showed apathy during the registration of voters’ exercise, but equally had hardly come out to vote during that election. And from the results of that election, we have seen that while most people from the core north had supported Buhari, majority of those from the south were in support of Atiku.
For instance, while the average percentage of voter turnout in most states of the core the north was above 50%, in the south, the percentage of voter turnout was as low as 18% in some states, and this was where Atiku Abubakar had his support base. Let’s take some few samples.
Kaduna State, according to INEC’s record, has a total of 3,861,033 registered voters. In last Saturday’s election, 1,757,868 voters were accredited to vote. That was about 50% of registered voters. The number of people who actually voted in that election was 1,709,005. Those who gave their votes to Buhari were 993,612 people, while 649,612 people voted for Atiku Abubakar.
In Jigawa State, the number of registered voters was 2,104,889. Those accredited to vote in last Saturday’s election were 1,171,801people, which is about 55.6% of registered voters. Those who voted in the election were 1,149,922 people. The state gave Buhari 794,738 votes, while Atiku got 289,895 votes.
In Yobe, 1,365,913 were registered voters, 601,059 wete accredited to vote last Saturday, and 586,137 people actually voted. This is a Boko Haram infested state where everybody is living in fear. In last Saturday’s election, the people gave Buhari got 497,137 votes, while Atiku Abubakar got only 50,763 votes.
Conversely, in Enugu State, the total number of registered voters was 1,944,016, while only 452,765 came out for accreditation, which is less than 23.2% of registered voters. Those who actually voted in last Saturday’s election were 451,063. Buhari got 54,433 votes, and Atiku 355,553 votes.
In Anambra State, 2,389,332 were the number of registered voters, while 675,273 voters were accredited for last Saturday’s election, which is about 28%. Those who actually voted were 605,734 people. Those who voted for Buhari were 33,298 people, while Atiku got 524,738 votes.
Lagos which has the highest number of registered voters in the country with 6,570,291 voters, had only 1,196,490 people who turned out for accreditation in last Saturday’s election, which translates to only about 18.2%. The number of people who actually voted were 1,024,307. Those who voted for Buhari were 580,825, while 448,015 people voted for Atiku Abubakar.
This was the general pattern in most states of the south, including and up to the middle belt states – apathy, or low turnout of voters. Some people are worried. Why is it that people from the south hardly come out to exercise their civic responsibility? Why are they always nonchalant in what concerns them? But they will be the people to complain that the government was not doing well. Socrates says that the prize we always pay when good people fail to participate in government is bad governance. That’s what we have been experiencing in the country ever since.
But some people are beginning to suggest that the so-called massive turnout of voters in the core north as recorded by INEC might have only existed on paper, but not in actuality. That is why in these core north areas of large turnout of voters there was no political violence during that election, but in the south where very few people had turned out to vote, there were political violence, ballot box snatching, tearing and burning of ballot papers, etc.. Surely, there’s more than meets the eye.