Having stayed glued to the election process on television and social media, like most Nigerians have so far, it was rather disappointing that Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) chairman, Attahiru Jega did not conclude the elections on 30th March as promised. What irked me more was his nonchalant dismissal of the public at the end of the press conference when he said “We shall reconvene here tomorrow sometime around 10:00 AM”, without sounding definitive and without any explanation as to why the other eighteen states had not concluded their results on time – especially when it is considered that result summations had already been concluded at the polling stations in advance. Contrast this to the United Kingdom, where the electoral body would have stayed up all night collating and analysing results. After all we Nigerians are used to night vigils in this country, so what is INEC doing going to bed at 10:00 PM?”
However, without taking away from what has been a very engaging and extensively covered election so far, I shall delve into my observations of the election results in the eighteen states and the FCT. Let’s also remember that according to the Nigerian constitution – The candidate with the most votes is declared the winner, as long as he gains at least 25% of the votes in two-thirds of Nigeria’s 36 states. So what do we know so far about the two main juggernauts?
Well nothing has been decided yet. With APC currently holding a higher proposition of the votes, they lead the run in by just over 2 million votes going into the second half of the counting. However, APC are currently struggling to secure the required 25% of the votes in 24 states whereas PDP are doing so with ease.
With 18 states and the FCT counted, APC currently have over 25% of the votes in 14 states whereas PDP has over 25% of the votes in 16 states. This is a telling metric because a large proportion of the results yet to be released are from the South-South and South-East part of the country, where APC has already received resounding defeats in Abia, Akwa-Ibom, Anambra and most notably Enugu. The trend in these states is PDP tends to win these states by approximately a 95% to 5% ratio.
If this trend was to continue in Bayelsa, Cross River, Delta, Ebonyi, Edo and Rivers States then the APC would have 6 less states to secure the needed 24 states, leaving only 12 of the 18 states remaining. This means if General Muhammadu Buhari of the APC fails to make 25% of the votes in 3 of the 12 possible strong holds, even if he secures the most popular vote nationwide, he cannot win the election. So this is squeaky-bum time for those in the APC camp.
Moreover, what I find more interesting is the heavy bias of the electorate towards a particular candidate from a particular region. General Buhari has consistently won by huge margins in the North-West regions of the country whereas Goodluck Ebele Jonathan has trounced his opponent in the South-East. This raises serious questions for us Nigerians when it comes to trust across ethnic lines and the level of nation building required by the winning party. Because to continue along this trend will do nothing for the future of our children and building a united Nigeria. So the victor has a lot of work on their hands.
Outside the race to the top seat, there are other interesting trends being noted. Take as an example the voting turnout in the first 19 regions when the number of registered voters is compared to the number of accredited voters.
From the graph below, the number of accredited voters so far is just over 50% of registered voters. So what does this suggest? That of those who registered to vote, half the number did not show up to get accredited. Why did this group not show up? Could it have been because of security concerns or were they not just bothered about fulfilling their civic duties? What could be done in the future to increase participation, so that the number of accredited voters would be at least 70% of the registered voters?
Another interesting, metric to study is the total accredited voters versus the total votes cast. So what do the elections tell us about splitting the accreditation process from the voting process? As seen from the graph below, 11% of those who got accredited on the day did not return to their polling stations afterwards to vote. Why? Could some of them not wait under the scorching sun or pouring rain for another 3 – 4 hours before voting commenced? Should we expect this group to wait regardless of the circumstances? What demographic was this? What could have been provided by the federal government to ensure those who turned up to vote were adequately sheltered? Did these group return home only to hear of issues of violence afterwards, hence their failure to return?
Or a more pertinent question could be – why is the accreditation process and voting process not done at the same time? Will this not save time, money and increase convenience? These are questions we should be throwing to INEC and the House of Assembly regardless of the outcome of these elections because processes that can increase voting efficiency and reduce cost to electorate and INEC should be embraced.
Lastly, based on the 19 regions thus far, do the election results tell us anything about literacy rate in Nigeria? With only 3% of the total votes cast registered as invalid votes, perhaps Nigerians should be proud, because so far, these figures are higher than in previous elections. However, perhaps this 3% figure had nothing to do with literacy. Perhaps if INEC had improved their preparedness then voters would have placed their thumb in the correct space allotted for their thumb prints and not in between two spaces, thereby invalidating their vote. Or if properly sensitised the voters would not have folded their ballot papers and as a consequence smudge the ink of their thumb prints and invalidate their vote.
These are just snippets into the kind of deductions that can be made as we progress with the election results. Other interesting facts, if the figures are released by INEC, are the demographic of the voters in the country. What is the percentage of women voters to men voters? What is the percentage of elderly voters to young/youth voters? How many voting registration poles were canceled? How do these trends relate with previous years? What is the number of internally displaced voters and in what proportion did they vote?
These and many more questions should run in the minds of Nigerians as we await the result of the second half of the election results.