The February 25 presidential election has come and gone, but the dramatic events that shaped it are still subject of analysis.
To some observers, it was the first time since the return of democracy in 1999 after many years of military rule that more than two top contenders for the presidential race slugged it out.
Although 18 political parties fielded candidates for the poll, candidates of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Bola Ahmed Tinubu; Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar and Labour Party (LP), Peter Obi and New Nigeria People’s Party (NNPP), Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, were the top contenders.
Unlike in the past when the presidential election was always a straight battle between the APC and the PDP, the situation was different this year with the entry of a third force, LP, which also played a role in shaping the electoral process.
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Daily Trust on Sunday reports that the APC, which controls federal power, failed to win the presidential election in some states but won the March 18 governorship election in those states.
The APC won 12 states during the presidential election, PDP 12, LP 12, including the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), and the NNPP won one.
Some of the states won by the PDP or LP in the presidential poll were also taken by the APC during the governorship poll.
This scenario has thrown up surprises and questions as to what factors or strategies led to the changes in voting patterns
In the just concluded governorship election, the APC won in 15 states, including Sokoto, Katsina, Jigawa, Gombe, Lagos, Kwara, Niger, Yobe, Nasarawa, Cross River, Ebonyi, Ogun, Benue, Kaduna and Borno.
On the other hand, the PDP won in eight states, namely, Plateau, Zamfara, Bauchi, Oyo, Delta, Rivers Enugu and Akwa Ibom, while the NNPP emerged victorious in Kano.
The Labour Party won in Abia, while the governorship election in Adamawa and Kebbi was declared inconclusive by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
The APC lost the governorship poll in Zamfara, where it won the presidential election. In Yobe, it was a different ball game. The party won the governorship election, where it lost the presidential poll.
Pundits said many northerners voted for PDP’s candidate, Atiku Abubakar because they felt he was one of them. It was also gathered that many northerners were also not happy with the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari and don’t trust Tinubu either, on account of his age.
Others, however, voted for Tinubu because of Muslim-Muslim ticket, influence of the elite like traditional rulers and the party structure. These factors all affected the voting pattern.
Daily Trust on Sunday reports that after APC’s defeat in the presidential election in some states, the party’s governorship candidates did things differently to win.
Our correspondents report that in some states where APC governors were seeking re-election, they were able to re-strategise by giving incentives to various categories of beneficiaries, including scholarships to students, agricultural loans to teachers, among others.
The presidential candidate of the APC, Tinubu, was declared the overall winner of the poll by the INEC, having defeated 17 other candidates after scoring a total of 8,794,726 votes.
He also scored over 25 per cent of the votes cast in 30 states, more than the 24 states constitutionally required.
The INEC chairman, Mahmood Yakubu, who announced the final results in Abuja, said Atiku Abubakar of the PDP came second in the election.
Atiku polled a total of 6,984,520 votes, while Peter Obi of the LP came third with a total of 6,101,533 votes.
Consequently, Tinubu, a former governor of Lagos State, was issued a certificate of return by INEC in Abuja.
The ruling APC in Gombe State won the governorship election despite that its presidential candidate, Tinubu, failed to win in the state.
PDP’s candidate, Atiku, scored 319,123 votes, while Tinubu scored 146,977 votes. Also, the PDP clinched five of the six House of Representatives seats and two of the three senatorial seats in the state.
However, during the governorship election, Muhammadu Inuwa Yahaya of the APC scored 342,821 votes to defeat Muhammad Jibril Barde of the PDP, who polled 233,131 votes.
Political observers in the state attributed the development to many factors, including the launch of several empowerment initiatives that included N500million grants to traders, giving scholarship to students, and other schemes targeting women and youths.
The governor also openly apologised to several groups that he “wronged” during his first four years and pledged to make amends.
Political pundits also said the failure of the main opposition PDP to put its house in order also gave the APC an upper hand in the governorship poll.
A political analyst, Umar Farouk Ahmad, told Daily Trust on Sunday that the PDP failed to resolve the internal crisis that enveloped it following the outcome of its primary polls, hence its defeat.
“Also, there is the allegation of massive vote buying by the ruling APC, where its agents openly induced voters with monetary and other gifts in return for a vote for the ruling party,” he added.
In Yobe State, the presidential candidate of the PDP, Atiku Abubakar, won with 198,567 votes. APC’s Tinubu, polled 151,459, while LP’s Peter Obi got 2,406 votes respectively.
The ruling APC won the governorship election in the state with 371,113 votes while the PDP got 104,259.
Analysts said one of the factors that worked in favour of the APC in the governorship election was that political parties under the aegis of the Inter-Party Advisory Council (IPAC), Yobe State chapter, had unanimously endorsed the re-election of Governor Mai Mala Buni.
The state chairman of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), Abdullahi Bello, disclosed this in a statement jointly signed by him, LP, All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), Accord Party and Action Alliance respectively.
According to the statement, the five political parties endorsed Buni for a second term to consolidate his achievements.
Also, an amalgamation of 72 trade unions and associations in Yobe State declared their support for Buni’s re-election bid.
The chairman of the association, Alhaji Umaru Barau, disclosed this when he presented an award to Buni for the milestones he had recorded in the state in his first term of office.
He said the empowerment programmes of the state government had provided artisans in the state with sustainable means of livelihood.
Buni also approved N500million agricultural loan to 4,000 teachers across the state. Each of the 4,000 teachers is to receive N120,000 to engage in agricultural production.
When contacted, the state collation agent of the NNPP in Yobe State, Comrade Ibrahim Garba Muhammad said, ‘‘We have seen how COVID-19 palliatives were distributed to voters in order to vote for the APC. We have documented the videos we are going to present at the court of law.”
In Lagos, the LP candidate defeated the APC during the presidential election. But Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of the APC was declared winner of the March 18 governorship election in the state after scoring 762,134 votes to defeat his closest rival, Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour of the LP, who polled 312,329 votes.
Our correspondents report that shortly after the presidential poll, the ruling party restrategised to ensure it defeated the LP to retain power.
Political pundits said Sanwo-Olu was largely considered a better and more experienced candidate compared to Rhodes-Vivour, who tried to cash in on the ‘Obidient’ movement, displacing the PDP candidate who was earlier considered the main challenger.
Speaking with one of our correspondents, the executive secretary of the Coalition of Democrats for Electoral Reform (CODER), Dr Wunmi Bewaji, said the governorship election was an entirely different configuration.
He noted that during the presidential election, the ruling party made some mistakes, which it corrected before the governorship election. He also said the LP shot itself in the foot by proclaiming its affinity with the Igbo.
In the presidential election in Katsina State, the PDP candidate, Atiku, got 489,045 votes to beat the APC candidate, Tinubu, who scored 482,283 votes.
This was considered an upset for some reasons in Katsina, one of which was that the state is the home of President Muhammadu Buhari, the father of the APC.
However, when it came to the governorship election, it was an entirely different story as the APC candidate won the race.
The INEC declared Dr Dikko Umar-Radda of the APC winner of the March 18 governorship election.
Announcing the results, the state Returning Officer, Prof Muazu Abubakar-Gusau, the vice chancellor of the Federal University, Gusau, said Umar-Radda polled 859,892 votes to emerge the state governor-elect, after defeating his closet rival, Senator Yakubu Lado-Danmarke of the PDP, who scored 486,620 votes.
However, before the governorship election, Daily Trust on Sunday observed that Umar-Radda, Governor Aminu Masari and other critical stakeholders in the state teamed up for the success of the party.
Daily Trust on Sunday reports that the internal skirmishes in the party were resolved ahead of the poll, thus giving it victory.
Observers said the internal wrangling of the PDP in the state made it easy for the APC to win the governorship poll.
In Sokoto, the governorship candidate of the APC, Ahmed Aliyu, was declared winner.
Aliyu defeated Sa’idu Umar Ubandoma, his PDP rival. The PDP is the ruling party in the state.
Prof Armiya’u Hamisu, the Returning Officer, said APC candidate polled 453,661 votes while the PDP candidate got 404,632 votes.
In the presidential election, the candidate of the PDP, Atiku Abubakar won in the state.
The presidential election witnessed a big shock from the Labour Party, which won in Nasarawa State.
The North Central state has been a stronghold of the ruling APC, but the presidential candidate of the LP, Peter Obi, secured 191,361 to win in the state.
His closest challenger, Bola Ahmed Tinubu of the APC, scored 172,922 votes, while Atiku Abubakar of the PDP garnered 147, 093 votes.
Observers said Governor Sule was returned because he had, within his four years in office, worked to unite the various ethnic groups and religions in the state. He is also said to have worked hard in the areas of project execution.
In Kaduna State, the PDP won the presidential election but lost at the governorship poll to the APC.
A political analyst, Abubakar Ahmed, who spoke with Daily Trust on Sunday said there were many issues that caused the pendulum to swing in favour of the APC during the governorship election.
He said, “The Muslims felt it was better for them to go with the Muslim-Muslim ticket while the Christians, especially in the North and South, felt that the only Christian candidate in the race that could win the election was Peter Obi, so their votes were tilted towards that. If you narrow it to the governorship election, religion also contributed immensely in the way and manner people voted.
“Some felt that the Muslim-Muslim ticket did not do anything for them, so there was no need for them to continue with that philosophy of voting along a same faith ticket.
“The Christians also felt it was better to go with the party with a Christian running mate; hence some people were more comfortable with the PDP than the APC.
“So, religion and ethnicity unfortunately played a role in the elections in spite of the calls that leaders should emerge on merit, especially in states, where the government is closer to the people.”
In Ebonyi State, the APC lost at the presidential election to the candidate of the Labour Party, Mr Peter Obi but clinched the state’s number one seat.
Some observers said one of the factors that made the APC win the governorship election was that it became more vigorous in its campaigns.
It was gathered that while the party in the state took the presidential election for granted, thinking it would have a smooth sail; hence did not seriously campaign initially, but after the party lost the February 25 poll, Governor David Umahi and other stakeholders strengthened the campaign.
Also, Ifeanyi Nworie, a lawyer and the acting state chairman of the PDP, who spoke with newsmen said, “The 2023 governorship election in Ebonyi State was marred by irregularities and glaring cases of violent intimidation of the opposition.”
Our correspondent reports that not less than five local government areas witnessed electoral violence in polling units.
Why voting patterns changed — Dr Kari
A lecturer at the University of Abuja, Dr Abubakar Umar Kari, has said that every election has its dynamics, stressing that the issues associated with the presidential election could be different from that of the governorship.
He said the candidates in the presidential poll were also different from candidates in the governorship; hence the change of voting pattern.
Dr Kari said, “A very important factor for me has to do with the parties, particularly, the ruling APC. The party quickly regrouped after the presidential election and decided not to commit the same errors, if any, in the governorship election of March 18.
“And it is quite possible that a particular voter may be more interested in voting for a particular candidate during the presidential election irrespective of a political party because the choice is not fixed.”
By Saawua Terzungwe (Abuja), Haruna Gimba Yaya (Gombe), Habibu Idris Gimba (Damaturu), Mohammed Ibrahim Yaba (Kaduna), Nabob Ogbonna (Abakaliki), Abdullateef Aliyu (Lagos), Tijjani Ibrahim (Katsina) & Umar Mohammed (Lafia)
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