Underhand Manoeuvering: How South West lost voting strength to North West

The influential African news journal, The Africa Report, in its Wednesday, November 23, 2022 issue, carried a story under the headline, ‘Nigeria 2023: Outrage as children litter voter register 100 days to election’. The report said: “Less than 100 days to the highly anticipated elections, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has published the full list of the over 93.5 million voters that will elect Nigeria’s next President. However, the presence of children on the voter register has raised questions over the credibility of next year’s poll.”


This came after another report quoted the INEC Chairman Prof Mamood Yakubu as saying: “After a rigorous cleaning-up of the data using the Automated Biometric Identification System, a total of 2, 780, 756 (22.6 per cent) were identified as ineligible registrants and invalidated from the record, among them double/multiple registrants, underage persons and outright fake registrations that fail to meet our business rules. Consequently, the number of valid registrations (post-ABIS) is 9, 518, 188.”


But the Chairman’s statement on the matter contradicted INEC statement on the issue of underage voters through its spokesman Festus Okoye on September 12, 2022 which stated that the correction affected only those who registered between June 2021 and January 2022, and not about under-aged voters. The INEC spokesman words: “On the issue of underage voters, this Commission published the entire registered voters in Nigeria in various local government areas and all the registration areas.”


The Inconsistencies in the position of the Election Management Body (EMB) has raised fresh fears about how underage voters can be an issue in the 2023 polls despite the reforms INEC has carried out in the conduct of elections in Nigeria with a view to eliminating rigging through the use of technology.


Let us recall that the National President of the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN), Alhaji Baba Usman-Ngelzarma, was quoted in a January report as boasting that MACBAN had about 16 million members as voters ahead of the February presidential election. There is no gainsaying the fact that the Usman-Ngelzarma statement can only come out of Nigeria where religion and ethnicity—the two fundamental factors that define the character and identity of a modern nation-state but which are excluded from the nation’s census data. I remember Eze Festus Odimegwu in 2013 who as Chairman of National Population Commission (NPC) stated that “no census has been credible in Nigeria since 1863.”


Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) and then Governor Rabiu Kwankwaso of Kano State immediately demanded Odimegwu’s removal and no Southern Christian or political leader stood out in his defense except then-Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) led by Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor who spoke through its Public Relations Officer in the 19 Northern States and Abuja, Mr. Sunday Oibe. Kwankwaso ridiculed Odimegwu then when he said the former Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian Breweries “had consumed too much of his product [beer] to be capable of conducting census.”


It Is valid to argue that northern elites have carefully and ingeniously plotted their way to beef up the voting strength (and population figures) of their region through underage voter registration and that enabled the North-West to overtake the South-West which had the highest voting strength as of the 1993 elections.


Of course everyone knows that this was aimed at giving them the much needed advantage during elections.


Meanwhile the onus lies on INEC to explain to Nigerians why the voters registration in Kano, Jigawa, Borno, Yobe and Zamfara states should not be declared spurious and therefore invalid based on the following indices of moral and technical judgments founded on the history of voter manipulation and spurious exaggeration by these northern states.


The first instance was the votes by the six geopolitical zones in the 1979 presidential election with the total votes of 16, 846, 633 which came in the following order of numerical strength:


South-West — 4, 354, 417


North-West — 3, 926, 545


South-East — 2, 362, 393


North-East — 2, 348, 789


South-South — 2, 018, 565


North-Central — 1, 825, 236


The foregoing shows that the South-West topped the voters table while Kano State, which, at that time, included the present Kano and Jigawa States, had a total voting strength of 1, 195, 136, slightly ahead of Lagos State with 828, 414 votes.


The second Instance was the annulled June 12, 1993 presidential election result which remains the most credible election in Nigeria and conducted through the Option A4 method with 14, 440, 003 votes cast and distributed in the following order of numerical strength:


South-West — 3, 561, 519


South-South — 2, 564, 965


North-West — 2, 478, 525


North-Central — 2,320,130


North-East — 2,109,984


South-East — 1, 44,880


The South-West still maintained its voting superiority and North-West taking the third place. Lagos State alone had 1, 033, 397 votes; while Kano State had total votes of 324, 428 and Jigawa State 228, 388. Strikingly, one of the presidential candidates in that election, Alhaji Tofa, hailed from Kano yet the state could not muster total votes of 350, 000 and Jigawa from which it was carved out could not equally make up 250, 000 votes. These are the states now turning out millions of voters.


The third instance is the 1999 presidential election in with total votes of 29, 848, 441 cast, but which ushered in the present political dispensation and witnessed the gradual alleged manipulation of the northern Muslim voting population to ‘correct’ the embarrassing revelation of the June 12, 1993 election, although with Lagos still maintaining the lead with total votes of 1, 751, 981. However, the South-West had now been allegedly manipulated to the second place with the Muslim North-West taking the lead from its distant third place in the previous presidential election in the following order:


North-West — 5, 569, 470


South-West — 5,519,189


South-South — 5, 431, 427


North-East — 4, 964, 780


North-Central — 4, 936, 867


South-East — 3, 287, 097


Kano geometrically rose to 904, 713 votes and Jigawa to 548, 596 votes, yet the total votes of both states could not meet up with the votes of Lagos. But the most phenomenal geometrical figure came from Borno State which produced higher figure than Kano’s votes of 915, 975 and Katsina State which produced 1, 193, 397 votes.


The fourth Instance was the 2015 presidential election which produced 28, 587, 564 votes; and it turned out that this was an oligarchic war against then-President Goodluck Jonathan and the poll subsequently became the point of what many people believe to be the institutionalization of voter population fraud with gross impunity. I call it gross impunity because it was the first time underage children were allegedly registered as voters and voted against the law with daring impunity. This alleged underage child-voter impunity subsequently produced the following voter-statistics in favor of the North-West:


North-West — 8, 505, 577


South-West — 7, 068, 792


South-South — 5, 168, 330


North-Central — 4,159,083


North-East — 3,672,321


South-East — 2,701,745


Strangely in this election, Katsina and Kano states beat Lagos State with little Jigawa generating over one million votes and Boko Haram and ISWAP devastated Borno and Yobe states respectively producing over and close to half a million voters, as shown by the following statistics:


Lagos State — 1, 443, 686


Kano State — 2, 128, 821


Jigawa State — 1, 037, 564


Borno State — 501, 920


Yobe State — 473, 796


Katsina State —1, 449, 426


The fifth instance, which was the 2019 presidential election and which produced total votes of 28, 614, 190, followed the tradition of 2015 with alleged child-voters in the North-West and the Muslim zones of North-East participating in the electoral process. In this election, the North-West votes skyrocketed to 8, 769, 782 followed by the North-East while Borno, Jigawa and Yobe maintained their voter increases as shown in the following table:


North-West — 8, 769, 782


North-Central — 4, 814, 267


North-East — 4, 786, 266


South-West — 4, 366, 026


South-South — 3, 535, 109


South-East — 2, 342, 740


Kano State — 1, 964, 751


Kaduna State — 1, 709, 005


Katsina — 1, 619, 185


Lagos State —1, 156, 590


Jigawa State — 1, 149, 922


Borno State — 955, 205


Yobe State — 586, 137


From the above figures, voter registration for the 2023 polls has now jumped to the following numbers:




North-West — 24, 099, 310


North-Central — 21, 306, 187


South-South — 14, 450, 271


North-East — 13, 478, 291


South-West — 12, 342, 739


South-East — 10, 626, 240




Lagos State — 7, 155, 920


Kano State — 6, 026, 850


Jigawa State — 1, 828, 455


Borno State — 2, 514, 228


Yobe — 1, 365, 913


Zamfara — 1, 717, 128


What is clear from this analysis is that as of the 1993 elections, South-West was leading North-West with almost one million votes (South-West — 4, 354, 417


North-West — 3, 926, 545) but just 30 years after, the situation has not only reversed, the North-West is leading South-West with nearly 12 million votes (North-West — 24, 099, 310, South-West — 12, 342, 739). Was this made possible by underage voters? The outcome of the 2023 elections will tell if INEC’s claim that underage voters have been removed from the voters register with the reforms the electoral body has undertaken and the technology it has introduced into the voting process.









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