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How Tinubu will Win 2023 Presidential Election

Zone by zone analysis

By Abdullah Dan’azumi Golkos


Elections, like war, like sports, are determined by many factors.

The most important of these is effective deployment of resources by a political party and its candidate in the choice of running mates and in answer to the political realities on ground.

Closely tied to this factor is the matter of financial resources available to the party to effectively execute its campaigns.

Third is ‘home advantage’ or what is referred to as the incumbency factor. This is a combination of patronage, projects executed by the ruling party at the state as well as the federal level, and impactful service delivery.

While in advanced democracies, ideology, taxation, inflation, unemployment, gender and welfare issues sometimes determine the outcome of elections, same may not be so in developing democracies as the impact of those indices on election outcomes are, to some extent, minimal and debatable.

Aside these, there is also the issue of political tradition developed over time which has come to reflect the acceptability of candidates. In Nigeria, the gradual evolution of that tradition is indicative of preference for candidates that have been around for long and whose antecedents are known, as against newcomers or greenhorns.

Thus, with the exception of President Olusegun Obasanjo, who was a compromise candidate in 1999, and his successors, Presidents Umar Yar’Adua (2007) and Goodluck Jonathan (2010), it took President Muhammadu Buhari no less than three attempts before he succeeded at the fourth, to get the nation’s top job, while former Vice President Atiku Abubakar has been in the political trenches for long.

While the future may dispel this tradition, for now it has become a factor in Nigeria’s politics, to the detriment of presidential race newcomers.

In this regard, the efforts of All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential candidate in the 2023 election, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu in forging alliances that culminated in the formation of APC must not only be taken into account, his antecedents as a pro-democracy activist who sacrificed his all and risked his life during the Sani Abacha era when several progressive pretenders chickened out of the cause, surely count in his favour.

A two-time Governor of Lagos State who not only propelled the vital coastal state to greater heights and made it a reference point in economic self reliance, Tinubu also laid down a blueprint for continuity as a team player whose ideals are driven by patriotism rather than sentiment.

While the first two listed factors of effective deployment and command of resources may likely be available to some of his presidential race rivals, the incumbency factor, which is a strong determining factor during elections, may be to the disadvantage of newcomers and parties that have little representation on ground.

Given this scenario, to some extent this appears to have already made the forthcoming presidential elections a two-horse affair —between the ruling APC and the dominant opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

Indications are that while the Labour Party and the newly-registered New Nigeria People’s Party (NNPP) led by Peter Obi and Sen. Musa Kwankwaso respectively, are expected to perform creditably in some parts of the country, their overall impact on the presidential elections could be minimal and restricted due to their restricted bases and lack of incumbent elected representatives whose destinies are tied to the ruling parties’—a crucial factor to propel the latter (elected representatives) to commit both human and financial resources to the campaign.

Against this background, APC NewsOnline attempts a geo-political zone by zone analysis of potential voting patterns for the 2023 presidential poll.

In alphabetical order, we start with North Central zone which comprises Benue, Kogi, Kwara, Nasarawa, Niger and Plateau States.

North Central Zone:

States in this zone are Benue, Kogi, Kwara, Nasarawa, Niger and Plateau.

This zone is the home of the Middle Belt Forum (MBF), which, like its regional and zonal counterparts elsewhere, claims to represent, promote, protect and advance the political, economic and social cause of the Northern minorities and the zone.

Whether such stance has proven, over time, to have heavy electoral value, is debatable. Sometimes the MBF’s religious inclinations betray its stated mission, thus weakening its claims as a political force in the multi-ethnic, multi-religious and multi-cultural setting of the Middle Belt.

While the adoption of the Muslim-Muslim ticket by APC ahead of 2023 has generated controversy in some states, it is more pronounced in Plateau state which has a majority Christian population. However, the appointment of Plateau Governor Simon Lalong as Director General of the Tinubu campaign machinery has gone, to a long extent, to appease critics.

In Benue state where the demographic composition is the same as Plateau, internal wrangling within the PDP at the national level, which has seen the state Governor, Samuel Ortom, pitted in a titanic battle, alongside Rivers state Governor, Nyesom Wike, among others, against the party’s presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, has pushed any other factor to the background.

In this instance, taking the population composition of the majority of the states in the North Central zone into consideration, the APC will secure majority of the zone-wide votes based on effective deployment of resources because the multi-ethnic, multi-cultural and multi-religious composition of the zone will make opposition to the Muslim-Muslim ticket have little impact on the general zonal voting pattern.

Another advantage is that APC boasts a majority of elected representatives at all levels of Government on ground in states in the zone—a development that could hand major fillip to the party.

Thirdly, the financial resources available to both the APC and PDP put them ahead of the other parties while the agitation in support of power rotation to the South by some prominent persons in the zone will be nicked for the advantage of Tinubu and APC.

The incumbency factor, which is a combination of project execution, patronage and service delivery which confers advantages to parties in control of state and federal Governments, will definitely reflect on the APC and impact positively.

Based on this, it can confidently be presumed that where the ruling party at the state and federal is the same, the votes, based on deployment and incumbency, put the APC at an advantage. Aside Benue which is PDP-ruled, Kogi, Kwara, Nasarawa, Niger and Plateau are all APC-governed states.

North East Zone:

The North East zone, which comprises Adamawa, Bauchi, Borno, Gombe, Yobe and Taraba, is the zone of the presidential candidate of PDP, Atiku Abubakar, as well as that of the APC Vice Presidential candidate, Kashim Shettima.

While the four states of Adamawa, Bauchi and Gombe had experienced changes of ruling party at the state level in different times in their recent political history, the three states of Borno, Taraba and Yobe have been consistent in not changing party at state level.

One can safely conclude that the previous voting pattern that characterized the voting process in 2019 will be repeated in 2023, to the advantage of Tinubu and APC.

Moreover, the ability of the APC-led Federal Government (FG) to degrade the Boko Haram insurgency, which had almost consumed the zone, and the gradual return of peace as signified by the return of many Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) to their homes, is a positive factor for APC.

The continuous voluntary surrender of insurgents to the federal armed forces is testament to APC FG’s efforts to restore peace to the zone—an accomplishment acknowledged by residents who are poised to express gratitude with their votes.

North West Zone:

With seven states—Zamfara, Sokoto, Kebbi, Kano, Katsina, Jigawa, Kaduna– the Northwest is the largest of all the geopolitical zones in the country.

It is the zone of the incumbent President Buhari. It is expected that he will ensure the APC puts up an impressive performance as a compliment to him as well as a demonstration of favour returned to especially the South-West zone, where Tinubu hails from, in his struggle to become President in 2015 and re-election in 2019.

The zone also has the highest number of Local Governments as well as the highest number of voters. The North-West has mostly been the deciding factor in the presidential race during previous elections.

With exception of Jigawa and Sokoto, the zone is APC-dominated. The equation is unlikely to change, with probable exception of Kano where the NNPP may make inroads into the votes of both the APC and PDP, thus reducing the margin of their votes.

On the whole, apart from Kano and Jigawa states, the APC is expected to make a clean sweep of votes of the zone based on deployment, incumbency, resources and correlation of forces between the APC control of the states and Federal Government.

Southeast Zone:

The South-East zone is the home of the apex Igbo socio-cultural organization, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, as well as the pro-Biafra separatist Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and its enforcement arm, the Eastern Security Network (ESN).

Notably, the zone is also the home of the Labour Party presidential candidate, Mr. Peter Obi.

The zone has been consistently PDP-friendly with All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) entrenched in Anambra state.

But the emergence of Obi as the Labour Party presidential candidate is likely to whittle down the influence and votes of the PDP. As for the APC, apart from its presence in Imo and Ebonyi states, it has always been marginal in this zone, but had managed to scratch the constitutionally required 25% here and there during recent elections.

The Obi factor here is likely to have more deleterious impact on the PDP than APC.

Next year’s election will likely see diminished performance by the PDP and possible better performance by the APC as just last Wednesday, Ebonyi state Governor Dave Umahi, who is chairman, South-East Governors’ Forum, declared that his state will vote massively for Tinubu.

Southwest Zone:

This is the most politically cohesive zone where the tradition of progressive politics introduced by the late sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, has been consistently maintained over the years.

It is the base of the pan-Yoruba socio-cultural organization, Afenifere, whose postures and claims of influence seem at variance with its political influence.

The group’s endorsement of candidates has never really translated into victory for anybody or party, except during its brief association with the defunct Alliance for Democracy (AD) —a political party that Tinubu nurtured, saw its limitations and opted to form the Action Congress (AC).

The zone is predominantly APC and Tinubu’s influence here is unquestionable. It has only hosted PDP through happenstance rather than voluntary acceptance.

The South-West’s progressive politics has made the zone inhospitable for conservative parties and ideologies.

In 2023, Tinubu is poised to go home with block votes here as even the two states of Osun and Oyo which while not under the APC strictly, are operating in an APC-dominated general environment.

Tinubu is the undisputed candidate of the zone, the unified heavyweight champion of the people, the lion that scares other contenders/ pretenders here. His victory in this zone is double-sure.

South South Zone:

The zone is the home of the Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) and hosts the oil- producing states of Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Cross River, Delta, Edo and Rivers.

While at a certain stage the zone was PDP-friendly, the APC later gained inroads, especially in Rivers and Bayelsa States during the 2019 elections where, had it not been for legal technicalities in court which cost the party dear, the two states would have been out-and-out APC states.

The clamour for a Southern President under PDP’s informal zoning arrangement which made Governor Wike to lead a still-raging rebellion against the emergence of Atiku Abubakar as PDP presidential candidate, in addition to his–and sympathetic PDP Governors’– stiff opposition to Iyorchia Ayu as the party Chairman, has found support in the zone, to the obvious advantage of APC and its presidential candidate.

It can therefore be rightly assumed that with advantages of deployment, resources, incumbency, political tradition and the general support in the zone for power shift to the South, the odds are in favour of Tinubu and the APC.

Additionally, the intra-party crisis in the PDP; the relentless allegations of corruption against PDP presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, by his former boss, ex-President Obasanjo; claims or loose talk about the efficacy of prayers of the poor in the North against his candidature; as well as the reneging of the informal zoning arrangement in PDP, could combine against Atiku Abubakar’s chances in this zone, and open the door wide for Tinubu as a veritable option. The added flavor of Tinubu’s wife’s ancestral background from the Warri area, could be further impetus.

As things stand, the nationwide odds favor a Tinubu presidency next year.

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