Looking at the map of Nigeria immediately after the 2011 presidential elections and how the states voted, an observer would be excused to conclude that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) was a party for the Southern part of the country while the then opposition party, the Congress for Progressives Change (CPC) was for the North.
This is because the pattern of voting showed all the states in the North West and North Eastern parts, with the exception of Adamawa, voted overwhelmingly for General Muhammadu Buhari who was the CPC presidential candidate while the North Central geo-political zone and the three regions in the southern part of the country voted overwhelmingly for President Goodluck Jonathan.
Then, only Niger, out of the six states in the North Central part of the country, voted for Buhari as the rest; Kwara, Benue, Plateau, Nasarawa, Kogi all voted for Jonathan.
Follow us on twitter @SkytrendNews
But the result of Saturday’s election has shown that Buhari has not only retained Niger but has captured four other states of the North central from the PDP, leaving only Nasarawa for Jonathan.
Another region where there was a reversal of fortunes for the PDP is the South West.
In the contest between Jonathan and Buhari in 2011, the South West states of Ekiti, Oyo, Ogun, Lagos, and Ondo all voted more for Jonathan while Osun voted for Nuhu Ribadu, who was the presidential candidate of the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN).
But in a reversal of fortune, the 2015 elections put almost all the states considered to be turfs of the ruling party in the kitty of the opposition party candidate, giving him victory in last week’s poll.
In 2011, Jonathan polled 694, 77 votes as against Buhari’s 109,608 votes in Benue. But in 2015, Benue gave Buhari 373, 961 votes while Jonathan got 303, 937 votes.
Kwara has since the defection of late Olusola Saraki to the PDP also been siding with the PDP. The state in 2011, contributed 268,243 votes to Jonathan while giving Buhari only 83, 603 votes.
But in last week’s election, Kwara did the opposite by giving Buhari 302, 146 votes while giving Jonathan 132, 602 votes.
Lagos, which totally rejected Buhari in 2011, also did a U-turn moving away from the 1, 281,688 votes it gave Jonathan in 2011 to 632, 327 votes while embracing Buhari which it reluctantly gave a mere 199,533 votes in 2011 to the 792, 460 votes it gave him in the current election.
Kogi State which gave Jonathan 399, 870 votes as against Buhari’s 132, 201 votes also reversed itself and gave Buhari the highest number of votes in the current dispensation with 264, 851 against the 149,987 it gave Jonathan.
The twist in support between the two candidates who had presented themselves before the electorate just about four years ago has befuddled many who are asking what must have possibly happened to cause the role reversal.
In 2011, Adamawa was a PDP stronghold and the factors that made it vote for the PDP then include the fact that there was a yearning to retain the status quo given the fact that the state was ruled by the party. This, coupled with the urge to resist the incursion of the opposition into the states, made the PDP leaders determined to deliver the president so as to ensure his support in the governorship elections.
In 2015 however, many things happened that caused the PDP house to be in commotion. A former national chairman of the party from the state was removed from office, the governor of the state who won election on the platform of the party defected and was impeached, and those that defected to the party were favoured for the party’s ticket, while those who felt they worked for the party were asked to wait.
At the end, the PDP house in Adamawa crumbled as there was no clear cut leader as it used to be in the past.
While the opposition APC did not also put its house in order, the lack of unity among PDP members left the electorate to do as they wish and this affected the last presidential election where Jonathan lost in the state.
In Kogi, party stalwarts were also aggrieved with the primary for the National Assembly seats where the principle of zoning was jettisoned thereby reinforcing the feeling of alienation in certain parts of the state.
Leaders of the party like Tunde Ogbeha, David Jemibewon were aggrieved that the president did not intervene in cases where it was glaring there was need for rotation and this affected their commitment to the party, leaving the APC to take advantage of the disaffection.
In Ondo where Jonathan got 387, 376 in 2011 with Buhari getting only 11,891 which now switched to 299,389 for Buhari and 251, 869 for Jonathan, the PDP shot itself in the foot when it compelled the governor of the state, Olusegun Mimiko, to leave the Labour Party and join the PDP.
This created lots of problems for the party in the state as the governor now had to confront those who were opposed to him in the same party. Worse still, he was made the leader of the party to the chagrin of the party stalwarts who felt it was not a fair way of repaying them for building the party more so as the governors tried to impose his will on the party.
In Lagos, the fact that the movers of the APC like Bola Ahmed Tinubu and Babatunde Fashola were the political big wigs in the state made it natural for some concessions to be made in favour of the opposition party. The drafting of Prof. Yemi Osinbajo as the APC vice presidential candidate also helped the party gain more grounds.
But the PDP too did not help matters when it denied Musliu Obanikoro the party’s guber ticket and allowed Bode George and Adeseye Ogunlewe to insist on their choice. This served to fracture the party in Lagos.
Though Obanikoro was assuaged with appointment as minister, the fact that he was given a less powerful position than the one he was holding before the primaries also reduced his fervency for the Jonathan project.
In Kwara, its political strong man, Bukola Saraki, was among the prime movers for the formation of the APC due to his disagreement with the presidency which he believed was behind his frequent invitation by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Saraki did not have any problem convincing the governor to join him in the APC which made the PDP the opposition party in the state. There were mass defections to fill up the vacuum created by the exit of the governor and his supporters but the primary of the party threw up fresh crisis in the party, making people like Gbemi Saraki to defect from the PDP to join her brother in the APC.
The feeling that Jonathan allowed a less popular candidate to be the party’s guber flag bearer in the state also caused disaffection for the party.
In Osun, Governor Rauf Aregbesola had always held the state with firm grip. He simply refused to relax his grip coupled with the influence of Tinubu and other APC stalwarts from the South West which made the party popular in the state.
The resort to sorting out some traditional rulers from the state by the PDP also worsened matters for the PDP as those who were known to have benefited from the largesse were scorned and couldn’t come out to campaign while those who did not get the money, waited to exert their pound of flesh.
In Ogun, the PDP played into the hands of the opposition by allowing party big wigs like former President Olusegun Obasanjo to leave the party. The inability of the PDP leadership to woo him back made the opposition more popular than it should have been in the state.
In Benue, there was already disenchantment with the governor of the state, Gabriel Suswam. Many of the party leaders expected Jonathan to call the governor who had not paid workers’ salaries and who was bent on imposing his stooge as his successor to order but the president failed to do so and allowed Suswam to even clinch the senatorial ticket of the party.
This coupled with the refusal to allow a free and fair primary of the PDP made people to vote the PDP out in protest.
But apart from these peculiar cases, there were the general ones like the persona of the presidential candidate of the APC, which convinced many to believe that he can defeat a sitting government and many were willing to support him.
The PDP also did not deliver on many of its promises to many of the states and only moved closer to the leaders of the party when it was time for election.
This accelerated the decision by the electorate to box the ruling party in states it had hitherto believed were its turf.
Sources: Daily Trust