#NigeriaDecides: 2015 Elections and the Geography of Electoral Conflicts, By CDD

FILE PHOTO: Voters casting their vote (3)
FILE PHOTO: Voters casting their vote

A Background

The 1999 elections marked the return to electoral democracy in Nigeria after nearly four decades of military rule. In spite of this landmark in Nigerian political history, the consolidation of democracy is still fledging. Indicators show that democracy in Nigeria is still evolving and forces are always at work that could undermine the foundations of democracy. While Nigeria’s democratic experiment has recorded a measure of success, there are still challenges ahead in the task of deepening democracy. One of the key challenges is ensuring transparent and credible elections in a peaceful atmosphere where all can exercise their rights to participate.

Historically, elections in Nigeria have been marred by violence ranging from verbal attacks to outright killings. The four previous national elections witnessed their share of violent conflicts. With regard to the 2015 elections, the political environment presents some challenges. There is the fear that elections may not hold in some parts of the northeast as a result of the Boko Haram insurgency. The resurgence of ethnic militias in the southern part of Nigeria is likely to influence voter turnout. There are also three court decisions restraining the deployment of the military for election purposes.

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has reported that over 81.98% permanent voters’ card (PVCs) have been collected (see table 1 and fig. 1). Notwithstanding, there are some logistical challenges that have the potential to cause conflicts during and after the elections. For instance, there are complaints that some PVCs have not been made available in some states notably Abia, Ogun and Lagos States.

ZoneNumber of Registered VotersNumber of PVCs collected
Southeast 7,665,8596,621,541
South-south10,060,3478,418,929
Northwest 17,620,43615,999,398
Northeast9,107,861 7,922,444
North-central 9,406,2167,182,632
Southwest13,731,0909,238,713
PVCs Collection across the six zones
PVCs Collection across the six zones

The geography of electoral conflicts in Nigeria is very complex. Electoral conflicts can build and ride on existing conflicts. There is the tendency for existing conflicts to become exacerbated during and after elections. As for the conflicts that are specifically election-driven, the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) relies on analysis of the dynamics of politics within the individual states and geo-political zones to determine the potential for conflicts. Also, there are certain trends and patterns of electoral conflicts that can be discerned from history. Considered geo-politically, the following patterns and trends can be observed:

Northwest (Jigawa, Kano, Katsina, Kaduna, Kebbi, Sokoto, and Zamfara)
Kaduna, Kano and Katsina states, are witnessing intense political party competition and this has the likelihood of influencing electoral outcomes.

Southwest (Lagos, Ogun, Osun, Oyo, Ondo and Ekiti)
Ekiti, Lagos and Ondo states are witnessing intense competition between the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP). There is a potential for conflict and violence because the stakes in the upcoming election are particularly high.

Southeast (Abia, Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu and Imo)
The adoption of the PDP presidential candidate by a faction of the All Progressives’ Grand Alliance (APGA) increases the visibility of the PDP in the zone. However, the rising profile of the APC and the Labour Party (LP) in Imo and Ebonyi states respectively, has contributed to the intensity of inter-party rivalry with a high risk for violence.

North-Central (Benue, FCT, Kogi, Kwara, Niger and Plateau)
In Nasarawa, Plateau and Niger states, the increase in recorded party defections has contributed to stiffening the competition. Furthermore, ethnicity, religion and the contest for political power and limited economic opportunities play a prominent role in these states.

North-East (Adamawa, Bauchi, Borno, Gombe, Taraba and Yobe)
This geo-political zone is the most impacted by the Boko Haram insurgency leading to a high number of internally displaced persons (IDPs). This poses challenges for deployment of electoral logistics, election personnel and observers. This zone has also experienced party defections, severe political and economic instability. In view of this, there are serious concerns about the conduct and outcome of the elections.

South-South (Edo, Delta, Bayelsa, Akwa-Ibom and Rivers)
Rivers, Edo and Bayelsa states are likely to be more volatile during elections because the PDP presidential candidate who is also the incumbent hails from the zone. In recent times, both Rivers and Edo have experienced party defections and very intense rivalry between the PDP and the APC.

North-West (Jigawa, Kano, Katsina, Kaduna, Kebbi, Sokoto and Zamfara)
The APC presidential candidate and PDP vice-presidential candidate are from Katsina and Kaduna states respectively, this has already heightened party rivalry in the zone. In previous elections, this zone recorded high levels of election violence which is a source of concern.

Geography of Electoral Conflict in Nigeria
Geography of Electoral Conflict in Nigeria

Voting Patterns and Political Party’s Performance in Presidential Elections: 1999 – 2011
The voting pattern and outcome of presidential elections in Nigeria since 1999 shows the ruling party PDP sustained a steady lead across the six geo-political zones (see table 2 below). In 1999, the presidential contest was essentially between the PDP and the Alliance for Democracy-All Peoples’ Party (AD-APP). Fig. 2 below shows that in 1999, PDP was massively voted for in five zones (SE, SS, NC, NE and NW) with very high margins as against the AD-APP that got majority only in the SW. The 2003 and 2007 elections followed the same pattern (see fig. 2 and table 2 below). However, in the 2011 presidential election, the trend changed slightly with the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) challenging the prominence of PDP. The merger of four political parties in July 2013 and the emergence of APC is most likely to significantly change the trends and patterns in the performance of the political parties.

For the 2015 elections, some states have emerged as “swing states” – where the outcome is currently unpredictable between the PDP and APC. For example, while the PDP is making in-roads into the SW with defections in the zone and the recent victory in Ekiti state governorship election, the profile of the APC is rising in some states notably Rivers, Imo, Kwara, Nassarawa, Kogi, and Benue states.

 1999 200320072011
No. Registered voters 57,938,94560,823,02261,567,03673,528,040
Voters Turnout 30,280,05242,018,73535,397,51739,469,484
Invalid Votes 431,611-2,538,2461,259,506
PDP Votes 18,438,19624,454,14324,638,06322,491,187
AD-APP 11,116,277---
ANPP -12,531,8026,605,299917,011
APGA-1,643,445 --
ACN --2,637,8482,067,301
CPC ---12,204,153

With the merger of opposition parties to form the APC, the SW and NC are classified as swing regions. In these regions, the presence of APC is significant, especially in the SW.

The foregoing suggests that these swing states may vote in favour of the APC even though some of the states voted for the PDP in 2011. Figure 2 below shows that in 2011, PDP got a majority of the votes in the SW and the NC but the current situation suggests that these regions may be difficult for the PDP to retain in 2015.

Results of the 1999 Presidential election
Results of the 1999 Presidential election
Results of the 2003 Presidential election
Results of the 2003 Presidential election
Results of the 2011 Presidential election
Results of the 2011 Presidential election

This analysis was done by the Centre for Democracy and Development [CDD], Nigeria


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  • Maitama Tambari

    CDD analysis doesn’t add value to the current conversation because the map is muddled and out of reality. The statistical matrix is also out of reality.