Nigeria’s Presidential election may have come and gone, but the exercise has re-effected the power neutrality vacuum in a country grappling with increasingly ethnic and religious contestations, proving again that the North holds the mantle to power.
Perceived as “illiterates” by some sections due to notoriety of some segment of its population of beggars and out of school children, the North is highly politically wired.
“An average northerner has 5 children and extended family members which in turn increase population of voters who do not take their franchise for granted.
The implication is simple, irrespective of zoning system, number of ethnic groups in Nigeria, politically, the “illiterates” will always rule or decide who rules.” Says Halima AbdulRauf of Farin Wata TV.
In an election deemed by dissatisfied electorate as largely manipulated to favor incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress (APC), his major challenger Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), also a Northerner and who has since asked the court of tribunal to either declare him winner or order fresh elections, never stopped banking on the incumbents diminishing appeal due to lack of clear cut policies, during the campaigns.
The ruling party in turn never stopped making an issue of the PDP’s 15years alleged misrule. Thus, the campaigns leading to the elections were hardly issues based.
A former Presidential spokesman, Olusegun Adeniyi says, “Sadly, the expectation that the campaign will be issues based has turned out to be a mirage. With just nine days to the poll, the choice between the two especially for non-partisans, has been reduced to the candidates they distrust or dislike less rather than the one who inspires them more.”
The North has always been the stronghold of the incumbent President. In 2011, Buhari pulled out of the now defunct All Nigerian Peoples Party (ANPP) to form the Congress for Progressives Change (CPC), polling 12,214,853 votes as second runner up.
In 2015, Buhari rallied his Northern stronghold and aligned with the South Western Political block to defeat an incumbent.
By 2020, Mr. Buhari’s strongest Political ally from the South West, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, who is a former Governor of Lagos State would have achieved two decades of uninterrupted political relevance, a feat that is yet unrivaled in Nigeria’s political culture.
Earlier this year, statistics released by the Ministry of Education shows that only 28 candidates from Zamfara state, registered for the National Common Entrance Examination for Admission into the 104 Federal Government Colleges where 4,810 candidates registered for the same exams in Rivers state.
In the next five years, those that make up the default population of unregistered candidate in the North will be eligible voters and their choice will majorly affect who becomes President.
If this pattern continues, candidates may not emerge on credentials but on sentimental appeal. This trajectory may breed a fertile ground for pauperization agenda to prosper and cause development to stalemate.