Dear Compatriots: 1. After a false and aborted start on April 2, two sets of elections have now come and gone in Nigeria: April 9 (National Assembly elections) and April 16 (Presidential elections). The third round (the Gubernatorial and state assembly elections, along with some national assembly elections postponed from April 9) will be held on Tuesday April 26.
2. I have provided in the Appendix several summary tables and a map of the two elections so far.
3. I want to be categorical in stating that I believe strongly that so far, 2011 Elections have been better than 1999, 2003 and 2007, but there are still some slips between the cup and the lip between registration, accreditation, voting, counting, pasting, collation and announcement.
For example, with respect to the new (and verily expensive) voter registration that was embarked upon, it is true that country-wide there could have, must have been multiple registrations, and so in general registration numbers may be inflated. I was, for example, alarmed when between the provisional number and the final number, the number of registered voters in Niger State suddenly went from 721,478 to 2,175,421. But the Modified Open-Secret Ballot System (MOBS) - as in June 12, 1993 - that Jega sprung on us all made it rather difficult for people to go from polling booth to polling booth to vote due to double registration, since you had to STAY to accredit first, and then return at a set time to vote.
Therefore, on the whole, to rig in these elections, you have to be more sophisticated that in previous times.
But even then, rigging is possible. For example, I understand that a different rigging method was introduced this time in some polling units in at least one of the states - it was phoned in to me. That is - multiple registration and voting AT THE SAME polling unit. This is how it worked: Suppose there were 300 registered voters in a PU, and only 100 came to be accredited. Then through connivance with electoral officers and intimidation of those who would protest, some of those 100 would be allowed to stay and re-accredit in place of those 200 that did not come. Then they will also be allowed to re-vote - twice, sometimes three times.
However, in general kudos to INEC Chairman Prof. Jega, and to President Goodluck Jonathan who appointed him. So far, we seemed to have cleaned up in major fashion the first five steps, but it seems that we still need to clean up the last two steps to prevent the possibility or actualities of what has now been called "air rigging", which can very easily be proved if the complainants insist. That is MAJOR progress that we can (or should be able to) live with.
Hopefully, 2015 will be even much better....or even before then, April 26, 2011!
4. Incumbent president Goodluck Jonathan has been declared winner and presented his certificate by INEC Chairman Prof. Jega. The only hope for Buhari to have won - or even to force a run-off - was heavy turn-out and many wins in the South-Western states, whether there was an alliance or not; he was already heavily favored in much of the North and not at all in the SS and SE. Without the alliance though, and as the numbers from various polling units (where there were absolutely no concerns about rigging) started to come in early last Saturday in the SW showing wins for Jonathan, all hope for him was lost by 6 pm Nigerian time on that day.
3. The South-South/SouthEast (SS/SE) conundrum on presidential election results is not just about percentage of voters opting for Jonathan in those states per se, but voter turnout on a state-by-state basis. They were unusually high (67% in those two regions), and as high as 86% in Bayelsa. (The Bayelsa figure was 107% of the initial provisional number).
Let me give a number of examples, starting with Imo State. On April 16, it recorded 1,409,850 voters out of 1,687,293 registered voters in this presidential election, for a voter turn-out of 83.6%, right? However, in the April 9 election to the Senate of that same state, the total votes were as follows (taking them from an INEC table):
- Imo East: 228,274 voters (won by Chris Anyanwu of APGA, with 84,342 votes)
- Imo West: 212,957 voters (won by Hope Uzodinma of PDP, with 85,042 votes)
- Imo North: 114,244 voters (won by Ambassador Nwagwu of PDP, with 60,449 votes
TOTAL: 555,475 votes
That means that in one week, the number of people who came to the polls in Imo for the National Assembly elections almost tripled (from 32.9% voter turnout) for the Presidential elections?
Now that may however be a reflection of the high anxiety over the fact of the news of registration numbers that gave such overwhelming advantage to the SW and NW. , but I will be hard-pressed to go along COMPLETELY with that fact. It turned out that SW voter turnout was abysmal (32%) while NW show was just above 50% (actually 54.5%).
Next, let us look at Lagos State: 1,945,044 voters in the presidential elections, out of 6,108,069 registered voters for a 31.8% voter turn out.
But on April 9 we had (again using INEC figures):
- Lagos Central: 301,570 voters (won by ACN's Remi Tinubu 202,506)
- Lagos East: 320,372 total voters (won ACN's Gbenga Ashafa 222,439)
- Lagos West: 812,924 total voters (won by ACN's Ganiyu Solomon 503,786)
TOTAL: 1,434,866 total voters
This amounted to a 23.9% voter turn-out - meaning that the presidential turnout step-up by less than 10% was quite believable.
Finally, I looked at Katsina, which on April 16 had 52.5% turn out with 1,639,532 voters out of 3,126,898 registered. On April 9 for Katsina we had:
- Katsina North (395,693 voters) (won by Audu Yandoma of CPC 315,324 votes)
- Katsina South (546,549 voters) (won by Abu Ibrahim of CPC 324,652 votes)
- Katsina Central (430,886 voters) (won by Ahmed Store of CPC 217,154 votes)
TOTAL: 1,373,128 voters
for a voter turnout of 43.9%, again for an increase of less than 10% going up to the presidential race.
By the way, the same analysis done COUNTRY-wide (including in the North) to compare April 9 to April 16 will be found in Table 4 below. I just wanted to use that these examples to indicate some discrepant suspicion, that is all, but there could be good explanations for them for the delays - bad roads, delayed materials - some lame.
Please understand that I do not doubt the % of votes given to Jonathan in the SE and SS, given the almost complete lack of competition in those areas by Buhari and Ribadu. With an incumbent "Easterner", a like-able Otuoke son with an Ogbia-Ijaw name like Ebele (that can be confused with Ebel(r)echukwu) and a nickname Azikiwe being the man to vote for, he was a shoo-in. But what can be jiggled is the TOTAL turnout, which an Excel spreadsheet can easily be used to work to the answer: just hold the percentages fixed, but juggle the total voters turnout figure to get a pre-determined national outcome - and by the way, just in case rigging is going on elsewhere too, where full advantage is being taken of the large differential registration of the NW and SW!
4. There is also the perception and the reality. Honestly, I would have loved on Election Day for results to be pouring in from all parts of the country on a random basis - this one from a SE state, then that one from NW state, then from a SW state, a couple from SS, then NE, etc. I just craved no ill-perceptions in these presidential elections. But for virtually all of the day, nothing was received from the SS and the SE, as if some reports were being held back to see what to do later. That may not have been the case - but it sure looked like it. We should watch out for that next time - both in local and national elections.
5. It is doubtful if CPC and ACN party agents were in 10% of the polling units in the SS and SE. However, that a party's polling agent is not at a polling unit does not mean it loses its right not to be cheated. Just thought that I should throw that in. We should not condone the notion of property thievery simply because the owner is not around.
6. No electoral democracy is perfect - and ours needs serious improvement. However, we must eschew violence, and rather use the courts carefully to settle our grievances. But before then, we must put honest men (like Jega) and women (yet to be fully discovered, not like those in those videos of thumb-printings!) in positions that have to do with the electoral process; deploy technology appropriately and ensure that political parties and citizens protect their votes all the way..
7. In conclusion, "Congratulations!" to President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan of Nigeria, worthy son of Otuoke village, in Ogbia-land of the Ijaw people in the Niger-Delta.
Best wishes always.
And there you have it.
Turning in slowly.....