Data Analysis Of 2019 Presidential Election

Data Analysis Of 2019 Presidential Election

Saturday, March 9, 2019 6:23 pm

Professor Abi Olowe

By Abi Olowe, Ph.D

Part 1: Distribution of votes

The presidential election has come and gone. Out of the 91 parties that featured, 2 major political parties (APC and PDP) evolved, the rest will be regarded as mushroom parties. The tables below show the votes distribution by geographical zones as twitted by INEC. It is worth mentioning that some incorrect data are being circulated which has caused confusion. For example, 510,778 is being circulated as total votes cast in Nasarawa against 580,778 released by INEC. The numbers used here are those released by INEC and they match those published by other media such as BBC, Pulse and New African magazines.

TABLE 1: 2019 Presidential election results by geographical zone

North CentralAPCPDPAll OthersAPC-PDPTurnoutTO Rank
North EastAPCPDPAll OthersAPC-PDPTurnoutTO Rank
North WestAPCPDPAll OthersAPC-PDPTurnoutTO Rank
8,423,389 71.2%27.1%1.7%
South EastAPCPDPAllOthersAPC-PDPTurnoutTO Rank
South SouthAPCPDPAllOthersAPC-PDPTurnoutTO Rank
South WestAPCPDPAll OthersAPC-PDPTurnoutTO Rank

General Overview

The 2019 presidential election is somehow balanced. Buhari won in 19 states while Atiku won in 17 plus the FCT. Also, they both passed the litmus test of having 25% of votes in 24 states. Atiku had 25% in 28 states while Buhari had it in 33 states. The 3 states that refused to pass Buhari on this criterion are Anambra, Enugu, and Rivers.

We can divide the 2019 election zones into 3 for the purpose of analysis:

  1. Buhari zones – NW and NE
  2. Atiku zones – SE and SS
  3. Neutral zones – NC and SW

For a deeper analysis, we need to compare the 2019 results with the past 2 presidential election (2011 and 2015) results. Table 2 shows a summary by zone of those results.

TABLE 2: Summary of 2011 and 2015 Presidential elections by geographical zone

2011CPCPDPACNANPPAll OthersTotalTurnout
2015BuhariAPCJonathanPDPAll OthersTotal ValidAPC-PDPTurnout
North Central2,411,0131,715,81832,2524,159,083695,19540.80%
North East2,848,678796,58827,0823,672,3482,052,09042.36%
North West7,115,1991,339,70950,6698,505,5775,775,49049.79%
South East198,2482,464,90656,5002,719,654-2,266,65837.47%
South South418,5904,714,72535,0155,168,330-4,296,13555.86%
South West2,433,1931,821,416107,9634,362,572611,77733.66%

Buhari zones – NW and NE

The North West (NW) and North East (NE) have been the predominantly strong zones for Buhari since he has been contesting election in Nigeria. However, no candidate has ever won all the states in the NE. The top seven states with the highest vote differential for Buhari came from these 2 zones: Kano, Katsina, Borno, Bauchi, Jigawa, Yobe, and Kebbi with a combined votes difference of 4,730,339 way above 3,928,869 by which Buhari won the election. Buhari has been winning all the states in the NW since 2011. If we also check the data, the top 5 highest turnout are all from the NW. Even Kano state that is ranked 17 produced the highest vote differential.

Atiku zones – SE and SS

No doubt, the SE and SS zones are the most conservative in Nigeria. All the states in the SE and SS are the only ones consistently voting for PDP since 1999. Even Ojukwu was humiliated in Bayelsa in 2003. The zone did not vote for Atiku per se but voted along party line.

Neutral zones – NC and SW

North Central zone (the middle belt) is known for its diversity of tribes and languages – the most in Nigeria with over 100 tribes; where every ethnic group has its own language and customs. So, it is not that surprising that the votes are distributed over the 2 strong parties. However, in South West (SW), everyone can speak the same language even though there are few tribes in that zone. SW is the most neutral, liberal, and sophisticated zone in the election. None of the candidates received 50% of the total votes in 2019 presidential election and since 2011, no candidate has ever won all the states in the SW zone. People vote with their conscience. For example, the electorates in Oyo state frowned at Ajimobi’s militant ways of handling issues. Moreover, many homes were demolished without offering any compensation. If Aregbesola had contested for senatorial post in Osun state, he would have also lost the election. Similarly, Ondo state electorates do not appreciate the interference on the state affairs coming from Lagos. If Ajimobi carries Adedibu on his shoulder, it might also cost him the governorship election.

Some people say the APC did not need the SW to win the election. That is false. If we transfer the SW votes to Atiku, Buhari would have lost. Again, let’s check the dynamics of the last 3 elections. Despite the massive turnout for Buhari in his 2 strongest zones (NW and NE), he still lost the election in 2011. It was the alliance of ACN with CPC to form APC that won the election for him in 2015. The alliance motivated some other states to vote for him.

Another point to consider is that the NC and SW are the only two zones since 2011 in which whoever won the zone won the election.

The only four states that has consistently voted for the winning candidate since 2011 are Kogi, Kwara, Lagos, and Ogun – all in the NC and SW zones

We can therefore conclude that the NC and SW zones are the X factors in Nigerian presidential elections.

In particular, Kogi and Kwara states would be regarded as battle ground states in the western world. They are the only states in Nigeria that have always voted for the winning candidate since 1999.

Part 2: Distribution of voters

Besides the vote distribution, another interesting thing to analyze is distribution of voters.

In 2019 presidential election, Jigawa state is 17th in number of registered voters, but it’s 1st in rank of percent turnout (54.6%). Lagos state has the highest number of registered voters but disappointedly is last in percent turnout (18.3%). The voter turnout from 2003 is tabulated below. Voter turnout has generally been decreasing since 2003 for each zone. The lowest turnout has been in the SW except for this year’s election where the SE took over. Reduction in voter turnout can be attributed to several factors including lack of motivation, lack of mobility, and fear of the unknown.

TABLE 3: Voter turnout per zone per presidential election year


* State distribution data for 2007 Not Available

Voter turnout is going to be important in future elections and the South has a lot of work to do. Let’s preview the 2023 election as an example. 2023 is going to be the most critical election in the history of Nigeria. Mark my word on this. As we know, even though it’s not an official binding arrangement, a gentlemen’s agreement within the PDP is to rotate between the north and south every two terms; this means the flag bearer of the party for the 2023 election would be scheduled to be represented by a Southerner. I believe all other parties agree to this peaceful arrangement. Any attempt to deviate from this agreement will be chaotic. If the APC thinks it can do away with the South and nominates a northerner, that would be the end of APC in SW. Then the 2023 president might come from the SE. In PDP, the SE has the legitimate claim to field the presidential candidate as none of the past 2 southern presidents is from its zone. Besides, SS and SE are the strongholds of PDP in the country. So, a SW request for candidacy, within the PDP, will be asking for too much. In APC, the argument goes like this: the past 2 northern presidents are from the same zone, so a SW candidate is also appropriate. So, we should be expecting a battle between the SE and SW in 2023. That’s why to avoid any form of violence, which could provide a legitimate claim for the north to regain power, the southern states should start to make amends. Afterall, Lagos state allows SE indigenes in cabinet of the state, SE can start to extend this idea to SW. The south needs to start mobilizing voters to improve on the turnout. SS zone recorded the highest turnout (86%) in 2003 in the history of elections in Nigeria.

  • Abi Olowe is a professor of Engineering based in Houston, Texas, United States of America.


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