Arogundade Toheeb

It’s nearly a year since President Bola Ahmed Tinubu (PBAT) assumed office in Nigeria. During this time, several controversies have emerged in the political landscape. One issue involves some APC political figures and stalwarts engaging with other parties, possibly in preparation for the 2027 Presidential election.

This speculation stems from some northern leaders noting the historical alternation of power between the South and North since 1999. For instance, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo (South) served for 8 years, succeeded by Umaru Musa Yar’Adua (North) for about 3 years, followed by Goodluck Jonathan (South) for 5 years. Subsequently, Muhammadu Buhari (North) served for 8 years before Tinubu (South) took office in 2023. If Tinubu seeks reelection, the South would have governed for a total of 21 years which the north would have only governed for just 11 years.

Arogundade Toheeb

Conversely, some APC leaders loyal to Tinubu advocate for Southern presidency until 2023, known as “Asiwaju till 2023,” arguing that since the North ruled for 8 years, the South should have the same opportunity after APC assumed power 2015.

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These conflicting views have sparked controversies between Southern and Northern leaders. However, the concept of rotational power shift every eight years lacks constitutional support and might not be accepted by other significant political parties, even if the APC adheres to regional rotation in the next election.

In the 1999 Presidential election, President Olusegun Obasanjo of the People’s Democratic Party defeated Chief Olu Falae, who ran on a joint Alliance for Democracy-All People’s Party ticket, marking a rare instance of both major parties presenting candidates. Both candidates hailed from the southern region of Nigeria.

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Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, hailing from the southern region, secured victory in the 2003 election, defeating General Muhammadu Buhari of ANPP, who hailed from the northern region.

In the controversial 2007 presidential election, Alhaji Umaru Musa Yar’Adua of the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP), representing the northern region, emerged as the winner against his closest opponents, General Muhammadu Buhari of ANPP and Alhaji Atiku Abubakr of ACN, both also from the northern region.

The 2011 election saw president Goodluck Jonathan of PDP defeating his closest rivals, General Muhammadu Buhari of CPC and Nuhu Ribadu of ACN.

Despite a gentlemen’s agreement within the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for power rotation between the predominantly Muslim north and Christian south every two terms, Goodluck Jonathan’s consideration to run for presidency in 2011 stirred controversy, as it deviated from the established pattern.

The 2015 Presidential election marked the fifth quadrennial election since the end of military rule in 1999. Incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan ran for re-election but faced opposition within his party due to an unwritten rule about alternating the party’s presidential candidacy between Muslim northerners and Christian southerners.

In 2015, General Muhammadu Buhari of All Progressive Congress, from the Northern region, defeated incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan of PDP, from the Southern region.

In the 2019 election, Incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari of All Progressive Congress, from the Northern region, defeated his closest opponent, Alhaji Atiku Abubakr of PDP, also from the Northern region.

The 2023 election took a different turn with President Muhammadu Buhari ineligible for renomination. The APC nomination lacked a formal zoning agreement despite calls for it to be zoned to the South. Eventually, Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu was nominated, with Kashim Shettima announced as his vice presidential candidate.

In May 2022, the Labour Party nominated former Governor of Anambra State Peter Obi unopposed for the presidential election, with Yusuf Datti Baba-Ahmed later announced as his vice presidential candidate.

Similarly, in June 2022, the New Nigeria Peoples Party nominated Rabiu Kwankwaso as its presidential candidate, with Isaac Bishop Idahosa as his running mate.

In October 2021, the PDP held its indirect presidential primary, nominating Atiku Abubakar, its 2019 nominee, as its presidential candidate. The nomination lacked a zoning agreement despite calls for it to be zoned to the South.

Based on the narratives above, it’s clear that there is no constitutional agreement on zoning, just only a party agreement. Thus, any political party can nominate its candidate from any zone across the country.

It’s evident that the PDP held power for 16 years, and the rotation agreement expired when the APC came into power in 2015.

The Nigerian election has transcended from mere zoning; it now revolves around implementing policies that benefit the masses and improve their welfare. It’s worth recalling that in 2015, President Jonathan lost his reelection bid due to dissatisfaction with his policies among the populace.

According to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), out of Nigeria’s 93,469,008 registered voters, only 87,209,007 (93.3%) collected their Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs), making them eligible for the 2023 general elections. However, the February 2023 presidential election witnessed a participation rate of just 28.63% among eligible voters.

Nigeria’s elections have consistently suffered from low voter turnout, particularly during presidential elections. Turnout was at 53.7% in 2011, dropped to 43.7% in 2015, and hit a new low of 34.75% in 2019.

Remarkably, the February elections saw all 18 candidates amassing a total of 24,025,940 votes, equivalent to 27.55% of eligible voters. The top four contenders – APC’s Bola Tinubu, PDP’s Atiku Abubakar, LP’s Peter Obi, and NNPP’s Rabiu Kwankwaso – secured 23,377,466 votes, representing 26.81% of all eligible voters and an overwhelming 97.30% of the total valid votes, excluding rejected ballots.

With the four main political parties capturing 97% of the overall valid votes, the combined votes for the remaining 14 political parties amounted to just 2.70% of the total valid votes.

Given these circumstances, the administration led by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu must take rumors seriously and adopt a proactive approach in their governance.

As a party, APC must acknowledge the challenges ahead, especially since President Tinubu’s victory in 2023 was achieved with only 36% of the total votes cast. A significant portion of this percentage has since shifted to the opposition due to prevailing hardships. We remain hopeful for brighter days under President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s leadership, emphasizing that the electorate will ultimately decide his reelection based on improved welfare policies and people-centric initiatives.

In conclusion, let us come together, rebuild, and tirelessly strive for the advancement of our nation.

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