The much anticipated launch of one of the first in the series of publications on the 2015 general elections titled, “Against the Run of Play: How an incumbent president was defeated in Nigeria”, has come and gone. As part of the build up to its public presentation in Lagos on Friday, April 28, 2017, several print and online media outlets provided their readers with snippets, in the form of serialised sections of the book, which further heightened public expectation ahead of its formal launch.
Following from these serialized snippets, a number of the principal actors featured in the book, who had cause to disagree with claims made by certain individuals in different chapters of the book, have offered their own perspectives and counter narratives to some of the accounts, while some major foreign missions also issued statements absolving their respective countries of any complicity in the election’s outcome, as claimed. One of such issues raised is a rather curious claim relating to an alleged huge disparity in the election results from Kano in respect of the two sets of elections conducted by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on Saturday, March 28, 2015; i.e. the presidential and National Assembly elections.
Much as one would ordinarily have preferred to steer clear from making any comments on this matter, it is highly imperative that issues like this, which have already been captured in book form for posterity, are promptly clarified, lest they become accepted as the gospel truth by generations to come. Before I get to the specifics of the claim proper, however, it is important that I drop an important disclaimer: this intervention represents nothing more than an effort at setting the records straight, using verifiable figures from officially declared results of those elections. It is not an attempt at joining issues with anyone in particular, especially in view of the public standing of some of the individuals involved. It is also not meant as a challenge to the author of this important publication regarding the accuracy of the figures quoted, as he was merely reproducing information relayed to him and verified over several interview sessions with the respective respondents in the course of compiling the book. I will, therefore, try as much as possible to avoid making direct reference to any individual or political party by name, even as nobody who has either read the book, or followed the news leading up to its formal launch, will be left in any doubt as to the real identity of the personalities and/or entities involved.
In the introductory section on pages 17 and 18 of the 221-page book, reference was made to a potential disparity of one million votes in the declared election results from Kano State, as reported, inter alia; “Go and check the results from Kano. The presidential election and that of National Assembly happened on the same day and same time. The National Assembly result reflected that about 800,000 people voted but that of the presidential election reflected a vote of about 1.8 million”. In the same introductory section, a friend and former colleague in the electoral commission described this as “nothing particularly special”, and went on to explain, amongst others, that the alleged scenario in Kano was a “general trend (across the country) as many voters were more interested in the presidential election than in other elections”, even though he was not specifically recorded as having disputed that outrageous disparity as projected in the distorted claim he was referring to.
While not necessarily disagreeing with the above submission regarding possible voter preferences with respect to different elections, it is very important to stress, for the purpose of emphasis, that the figures ascribed to each of the two elections in the earlier statement were nowhere near the actual number of voters in the officially declared results of the two elections. This is particularly necessary, in view of the fact that similar reasons had earlier been adduced to explain away an identical situation that occurred during the disputed 2003 general elections, where the total votes cast in respect of the presidential election in Ogun State exceeded those of the governorship election by a whopping 618,017 votes, even though both elections were held at the same time, with each voter issued with the two sets of ballots simultaneously.
For the records, the two elections in reference were conducted simultaneously nationwide on March 28, 2015, with National Assembly election here referring to the election for the positions of Senator and House of Representatives member in each state’s three Senatorial Districts and stipulated number of Federal Constituencies respectively. Therefore, in essence, three separate elections were simultaneously conducted on the said date, comprising the presidential election, representing a single election for the position of president nationwide; senatorial election, made up of three seats per state, and; House of Representatives election, where the number of seats up for grabs varied from state to state.
As a result, for the purpose of comparing the number of people that voted in the presidential election with the voter turnout in each of the two other distinct National Assembly elections in any state, we must first individually arrive at the total number of votes cast in each of the two separate National Assembly elections in that state. And, to do that, the three Senatorial Districts vote tallies must necessarily be added together to get the cumulative number in respect of the senatorial election in the entire state, while the total number of Federal Constituencies in respect of the House of Representatives seats contested for in that state (which happens to be 24 in the case of Kano) must equally be tallied together to arrive at the grand total. The three can then be compared to see if there is any disparity amongst them, before we can then begin to talk about what the probable reasons for such a disparity – if any – might possibly be.
As we may recall from our elementary school mathematics lessons, the part cannot be greater than the whole. Consequently, the reference to 1.8 million as the total number of people that voted in the presidential election in Kano cannot logically be correct, in a situation where one of the 14 presidential candidates alone secured over 1.9 million votes in that same election. In truth, therefore, the total number of votes cast in the 2015 presidential election in Kano State was 2,172,447, as captured on INEC’s official results collation document, the Presidential Election Summary of Results From States “Form EC 8D (A)”, a stamped and sealed copy of which was given out to agents of all the 14 political parties on the ballot, as well as to representatives of each of the security agencies present at the International Conference Centre Results Collation Centre, following the formal declaration of results by the Commission in the early hours of Tuesday, March 31, 2015.
This figure is broken down as follows: party/candidate with the highest number of votes scored a total of 1,903,999 votes; party/candidate that came second scored 215,779 votes; the remaining 12 parties/candidates cumulatively scored a total of 9,043 votes (which made it essentially a two horse race), giving the total valid votes as 2,128,821, while the number of rejected votes stood at 43,626, representing 2.01% of total votes cast. Total number of registered voters in the state was 4,943,862, while number of accredited voters was 2,364,434, with the difference of 191,987 between this figure and total votes cast accounted for by those that failed to show up and cast their vote after accreditation (which, as we may recall, was conducted separate from voting).
The rejected votes as a percentage of total votes cast of 2.01% for Kano is not dissimilar to that of many other states that recorded large voter turnout across the country during that election. Examples of such are Kaduna (total votes cast – 1,650,201), Rivers (1,584,768 votes), Katsina (1,481,714 votes), Delta (1,284,848 votes) and Akwa Ibom (1,028,551 votes) with rejected votes percentages of 1.98%, 1.22%, 2.17%, 1.33% and 1.12% respectively. The overall rejected votes percentage nationwide stood at 2.87% of the 29,432,083 total votes cast, compared to 3.19% recorded during the 2011 general elections (total votes cast – 39,469,484), which serves as indicator to the probable success of the massive voter education program that preceded the 2015 general elections.
In terms of the two National Assembly elections, both of which also ended up as a two horse race between the two leading political parties in the country, the breakdown of INEC’s officially declared results in respect of votes scored by the two major parties as published in various national dailies (i.e. excluding rejected votes and the cumulative votes scored by the other competing parties in the election) across the three Senatorial Districts and 24 Federal Constituencies in the state are as follows:
Senatorial election:- (1) Kano Central: Winning candidate – 758,383; Runner-up – 205,809. (2) Kano North: Winning candidate – 381,393; Runner-up – 107,845. (3) Kano South: Winning candidate – 498,528; Runner-up – 145,923. Total votes scored by the two leading political parties in the contest amounts to 2,097,881 (excluding rejected ballots and votes scored by the remaining political parties that contested for the election in each Senatorial District, which could be responsible for the difference of 74,566 between this figure and the total votes cast in the presidential election).
House of Representatives election:- (1) Rano/Kibiya/Bunkure: Winner – 66,091; Runner-up – 30,129. (2) Karaye/Rogo – 54,907; Runner-up – 30,129. (3) Dala: Winner – 91,616; Runner-up – 4,740. (4) Nasarawa: Winner – 111,473; Runner-up – 12, 608. (5) Fagge: Winner – 44,226; Runner-up – 12,700. (6) Dawakin Tofa/Tofa/Rimin Gado: Winner – 79,473; Runner-up – 21,490. (7) Kura/Madobi/Garun-Mallan: Winner – 82,555; Runner-up – 30,708. (8) Ungogo/Minjibir: Winner – 89,945; Runner-up – 23,993. (9) Bagwai/Shanono: Winner – 48,548; Runner-up – 18,864. (10) Gwarzo/Kabo: Winner – 67,770; Runner-up – 17,610. (11) Kunchi/Tsanyawa: Winner – 53,250; Runner-up – 9,550. (12) Takai/Sumaila: Winner – 79,486; Runner-up – 21,521; (13) Tarauni: Winner – 55,221; Runner-up – 14,013. (14) Gezawa/Gabasawa: Winner – 65,114; Runner-up – 17,553. (15) Bichi: Winner – 39,408; Runner-up – 11,862. (16) Danbatta/Makoda: Winner – 52,871; Runner-up – 17,988. (17) Tudun Wada/Doguwa: Winner – 67,350; Runner-up – 16,844. (18) Dawakin Kudu/Warawa: Winner – 57,528; Runner-up – 21,338. (19) Kano Municipal Council: Winner – 81,104; Runner-up – 14,804. (20) Kumbotso: Winner – 50,549; 1st Runner-up – 14,239; 2nd Runner-up – 6,762. (21) Gwale: Winner – 47,179; Runner-up -13,382. (22) Kiru/Bebeji: Winner – 55,589; Runner-up – 22,674. (23) Wudil/Garko: Winner – 65,905; Runner-up – 11,169. (24) Gaya/Ajingi/Albasu: Winner – 94,782; Runner-up – 13,862. Total votes scored by the two leading political parties in the House of Representatives election across the state amounts to 2,032,472 (excluding rejected ballots and votes scored by the remaining political parties that contested for the election in each Federal Constituency, which could also account for the shortfall of 139,975 votes in comparison to the presidential election votes tally).
From the foregoing breakdown of votes tally across the three elections conducted on March 28, 2015 in Kano state, therefore, it is quite evident that any allusion to a probable disparity of one million votes between the number of people that voted in the presidential election and those that voted in either of the two National Assembly elections is nothing but an illusion.
Abdullahi Usman ([email protected])
PA to former INEC Chairman