The voting patterns in Nigeria’s presidential elections since 1999 have culminated in the creation of three voting blocs, according to a first-of-its-kind analysis of INEC data by consulting firm, Viisaus.
It wasn’t until the 2003 election that the Northern Alliance was born. The Northern Alliance comprises 11 states mainly situated in northern Nigeria with the exception of one south western state. The bloc has the country’s most active voters measured by voter turnout. Nearly 5 in 10 people in these states vote, with an average voter turnout of 41 percent. That’s higher than the 28 percent turnout for the Bible Belt and 27 percent for the Rockies.
The Northern Alliance includes states such as Gombe, Sokoto, Jigawa, Zamfara, Kano, Kebbi, Bauchi, Katsina, Yobe, Borno and Osun. Together they accounted for 25.4 mil- lion voters in the 2019 election.
“This group of people are not that homogeneous. However, when it comes to politics, they are uniquely united. This unity that was formed here in 2003 has never broken since then,” Jiro Ejobe, managing partner at Viisaus, said in an interview with BusinessDay
The People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Nigeria’s most dominant political party since 1999, has not won any of these states in 19 years.
The last time being in 2003 when the party won in only Osun state but would still lose in the remaining 10 states that form the Northern Alliance.
“Osun voted for the PDP in 2003, and that’s the only time they’ve ever voted for the PDP.
Just once. So this is the reason why we’ve grouped them with the Northern Alliance. Not so much that they are aligned with the North, but what keeps the Northern Alliance together is their unity versus the PDP and Osun has that in common with them since 2011,” Ejobe said.
The Bible Belt is a bloc of 17 states drawn from the South East, South South and eastern North-Central.
They have the highest number of voters. At the 2019 election for instance, they had 34.5 million registered voters. Low voter turnout however mutes the potency of this powerful bloc. In 2019, voter turn- out came to only 28 percent, the second lowest among the voting blocs.
They have always voted for a PDP candidate as president. The Bible Belt states have never been lost by PDP in 24 years.
The states include FCT, Edo, Delta, Rivers Cross-river, Akwa-Ibom, Bayelsa, Enugu, Imo, Anambra, Abia, Ebonyi, Plateau and Taraba.
Adamawa, Benue and Nasarawa are also in this bloc even though they voted against PDP once in five elections.
The Rockies, Nigeria’s most unpredictable voters, emerged in 2015 when APC was born. The bloc comprises nine states whose voting patterns have been discovered to be uneven and uncertain.
They include Kaduna, Niger, Kogi, Lagos, Ondo, Ogun, Oyo, Kwara and Ekiti and are considered swing states. They have the largest mix of Christian and Muslim communities and have been won by up to 4 political parties since 1999, the most in Nigeria.
They are viewed as the tie breakers and historical data suggest that whoever they align with goes on to win the election.
They however have the lowest voter turn- out of the three blocs with 27 percent of a total of 24 million registered voters coming out to vote at the last election.