Saturday, July 23, 2022


By Jide Kuforiji

Democracy, goes the cliche is a game of numbers. Vote-gathering ploys and strategies therefore, occupy prime positions above other considerations in the political process. It will be difficult for candidates - presidential, gubernatorial, state and federal assemblymen - to lay it on point blank for fear of being tagged insensitive. Or worse, power-grabbing, vote-worshipping demagogues. But it is true, underscored by figures available for all who care to look.  

To win an election, any election, the assumptions and expectations of the average voter must be taken into account. From these individual conclusions, group, local government, state and zonal inclinations have to be deduced. Going by these guidelines and other factors to be enumerated soon, this writer identified a Muslim-Muslim ticket as the winning combination for a 2023  Bola Ahmed Tinubu's attempt at the Nigerian presidency. 

The electoral register is being updated preparatory to the 2023 polls. But a look at these 2019 figures will aid this discourse since registration trends so far show similar patterns. This is the 2019 regional breakdown of Nigeria's voting millions in order of precedence:  
 North West - 20.15m
 South West - 16.29m
 North Central - 13.36m
 South South - 12.84m
 Norh East - 11.28m
 South East - 10.05m

In the estimation of the Muslim North, Tinubu is just a nominal Muslim because Islamic faith mandates conversion and no real believer will remain married to a pastor. With the exception of Plateau, Benue and Taraba states, Christians are a minority in the North. Admittedly, the ideal combination would have been a Muslim-Christian mix. But the lot of a Southern Muslim presidential candidate is not easy since Southerners predominantly elect Christian executives. Of Nigeria's 36 governors, 20 are Christians while 16 are Muslims (all Northerners). Apart from a Southern Muslim Governor being a rarity (the sole one, Gboyega Oyetola of Osun State has just been unseated), we have never had a Southern Muslim President. And we are all familiar with the 1993 Chief MKO Abiola's success that would have broken the jinx having his  now officially acknowledged victory voided by a Northern Muslim military President, Gen. Ibrahim Babangida.

Historical voting trends demonstrate that South East doesn't support Muslims from the South. A lot of political analysts will be surprised to learn that Tofa defeated Abiola in the South East. It is thus safe to conclude that even with a cardinal as running mate, Tinubu will not get South Eastern support. This is also to a lesser extent true of the South South except for Edo and parts of Delta with vestiges of Yoruba sentiments dating from Western Regional days.

A Northern Muslim, backed by a solid voting majority is dealing from a position of strength and can confidently opt for a Christian partner. But with South East and South South balloting inclinations, a Southern Muslim contestant cannot win without a Northern Muslim to plug his principal's shortfall with his region's backing. In other words, Southern lack of electoral cohesion akin to the North's imposes a same faith ticket as a necessity for any Southern Muslim to succeed. Take away the Southern zones that traditionally do not back Southern Muslims, and it becomes obvious that Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu has no choice.

The passion and emotion generated by this debate have blinded majority of us to a simplifying fact viz: unlike the British-imposed parliamentary system, in our American-style constitution, power is diffused. A same religion ticket is not balanced.  But the diffusion of control centres gives opportunity to a willing President to effect the necessary balance and compensate the shortchanged section. After all, Buhari's balanced pairing still found ways towards disequilibrium with his Fulani agenda. Tinubu's Muslim Presidency can use, nay must use similar stratagems to position Christians for equity. And we know he is not anti-Christian because he has been married to one for over 40 years.

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