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A Game of Numbers

03 December 2013, 10:32 M Omotayo-Johnso

With the recent defection of five out of the seven members of the recalcitrant G7 nPDP governors to the opposition All Progressive Congress (APC), the political landscape of the country has been redefined. Old alliances are breaking down and new ones formed. With this move, all eyes are on the implication this will have on the political permutations against the 2015 general elections. Politics being fluid as it is, a lot, of course, could still change between now and then; but as things stand now, it’s not looking so well for the PDP which has ruled the country since the inception of this democratic dispensation.

In the build-up to the final cross-over, a number of last-ditch efforts were made to reconcile the broken house of the PDP and one could sense that the G7 governors never really wanted to leave. At a point, their foot-dragging was becoming more of an irritation to the polity. While the President was still meeting with them, however, the body language and utterances of his men foreclosed any real reconciliation.  The President’s men like Gulak and Tukur continued, with their utterances and actions, to make it impossible for the G7 governors to stay within the fold. The last straw, I guess, was the suspension of Oyinlola from the PDP by the Tukur-led executive committee of the party even after a court judgment that compelled PDP to re-instate him as the National Secretary of the Party. In the days leading to the carpet-crossing, a close ally of the President and governor of Akwa Ibom State, Godswill Akpabio was reported to have said that the G7 governors were at liberty to leave the PDP if they felt aggrieved. To me, these are not the posturing of a group seeking real reconciliation.

This attitude is rather surprising given that politics is a game of numbers where the majority always carries the day and has its way The President’s men unfortunately failed to see how important reconciliation with these governors was to the 2015 Presidential election. If I were PDP and the President, at the moment, I would be really worried. A quick look at the numbers would have told them that the situation does not give room for the kind of bravado being displayed by many of the people in the PDP. My suspicion is that they may be seeing the numbers too but have chosen to close their eyes to the truth or to simply hope that the winning streak will continue no matter what the numbers are saying. Akpabio gave the impression that he knows something that we all do not know: that the governors leaving the party are really not in control of the situation in their states and that the voting pattern in those states will not go the way of their governors. In Nigeria, it has, however been proved time and time again that ideology and manifestoes don’t win elections; people do. It’s the people on ground – the incumbent governors, in most cases - that matter.

Well, then, if we check the numbers, maybe these men will really have a re-think. The two states with the highest number of registered voters – Lagos and Kano – now seem to be firmly in the hands of the opposition. Between them these two states have a combined voting population that is three quarters of the whole of the South East and South South – President Jonathan’s power base. A quick look at the total number of registered voters in the sixteen opposition states reveal that this formed 52.5% of registered voters. PDP’s eighteen states have total registered voters of 42.5%. This means that even if the votes in Anambra and Ondo – states with governors aligned to the ruling party – go to the PDP it is still below the 50% target. As if this is not worrying enough, the highest registered voters that make up PDP’s eighteen states include states like Jigawa, Katsina, Kebbi, Kaduna, Bauchi, Gombe and Niger States – 20% of registered voters – won by the opposition in the last Presidential election.  Of course the PDP is likely to win in opposition states like Rivers, Imo and Edo states if the President runs in 2015.

Admittedly, this is a simplistic analysis because all registered voters are obviously not going to vote the same party in each state. But as things stand now, it looks to me that the opposition is poised to win the majority votes in 20 out of 36 states with 65% of registered voters while the PDP can only boast of 16 with 35% of registered voters at the moment.  The table below captures the current permutations based on number of registered voters.  













Akwa Ibom






































Opposition States Likely to vote President



PDP States likely to vote Northern APC candidate











States Aligned to President




 886 ,323
















The President seem to be forgetting that while Akpabio, Dickson and Uduaghan may be strategic allies; as far as 2015 is concerned, Kwankwaso alone is a more important ally to have by your side than all three. Also while the President may be strong in the SS and SE; the combined voting population in the two zones is less than the northwest alone. If not for winning the Southwest states in 2011, he was never going to win that election. Now that he has virtually lost the southwest due to seeming non-performance and a larger SW stake in APC, the PDP’s strong base now unfortunately are in the SS, SE and NC, zones with the lowest number of registered voters. That is why it flies in the face of reason for the President to treat with levity the issue of the G7 – six of whom are from the core northern state that he really needs to target against 2015. If you ask me, I think the President is about to learn the lesson that Buhari learnt the hard way in 2011 – you cannot expect to be Nigeria’s president with votes from your region alone. You have to win convincingly across the nation.

If the truth has not dawned on the PDP, they should wait till all the nPDP reps and senators begin crossing over to the APC. The immediate impact is that PDP loses the majority in the House of Rep. With the present permutation that 49 out of them are moving over to the APC, the coloration of the lower chamber changes significantly.  Presently with 204 Reps, PDP’s number goes down to 155 while APC’s Reps move from being 137 to 186.  So, give or take a few members, APC immediately move to being majority in the House of Representatives with Tambuwal probably staying on as Speaker of an opposition-controlled lower chamber. Let no one raise the issue of recalling these Reps, because, according to the law, you can defect from your party without losing your seat if your party is factionalized.

This is already a very good omen for Nigeria because for the first time since 1999, we have a semblance of the American model of democracy with the legislature poised to act as real checks for the executive. People have raised a number of objections to the defection of the G7 to the APC and queried the motive and rationale behind the merger. My answer is: it’s not really important. Whether APC or PDP win the next election is not important. What’s important is that whoever wins will win with a lot less margin than we’ve ever witnessed since this dispensation began in 1999. A President that won with a narrow margin will have learnt the most important lesson of democracy: you need the people to be on your side. You need to court and woo them, not just with empty election promises, but with tangible improvements of their lot in life. A slim PDP victory with a house or senate controlled by the APC or vice versa means that a Jonathan will not continue to harbor an Oduah who is neck-deep in corruption because she taints not just herself but the whole government. A President with a slim majority will actually ‘give a damn’ what the people feel about issues. A party with an uncomfortable majority will not sit by for 14 years while the nation languishes in darkness. So while APC may be resembling the old PDP with each passing day, the fact that we now truly have an option of two viable parties to choose from means that our democracy is growing and, in the long run, we will be richer for it.


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