By Clifford Ndujihe
CLEARLY, in the history of Nigeria, the 2019 general elections will enjoy the benefit of the compliment of parading the highest figures and statistics.]
For starters, 72 candidates were cleared by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, for the February 16 presidential poll. And in all, according to Professor Mahmood Yakubu, the INEC national chairman, no fewer than 20,000 candidates are vying for 1,490 positions: one presidential, 29 governorship, 109 senatorial, 360 House of Representatives and 991 State Assembly seats.
There will be no governorship elections in seven states – Anambra, Ekiti, Ondo, Osun, Bayelsa, Edo and Kogi, which fell out of the national election cycle because of disputed polls that made their governors assume mandates on different dates.
The 2019 candidates’ figure is about double the 10, 400 candidates that took part in the 2015 election. There were 14 presidential, 760 governorship, 5,290 House of Assembly and no fewer than 4,336 national Assembly candidates in 2015.
And unlike the 68,833,476 voters registered in 2015, the number of eligible voters for the 2019 electoral contests is 84,004,084.
While 29,432,083 (43.65 per cent) of the registered voters turned out to vote in 2015, it is to be seen if the voter turnout will be higher in 2019 given allegations and counter-allegations of desperation being traded by the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, and main opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP. There is also the Boko Haram insurgency rampaging parts of the North-East with many voters displaced, and the sit-at-home order to the Igbo by the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, (which may be disregarded anyway) as part of the struggle for the actualization of Biafra Republic. The military hierarchy has ordered a clampdown on IPOB over the issue.
The latest reshuffling of INEC Resident Electoral Commissioners, RECs, and redeployments of Commissioners of Police across the country, few days to the commencement of the elections, are also generating apprehension in the polity.
State, zonal distribution voters
Questionable as it was in 2015, the North-West (17,620,436) remains the electoral World Bank of the country with the highest number of registered voters (20,158,100) followed by the South-West, which had 13,728,080 voters in 2015 but has now risen to 16,292,212 . The South-East (7,665,859 in 2015, is now 10,057,130 in 2019) is the least followed by the North-East (9,107,861 in 2015 and 11,289,293 now).
The South-South had 10,059,347 registered voters in 2015, but the figure has risen to 12,841,279 now (see table).
For the North-Central, the figure moved from 10,648,883 to 14,037,676 registered voters.
Between the North and South, the advantage goes to the North, which had 37,376,180 voters in 2015 and 44,813,463 now. In 2015, the South had 31,453,286 voters, which rose to 39,191,621 voters, this year.
On state basis, Lagos, which topped the chart in 2015 with 5,822,207 voters retained the position in 2019 with 6,570,291. However, Ekiti State has overtaken Bayelsa State as the one with the least number of voters. In 2015, Bayelsa had 610,373 registered voters, the least, compared to Ekiti’s 732,021. Today, Bayelsa has 923,182 voters while Ekiti has 909,967.