Dedicated to Nigeria's socio-political issues
October 3, 2007 - December 2, 2007
Lessons of History
Bala Usman and Alkasum Abba
culled from: CEDDERT February 2003 http://www.ceddert.com/analysis-02-01-03-4.htm
The mistaken belief that Nigerian politics has always been essentially along tribal and regional lines has been intensely disseminated, over the years, and continues to be disseminated. Some Nigerians have actually been brainwashed to believe this myth even though it is so contrary to the facts of their political history. This is what has given support, and psychological legitimacy, to the current resurgence of vicious regional, ethnic and religious politics in the country. But, as we have shown in the CEDDERT publication, The Misrepresentation of Nigeria, contrary to what has been so widely disseminated and inculcated, the facts and figures about Nigerian politics, particularly election results, provide solid evidence to show that this outlook is false and misleading. Some of these facts are set out in the tables here.
THE 1959 FEDERAL ELECTIONS
SOURCE: Chapter 7, of Nigeria Since Independence: The First 25 Years. Volume 5, Ibadan, 1989. P.99
What actually happened in the Eastern Region in the 1951 election has been obscured by the success of the NCNC to quickly, and without much fuss, get the majority of those elected, who were independent, to declare for it. The late Justice Udo Udoma, an active politician in those days, and a distinguished jurist, has brought out what happened in his study of the history of Nigeria, titled, History and the Law of the Constitution of Nigeria, published in 1994. He penetrated behind the false image of Eastern regionalist and Igbo solidarity behind the NCNC in that election, and brought out the fact that:
In the Northern Region, the Northern Elements Progressive Union, NEPU, was the only political party that contested the 1951 election. But the election in the North, like in most parts of Nigeria was indirect and organised in four stages. However, what distinguished the North from the rest of Nigeria was that the British ensured that the election was conducted and heavily contested by Native Authority officials.
this indirect election system, only the first stage was a product of a direct
election, by the voters. At every stage, after the first stage, the Native
Authority was allowed to inject new people into the contest. Most of the people
injected by the Native Authorities were the defeated candidates at the previous
stage. In many places, NEPU, and pro-NEPU independent candidates, won at the
primary stage. Their victory was so decisive that the colonial government's
newspaper, the Nigerian Citizen, even wrote an editorial warning about the “red
danger” posed by the NEPU victories. By the time the elections went to the
fourth stage, the NEPU victories at the popular level in the first stage were
wiped out and not a single NEPU candidate was able to make it to the Northern
Regional House of Assembly.
Candidates who were leading officials of the Native Authorities, in charge of the police, the prisons, the courts, taxation, and the whole district administration, therefore, won this indirect, and undemocratic, election. The NPC was formed after the elections and then, the new party, persuaded all the 64 successful candidates elected as “independents” to sit in the house as its members. But this NPC majority in the house, is not a result of the votes freely cast by the voters of the Northern Region, as we have shown.
the 1954 Federal elections, the voters of the Western Region gave the victory in
the Region to the NCNC. The NCNC won 23 out of the 42 seats. The AG won 18
seats, despite the advantage of being in office for three years, 1951-1954. In
the 1959 federal election, the voting pattern showed that, except for the NPC,
the other parties had nationwide spread. And, even in the case of the NPC, its
allies in the other regions, like the Niger Delta Congress, were giving it an
increasingly nationwide spread.
AG that was contesting the election into the Northern Region House of Assembly
for the first time in 1961 captured 14.6% of the votes which gave it 9 seats.
The NCNC-NEPU alliance also obtained 14.2% of the votes and this gave them just
one seat. On its part, the NCNC dropped to 58% in 1961 from 63.26% in the 1957
election into the Eastern Region House of Assembly in 1957. In that election,
the AG obtained 14.4% of the votes, which gave the party 15 seats in the House
of Assembly. In this election, independent candidates captured 22.2% of the
votes and got 20 seats in the House of Assembly. This meant that the opposition
was growing in the two regions, exposing as false, the picture, of the
ethnicisation of Nigerian voting behaviour.
In the case of the former Eastern and Mid-Western Regions that used to vote NCNC, they did not give that same support to the Nigeria Peoples' Party, NPP, even though, the party's presidential candidate was Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe. The former Mid-West voted largely UPN, while Rivers and Cross River States voted largely for the National Party of Nigeria, NPN. The NPP won in only Imo and Anambra States.
THE RESULTS OF THE 1979 PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION
SOURCE: Alaba Ogunsanwo and Haroun Adamu: Nigeria, The Making of the Presidential System 1979 General Elections, Kano,1982.
In the former Northern Region, its deep-rooted political plurality, for so long submerged by the Native Authority machinery, used to win elections effectively by the NPC, came out clearly, particularly in the results of the gubernatorial elections. The NPN, that was, largely, an offshoot of the NPC, won in Sokoto, Benue, Kwara, Niger and Bauchi. The PRP won Kaduna and Kano, the NPP won Plateau and the GNPP won Borno and Gongola states. To show how misleading the “One North” political delusion is, the PRP, GNPP and NPP governors of the five northern states, formed a twelve governors alliance with the governors of the UPN and NPP in the southern states, where these parties won. This alliance was a key factor in shaping the politics of the Second Republic.
Therefore, anyone who thinks that the 1979 elections were decided by ethnicity because of the massive votes which Awolowo, Zik, Aminu Kano and Waziri Ibrahim got in their home areas, has not closely studied the votes of the candidate who actually won the presidential elections. For, the candidate who won the elections, Alhaji Shehu Shagari, did so with the votes of states, outside his own Hausa-Fulani home area. In fact, he obtained more percentage votes from some of these states than his home state.
His highest percentage of votes from the states was in this order: Benue 76.38%, Niger 74.88%, Rivers 72.66%, Sokoto 66.58%, Cross River 64.40%, Bauchi 62.48% and Kwara 53.62%. These seven states which are, except Sokoto and Bauchi, not Hausa, or, Fulani, gave him more then 58.9% of the votes he got in the election. Alhaji Shagari obtained, from these seven states, 3,336,600 out of the total of 5,688,857 votes he won in the whole federation, to clinch the presidency. So a crucial fact about the results for the 1979 presidential elections was that the candidate who won, did so, largely, withvotes from other ethnic groups, other then his own. Those who got most of their votes from their ethnic groups lost the election!
SOURCE: Newswatch, June 28, 1993, p.10
In the case of the June 12th, 1993 presidential elections, while Chief Abiola of the SDP, defeated Alhaji Bashir Tofa, of the NRC, in the predominantly Yoruba areas, he also defeated him in almost all the states with predominantly Hausa, Fulani and Kanuri voters, and Alhaji Bashir Tofa, is said to be a Hausa-Fulani of Kanuri extraction. In fact, as Abubakar Siddique Mohammed has pointed out, in his paper challenging the twisting and distorting of the significance of the June 12th elections, titled, The June 12th Presidential Election Was Neither Free Nor Fair, of 1998, out of a total registered voters numbering 7.76 million in Lagos, Ogun, Ondo, Osun and Oyo states in 1993, only 3.0 million voted for Chief Abiola. That means that only 38.9% of the voters in these predominantly Yoruba states voted for him, while 61.1% either did not vote, or, voted for the NRC candidate, Alhaji Bashir Tofa. The table of the figures of the 1993 presidential election results in Fig.1 show clearly that the ethnic and regional factors were not important in that election, and that Chief Abiola did not win that election because Yorubas voted for him; and in any case a clear majority of registered Yoruba voters did not vote for him.
SOURCE: Vanguard Vol.15 No:477, Wednesday, 3rd March, 1999, pp.1-2.
The case of the 27th February 1999, presidential election, as the table of its results in Fig.2 shows, is even more glaring. In the six predominantly Yoruba states of Lagos, Ogun, Ondo, Eketi, Osun and Oyo, Obasanjo got only 1.09 million votes, This is less then the 1.29 million he got in Kaduna State alone, and barely higher then the 0.96 million he got in Katsina State. He “lost his deposit” by scoring below 25% in five of these six states getting as low as 12% of the votes in Lagos and 16.6% in Ondo! So much for ethnicity in Nigerian politics.
While ethnicity, region and religion played, and still play, an important role in politics in Nigeria, as in almost all other countries in the world, there is nothing in the actual empirical evidence from Nigerian election, which justifies the way Nigerian politics is misrepresented as being almost entirely a matter of ethnic and regional solidarity and conflicts. This view is a misrepresentation of the political realities of Nigeria and serves as a basis for the campaign against the corporate existence of the country, and the chronic crippling of the social, political and economic development of its people.
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