Voting patterns in Nigeria’s presidential elections since 1999 have resulted in the creation of three voting blocs, according to a never-before-seen analysis of INEC data by consultancy firm Viisaus.
It was not until the 2003 elections that the Northern Alliance was born. The Northern Alliance comprises 11 states mostly located in northern Nigeria except for one southwestern state. The bloc has the most active voters in the country, measured by voter turnout. Nearly 5 in 10 people in these states vote, with an average turnout of 41%. That’s higher than the 28% turnout for the Bible Belt and 27% for the Rockies.
The Northern Alliance includes states such as Gombe, Sokoto, Jigawa, Zamfara, Kano, Kebbi, Bauchi, Katsina, Yobe, Borno and Osun. Together they represented 25.4 million voters in the 2019 election.
“This group of people is not so homogeneous. However, when it comes to politics, they are particularly united. This unity that was formed here in 2003 has never been broken since then,” said Jiro Ejobe, managing partner at Viisaus, 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 was in 2003, when the party only won in 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 voted for the PDP.
Just once. So that’s why we lumped them together with the Northern Alliance. Not so much that they are aligned with the North, but what keeps the Northern Alliance together is their unity against the PDP and Osun has had that in common with them since 2011,” Ejobe said.
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The Bible Belt is a block of 17 states from southeast, south-south, and east-northcentral.
They have the largest number of voters. In the 2019 elections, for example, they had 34.5 million registered voters. The low voter turnout, however, dampens the power of this powerful bloc. In 2019, voter turnout was just 28%, the second lowest among electoral blocs.
They have always voted for a PDP presidential candidate. The Bible Belt States have never been lost to 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 part of this bloc even though they voted against the PDP once in five elections.
The Rockies, Nigeria’s most unpredictable voters, emerged in 2015 when APC was born. The bloc includes nine states whose voting patterns have proven 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 considered the tie breakers and historical data suggests that whoever they line up with wins the election.
They do, however, have the lowest turnout of the three blocs with 27% of a total of 24 million registered voters who turned out to vote in the last election.