The Power Of The Ballot

Abiola Afolabi

The Nigerian 2015 elections to appoint a President, district Senators and House of Representatives (NASS), held nationwide on the 28th March 2015. It was postponed from the 14th February, due to the low turn out in Permanent Voters Card collection and insurgencies in some parts of the country.

Although, there were 14 presidential aspirants, notable contest was between the incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan of the People’s Democratic Party and former head of state, General Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressive Congress, who both contested for the same position in 2011 although under the Congress for Progressive Change.

In 2011, President Goodluck Jonathan had a nationwide support and won with a total of 22,495,187 votes against General Muhammadu Buhari who racked up 12,214,853 votes. His votes in 2011 came mainly from the South-South zone of the republic which sums up to 6,118,608 votes – about the sum of votes from North-East, North-West and FCT. The sharp turn out from the South-south and South-East gave Jonathan an edge of over 6.4 million votes from the North-East. He emerged as the winner with over 10 million votes ahead of his main contender, Buhari.

In 2013, four opposition parties aligned with the All Progressive Congress namely; Congress for Progressive Change, Action Congress of Nigeria, All Nigeria People’s Party and All Progressives Grand Alliance.

Fast-forward to 2015 tables turned, the appointed Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Professor Attahiru Jega, after over 36 hours of convention and counting, declared General Muhammadu Buhari the winner of the presidential election. The newly elected president had won with a total number of 15,424,921 votes and the present President lost out closely with a sum total of 12,853,162 votes.
He had remarkable support from the North-West; the North-East has a sharp decline from what it brought forward in 2011 due to swinging of votes in the zonal states. Kano State significantly supported him in 2015, it records an increment of over 300,000 votes from what it offered in 2011.

BBC highlighted 5 reasons why the incumbent President Jonathan lost the election, they are largely due to insurgency in the northeast of the country, the economic situation of the country and the ruling one has been in power for 16 years without noticeable development, citizens are yearning for a different party to rule hence, the slogan “change” by the All Progressive Party caught the mood.

Nigeria has a current population of over 170 million people and only a fraction of 29 million voted in the recent elections, showing the lack of enthusiasm towards civic responsibilities amongst Nigerians.Organizations like BudgIT, EIE Nigeria, raised a lot of awareness on social media to encourage citizens to vote peacefully, get familiar with electoral laws, shared tips to ensure peaceful elections and emergency contact details.

Worthy of note is the perseverance of President-elect Buhari who has contested and failed all three times in 2003, 2007 and 2011 before he eventually won in 2015. Even so, the joy of the triumph will soon be over, the new president now has a lot of work to do, he has to prove he can actually change things, unite Nigerians and also deliver on his election promises.

Additional Research by Abayomi Akinbo.