Borno’s pattern of block voting has always awed politicians. In the just concluded general elections, the way Borno voted became central to the allegations of possible rigging advanced by Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, the defeated presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). In his rather simplistic defeatist calculations, Atiku Abubakar failed to see how a state that was the hotbed and epicenter of a mindless and brutal terror campaign could turn in the votes ascribed to it, especially during the presidential elections of the 23rd of February. Kano has traditionally been notorious for its uncompromising pro-Buhari standpoint and because of its numerical advantage and its leftist tendencies, it has continued to be seen, as far back as 2003, as the axle and backbone of the Buhari political strength. The fact that Kano had never wavered in churning out millions of votes for Buhari in all the elections he had been involved in made Kano a potential target for defeated candidates to litigate on. The reference to Borno and not Kano as a target for possible litigation by Atiku Abubakar on the basis of the serious bloody nose he got and the votes’ disparity made the matter more interesting.
Borno has always been aligned to the Buhari enigma and he has never lost any election in Borno. In fact, unlike Kano, Borno has dished out a more tangible vote advantage than any state in the country. Even when allegations of anti-party antics and sellout to the opposition PDP were rife when Ali Modu Sheriff was in power, PDP never garnered more than 25% of Borno’s total votes in any presidential election. To cap it all, the emergence of Kashim Shettima as Governor in 2011 effectively changed the pendulum as all pretensions and connivance with opposition parties to conjure the required 25% advantage were duly stopped. Since his emergence as Governor, Kashim Shettima uprooted all the anti-party foundations and launched an aggressive mobilization and sensitization campaign which chauffeured Borno to its original and true progressive politics.
Since then, all results have been a true reflection of the voting preference of the people. In 2011 at the peak of the insurgency, Buhari’s CPC got 909,763 votes while PDP had 207,075 votes. Note that nobody complained of the large turnout of voters simply because the result fitted into their calculations. But in 2015 when Kashim Shettima was effectively in charge, his zero tolerance for any anti-party behavior, his personal commitment to the Buhari project as well as the peoples’ anger with the lackadaisical approach to the insurgency issue by the Jonathan administration, the result aptly reflected people’s choices. Buhari’s APC won 473,543 votes as against 25,640 votes for Jonathan’s PDP. Was the gap in percentage not very telling and defining? Why was there no whimper of protest from any PDP quarter then? We should not lose sight of the fact that Buhari got less than 10% of the votes in some of the South Eastern and South Southern states then and no eyebrow was raised because the circumstances and certain bigoted fault-lines had come into play and were exploited.
If we look at the results of 2019 presidential election in relation to the gap in percentage of 2015, it will show than other than a noticeable improvement in voter turnout which can be explained, the gap was relatively in conformity with all the variables that played out at each instance. In 2015, Borno accounted for one of the highest number of votes in percentage and the same feat was, more clinically achieved in 2019. While PDP numerically lost in Kano, but got the required percentage to catch up in the event of a stalemate, Borno gave the PDP a beating that gave it no dog’s chance. We can also deduce coloration between the votes cast during the presidential elections and the gubernatorial election. In fact, the gap of over one million votes in the gubernatorial election should have been more resentful to Atiku. And if Atiku’s arguments were valid, the PDP in Borno state should be the one to, even if briskly, raise eyebrows on the votes’ superiority. The PDP’s gubernatorial candidate and the party officials are locally based and are in the true picture of the local narratives but decided to keep the peace because the realities were simply incontestable.
Another point worth making here is that people like Atiku Abubakar can be excused for their lack of knowledge on the Borno mainland challenges, attitude and politics. The pre-insurgency Borno is different with the post-insurgency Borno. The people of Borno are very sensitive and even emotional about the behavior of personalities to their plight. Despite his wealth, Atiku Abubakar has never really identified or showed empathy to the people of Borno and Yobe states – the two most battered states in the entire North East geopolitical zone. To now begin to wonder why he lost in those states is surprising to me.
Ahmed-BK wrote in from Gesse III, Birnin Kebbi, Kebbi State.