By Olalekan Waheed Adigun

Introduction

For a candidate to be returned as Governor of Edo state, s/he must control majority of the local government areas of the state.

Whoever will win the Edo gubernatorial election must score at least 25 per cent in at least 12 of the state’s 18 Local Government Areas (LGAs). This is in addition to the candidate securing the highest number of votes in the polls.

The state is divided into three Senatorial districts (each serving as units for our analysis): Edo North, Central and South all with varying voting strengths.

Numerical analysis of the strength of the leading candidates, Godwin Obaseki and Osagie Ize-Iyamu, reveals that the election may spill off into a re-run. We cannot immediately predict the outcome if it does so because both parties are set to at least win in at least 5 each of the state’s LGAs. The other LGAs can be declared battle grounds.

The only reliable data to forecast the 2016 election is the state is the 2012 gubernatorial election results. New factors may have emerged that weren’t there in 2012. We will also be relying on INEC’s voter registers and declared results.

With the exception of one occasion where a sitting lost an electoral run, a governor in the state has historically over 75 per cent chance of being reelected. Paradoxically, incumbent party has a little over 50 per cent chance of producing the next governor.

Should the election end in a run-off, the outcome will be difficult to immediately predict as there are presently no available data for the current electoral strengths of minor parties whose endorsements of the major candidates can prove decisive in addition to other factors beyond this analysis.

In the event of a re-run the principal factors that will determine the outcome will be the level of ethnic appeals the parties/candidates resort to.

The question of Incumbency may only have little role to play since whoever wins the election is expected to start on a fresh mandate. The chances of an incumbent party candidate from a national ruling party is historically higher in Nigeria, but this is increasingly been reduced since the 2015 election that saw many incumbent party candidates lose in several states.

There are factors that may be difficult for us to forecast, like the possibility of rigging, the extent or intensity of political violence from the two leading parties or any other extraneous influences from that matter.

There are high possibilities of the main actors to resort to violence, rigging or spore ethnic conflicts in the bid to outdo each other. It is therefore on the stakeholders in the state to ensure proper security and adequate voter education in an already tensed political situation in the state especially in Edo south. In the event of these happening, the security agencies, civil society organizations and others stakeholders must be on alert especially in Edo south.

Basis of Analysis

As the Edo gubernatorial election draws near, the gladiators in the election are stepping up their campaigns. The discussions and prognosis on the election have often been based on hearsays rather than on data.

Governor Adams Oshiomhole won the 2012 election in the state with a total of 477,478 votes in all the 18 Local Government Areas. Using the 2012 gubernatorial election result and some figures from 2015 presidential, National Assembly and House of Assembly election results, we make projections and forecasts for 2016 election from same.

Though the opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP) lost in all the LGAs, it was able to secure at least 25 per cent in 12 areas. This indicates that the party can compete fiercely in the 2016 election with the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).

We must admit that the political landscape in 2016 in the state is different from what it was in 2012. Winning of the Gubernatorial election in 2012 election looks easy for the APC on the surface, a closer examination of subsequent elections doesn’t really look good for the party.

In doing this, we will come across the following:

  1. Edo election conforms to our central assumption that Nigerian elections conforms to the theory of two political sociologists: David Eller and Reed Coughlan who maintain that primordial sentiments play emphatic roles in influencing voting decisions. They posit that primordial sentiments often play decisive roles in elections in tribal societies. Of the three Senators in Edo state, APC was elected only in Edo North were Governor Oshiomhole and APC’s Deputy Governorship candidate, Philip Shaibu, come from. The PDP has often maintains its hegemony in Edo central where many of its leaders, including the party’s Deputy Governorship candidate, John Yakubu, hail from.
  2. For this election, a candidate need not win in majority of the total LGAs, but a candidate that can poll to maximum votes in these three LGAs: Ikpoba/Okha, Egor and Oredo, with a combined voting strength of over 800,000 voters may be returned elected in addition to meeting other Constitutional requirements. For any candidate to do this in this election will be a remote possibility because the two major candidates are from the zone where these three areas are located.
  3. The candidate that will win will have to win in his stronghold denying the opposition the chance to secure the required constitutional 25 per cent of the votes in his zone, while doing his best to defeat his opponents in their strongholds.
  4. Though based on small sample, the differences between both leading candidates are slim, electorally speaking.
  5. The chances of an incumbent party’s gubernatorial candidate winning an election are 55.5 per cent after the 2015 election which saw several incumbent parties’ gubernatorial candidates losing to the opposition. But the chances of an incumbent party candidate winning are 66 per cent in Nigeria’s South-South geo-political zone.

We are aware of the weaknesses in our research methodology. We must admit we have small size of the data sample – drawn from just one previous gubernatorial election under the same conditions.  We may equally have assumed too much in believing that 2012’s data to have predictive value, a number of conditions must remain the same; we debate whether or not they are likely to in the section on “assumptions”.

 

Assumptions

For the purpose of this study, we assume:

  1. That the two main candidates in the election will be: Godwin Obaseki and Osagie Ize-Iyamu. This assumption is against the backdrop of possible disqualification of either of the candidate or for any reason one of them drops out.
  2. That the election will hold as scheduled on September 10, 2016 with no reason to postpone to any other day. The postponement of elections.
  3. That the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is committed to free and fair election in Edo state on September 10. The recent trend of declaring elections “inconclusive” as witnessed in Kogi, Bayelsa and Imo will only show the Commission’s state of unpreparedness for familiar challenges of politicians’ tendencies to cheat, incite violence and falsify/announce election results. This will include INEC’s insistence of the use of Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs) and the Electronic Voting Machines (EVM) as the basis of participating in the election. We might equally assume that there would have been improvements on the functioning of these machines over what was witnessed in Kogi, Rivers, Bayelsa, Imo and other elections held this year.
  4. The election will be overwhelmingly between the APC and PDP. There are other parties like LP which has been speculated to have endorsed the PDP candidate possibility of mergers of some of these minor parties with the two main parties.

 

Edo Political Landscape in the Run-Up to 2016 Election

Incumbent governor, Adams Oshiomhole, and one of the present key actors in this election, won the Gubernatorial election in 2008 as a result of an Electoral Tribunal judgement which declared him winner of the April, 2007 election, which is seen as an event that have largely altered the political landscape of the state.

He won over 73 per cent of the total votes cast to defeat his closest rival, General Charles Airhiarvbere of the PDP in 2012. His biggest victories came from Edo South where he polled a total of 175,954 votes from Ikpoba/Okha, Egor and Oredo Local Government Areas.

Though General Airhiarvbere, lost massively in Edo south (where he hails from), his defeat may be due to: his perceived unpopularity among the locals; the Oshiomhole’s administration relative better performance in its first term in office; incumbency factor which gives unfair advantage(s) to officeholders contesting for second term and the influence of the powerful traditional institutions in the state which earlier endorsed Oshiomhole.

The political landscape in the state may have changed significantly. We must be quick to admit that it will be difficult to forecast the 2016 election based on 2012 result because of factors such as the changing political, economic and social dynamics in the state. It will also be a tough task to work with the 2015 presidential election result neither should there be the temptation for us to rely on the State Assembly election results. But these are the only available data for us to work with in our analysis.

We can explain the voting patterns in the presidential election which went in favour of the PDP in terms of the primordial sentiments for the locals to vote for former President Goodluck Jonathan whose popularity those who contested the Senatorial and House of Representatives elections on the same day.

Both parties have nearly equal strengths (or stakes) in the state. If the National Assembly election results are anything to go by, it will be difficult to tell from a distance which party controls the soul of the state. The PDP has two out of the three Senators from the state. The APC can “boast” of its victory at the 2015 presidential election and may intend to rely on that.

It may look easy on the surface to predict a PDP victory in Edo south because it produced the Senator from the zone. Further checks shows that may not necessarily be the case. Poor voter turnout and other factors may have affected the chances of APC senatorial candidate, Samson Osagie, who was in early lead during the March 28, 2015 election in Edo South before the election was postponed for two weeks. The reverse to that may also be true.

Though the governor enjoyed some of the biggest victories in Edo South in 2012, a lot might have changed in the political landscape of the state since then. The PDP won the Senatorial election in Edo south in 2015 in addition to other House of Representatives and state House of Assembly elections in the zone. It is presently unclear how the votes in the district will swing in 2016 going by the zone’s unpredictable nature.

All these means that the election is going to be very competitive going by the parties strengths in the run-up to the election and parties/candidates may appeal to primordial sentiments of the locals in their big to outdo each other. We therefore assume that ethnic and religious factors may in the end influence voters’ choices.

 

Uncontrollable Variables

Since it is going to be an off general election year poll, it will be difficult to see the possibility of huge voter turnout. Records have shown that poor turnouts often mar Gubernatorial or any other elections held outside general election years. The Ekiti and Osun elections got about 40 per cent turnout. The Edo 2012 election had 41 per cent voter turnout.

Poor voter turnout often affects the outcomes of the election in that it may contribute largely to the election of the unpopular candidate(s). Since the Nigerian Constitution does not contain any clause on compulsory voting, it therefore on the candidates and parties to mobilize the voters to vote on the Election Day.

The extent of the use of violence by the main actors or their agents is difficult to predict. There it is an election that has too many interests involved this is why it is difficult to know in advance the extent or the dimensions the violence may take. The possibility of post-election candidate is not remote, but high spirit that has greeted the campaigns may often make the candidates supporters often in their strongholds be tempted to result to self-help should they sense their candidate have been cheated.

For 2016, parties have so far made little effort to talk about policies and programs. The APC has sometimes struggled to convince the electorate of its ability to deliver on key issues such as infrastructural development, free education, security, taxations or good governance. The PDP candidate’s positioning as a more “repentant” person has been watered-down by the perceived failure of its 10-year reign in the state. The fat that the Governor speaks at campaign rallies more than the APC candidate makes it look more like it is contest between the governor and the old political forces in the state hence creating an “Emperor” outlook. The extent of insults and in some cases flimsy excuses can at best be distracting.

 

Some Interesting Figures

 

The present political reality as a show of voting strengths of both APC and PDP are as follow:

Party Number of Senators Number of members of House of Representatives Number of members of state House of Assembly
APC 1 4 20
PDP 2 5 4
TOTAL 3 9 24

 

It will be interesting to note that of PDP controls, at the Senatorial level, the strategic Edo south and controls 5 out of 9 slots for the House of Representatives. This may be a big advantage for the party in the September 10 election.

Under our central assumption that primordial sentiments play strong roles in election, we might use the fact that the APC won 20 out of 24 slots for the state House of Assembly seats to justify our analysis.

The Senatorial and House of Representatives election were held the same day with the Presidential election which explains why the locals voted PDP all through. This further attests to our central assumption.

 

Projections

We can project a voter turnout of roughly 40 percent which is expected in a midterm election. The reason for this projection is simple. Going by the trend of voting in 2012, Edo North voters tend to turn out more to vote when one of them is running for office. Since Philip Shaibu is Obaseki’s running mate, we can make this assertion. We can also see the possibility of Edo central voters after serious efforts at mobilization, voters in that zone may want to outdo their more populous Northern counterparts in ensuring their own, Mr John Yakubu, gets elected alongside Ize-Iyamu by turning out in their numbers to vote.

The “incumbency power” may not be psephologically justifiable in Edo politics going by the fact that the present Governor defeated an incumbent party candidate in 2007 (albeit through the Election Petition Tribunal while he was sworn in later in 2008). The state also has a history of incumbent losing election as witnessed in 1983 where there was a change of parties in Benin.

Political situation in Edo is highly unpredictable because of certain historical and political factors. While the state often traditionally ally with the party at the centre as in the First Republic when NCNC was in power (under the Mid-Western Region), the party went into opposition (under UPN) in the Second Republic. The state will ally with NPN (the party at the centre) later in the Second Republic only to later vote SDP in the Third Republic. In the Fourth Republic, again, the state pitched its tent with the then national ruling PDP only to later join the opposition ACN in 2008.

Though we relied on a very small sample, we can project that the areas of influence of each of the major parties are as follows:

We can project that APC win in Edo North. The zone has 6 LGAs. It also has the second largest number of registered voters in the state.

We will also project that PDP will win in Edo Central. The zone has 5 LGAs.

Edo South is where both parties’ candidates, Godwin Obaseki and Osagie Ize-Iyamu, hail from. We project this to be a battle ground. The zone has 7 LGAs. It also has the highest number of registered voters in the state.

In Edo, voting based on ethnic or tribal appeal is still strong. This may be why attention immediately shifted to the choice of the running mates of the two leading candidates. The deputy governor, Rt. Hon. Pius Odubu, is said to be leading Obaseki’s campaign in Edo South to the chagrin of the PDP which had expected him to stand aloof in the campaign. The two candidates have chosen their running mates in their respective strongholds. Obaseki chose Hon. Philip Shaibu to appeal to voters from Edo North. Ize-Iyamu chose Mr John Yakubu to keep the party’s stronghold safe in Edo Central.

There may be more forces beyond just the two leading candidates that will decide the outcome of September 10.

The Numbers

We will use the Best/Worst case scenarios of 80/20 and 52/48 (Worst/Suicide case) for both parties/ candidates in their own strongholds. We assume that the parties (using the Best/Worst case) will, in preventing its opponents from getting the Constitutional requirement of winning at least 25 per cent in its stronghold, will win 80 per cent of the votes in its own stronghold while hoping to win at least 25 per cent in the stronghold of its opponent. In doing this, the party/candidate will appeal to primordial sentiments of the people through the assurance that one of their own will be in the incoming government.

The Worst/Suicide case scenario is for a party to win with a margin like 52/48 in its strongholds. This means it has allowed its rival has fulfilled the Constitutional requirement within its own stronghold. In this case, not only has the opposition gotten the much-needed 25 per cent of the votes, it would have successfully reduced the margin of victory/defeat in its favour.

Going by the result of 2012 Gubernatorial election, we can conclude that both parties/candidates have the strength to fulfil that sacred Constitutional requirement, so the possibility of a rerun as a result of this is remote.

Possible Outcomes of the Election

From the above data analysis, we can conclude that there are three possible scenarios:

  1. In the event that both parties result to the worst case or suicide scenarios in each other’s in the three zones, there will be the possibility of the APC candidate taking a marginal lead.
  2. In the event of both candidates winning in their strongholds by the Best/Worst case scenarios, the APC candidate will win by a clear margin, if both result to the Best/Worst case scenarios in Edo south.
  3. In the event that both candidates win their respective strongholds and one of the candidates win their strongholds with the Best/Worst case scenarios, the candidate who wins the Edo south automatically wins the election irrespective of the magnitude of his loss in his rival’s stronghold.

Based on the foregoing, we foresee a very though electoral contest between both candidates based on the primordial factors that may come to play in the election. With all that said, we can forecast based on the data at our disposal that the APC candidate has a slight advantage over his PDP counterpart of winning on September 10, 2016.

 

Olalekan Waheed Adigun is a writer, political analyst and researcher based in Lagos.  Follow me on twitter @adgorwell