Nigeria: "Operation Earthquake" sweeps the polls.

Author:Jason, Pini
Position:Around Africa - Presidential re-election campaign of Olusegun Obasanjo

President Olusegun Obasanjo, in a military fashion, code-named his presidential campaign "operation earthquake". And when the earthquake hit his opponents in the April elections, it reduced them to rubble.

Against all predictions, Olusegun Obasanjo polled a total of 24.5 million votes or 61.94% to beat his main rival, General Muhammadu Buhari of the All Nigerian Peoples' Party (ANPP), who scored 12.7 million or 32.19%. Chief Emeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), came a distant third with a little over one million votes.

In addition, Obasanjo won the statutory 25% of the votes in 32 states, eight stares more than the mandatory 24. Buhari scored 25% in 18 states. The total number of votes cast in the presidential election was 42,002,620 out of 60,823,022 registered voters.

Obasanjo's Peoples' Democratic Party (PDP) increased the number of states it controls from 21 in 1999 to 28, leaving seven for the rival ANPP, and one state, Lagos, for the Alliance for Democracy (AD). In the Senate, the PDP has two-thirds majority with 72 our of the 109 sears. The PDP secured five of the additional states from the AD, which held sway in the Yoruba South-West, and two in the North from the ANPP.

Indeed, the routing of the Yoruba-based AD (in what Nigerians call "regime change") in Ogun, Osun, Oyo, Ekiri and Ondo States aswell as in Kwara and Kogi States of North-Central, was the surprise of the election.

The Yoruba South-West zone did nor vote for Obasanjo in 1999. He could nor even win his local government area. But the power of incumbency and the spoils of office have changed all that. Obasanjo is the first Yoruba to hold power at the centre, which in Nigerian politics, is very important, and confers a lot of advantage on the ethnic group wielding the Federal might.

The benefits derived from Obsanjo's presidency in the last four years forced the Yoruba to have a change of heart. They decided to give Obasanjo, "the son-of-the-soil", their block vote. The AD, therefore, decided nor to field a presidential candidate to avoid splitting Obasanjo's votes.

Those who predicted violence during the National Assembly election of 12 April and the gubernatorial and presidential elections of 19 April were disappointed. But those who raised alarm about rigging were proved right.

Electoral fraud has featured prominently in Nigeria's elections at all levels since independence. It was common during the primaries of various parties. Both the...

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