Urhobo Historical Society
By Emmanuel Ojameruaye, Ph.D.
International Foundation for Education and Self-Help (IFESH) 
Phoenix, Arizona, USA

Editorial Note: Nigeria is classified into political zones. The South-South (SS) stands for the states of the Niger Delta; South East (SE) consists of the Igbo states; South West for Yoruba states; North Central (NC), North West (NW), and North East (NE) stand for three groupings of the states of Northern Nigeria.

Since the publication of the results of the Nigeria’s Presidential election on INEC’s website (http://www.inecnigeria.org/elections/htm) about three days ago, I have been analyzing the figures to enable me accept or reject two major propositions or hypotheses about the 2003 Presidential election, viz:

  1. That the outcome is fundamentally flawed and should be rejected (annulled).
  2. That the bill for the abolition of the offshore/onshore oil dichotomy did not play a major role in the outcome

With respect to the first hypothesis, the preliminary results of my analysis clearly show that it should be rejected at a high level of statistical confidence (over 90% level of significance) despite the rejection of the results by most of the losers and the observations by some of the international monitors that there were several cases of irregularities and fraud. The fact of the matter is that these cases, on average, do not seem to be weighty enough to invalidate the outcome. In other words, they did not result in statistically significant discrepancies and "outliers" that would have produced a different outcome. This is not to justify the irregularities but to emphasize the point that they seem to have be blown out of proportion. As we all know, "bad news" have higher information value or make greater noise than good news. Hence, the relatively few and sometimes isolated cases of malpractices have been magnified to the extent of crowding out the vast majority of good cases. In any election there are bound to be malpractices and "bad cases". Advanced democracies are not immuned to this as clearly demonstrated in the 2000 presidential election in the US - "the bastion and defender on modern democracy". Here, despite many "recounts", the Supreme Court had to intervene to pave the way for Bush to claim victory. It is my considered opinion that, based on my statistical analysis, the results should be upheld. All the "bad cases" should be reported to the appropriate court/tribunal to investigate but I strongly believe that they will in no way alter the ultimate result - the victory of the PDP. In my next article which will be published in a few days’ time, I will provide justifications for this conclusion.

I will now focus on the second hypothesis which is of greater interest to me in view of my passion on the subject and the several articles I wrote on it in the period leading to the elections. Let me begin by confessing that I am an unrepentant supporter of the abolition of the offshore/onshore oil dichotomy and the entrenchment of economic justice and true federalism in Nigeria. My struggle has however been restricted to the internet and pages of the newspapers. A few weeks before the election, I published an article titled " COMBINATORICS OF THE OUTCOME OF THE FORTHCOMING PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION" in http://www.lagosforum.com. In that article, I noted, inter alia, that

"Analysis of the various permutations and combinations clearly demonstrate that the offshore/onshore oil dichotomy abolition bill is perhaps the most critical factor that will determine the outcome of the presidential election…. The Northern Governors and Kano Elders who were opposed to the abolition bill and who now support Buhari must now have a rethink if they want their new candidate to win the presidential election…. OBJ can take the bull by the horn by signing the bill before the election…by signing the bill he is not jeopardizing anybody’s interest neither is he seeking cheap popularity. He is simply appending his signature on a document that has been approved unanimously by the representatives of the peoples of Nigeria – both houses of the National Assembly".

My ulterior motive was to use that article as an instrument to convince either Obasanjo or Buhari to take a more "positive stance" on the bill before the elections. Just before the elections, it appeared that bill was no longer going to play a significant role in the elections, contrary to my prediction. Now that the results have been published, can we accept or reject the hypothesis? In the article referenced above, I predicted as follows:

"the ANPP is likely to get the majority of the votes in the North. My hunch is that the party could get as much as 90% of the votes in the NW, up to 50% of the votes in the NC and up to 30% in the NE. However, at best, the ANPP get about 5% of the votes in the SW. The performance of the party in the SS will depend on the party’s platform on the bill for the abolition of offshore/onshore oil dichotomy and OBJ’s promise to "revisit the bill". If OBJ signs the bill (as amended by the National Assembly) before the elections, the PDP can get about 90% of the votes of the SS, leaving about 5% to the ANPP. …The performance of the ANPP in the SE is more difficult to predict, as this will depend on many factors. If the ANPP can assure the SE that Buhari will not seek re-election in 2007 and that Okadigbo will be the party’s flagbearer in 2007, then the party can secure as much as 60% of the presidential votes….If Buhari is unable to make such a commitment, the ANPP may not get more than 30% of the votes in the SE… As for the PDP, it can get about 80% of the votes in the SW notwithstanding AD’s dominance in this zone. It may get up to 40% of the votes in NC, 10% of the NW and about 50% of the NE zone… The crushing defeat of Ekwueme by OBJ and the frenzy for SE (Igbo) Presidency will reduce the fortunes of the OBJ-Atiku ticket in the SE, in spite of the dominance of PDP in this zone…. PDP is unlikely to get more than 30% of the SE votes… If OBJ keeps to his last minute promise to the political leaders of the SS and signs the bill before the election, then the PDP can get up to 90% of the votes…. if he …fails to sign the bill, the SS leaders will …. their voters against the OBJ-Atiku ticket… if they can extract a commitment from any other party.. In the circumstance, OBJ/Atiku may secure about 20% of the votes in this zone"

There is difficulty in testing the hypothesis because the above conditional "predictions" (scenarios) were based on two assumptions, which did not materialize. The first is that Obasanjo will sign the bill and Buhari may or may not take a stance. The second is that Obasanjo will not sign it and Buhari will take a "positive" stance. It is my view however that the bill loomed in the hearts and minds of many voters in the South-South and may have influenced their actions or inaction. Although Obasanjo did not sign the bill, he somehow managed to give the impression that he was doing something positive about it ("re-visit" the issue). For example, he purportedly reached an agreement with the SS Governors (although this was denied by some, not all) and sent an amended (revised) bill to the National Assembly. Whether these actions or information were "fraudulent" or not, they no doubt created the impression in the minds of many SS voters that Obasanjo was taken actions preparatory to signing the bill. On the other hand, the ANPP did not make any commitment and in fact avoided the issue of the bill. When Buhari was asked about his stance on the bill during his visit to Benin City, he simply said he endorsed Obasanjo’s refusal to sign it, to the chagrin of most people from the SS. That single action sealed the fate of the ANPP in the SS zone. What Bahari forgot was that Obasanjo had moved ahead of refusing to sign the bill. It became clear that Buhari cannot be trusted on the issue of the bill and that he may in fact pursue the perceived Northern agenda of not only killing the bill completely but also of killing the NDDC. At that point Obasanjo became the "devil the SS knew" as far as the bill was concerned, more so as there were indications that he was willing to settle for a compromise solution. No other party raised the issue of the bill as a major one. Therefore, most SS voters had no option than to assume subconsciously that Obasanjo will sign the bill, even in an amended form. The last minute call by the SSOPEC on SS voters to support Chris Okotie’s JP was interpreted as a "stalemating" strategy (to borrow Prof. Omoruyi’s terminology) which they were not willing to settle for, having realized that you "can do more when you inside than when you are outside".

In view of the above, one can test the hypothesis under the assumption that Obasanjo "signed" the bill and ANPP failed to make a positive commitment. Table 1 below shows the predicted and (actual) percentages of votes received by the two major parties and "others".

Table 1: Predicted and (Actual) Percentages of Votes, Ballot Rejection Rate and Voter Turnout by Zones





%of Rejected Ballots

Voter Turnout*


90 (91.97)

5 (4.83)

5 (3.20)




30 (69.45)

30 (5.56)

40 (24.99)




80 (88.71)

5 (3.44)

15 (7.85)




40 (57.87)

50 (28.48)

10 (13.65)




50 (43.85)

30 (54.99)

20 (1.16)




10 (30.38)

90 (68.17)

0 (1.45)



* Voter Turnout = Number of votes cast as a % of number of voters on Register (Voters List)

A comparison of the predicted and actual percentages shows that my prediction was fairly accurate. In other words, there was no "significant" deviation of the actuals from the "expected". In fact, applying the statistical test of differences (Chi-square test) shows that the difference is not statistically significant at over 85% level of significance which is not bad for a political event. Thus one can infer that the bill did have some impact on the outcome of the presidential election. The fact that Obasanjo held a "better promise" on the bill than Buhari must have influenced the outcome of the election in the SS, and hence the re-election of Obasanjo.

Those who refuse to accept the above theory insist that the elections in the SS were massively rigged. But does this negate the hypothesis that the bill played a major role?. My answer is no. Firstly, if indeed the PDP embarked on "massive" rigging, it only confirms their fear that if they did not do so the election may either be "stalemated" or Obasanjo may not get the type of victory they badly needed. It is wrong to assume that the ANPP would have defeated the PDP in the SS when Buhari failed to make a positive commitment on the bill. Moreover, he was seen by many as "an Arewa Irredentist", an "Islamic Jihadist" and a "Sharia Enforcer" and the ANPP did not do a good job to erase this impression. The presence of some SS politicians (Etiebet and Aikhomu, who have very weak political taproots, if any) did not matter much in the SS. Secondly, in order to rig successfully a party must either be relatively popular or be "in charge" or both. An unpopular party cannot rig successfully in Nigeria, as the Omoboriowo’s case demonstrated in the 1983 election in Ondo State. Thirdly, it must not be forgotten that all the SS states were PDP-controlled and that the Presidential and Gubernatorial elections were held on the same day. There is no doubt that many of the Governors have performed fairly well and people will be more willing to allow them to have a second-term than risk voting a new person ("the devil they do not know") who may spend his first two years enriching himself and his cronies and the last two years on re-election campaign and politics. It is difficult to imagine that a voter will vote PDP for Governor and ANPP for President. Most voters are simply not sophisticated enough to make such discrimination in an election held on the same day. Thus, there is a strong possibility that by electing to vote their DPD Governors, the SS voters invariably voted for the PDP Presidential candidate. In other words, Obasanjo may have ridden on the back of the PDP governors just as the PDP gubernatorial candidates in the SW may have ridden on the crest of Obasanjo.

To further examine the significance of the SS votes for the victory of PDP, the following table shows the number of votes by zones:

Table 2: Distribution of Votes by Zones and Parties (numbers)






















Total (INEC)*



Sub-Total without SS



Total with reverse SS numbers



* These are INEC Totals as published which are slightly higher than the numbers I got by aggregating the state and zonal
figures (24,112,157 votes for PDP and 12,105,223 for ANPP). I am not yet sure of the reason for the discrepancies.

The above table shows that if the votes from the SS are excluded ("annulled"), Obasanjo’s total number of votes (17.5m) is still more than that of Buhari (12.3m). Hence, Obasanjo would have won all the same. But an "annulment" of the SS vote is unacceptable. So let us assume that Buhari was able to make a positive commitment on the bill while Obasanjo remained "intransigent" and the voters were able to discriminate such that Buhari scored the votes given to Obasanjo and vice versa (the last row of the above table). Under this scanario, ANPP ’s (Buhari’s) total votes would have been about 19.3m (or 48.89) as against PDP’s (Obasanjo’s) 17.9m (or 45.56%). In other words, Buhari would have won! Even if ANPP had scored 85% of the votes in the SS (with PDP 13% and others 2%), ANPP would have still won!

It is clear therefore from the above analysis that the overwhelming vote of the SS for the PDP is the single most decisive factor of Obasanjo’s re-election. In a sense, therefore, one can conclude that the bill for the abolition of the offshore/onshore oil dichotomy played a major role in the victory of Obasanjo. Without the massive support of the SS, Obasanjo’s victory would have been impossible. In fact, the SS zone gave Obasanjo the highest number of votes in both absolute and relative terms, far more than he got from his home zone (SW) which incidentally had the lowest voters’ turnout rate (a mark of apathy?). Little wonder therefore that ANPP and the other parties are very disturbed by the outcome in the SS and will do all they can to discredit the voting in the SS zone. One can only hope that Obasanjo appreciates this fact in his second term and do what is fair and right. The outcome is also a lesson to future presidential hopefuls that they cannot take the SS zone for granted, especially when the issue of oil resource is current on the political agenda. May peace, unity and justice reign supreme in the next four years.