Atiku may lose big in G5 states in 2023 presidential election

THE Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate in the February presidential election, Atiku Abubakar, may lose a significant number of votes if the party fails to resolve its internal crisis before the 2023 election.

As the election draws nearer, The ICIR takes a closer look at the number of votes gathered by the PDP in the 2019 elections in the G5 states.

PDP and Abubakar are still battling it out with the G5 integrity group over the retention of Iyiorcha Ayu as the party’s national chairman.

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The five governors that make up the G-5 – Okezie Ikpeazu (Abia), Seyi Makinde (Oyo), Ifeanyi Ugwanyi (Enugu), Samuel Ortom (Benue), and Nyesom Wike (Rivers) – are insisting that Ayu, a northerner like Abubakar, be removed as chairman if the party must have their support and votes in the presidential election.

The governors maintain it would be politically immoral for the party to pick both its national chairman and presidential candidate for the February election from the North.

In the 2019 general elections, the five states produced 1,772,729 votes for the PDP, representing 15.7 per cent of Abubakar’s votes in the 2019 presidential election.

Infographic showing Atiku Abubakar votes from G5 states in 2019 presidential election.

The breakdown of the votes showed that Wike’s Rivers State delivered 473,971 votes for PDP, representing 71 per cent of the votes in the state.

The total number of votes cast in the state was 666,585.

In Enugu state, the party gathered 355,553 out of the 451,063 votes cast there, which was 78.8 per cent of the total votes.

In Oyo state, it was a close battle between Abubakar and Muhammadu Buhari. However, he was able to garner 366,690 votes out of 891,080, or 41.2 per cent of the total votes cast for the PDP.

Benue and Abia states produced 356,817 and 219,698 votes respectively for Abubakar, representing 46.7 per cent and 62 per cent of the votes in the two states.

The number of registered voters in the five states, according to 2022 data released by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is 13,471,789.

The breakdown showed that Abia, Benue, Enugu, Oyo, and Rivers states had 1,990,544; 2,693,303; 2,117,472; 3,137,480; and 3,532,990 respectively.

The figures imply an increase in number of registered voters and a remarkable expectation of voter turnout in the 2023 general elections, which makes it a big deal for any party hoping to win the election.

As the country prepares for another election, Abubakar will be contending with the rebellion of the five governors in his quest to realise his life-long ambition of becoming president of Nigeria.

Although the G5 governors have maintained their membership of the PDP, saying they would not defect, they have also remained unwavering in their words against Ayu’s chairmanship of the PDP and their intention to work against Abubakar in the presidential election.

Well, with Ayu not intending to step down anytime soon as PDP chairman, the aggrieved governors have also not been appearing in Abubakar’s campaign since the party flagged it off last year.

What’s at stake for Atiku?

The power that these five governors wield can’t be underestimated, according to a political analyst who spoke with The ICIR.

Ibrahim Abdulmajeed explained that although the PDP may be denying the influence of the G5, the five states have strong roles to play if Abubakar has to win the election.

Abdulmajeed who said he is a PDP member advised that Atiku should find a way to reconcile with the five governors.

“Wike and other aggrieved governors have the right to be angry. Wike felt betrayed, that’s why he’s fighting back.

“We can’t say these people don’t have any influence. They are the sitting governors of their states and joining the Atiku campaign team will surely make him stronger,” he said.

Oluwatosin Ishowo who writes polical opinion pieces, said, “I do not think it is moral to slam it on the G5 governors that they are fighting for personal gains. In politics, everyone rationalizes their interests. It is not like Atiku is entirely innocent. Hence, Wike and his G5 causing trouble is understandable, as the grievances date back to GEJ’s time as President.”

According to Ishowo, with or without Wike, PDP and LP are the only two states to battle for votes in Rivers State in the presidential election. He added that Wike did not throw his entire support behind Abubakar in the 2019 election anyway, which made Delta State to produce more votes than Rivers in 2019.

He said, “A right thinking person should naturally concede Oyo to Bola Ahmed Tinubu. To begin with, it is ridiculous to assume Atiku will win in Oyo State against Tinubu. Any candidate should know that it is Asiwaju’s zone and he will most likely take the state. Hence, the need not to romance Seyi Makinde unnecessarily. With or without Seyi, I doubt anyone will argue that Atiku won’t get 25/30 per cent in that state.

“I can’t say for Benue, but Ortom has everything to lose than Atiku because surprisingly, APC is strong in Benue than anywhere else, especially their governorship candidate. Therefore, his focus shouldn’t even be fighting with Atiku.

    “The other two governors from the Southeast hardly have anything to do to avert Obi’s massive wave in that region. They are missing the reality that a war is about to sweep them all, while focusing on an enemy that has not fired any arrow to their fence.”

    In a recent interview with Arise TV, former senate president Bukola Saraki insisted that the party would win four zones, noting that their biggest challenge would be the Southeast where Labour Party is strong.

    “South-South is a strong PDP area. We will do very well in the South-South. The challenge we have in the Southeast, of course, is Labour Party,” he said.

    *Additional research was Billdone by James Emmanuel.

    Usman Mustapha is a solution journalist with International Centre for Investigative Reporting. You can easily reach him via: [email protected]. He tweets @UsmanMustapha_M

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