ANALYSIS: Anambra 2021 Governorship Elections Repeated an Intriguing Trend

By Seyi Olufemi

The recently concluded 2021 Anambra State elections heightened a recurring trend in the State’s last 4 Governorship Elections, where a lower voter turnout always coincides with a higher victory margin for the winning party, and vice versa.

The victory of Professor Charles Soludo in the November 2021 elections returned the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) as the ruling party in the state executive for the fifth consecutive time. The election was held on 6th November, and was concluded on 9th November with a supplementary election in Ihiala Local Government Area (LGA).

Charles Chukwuma Soludo, is an economics professor, politician, and a former Governor and Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). He is a member of the British Department for International Development’s International Advisory Group and also a member of President Muhammadu Buhari’s Economic Advisory Council (EAC), among many of his national and international Development exploits.

Before delivering his first remarks as the newly elected governor of Anambra State, he measured and stated the time of day on his watch, bringing to the surface again his subliminal attachment for quantitative detail, and then declared, “With utmost humility and gratitude to God, I accept the results of the 2021 Anambra Governorship Elections.”

Many find it interesting that Mr Soludo, after being declared as the winner of the Governorship elections, needed to accept that he truly won the election. 

Yet, it is more intriguing that the lowest voter turnout of 10% in the past four consecutive gubernatorial elections in the state also produced the highest victory margin of 36% for the candidate of the winning party, Mr Soludo.

In fact, the highest voter turnout of 25% in the 2013 elections yielded the lowest victory margin for APGA, in the last 4 elections.

APGA is the most decorated political party in Anambra state since the creation of the state in 1976. The party has produced the only 2 governors who have governed for 2 terms in the history of the State, in the persons of Peter Obi (2006-2014) and Willie Obiano (2014-).

The People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and the All Progressives Congress (APC) – a blend of the former AC and ANPP) have rotated the second and third place in each of the elections, while Labour Party (LP), United Progressive Party (UPP) and the Young Progressives Party  (YPP) have held the fourth position.

Rank (% of Total Valid Votes) 2010 2013 2017 2021
Leading votes (%) APGA APGA APGA APGA
34 42 55 46
2nd highest votes (%) AC PDP APC PDP
21 23 23 22
3rd highest votes (%) PDP APC PDP APC
21 23 17 18
4th highest votes (%) LP LP UPP YPP
9 9 5 9
The remaining votes (%) 14 3 2 5

When the proportion of voters for APGA is compared with the proportion of registered voters that turned out for the elections, there is always a greater margin when there is a lower voter turnout, and vice versa. 

The low and declining voter turnout in Anambra is worse than the country’s electoral participation performance in Presidential elections. While the percentage of registered voters who eventually cast a ballot has decreased from 69% in 2003 to 35% in 2019, the voter turnout for Anambra’s governorship elections declined from an already low 16% in 2010 to 10% in 2021.

The increasing voter apathy in Anambra, and in the country at large, has been widely attributed to the people’s mistrust in the electoral process, beginning with how candidates emerge in party primary elections to multiple cases of election malpractices at the general elections.

Rampant cases of electoral violence and perceived intimidation of voters by the security forces often discourages voting age people from voting. Recently, the secessionist agitations of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) has increased the threats of insecurity of lives and property in the southeast, thus discounting the Anambra electorate’s turnout to the lowest in recent history.

With the Governor elect, Charles Soludo, being voted in by only a 10% of registered voters and a much less percentage of Anambra’s voting age population, a measured view of the “time” and situation of things in his State, in Nigeria, and the world, coupled with his avowed “humility”, would be invaluable to capture the people’s aspirations and to coordinate efforts to meet them.