Some days ago, a friend of mine asked me at an event we attended about the coming elections: “What direction do you see the North taking after the 2019 elections?”
I am sure he posed this question to me because he is familiar with my commentary on the North on different social media platforms, but his question caught me off guard and I spent about 30 minutes thinking about the best way to answer him. This is not to say that I have not given it a thought before now, but when I thought about it, I did not see any clear direction the North will take after the 2019 general elections. However, the effort has to be made to answer, so I will.
The 2019 elections are shaping up to be a keenly contested affair. Campaigns have been green-lighted by the Independent National Electoral Commission and the political parties have wasted no time walking through it as they immediately presented their policies to the electorates.
To answer my friend’s question, I will look at two things. First, I will examine how I think the North would vote in the coming elections and please, note that this is subjective and not backed by numbers from any polls. I draw my analysis simply from observation of events and interactions with people during my travels within the region as a researcher in the last three years.
The North as I see it will witness a high level of voter apathy next year. This is because the reform-minded folks, who threw their weight behind the then Candidate Muhammadu Buhari in 2015 with the hope that real hard-hitting reforms would take place, are pretty much disappointed with what they have seen. What would not change is the majority vote the President pulled in the North in 2015. He will not win by a landslide because his main challenger Atiku Abubakar of the PDP is from the region. But win Buhari will.
Secondly, I look at Northern Nigeria in terms of critical reforms and delivery of public services to citizens. If you look closely at the states in the North in the last three years, nothing has really changed nothing has changed in the critical sectors that needed reforms. This will not change a bit. Education, an upsurge in the number of almajiris, healthcare, economy, and drug abuse are for me really the issues that every northerner should be concerned about and what should shape how we all vote the people who govern our states.
But I am certain the humdrum conversation that we are having will continue because we do not think of our states as patriots. We instead think of them from a partisan point. Think about this: in the last two years, drug abuse in the North has continued to rise, and the issue of child beggars and child hawkers continue to persist. What critical reform or policy has any of the northern states put in place to address these issues? Your guess is as good as mine.
Essentially, post-2019 elections northern Nigeria will not be different from what we currently have in terms of how governance impacts the lives of the people.
Ahmed Rufai Isah,
Researcher and Journalist