Nigeria's governorship elections peaceful despite voter buying and ballot box sabotage
Nigerians are back at the polls today for the governorship and state assembly election being held in 29 out of 36 states. Today’s voting is taking place amidst fears of political violence and voter buying.
On the eve before polls were due to open, the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, issued a press release stating one of its election offices in Akwa Ibom state was set on fire early Friday morning.
However, unlike the fires prior to the presidential election that destroyed voting material, this time round “the ballot papers and result sheets were not affected and are intact”.
But “several sensitive and non-sensitive materials for [Saturday’s] Governorship and State House of Assembly elections were destroyed, including 198 Smart Card Readers, the printed Register of Voters, 13 Generator sets as well as several Voting Cubicles and office equipment.”
INEC also said that some of its staff had been abducted by "thugs" in the southern states of Rivers and Akwa Ibom.
The Situation Room, a collective of more than 70 civil society monitoring organisations also recorded seven deaths on Saturday.
53 people were killed during the presidential polls two weeks ago on February 23rd.
Voter buying and sabotage
During the general elections, there were reported incidents of voter intimidation, buying and sabotage.
Saturday's governorship election didn't stray far from those problems.
Already, there was a reported incident of voter buying in Kwara state.
According to the Abuja-based Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD), there have been reported incidents of voter buying and sabotage.
In Benue state, observers from CDD wrote about armed hoodlums destroying a primary school where electoral material was stored.
In #Benue state, armed hoodlums razed down a Roman Catholic primary school in Aya containing electoral materials meant for Mbalom ward in Gwer East Local Government Area of the state. #CDDAnalysisCentre #NigeriaDecides2019 @HassanIdayat @DrJoeAbah @thecableng @PremiumTimesngCDD West Africa (@CDDWestAfrica) March 9, 2019
One comment noted cases of “inappropriate behavior displayed at polling units by different political parties and their agents.”
Bigger than the general elections?
Nigeria’s governorship elections are often more closely watched by people than the presidential ones.
With Nigeria being a federal country, each of the 36 governors wield power over their states, and to many, these politicians are more important than the president.
The race for governor is fierce, as the position is seen as having great influence and power.
Nigeria’s governors control state finances which include the range from education to health.
In the state of Lagos for example, the past few years saw a major rerouting of traffic and a general effort to improve circulation in Lagos city, says Chinonso, a female resident of Lagos in her early 30s.
The city is notorious for its constant bumper-to-bumper traffic at any time of the day.
Such improvements usually come via an initiative at the state government level.
Fight between APC and PDP
As was the case in the general elections held on February 23rd, the main race is once again between President Muhammadu Buhari’s All Progressive Congress (APC), and the People’s Democratic Party, the PDP.
However, seven of the states are not participating in Saturday’s vote since they already held governorship elections “off season”.
These states are Osun, Ekiti, Edo, Anamabra, Kogi, Ondo, Beyels and the the Federal Capital Territory Abuja.
To date, APC control 22 states, while the PDP has 13.
The All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, has one state.
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