PRESS STATEMENT – CDD-EAC ahead of the 11 November Off-Cycle Governorship Elections
On 11 November 2023, Nigerians in three states – Bayelsa, Imo and Kogi – will cast their votes at the gubernatorial elections. In the aftermath of keenly contested general elections in February, whose outcome was litigated all the way to the Supreme Court, it is important for the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), and other critical stakeholders including security agencies, political parties, the media and civil society organizations to apply lessons learnt from the general elections in the conduct of the off cycle elections. While the threats of violence, misinformation and inducements are factors that might play a role in the outcome of the elections, these issues can be addressed if there are sufficient efforts to mitigating them.
The CDD Election Analysis Centre recognising the need to develop evidence-based reports that would inform and interrogate key issues in Nigeria’s electoral process, has deployed observers and fact checkers numbering 150 across the three states. This is in addition to a team of trained information disorder analysts, data clerks, reviewers and seasoned election analysts.
Tomorrow 11 November, the EAC will provide a preliminary update on the conduct of the elections at the commencement of polls, followed by another press briefing in the afternoon. After the declaration of results of the elections by INEC, the EAC will issue its findings in a Post Election press briefing. The press statement, along with periodic updates as the elections unfold, will be widely disseminated across conventional and social media platforms tostakeholders and the general public.
Background to the Elections
The outcomes of the elections will significantly impact the political fortunes of the parties involved and lay the foundation for subsequent off-cycle elections and the next general elections. As a result, we are mindful that the fallout from the 2023 general elections remain fresh in the memories of voters and politicians as they engage with the process. Despite the fact that three different parties won the presidential vote in these states – Labour winning Imo, PDP winning Bayelsa and APC winning Kogi – it is by no means certain that these results will have a strong bearing on the outcome of these governorship polls. Yet, it is also important to note that these parties will be mindful of the impact the gubernatorial elections outcome will have on future plans and ambitions.
Bayelsa and Imo will go to the polls with incumbent governors seeking re-election who initially were not declared winners of the last gubernatorial elections in 2019. Douye Diri of Bayelsa was named as governor-elect on the eve of the inauguration, while Hope Uzodinma assumed the governorship of Imo a year after the elections following separate Supreme court rulings. On the other hand, Yahaya Bello of Kogi whose non-renewable second tenure ends in January 2024 is the only governor amongst the trio who is not on the ballot.
Socio-Economic Context and Insecurity
These elections will be conducted in the face of economic challenges and insecurity across the country. These realities, alongside the peculiarities in socio-economic and security situations in each state will play a major role in shaping the electoral process. There have been concerns of abuse of power of incumbency by governors instituting policies to suppress dissent and opposition party voices in their states.. This trend is harmful to our democracy and associated spikes in cases of pre-election violence in these states raises concerns for voter turnout in affected areas.
These issues point to a need to ensure that all actors in the electoral landscape are aware of the important roles they hold in ensuring a peaceful election. We welcome the increased synergy between the security agencies and INEC, as evidenced by their presence during the mock accreditation held on 14 October 2023. This should go a long way in ensuring strategic coordination and cohesion in addressing fears of violence and voter suppression in these states. Nevertheless, we call on the security agencies to be professional and non-partisan in the discharge of their responsibilities. We are also optimistic that the deployment of election materials will be prompt, while hoping technological glitches that were observed in the February elections will be addressed. We also call on political parties, politicians, media houses and citizens to be eschew divisive utterances and statements that could undermine the electoral process.
More so, these elections will be held in the aftermath of recent judicial pronouncements that have changed the nature of the campaign cycle. The rulings returning Natasha Akpoti-Uduaghan as Senator representing Kogi Central, and that reinstating Timipre Sylva as the APC governorship nominee in Bayelsa and the confirmation of Athan Achonu as the Labour Party governorship nominee in Imo speaks to the growing influence the judiciary has in the electoral process. We are hopeful that political parties and citizens see this as a call to eschew violence and revert to legal and laid-down adjudication processes in resolving post-election disputes.
Finally, we wish citizens in Bayelsa, Imo and Kogi well as they exercise their civic duties tomorrow. We hope that proactive communication from all electoral stakeholders will avert any form of voter apathy or suppression while ensuring that we are able to review and report on a milestone in our march to a more representative and peaceful democracy in Nigeria.
CDD EAC 2023
Prof. Adele Jinadu, Chair CDD-EAC
Prof. Victor Adetula
Prof. Jibrin Ibrahim
Dr. Kole Shettima
Dr. Joe Abah
Dr. Jack Jackson
Mrs. Funke Baruwa
Ms. Mufiliat Fijabi