There is palpable tension in many parts of Nigeria as citizens wait for the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) officials to announce the final results of the governorship and State Assembly elections held on Saturday, March 18, 2023.
Even though results are trickling in from the collation centres across the states, many say the long wait for the final results is adding to the growing tension and anxiety.
Governorship elections held in 28 out of Nigeria’s 36 states. The other eight states – Edo, Ondo, Imo, Ekiti, Anambra, Osun, Bayelsa and Kogi – have staggered (off-season) governorship elections. Of the 28 states where there were governorship elections, 11 states had their incumbent governors seeking re-election. However, State Assembly elections held across all the states.
Across the states, the March 18 elections, which came after an initial postponement from the earlier date of March 11, were characterized by voter apathy resulting in low voter turnout.
Pundits blamed the voter apathy on disenchantment following the process and outcome of the February 25, 2023 presidential and National Assembly elections, which many, including international observers, said was marred by flaws and irregularities, especially INEC’s failure to transmit results from the polling stations directly to its portal.
The March 18 election also witnessed pockets of violence, especially in Lagos, Delta and a few other states, leading to disenfranchisement of eligible voters.
In Edo State, where there was no governorship election, the state assembly poll was largely peaceful and orderly, with INEC officials and materials arriving early at the polling stations. There was also adequate security presence. However, low voter turnout was recorded across most polling units compared to the February 25 presidential and National Assembly elections.
The state governor, Godwin Obaseki, who cast his vote at about 10:17am at Emokpae Model Primary School, Unit 19, Ward 4 in Oredo Local Government Area, decried the low voter turnout, describing it as the worst in the centre.
“This is the worst voter turnout l have seen or experienced in this centre. The extreme security measures taken should be relaxed. As you can see, there is a total lockdown of the city, preventing people from exercising their civic responsibility,” Obaseki said.
“It is important we have security during the election but it should not be overwhelming. The overwhelming presence of security men across the city is scary. Most people might want to stay away from their polling units,” he said.