Governorship/ House Elections: Concerns mount over Governors’ moves to rig Saturday’s poll 2023 ELECTIONS

Tension is high in Rivers, Edo, Enugu, Kano, Katsina and Cross River states.

As Governorship and State Houses of Assembly elections near concerns heightens over alleged moves by governors to rig the elections including resorting to extra-judicial means to compromise the process.

Report has it that aside the effort of recruiting thugs to help them disrupt the process to garner more votes, another game plan is by working with the Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs) in their respective states.

In addition to this is another alleged plan to further compromise the electoral officers, thus making the falsification of results much easier than it was in the previous exercise.

The third idea being allegedly considered as part of the rigging plan is to frustrate the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) from working, a situation that would enable them handle the collation of results manually through their proxies for desired outcome.

To give force of effect to some of their other plans, the governors, allegedly in cahoots with security agencies, have started to arrest some prominent opposition members, especially in northern Nigeria, and forcing people to vote for them against their wish.

Expectedly, however, the opposition has not been finding any of the moves funny and had started reacting, a development close observer of the polity reckon could stoke violence before, during and after the elections.

Unfortunately, these allegations have continued to escalate across the states of the federation that governors of the ruling parties in their respective states, had been raising army of thugs to disrupt and rig the polls.

Most of the 28 states that are contesting in the elections that would hold in 1,021 constituencies across the country and also involving 993 state assembly candidates, apparently afraid of losing, are said to be devising these schemes to ensure they or their preferred candidates emerge victorious.

The allegations started to gain currency owing largely to how some of the governors helped to manipulate the last presidential election to favour their preferred presidential candidates.

In other instances, those whose candidates lost in the February 25 Presidential and National Assembly elections, are said to be girding their loins for the titanic battle to make sure that they prevail in the March 18 governorship and State Houses of Assembly elections.

Some of the results of the February 25 presidential and national assembly elections are believed to have sent shivers down the spines of some governors, a few of who also lost their bid to go to the senate in furtherance of their political career.

For instance, Governors Okezie Ikpeazu (Abia), Samuel Ortom (Benue), Simon Lalong (Plateau) and Ben Ayade (Cross River) – all lost their bid to move on to the senate, as they either lost to the OBIdient Movement through the Labour Party (LP) or the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

Consequently, this has shifted the balance of power in many of the states, and in many respects, with the result of the presidential election sending a frightening signal to the governors, who now consider the need to brace up for their own elections before more surprises come their ways.

Not surprising, concerns by the governors have been exacerbated by the strengths of the OBIdient Movement, an idea patterned after the now failed presidential bid of a former Anambra State governor, Peter Obi, but which has undone many political structures and potential dynasties in the country.

It is against the backdrop of the recent political Tsunami, which eventually produced the All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential candidate, Bola Tinubu, as the president-elect, that the governors are now being accused of taking extra-judicial steps to either retain power or ensure their choice candidates coast home to victory this Saturday.

INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, had Tuesday, advised the candidates, their political parties and supporters not to see the polls as a war, but as a contest.

“It is important for parties and candidates to speak to their agents and supporters to see the elections as a contest and not war.  They should refrain from acts of violence that may mar the elections or compromise the security of our personnel, observers, the media and service providers,” the INEC chairman had said.

Yakubu had also said the Commission was expecting a coordinated deployment of security, intelligence, law enforcement and safety agencies to quell violence that may arise.

At the same time, the National Security Adviser, Maj-Gen. Babagana Monguno (rtd), had said Saturday’s elections were going to be much more complicated.

According to him, “First of all, we are going to have 1,021 constituencies. Meaning, we are going to have more people interested, more people voting, more collation centres and obviously the dynamics will be much more different than the elections that we have just concluded.”

He, therefore, urged political gladiators and individuals to demonstrate maturity and discipline by calling their supporters to conduct themselves in manners that are in sync with the expectation of a larger Nigerian society.

“We must comply with the rules; we must also allow everyone to exercise their fundamental rights as citizens of this country. What we do not want happening is for anybody to take the law into his or her own hands.

“I want to be very clear in this, we are going to give maximum support to all entities involved in this process and we are also calling on the political bigwigs to call their lieutenants to order. Anybody who is itching to undermine this process should please think again. It is not in his own interest; it is not in the interest of the nation as well,” he added.

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