Guber poll: CDD lists six states at high risk of violence

...says vote trading, decreased trust in INEC could undermine polls

The Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) has listed Kaduna, Kano, Lagos, Rivers, Sokoto and Zamfara as states at most risk of electoral violence following the intensification of political competition across the states.

The think tank gave this warning on Wednesday in its pre-election brief which analyses key issues likely to shape the electoral process and outcomes when voters head to the polls to elect governors in 28 States and House of Assembly members in 36 states of the federation. It notes that voters in 17 states will elect new governors, while incumbents will be on the ballot in the remaining 11 states where the governorship polls will be held.

The analysis stressed that the credibility of the process will be critical, but will be challenged by the threat of violence. According to CDD, if the challenges posed by insecurity are not mitigated, there could be a likelihood of inconclusive results and the need for supplementary elections.

“Rivers, Lagos, Kano, Kaduna and Sokoto are key states to watch but there will also be closely contested races in Cross River, Delta, Enugu and Zamfara, whilst Adamawa could see the election of Nigeria’s first female governor. The southeast geo-political zone represents the best chance for the Labour Party to build on the gains made during the 25 February polls,” the brief signed by the CDD director, idayat Hassan, read.

“Our analysis enables us to make some predictions on how the elections will unfold. Closely contested races will likely increase election-related violence; INEC staff will be targets of intimidation and co-option from politically aligned actors; with efforts to manipulate voting processes most likely to target voter suppression in strongholds of political opponents through ballot box snatching and the destruction of election materials. We expect to see destruction of ballot papers, the hijacking of BVAS machines and violence to push voter suppression,” the group said.

The CDD also warned that vote trading is likely to be more pronounced than in the 25 February election, given the localised nature of the races, the prevailing economic hardship and the compliance of the Central Bank to the Supreme Court judgment, which held that old naira notes remain legal tender until the end of 2023.

CDD also warned that logistical obstacles linked to violence, cash and fuel scarcity would be issues to contend with in the course of the governorship elections.

In terms of the perception of the electoral umpire, it warned that decreased trust in the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) following the delays and technical issues that undermined the polls on 25 February would present challenges.
Subsequently, the analysis pointed out that the frustration expressed by Nigerians at the conduct of INEC during the 25 February elections could impact on the polls.

Read also: Kwara INEC assures credible election, distributes sensitive materials

“The timely arrival of materials, improved functionality of technology and quick action against electoral officials caught engaged in malpractice will be critical in countering suggestions that INEC is subject to the whims and caprices of some state governments,” it further said.

The think tank further warned that misinformation and disinformation that amplifies divisive identity rhetoric at the state level will continue to be a feature of the electoral environment, with the expected challenge of governing after the contentious polls. CDD, however, projected that based on the most recent off-cycle governorship elections in Ekiti and Osun, turnout for the March 18 governorship polls could be higher than the 27 percent recorded for the general election.

“Based on the most recent off-cycle governorship elections in Ekiti and Osun, turnout could be higher than in the general election but there will be significant variation between states and geopolitical zones with the competitiveness of the race and insecurity risks being defining factors,” it further said.

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