In democratic states all over the world, elections represent a watershed. This is on the premise that such exercises are generally accepted as the legitimate instrument for recruiting leaders who will direct the affairs of its people. In some countries, for another four years and in some other cases, between 5 and 7 years.
Elections in any of Nigeria’s 36 states reputed to be one of the world’s largest democracies [yet evolving] is a flash point at any time of the year and it does come with a lot of anxiety.
Nigeria’s election management body, the Independent National Electoral Commission [INEC] had on 19th January 2021 announced Saturday, November 6, 2021 as the date for the gubernatorial election. Political actors has since then been involved in a flurry of activities to occupy the top position in the state created on 27th August 1991.
Below are some facts about the election:
Number of Local Government Areas – 21
Number of Registration Areas (i.e. Wards) – 326
Number of Polling Units – 5,720
Note: 86 [1.5%] of the total number of polling units in the State, do not have voters.
894 [15.6%] of the polling Units have between 1 and 49 voters.
Number of Political Parties Contesting – 18
Number of Election Duty Staff – 26,000
Number of Domestic Observer Groups – 72
Number of Foreign Observer Groups – 5
Number of Political Party Agents [Expected per party] – 6,068
Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) would be used for electronic fingerprint and facial accreditation of voters.
1,112 Polling Units (PUs) were recently established and added to the existing 4,608 Polling Units (PUs).
81,778 Permanent Voter Card (PVCs) were printed ahead of the election comprising:
77,475 newly registered voters and
5,674 voters made requests for transfers, update of voter information and replacement of lost or damaged cards.
FACTS ON SECURITY
Nigeria Police Force: 34,587 operatives
2 Deputy Inspectors General of Police
5 Assistant Inspectors General of Police
14 Commissioners of Police
31 Deputy Commissioners of Police
48 Assistant Commissioners of Police.
Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps [NSCDC]: 20,000 personnel
Number of Military Personnel: Unknown
Anambra is one among the five states in Nigeria’s South East region where there has been a wave of insecurity following the activities of unidentified non-state actors. These actors are commonly referred to as ‘unknown gunmen,’ while the Eastern Security Network (ESN), an arm of separatist movement – Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) isn’t left out.
The activities of these non-state actors have in no small way contributed to heightened tension in the region for months. Their activities take the form of threats of violence, arson at public institutions, and attack on security agents. Residents of the state have also had to hide from attacks, especially during the enforcement of an IPOB-sanctioned ‘sit-at-home’ protest in solidarity with Nnamdi Kanu; its detained leader.
As with 2017 governorship election season, IPOB had issued a ‘sit-at-home order’ to cover the period of the elections and this is being predicted as a major determinant to voters’ turnout during this 2021 polls.
From available statistics, the highest voter turnout was last recorded in 2007 when 68% of the eligible voters were reported to have trooped out to elect their governor. A figure that is however, a subject of controversy because the entire exercise in the country in that election year were deemed to be largely fraught with irregularities.
In the last 72 hours, a number of developments have taken place that will also impact on the turn out considerably. From the peace accord signed by major candidates in the election, killing of at least 2 police officers by unknown gunmen and IPOB’s suspension of its earlier sanctioned ‘sit-at-home’ protest for residents of the state from November 5 – 10.
In spite of these developments, INEC’s preparation for the polls and its upgrade of various aspects of the electoral process (to improve transparency has been commendable. And if the assurance of the security agencies that voters will be protected by all means is anything to go by, we can all expect a large voter turnout.
The Anambra electorates deserve to elect their next governor and deputy in a free, fair and credible election this Saturday.