Africa’s most-populous nation, Nigeria held elections for 29 of its 36 state governors Saturday, and multiple reports from the country suggest that like many in the past, voting has been marred by violence and apparent corruption. While All Progressives Congress presidential candidate Muhammadu Buhari became the first opposition candidate to be elected president in Nigeria’s history last week when he unseated the Peoples Democratic Party incumbent Goodluck Jonathan, governors have widespread authority over their states, making gubernatorial elections hugely important in Nigeria.
Unconfirmed reports claim police in Orodo Mbaitolo, Imo state shot dead two men attempting to steal ballot boxes at an election center. Ballot theft was reported “in hundreds” of polling stations. Police utilized tear gas and shot warning shots to break up angry mobs across the country, many of which were angry that voting material was delayed or did not arrive at their polling stations.
One police officer was killed in Port Harcourt, Rivers state. Additional unconfirmed reports suggested three others were killed in Rivers, including an individual who was beheaded. An opposition party official was killed and three others wounded in Kebbi state. The electoral commission office in Abonnema and state-owned vehicles used to distribute voting materials were also burned on Friday.
A former governor of Lagos state and the current national leader of the All Progressives Congress, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, told reporters on Saturday there were almost no police present in areas of Lagos where the establishment PDP is considered popular. That was because of an illegal Friday order from the PDP government that replaced the police commissioner, who supervises the elections, with a controversial assistant inspector-general, Tinubu said. The motivation behind that decision is unclear, but a lax police presence could allow for ballot fraud, voter intimidation and violence. “From that, you smell rats,” said Tinubu.
PDP Publicity Secretary, Olisah Metuh accused APCand its leaders of premeditated electoral frauds. He said in Ogun State, Governor Ibikunle Amosun colluded with the former president, Olusegun Obasanjo to rewrite election results in favour of APC. He said ”as I speak with you, Amosu is on his way to Ota to meet with the a former president to rewrite the results of the election”
He also condemned the governor of Anambra State, for obructing the process of a free and fair election in the APG controlled state. He said the governor was doing that because of his political inexperience and fear of the unknown.
According to Metuh, some people had told the Anambra state governor that his political could come to an abrupt end if PDP was allowed to have an upper hand in the composition of the House of Assembly members.
Governor Amosun of Ogun State however, condemned the PDP stalwart for peddling unfounded rumours and insinuations.
He lamented that with people like Metuh feeding Nigerians with falsehood Nigeria was in trouble. Amosu said he was in the government house in Abeokuta and did not have to go to Ota as insinuated by Metuh. According to him, h did not have to start running all over the place since his party was already coasting home with victory.
He however, urged Nigerians to wait for the results to see who should be jittery between PDP and APC in Ogun State.
Former Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Obong Victor Attah alleged that there was no election in the state. He said he got to his polling unit around eight only to be told by NYSC INEC ad hock staff that election materials had been hijacked by political thugs loyal to a political party at the INEC collection centre. He said he asked if he and other registered voters could still vote only to be told that there was no material to conduct the election.
The governor of the state, Godwill Akpabio however, refuted the claim by Attah, insisting that election actually took place in the state.
Akpabio noted that although there were pockets of violence in some units, that was not enough to conclude that election did not take place in the state.
He commended INEC for a good job, stressing that it was most unfortunate that a man of Attah’s caliber could be misleading the people of the state with falsehood.
He however, noted that APC had no place in Akwa Ibom state, adding that if elections were to hold ten times in the state with the popularity of PDP and his uncommon transformation of the state, PDP would continue to defeat APC.
However, the election was largely described as peaceful across the country but was characterized by low voters turnout when compared with the presidential and NASS elections two weeks ago.