Analysis: Silenced Voices and Stolen Votes; “How Irregularities in Nigeria’s Governorship Elections Threatened the Voice of the People”


Afeez Rabiu

Nigerians went to the polls in the hope of electing leaders who would represent their interests, uphold democratic values, and deliver on campaign promises. However, the governorship elections were marred by irregularities, violence, and voter suppression. 

The events that unfolded during the election cycle left some citizens disenfranchised and disillusioned with the electoral process. The tales of harassment, intimidation, and manipulation at the polling stations paint a vivid picture of a system that is broken and in dire need of reform. This article will delve deeper into the irregularities that occurred during Nigeria’s recent governorship elections, highlighting the impact on the people and the nation as a whole.

The March 18th 2023  gubernatorial polls across Nigeria was not without its own flaws and these flaws are the basis of the analysis in this article.  

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The governorship elections in Nigeria are crucial for democracy, as they determine the leaders of the states and the direction they will take. However, in recent years, these elections have been marred by irregularities, which undermine the credibility and fairness of the process. The importance of free and fair elections cannot be overstated, as they are essential for good governance, political stability, and development.

Pre-Election Irregularities

In the run-up to the governorship elections in Nigeria, there were several irregularities that impacted the integrity of the process. Voter suppression and intimidation tactics were employed by political parties to influence the outcome of the election as reported by several conventional media organisations. This included threats and violence against opposition supporters, the harassment of journalists and election observers, and the deployment of security forces to intimidate voters. These incidents undermined the safety and security of the electoral process, and created an atmosphere of fear and uncertainty. Additionally, there were allegations of bias by electoral officials, who were accused of colluding with one of the political parties to rig the election.

Election Day Irregularities

On election day, there were reports of numerous irregularities that compromised the integrity of the process. Although vote buying was not prevalent as in past elections, the deployment of violence, with political parties offering other forms of gratification due to the scarcity of cash and other incentives to voters in exchange for their support. This practice undermines the principle of free and fair elections, as it distorts the will of the people.

There were also logistical problems that led to the disenfranchisement of voters, with some polling stations opening late, and others having reports of malfunction of electoral materials such as the BVAS machine. This prevented some citizens from exercising their right to vote and contributed to the low turnout in some areas.

Furthermore, there were reports of violence and intimidation at polling stations, with rival political supporters clashing and disrupting the voting process. Lagos State was a flashpoint for these reports of violence as several claims made the rounds with many of those claims verified to be true.

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Post-Election Irregularities

After the election, there were several irregularities that impacted the credibility of the results. There were allegations of rigging and manipulation of election results, with some political parties claiming that the electoral commission colluded with their opponents to falsify the outcome. This led to widespread protests and demonstrations, with calls for the election to be cancelled or rerun.

Furthermore, some political parties refused to accept the election results, which has led to legal challenges in court. The judiciary is becoming embroiled in the political dispute, with accusations of bias and corruption leveled against the electoral commission. This further undermined the public’s confidence in the electoral process and the rule of law.

Analysis of Irregularities

The irregularities that marred the March 18th 2023 governorship elections in Nigeria have significant implications for democracy and governance. They undermine the principle of free and fair elections, and contribute to the erosion of trust in the electoral process. When citizens do not believe that their votes count, they are less likely to participate in future elections, which could lead to apathy and disengagement.

The consequences of flawed elections extend beyond the electoral process, and can impact the country’s economic and social development. They can also lead to political instability and conflict, which can have severe consequences for the country’s future. Moreover, the irregularities observed in the 2023 governorship elections in Nigeria are not new, and have been present in previous elections, indicating the need for electoral reforms.

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In conclusion, the irregularities that marred the just-concluded governorship elections in Nigeria have significant implications for democracy and governance. The electoral process must be free, fair, and transparent, and political leaders must be held accountable for electoral malpractice. To achieve this, electoral reforms must be implemented to ensure that the process is void of irregularities.

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