The present Anambra state was created from the old Anambra State (which comprised Enugu and Anambra States) on the 27th of August 1991. The state is bounded by Delta, Abia, Kogi, Enugu, and Imo States. According to the 2006 Census, Anambra has a population of 4, 055, 048 people. The people are largely traders and business people with Onitsha, Nnewi, Ekwulobia etc as its major commercial centres. Igbo is the major and predominant language spoken across the state although there are a few places in Anambra West who are Igala speaking. The state is nick-named the ‘Light of the Nation’
The Anambra state gubernatorial election held as scheduled by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on the 18th of November 2017. 37 Political parties fielded candidates for the process and this include the 5 top contenders for the number one office in Anambra State: Chief Willie Obiano of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (AGPA) and incumbent occupier of the coveted seat, Dr. Tony Nwoye of the All Peoples Congress (APC), Chief Osita Chidoka, Former Aviation Minister and Chief Executive of the FRSC and Candidate of the United Progressive Party (UPP), Mr. Oseloka Henry Obazee, Candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and Chief Godwin Ezeemo of the Progressive Peoples Alliance (PPA). Also conducted alongside the gubernatorial election is that of the Idemili North State House of Assembly Constituency election to replace the deceased member who was representing the constituency before his death.
According to a press release by INEC, 2,158,171 million voters are registered in Anambra state, of which 50.3 percent are females while 49.6 percent are males across the 21 LGAs. The statement further states that 48 percent of the registered voters are students and that elections will hold in 532 polling units across the state.
The African Centre for Leadership, Strategy and Development (Centre LSD) is a non-profit, non-governmental organization established under Nigerian laws to build strategic leadership for sustainable development in Africa. The vision of Centre LSD is an African society with strategic leadership and sustainable development. The Centre’s mission is to work with forces of positive change to empower citizens to transform society.
The Centre having been accredited by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to observe the Anambra Election deployed and trained 50 observers to observe the election in collaboration with Christian Aid and JDPC Awka, with funding from United Kingdom Agency for International Development, under her Voice to the People (V2P) project. These observes were then deployed across several PUs across the state to observe and provide live election-day reports from their respective locations through sms and a WhatsApp group that was created for the purpose.
INEC logistics arrangement:
Despite assurances from the electoral body, the Gubernatorial elections witnessed several logistics challenges. Materials did not get to many of the Polling Units by the approved time for beginning polls, this made the kick-starting of the elections in several PUs to happen way behind time. Reports from across the state show that the average time of opening the polls was about 10:30am. This was due partly due to the transportation arrangement by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) which was not good enough as some of the election staff were left alone to find their way to their polling stations to set-up. Expectedly, elections did not start in majority of the polling stations on time because of late arrival of election officials. At PU 028 Anogu Village Umuoji Town Idemili LGA, electoral officials were seen still setting up at 8:45am while at PU003 (Awka-South), voting stated at 09:15 hours. 75mins beyond the scheduled time.
Another major logistic issue was the unavailability of tables for the electoral officials to properly set up for the process. In PUs visited across Idemili South and North LGAs, even when materials arrived on time, there were not enough tables to set up thereby leading to late commencement of the process. At PUs 036, 037 and 038 Uruowulu, Obosi voting was yet to commence at about 10am even though election officials and Security men are ground since past 8am. The reason is inadequate tables to set up election material.
Accreditation and voting process:
After surmounting the logistics hitches, accreditation and voting commenced and ran smoothly. The Polling Officers before commencement informed the voters that accreditation and voting will take place simultaneously. The exercise was designed to end by 02.00PM once the last person on the queue was accredited. The turnout was not that impressive, the adoption of a simultaneous approach for both accreditation and voting was useful for crowed control at the polling units.
The deployment and conduct of Security personnel for the Anambra elections is very commendable. Men of the Nigeria Police, Federal Road Safety Corps, Nigeria Security and Civil Defense Corps (NSCDC) were on hand to ensure law and order. There was adequate deployment of personnel at each of the units, and this helped to ensure orderliness at the PUs except for PU 008 Nkpor 1 where voting was yet to commence at 10:12am due to lack of security men on ground even voters and Election officials are waiting to begin the process. Party agents behaved orderly too, perhaps due to the commendable presence of security officials and the sporadic patrols by the Mobile Unit of the Nigeria Police and Nigeria Security and Civil Defense Corps (NSCDC). It is worthy to note that as the election was on at the different locations, Police helicopters were roving in the air checking all parts of the State, obviously to spot and respond to any security issue that may arise. There was observed inter-security co-ordination amongst the different security agencies. The security deployment largely accounted for the peaceful nature of the election, such that the premonition of uprising by some persons did not materialize at the end. The anticipation of crises was premised on some alleged killings that happened prior to the election day of some politicians in the State. Overall, the conduct of the security men was good and commendable. It was obvious that they had been groomed on how to perform Election Day duty.
However, the issue of remuneration of security personnel on election duty still needs to be addressed as some of them complained of not having received their allowances days after arriving Anambra thereby making it difficult for them to fend for themselves.
The turnout though low, the election was generally peaceful. The system adopted for accreditation and voting was quite useful for time management. Counting of ballot was done in a participatory manner and by 2.30 and 3pm the exercise has been concluded in majority of the polling units. As a matter of fact, the election stakeholders including security, media, Civil Society Organizations, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), political parties and the electorates did well. Thuggery was at its minimum. Party agents conducts were salutary. The voting environment was altogether peaceful.
INEC and other relevant stakeholders including security agencies, media, Civil Society Organizations, political parties and the electorates proved their mettle. Late arrival of INEC personnel with materials which used to be the order in the past was still an issue here but did not hamper the process tremendously. Security deployment and the inter-security co-operation should be upheld as we look forward to other elections in the country. Above all, the presence and support of members of the Civil Society Organizations in the observation of the exercise, brought credibility and value-addition to the election.
One major sour point of the elections was the high incidence and brazen occurrence of voter inducement and vote buying by members of political parties. Party agents could be seen openly canvassing for votes in return for cash benefits to voters. At Central School Nkwelle, Umunnachi, Dunukofia LGA PU 010 and 011, this was very noticeable and as well at other PUs across the state and with many of the political parties involved.
The challenge noticed during the exercise was;
- Vote buying and voter inducement
- Apathy amongst voters and the resultant low voter turnout.
- Welfare of Security Personnel deployed for the process.
- Logistics and transportation challenges
We recommend the following;
- a) Consistent voter education and sanitation by both the INEC and Political Parties on the need for citizens to come during elections to exercise their franchise.
- b) Effective sanctions on Political parties who engage in voter inducement and vote buying as a way of curbing the ugly menace.
- c) The allowances of Security personnel should be paid promptly to enable them to fend for themselves and as well deter them from being susceptible to being influenced.
- d) INEC should have a robust transportation arrangement with credible transporters to ease the movement of personnel and materials to the PUs on election days.
The election was generally peaceful. The level of stakeholders’ support to INEC and the process should be sustained because if it continues, in no time all the challenges that often characterize our elections will fizzle out and we would begin to have a rancor free election. INEC should find a way of dealing with vote buying on Election Day and determine reasonable distance for voting cubicle to achieve complete voting secrecy