YIAGA Identifies Risk Factors in Off-Cycle Elections in Imo, Kogi and Bayelsa States

YIAGA Identifies Risk Factors in Off-Cycle Elections in Imo, Kogi and Bayelsa States

Ahead of the November 11th off-cycle governorship elections, which will hold in three states of Kogi, Imo and Bayelsa states, YIAGA Africa, a non profit making civil society organization has identified some key issues risk factor in the gubernatorial polls. The Civil Society Organisation highlighted the trend of these key issues surrounding the polls next

Ahead of the November 11th off-cycle governorship elections, which will hold in three states of Kogi, Imo and Bayelsa states, YIAGA Africa, a non profit making civil society organization has identified some key issues risk factor in the gubernatorial polls.

The Civil Society Organisation highlighted the trend of these key issues surrounding the polls next month in its recent report, in which it also recommended how the Independent National Electoral Commission and the concerned stakeholders can contribute largely to the success of the elections in the states.

The concept of Off Cycle election is novel to Imo State, which will be witnessing such an occurrence for the first time, but Kogi and Bayelsa State have witnessed the process more than two times before the upcoming one in November.

While the polls are expected to be fiercely contested by the major frontrunners in the respective states, YIAGA has identified major impediments that could stymie the polls, which will be the immediate electoral activities in Nigeria following the 2023 general elections. The CSO noted them in its report titled Emerging Political and Security Trends in Bayelsa, Kogi and Imo states as follows


The report identified the challenges of insecurity as a main concern before, during and after the elections, pointing at the secessionist group known as the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) as a significant threat to the election in Imo State. YIAGA alluded to the infamous sit-at-home as another hurdle to cross by the stakeholders ahead of the poll, adding that the forceful curfew in the state and another state in the southeast has truncated the economic viability of the state economy.

Stating the hot spot of the security threat across the state, the group acknowledged the effort of the security agencies over time; however, the group noted that existing security threats could hamper the participation of the poll.

The report also referred to the recent electoral related violence in Kogi state as a security challenge to the Kogi state gubernatorial election. The report made reference to the political tension between the supporters of the ruling party, All Progressives Congress (APC) and Social Democratic Party in which the convoy of the governorship candidate of SDP Mr Muri Ajaka was attacked, making the two parties exchanged war of allegations. Also, it was noted that the office of the SDP in the state has been vandalised on two occasions.

Similarly, according to YIAGA, there have been reports of kidnappings in Kogi state, in which political candidates have been accusing one another of culpability of the incidents, indicating that these reported cases of violence and unrest in the state have heightened the insecurity in the state.

However, the report noted that there is relative calmness in Bayelsa, but still maintained that there are still concerns that it may be premature to predict what will happen during the election.

Distrust in Government Institutions

In addition, YIAGA Africa noted that the widespread mistrust of government institutions may have an impact on the results of the off-cycle elections in the three states, alluding to Nigerians’ unfulfilled expectations in the general elections as a potential factor that may lead to a decline in political participation during the elections.

The report added that the electoral commission’s history of technological and logistical failures could contribute to the lack of transparency in the general elections and that the INEC would need to step up its efforts to win back the public’s trust.

“The appetite and enthusiasm for political participation were impacted by amongst other things, a plethora of logistics challenges, issues with the quality of the administration of the election and violence-related incidents in the 2023 general elections

“ The off-cycle elections therefore provide an opportunity to restore hope in our electoral process and demand redoubled efforts from public institutions to regain citizens’ confidence in the forthcoming off-cycle elections”.

Executive Impunity

The CSO also expressed its concern over the impunity of the incumbent governors of the states against their oppositions, in which they are not giving the opposition a level playing field for them to compete in the coming polls.

YIAGA accused the current administrations of the states of attempting to reduce the visibility of their opposition, which may reduce their chances of fair competition in campaigns and awareness ahead of the poll.

“It is reported that in Kogi, the government has imposed the payment of N5,000,000 (five million naira) for outdoor campaign materials, N2,000,000 (two million naira) for every billboard, N1,000,000 (one million) for every banner to be displayed and another N50,000,000 (fifty million naira) to be deposited as caution fee.

“In Imo, the state government requires parties to pay over N54 million to the state government before they will be permitted to campaign for the upcoming November 11 governorship election in the state. Political parties must obtain a permit from the Imo Signage and Advertisement Agency, IMSAA, and have it signed by the GeneralManager before erecting any campaign structures, including billboards, posters, and other forms of advertising”.

Political Intimidation

In the same vein, the report expressed concerns over the recurring issue of intimidation among politicians during the elections as another factor that can inhibit the success of the of the polls. YIAGA elucidated that politicians have adopted different tactics to discredit their opponents

The organisation further stated that such activities can lead to political apathy from members of the public. They added that the similar strategist was adopted during the 2023 general elections to suppress voters across the country.

“Politicians resort to various tactics to intimidate or discredit their opponents and hinder their participation in the electoral process. During the 2023 election season, violence and threats of violence were used to intimidate opposition parties and suppress voters, particularly in Kogi and Imo state”

Poverty/Economic Crisis:

Another issue highlighted by YIAGA as factor that will play a large role in the off cycle elections in the three states is the current economic situation of the country. The report opined that the hardship in the country which was increased by the recent removal of fuel subsidy can encourage vote buying during the elections.

“The increasing economic hardship has created a more vulnerable system susceptible to vote buying and inducements by politicians during the upcoming off-cycle elections. The government must prioritize economic policies and the provision of opportunities that will help to ameliorate the sufferings of the citizens. Otherwise, as poverty and financial hardships worsen, those affected will be increasingly willing to sell their votes to politicians who have the resources to purchase them”, the report said.

The CSO, however, commended the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for its consistency with its timetable for the elections, adding that the electoral umpire has followed its due process to cover the plans for the pre-elections activities ahead of the off-cycle elections.

The report further recommended that the electoral commission “should sustain its meetings with stakeholders and prioritize providing information on every aspect of its preparation towards the election to rebuild public confidence.

“INEC should take all necessary measures to ensure unhindered access to every aspect of the electoral process to increase citizen participation.

Given the emerging security concerns in the three states, the security 3 agencies should prioritize intelligence gathering and enforcement of sanctions for security breaches and violence-related activities in the states”, it said.

Additionally, YIAGA urged the security agencies to review and strengthen their procedures to ensure complete impartiality in the performance of their official duties throughout the entire electoral process. “We urge political parties and candidates to conduct their political activities with civility and decorum as peaceful electioneering heralds a peaceful election. Political parties and Candidates have a responsibility to de-escalate tension ahead of the elections, even on the playing field, that enables an equal opportunity for all candidates in the ruling party and incumbents in these three states should ensure an election and promote confidence in the outcome of the election”

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