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Election Amidst Security Threats - Yiaga Africa Anambra Pre-Election Observation Report I
In June 2021, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) released the timetable for the conduct of the Anambra 2021 governorship election, slating November 6, 2021, as the date for the election. The term of the current governor is expected to come to an end on March 17, 2022, for the commencement of the term of the next Governor of the State. Election activities commenced in the state with the continuous voter’s registration (CVR) process enabling INEC to update the voter’s register for Anambra alongside the National CVR exercise. Political parties concluded their Party primaries in the month of July 2021. The party primaries were controversial in some of the parties leading to pre-election litigation and a worrying trend of conflicting court decisions. As campaigns commence and INEC proceeds with its activities, a likely threat to the election in the State is the activities of the secessionist group, the Independent People of Biafra (IPOB) within the South Eastern geopolitical zone. The Anambra governorship election will possibly be conducted amidst apparent security threats resulting from the agitations in the southeast.
Anambra state remains an interesting state in Nigeria’s election. Until the 2019 general elections, Anambra was the only state in the South-East to conduct an off-cycle governorship election and is still the only state in the country that is neither governed by the All Progress Congress (APC) nor the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). The All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) has successfully retained its position as the ruling party in the state by producing the Governor and majority of the State Assembly legislators. The PDP however, also positions itself as a prominent party in the state, with 6 members of the 11 House of Representatives members and 2 of the 3 Senators. While the 2017 governorship election was a major contest between the PDP and APGA, the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) still retained the seat of government. The 2021 contest will, however, extend beyond the PDP and APGA, with APGA currently retaining 5 House of Representatives seats and 11 State House of Assembly seats after losing 5 members to the APC. Beyond the APC, APGA and PDP, the Young Professional Party (YPP) made its debut in the politics of the state by producing one of the 3 Senators in the 2019 general elections changing the political dynamics in the state. The Anambra election is postulated to be competitive and defined by money and political godfathers. Amidst this apparent competitiveness of elections in the state, Anambra remains one of the states with very poor voter turnout. The state has consistently recorded a low voter turnout. The voter turnout in the 2013 governorship election was 26% and for 2017 was 21%, representing the worst in the history of governorship elections in Nigeria. Similarly, the recent (2019) Presidential election in Anambra state recorded a 26% voter turnout.
Without debate, these contexts have influenced the political engagements in the state as revealed by Yiaga Africa’s Watching the Vote (WTV) findings from the first observation period. Apart from APC, APGA, PDP and Young Professionals Party (YPP), there is little or no campaign activities by the other political parties. Political party campaigns are dominated by elements of voter inducements and observed by the WTV Long Term Observers (LTOs). Additionally, the activities of the secessionist group (IPOB) pose a major threat to the conduct of election activities in the state with the weekly sit-at-home orders every Monday which is increasingly becoming more unpredictable. This has a potential effect on the conduct of successful elections in the state and is a major threat to voter turnout in a state with a history of low voter turnout.
Yiaga Africa's Pre-Election Observation (PREO) report captures activities of the key election stakeholders: INEC, Political parties, Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), and the National Orientation Agency (NOA), government response to COVID-19 as well indicators of electoral violence. The next section contains the key findings of the first observation period (between August 26 and September 9, 2021). Yiaga Africa’s WTV LTOs will remain deployed in the 21 LGAs till November 5, 2021. Reports of the observation findings will be shared on a bi-weekly basis and a weekly basis in some cases.
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