Pre-election Press Statement on the 2023 Governorship and State Assemblies Election

Moshood Isah Mar 18th 2023


On March 18th, 2023, Nigerians will once again go to the polls to elect Governors in Twenty-eight (28) States and State Lawmakers into 993 state constituency seats. Undoubtedly, these are high stake elections and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is presented another opportunity to address the logistical, administrative and technological shortcomings during the February 25 Presidential and National Assembly elections. How the electoral commission manages the election will have grave implications for rebuilding public trust and confidence in the electoral process. Additionally, the election will test citizens resilience to participate in the electoral process against the background of the hardship imposed by the naira scarcity, fuel crisis and unmet expectations with elections management.

As observed by Yiaga Africa on the February 25 Presidential and National Assembly Elections, the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) device functioned optimally across majority of polling units. Yiaga Africa also highlighted cases where voters bypassed the accreditation with BVAS and cast their ballot in some polling units. The late commencement of polls, shortfalls in election materials and failure to conduct election in some polling units resulted in voter disenfranchisement. These infractions and non-compliance with electoral guidelines call for behaviour change on the part of electoral officials, voters and political stakeholders including sanctions to deter future occurrences.

Yiaga Africa notes corrective actions taken by INEC to sanction its staff. In the aftermath of the February 25 elections, INEC took action against RECs in Anambra, Sokoto and Abia states for undermining election preparations and failure to implement the commission’s guidelines. The suspension of the Sokoto State Resident Electoral Commissioner and redeployment of Electoral Officers in Rivers state is a confidence building measure, but it is insufficient to serve as a deterrence. INEC should extend punitive measures to other RECs and staff who manipulated election results and allegedly sabotaged the deployment of election materials by either centralizing the deployment of election materials and failing to fulfil contractual obligations to transporters employed by INEC to convey election materials and personnel to the polling units. Yiaga Africa also hopes the glitches with the INEC Results Viewing (IReV) Portal have been resolved to allow for a seamless electronic transmission of results on election day.

For the March 18 Governorship election, Yiaga Africa is deploying a comprehensive and systematic observation of the elections which involves deploying the Parallel Votes Tabulation (PVT) to observe the governorship elections in Benue, Delta and Kano States. Yiaga Africa will also be deploying stationary and roving observers to observe and report the election day process in the other 25 states. Further, at the end of polls, Yiaga Africa will be deploying observers to all the Local Government Areas (LGA) and State Results Collation Centers in all the states where elections will be conducted to observe and report on the Governorship results collation process.

This briefing is the first in a series of three planned press conferences to be hosted by Yiaga Africa for the March 18 election. We equally invite you to join us at the Watching The Vote Data Center, Floor M2, Imo/Rivers Hall, Transcorp Hilton, Abuja on Saturday 18th March 2023 at 1:00 pm when Yiaga Africa will share its Midday Statement on the opening of polls and commencement of the accreditation and voting. We invite you to join us again on Sunday 19 March 2023 at 2:00 pm when Yiaga Africa will share its Post-election Statement on the conduct of the elections.