On Saturday, 24 July 2021, Yiaga Africa’s Watching the Vote (WTV) deployed trained and accredited roving observers to observe the process across the 20 LGAs and 37 LCDA in the State. Though Yiaga Africa did not deploy the Parallel Votes Tabulation (PVT) Methodology for the Lagos LGA elections, it deployed a robust election observation methodology that includes observation of the election day process (from opening and setup of the polling units, accreditation, voting, announcement and posting of the official results) at the polling units and the result collation process at the 20 LGAs Results Collation Centres. This is the Yiaga Africa Watching the Vote preliminary assessment of the Lagos state local elections. Yiaga Africa will issue a comprehensive assessment of the elections with recommendations will be shared at a later date.
Lagos State LGAs elections were characterized by similar shortcomings observed in other elections in Nigeria. These include; late opening of polls and deployment of election materials, disregard for the electoral guidelines, confusion over the non-inclusion of a contesting party on the ballot, non-deployment of political party agents and voter apathy.
Voter participation in these elections is abysmally low as citizens showed lack of interest in the process. This presents a disturbing trend in a state like Lagos with 6, 570, 291 registered voters and poses a major challenge to the practice of democracy in the state and Nigeria. With the level of turnout in the LGA elections, governance at the local levels in the state for the next four years will be by individuals who are elected by a very small fraction of the voting population. Local government elections are closest to the people and remain important in establishing a political culture of democratic governance and active citizens participation at the local government level.
Beyond the abysmally low turnout of voters, the elections revealed a persisting capacity deficit with respect to human and financial resources and technical expertise required for successful election administration at the local level. It also revealed the absence of a robust legal framework for LGA elections that can sufficiently guarantee electoral integrity, enable political inclusion and regulate political party conduct in the elections. The election also raises major concerns on; the quality of leadership at the local level, the independence and autonomy of local government structure and key institutions like the State Independent Electoral Commission.
However, July 24, 2021 elections in Lagos state showcased the important role of election management commissions in entrenching women’s participation in the process. Yiaga Africa commends the Lagos State Independent Electoral Commission’s (LASIEC) deliberate deployment of women as polling officials across the LGAs and LCDAs. As reported by Yiaga Africa’s Watching the Vote, on average, 1 of 2 polling officials at the polling units observed was a woman. While the LASIEC may have achieved the successful deployment of female officials, there are still opportunities to deepen women’s participation in the electoral process, especially by the political parties.