The 2023 election will no doubt be conducted amidst varying levels of insecurity with a likelihood of an increase in politically motivated violence. The growing threat of violence and attacks on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) facilities is also becoming a recurring incident in the pre-election phase compounding the security challenges requiring immediate action from the security agencies. The second reporting period for the Yiaga Africa Watching the Vote pre-elections observation recorded reports of election-related violence, violence against women, unchecked abuse of power by state government’s imposing undue restrictions on campaigns, the purchase of permanent voters card (PVC) and voter inducement. While INEC continues with its preparatory activities across the local government areas there is a lot more to be desired to ensure a transparent, free and fair process that enables equal participation of candidates/political parties and voters in the electoral process.
The recent ‘coordinated and premeditated’ attacks on the facilities of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) are indeed a dangerous sign for the country’s fragile democracy which has the likelihood to impact both the commission’s preparation for upcoming elections but also diminish citizens’ confidence in the electoral process. The report also revealed the continuous marginalization of women in the electoral process and the threat to women’s safety in the Nigerian political space. As critical stakeholders in strengthening and preserving the integrity of the electoral process, the role of women in the upcoming 2023 general elections cannot be overemphasized. However, the preelection period is revealing the reality of the intimidation, backlash, and harassment both online and offline that women experience in the political process in many parts of the country.
With barely two months until the general elections, emerging issues that require urgent attention include the threat to the independence and safety of the Electoral Commission, the challenges in the ongoing PVC collection process, failure to enforce the law on election-related offenses, vote buying/selling, etc. As the election draws closer, Yiaga Africa’s Watching the Vote Long-term Observers will continue observing and sending in reports from the local government areas (LGAs). The Pre-Election Observation (PREO) report captures the activities of the key election stakeholders: INEC, Political parties, Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), and the National Orientation Agency (NOA), as well as indicators of electoral violence. This report contains key findings of the second observation period (between November 25 and December 9, 2022). Yiaga Africa’s Watching the Vote will have its trained Long term observers (LTO) deployed in the 774 LGAs until February 24, 2023.