By Chinedu Asadu, The Related Press
Thousands and thousands of Nigerians voted March 18 to elect state governors however confronted intimidation and violence in some cities amid heightened tensions following a disputed presidential election in Africa’s most populous nation final month.
New governors have been being chosen for 28 of Nigeria’s 36 states because the political opposition continues to reject the victory of President-elect Bola Tinubu, who belongs to the ruling All Progressives Congress get together.
By Saturday night time, the counting of votes had began in many of the polling models throughout the nation, although the winners in many of the states aren’t anticipated to be introduced till March 20. Voting was postponed in a number of places, together with in a Lagos city, over worry of assaults on electoral officers.
The efficiency of the Impartial Nationwide Electoral Fee “has improved significantly in comparison with the Feb. 25 elections, however violence has been rather more intense throughout the nation,” stated Idayat Hassan, head of the Heart for Democracy and Improvement, Nigeria’s largest democracy-focused group. The group, which deployed greater than 1,200 observers for the election, stated violence within the election was extra rampant within the southern area.
Native observer group YIAGA Africa stated it discovered a number of cases by which voters have been intimidated and prevented from voting except they agreed to solid their ballots for sure political events.
Among the many locations it listed was Lagos state, the place the president-elect’s get together is searching for to retain the governor’s workplace. The All Progressives Congress misplaced the state in final month’s presidential and legislative elections.
“Safety businesses ought to reply promptly to studies of voter intimidation and assault at polling models to accord residents the chance to train their constitutional rights to vote,” Samson Itodo, government director of YIAGA Africa, stated in an announcement.
Allegations of vote-buying have been additionally rampant. In Enugu, voters have been intimidated and lured with as little as 200 naira ($0.43), in accordance with Chidimma Igwe, who voted within the state.
“They (get together representatives) will observe you proper into the poll field to see who you voted for. For those who vote for PDP (one of many political events), they provides you with 200 naira,” Igwe stated.
Many Nigerians are struggling to outlive within the aftermath of an ongoing foreign money swap program that created a money scarcity.
In Delta state, suspected thugs disrupted the voting in Ughelli and broken election supplies, in accordance with resident Apkozie Emmanuel.
“Even the police have been overwhelmed; they only stood apart,” Emmanuel stated.
A report 87.2 million folks have been registered to vote within the election, however observers reported low turnout Saturday, maybe even decrease than within the February elections. The 26.7% voter participation final month was the bottom in Nigerian historical past.
Though Nigeria is Africa’s largest economic system and one in every of its high oil producers, endemic corruption and poor governance have stifled the nation’s growth. The Nigerian Structure grants monumental powers to state governors, who’re immune from prosecution whereas in workplace.
The prospect of holding the authority accorded governors make many politicians desperate to get elected as one, the Heart for Democracy and Improvement’s Hassan stated.
But polls have proven that many voters don’t have a excessive stage of curiosity within the election or the efficiency of governors, a pattern analysts stated impacts the extent of accountability throughout the states.
“Even when we get the president proper, the whole lot else is towards us — the folks within the nationwide meeting, the governors and the structural issues by way of our structure,” stated Ayisha Osori, a director at Open Society Foundations, a nonprofit group.
Some voters additionally urged incoming governors to take steps to make life higher for a lot of residing in poverty and unemployed.
In Lagos, dealer Monica Obi lamented the excessive worth of meals objects. “If you go to the market, you can’t purchase one cup of rice,” Obi stated. “I’ve 4 youngsters. I can not feed them very effectively as a result of the value is an excessive amount of.”
Related Press journalists Hilary Uguru in Asaba, Nigeria, and Dan Ikpoyi in Lagos, Nigeria, contributed.