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MATTERS ARISING: Insecurity, voter apathy — issues that will shape Anambra guber election

MATTERS ARISING: Insecurity, voter apathy — issues that will shape Anambra guber election
November 05
09:31 2021

On Saturday, registered voters in Anambra are expected to head to the poll to elect the next governor of the state.

Eighteen candidates are vying for the governorship position, according to the final list of candidates released by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

The permutation to win the contest is favouring three candidates — Valentine Ozigbo of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Andy Uba of the All Progressives Congress (APC), and Chukwuma Soludo of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA).

The Anambra governorship election has generated several talking points and elicited national and international interest, following a series of events threatening the democratic process.

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TheCable has highlighted some of the issues that will influence the conduct of the election.

VOTER APATHY AND THE NORM IN ANAMBRA ELECTIONS

In four governorship elections in Anambra state, an analysis of total votes cast against registered votes indicates that there is a high level of voter apathy in the state.

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Data shows that 16.3 percent of registered voters voted during the 2010 governorship election in the state.

In the 2013 governorship election, 23.84 percent of registered voters voted and 21.74 percent of registered voters voted in 2017.

With 2.52 million registered voters in the state, many stakeholders are worried that the November 6 election may witness a low level of voter turnout following recent developments in the state.

Only time will tell if the people of the state will vote en masse or follow the trend of voter apathy in the view of current circumstances.

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FEAR OF ATTACKS

Arguably, the biggest threat to November 6 is the activities of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB). The proscribed group had issued a one-week sit-at-home order, to begin, on November 5, 2021, till November 10 — a move to frustrate the election.

IPOB said the federal government must release Kanu unconditionally, on or before November 4 in order for the group to rescind its south-east lockdown.

Worried about how IPOB’s threat could mar the election, nine governorship candidates appealed to the federal government to release Kanu, saying his release will help forestall “impending violence” in the south-east.

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But on Thursday, IPOB, in a statement, said it has cancelled its sit-at-home order in the south-east to allow people in Anambra to participate in the governorship election on Saturday.

In spite of the past cancellation of the previous sit-at-home orders, people were still apprehensive to go about their normal activities because in most cases, some elements violently enforced the sit-at-home protest.

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The development may affect voter turnout as some residents fear that they could be attacked by those who will hid under the IPOB tag.

INSECURITY AND ATTENDANT MILITARISATION

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Prior to recent events, the south-east was regarded as the safest region in the country, but in recent times, the security situation of the region has deteriorated.

In the past 10 months, the region has witnessed a series of violent attacks on public and private properties, including on police stations and INEC offices.

Amid the attacks, people were murdered, including police officers and prominent Nigerians.

The authorities — the police and the army — have repeatedly blamed IPOB and its security outfit, Eastern Security Network (ESN), for the violent attacks in the region.

But the proscribed group denied the allegation of being behind the violent attacks.

Anambra has had a share of the violent attacks in the region in the past three months leading to the election.

Chike Akunyili, husband of the late Dora Akunyili, ex-minister of information and communication, was shot dead by gunmen in the state.

In what appears to be a move to address the challenges during the election, a large number of security operatives have been deployed in the state.

Usman Baba, inspector-general of police, said 34,587 police officers have been deployed in the state.

The Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) said it will also deploy 20,000 personnel.

Troops of the Nigerian Army have also been deployed in the state.

The heavy deployment of security operatives has been described as “militarisation of the election process” by stakeholders who are concerned that the move may discourage voters from voting.

Reacting to the development, Baba said the deployment is for the peace and security of the state during the election.

DEPLOYMENT OF BVAS BY INEC

The deployment of the Biometric Voter Accreditation System (BVAS), a new technology in the country’s electoral process, by INEC is another element that will influence the Anambra election.

The electoral commission said smart card readers and incident forms will not be used during the election as the BVAS will be used for voter identification and accreditation.

According to INEC, the BVAS has the capacity to snap polling unit results and upload the same to INEC result-viewing platform
so that citizens can view results as elections are concluded in each polling unit.

US THREAT OF VISA BAN

If there is something that sends shivers down the spine of Nigerian politicians, it is the threat of visa ban by developed nations of the world, especially the US and the UK.

On Wednesday, the United States said it will not hesitate to take action against anyone found guilty of undermining the Anambra governorship election.

The threat to place a visa ban on instigators of electoral violence and malpractices could discourage those who are planning to undermine the election.

FIGHT FOR SURVIVAL BY APGA

Another dynamics to the Anambra election is the fight for survival by APGA in the state. Anambra is the only state being controlled by APGA.

Political analysts have argued that losing this election may signal the end of APGA in Anambra and the country.

Soludo had openly told party members the implication of losing the November 6 in the state — which is the demise of the party.

Since the state is under APGA and Wille Obiano, governor of Anambra, is in support of Soludo’s candidature, the governor may want to use the power of incumbency to mobilise efforts for the victory of Soludo in the state.

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