By Levinus Nwabughiogu-Abuja
OrderPaper, Nigeria’s premier and pre-eminent parliament-focused organisation has said that most Nigerians made random decisions in the March 18 governorship and state assembly elections.
The organization said that the polls were ultimately characterized by bandwagon effect that was witnessed during the presidential and national assembly elections.
The Executive Director of the organization, Oke Epia who released a consolidated report of the advocacy group on the elections said that 81.59% of sampled voters that participated in the State Assembly elections across the country had prior knowledge of the candidates, only 37.39% of them voted for these candidates based on individual merits.
He said: “A key finding from our observation of the elections is that no less than 63% of voters cast their ballot for state legislative candidates on the basis of a bandwagon anchored on political party preferences and the choices made for the governorship positions.
“While 81.59% of sampled voters that participated in the State Assembly elections across the country had prior knowledge of the candidates, only 37.39% of them voted for these candidates based on individual merits.
“This finding is a confirmation of the bandwagon trend in the State Assembly elections; similar to the National Assembly polls, where 61.35% of voters made their voting choices at the Senate and House of Representatives elections based on party affiliation and choice of presidential candidates.
“An aggregated 63% of the respondents our trained observers spoke with, made their voting choice based on factors such as party affiliation (34.28%), previous choice of presidential candidate (5.38%), governorship candidate (3.97%).
“About 18.98% of these respondents also confirmed to us that they made their voting choice on the basis of random decisions”.
“Other aspects highlighted in the ‘Consolidated Report on the 2023 State Assembly Elections,’ which was held simultaneously with the governorship elections, showed that election results were uploaded to INEC’s Result Viewing (IREV) Portal in 78.63% of the polling units sampled across the country.
“In the area of punctuality on the part of polling officials and opening of polling units, there was a marked improvement from the National Assembly polls, where only 61.34% of the polling units opened on time.
“As captured in the report by OrderPaper, 84.29% of the polling units sampled opened on time in line with INEC’s guidelines for polls to open at 8:30 am. The average time of arrival and opening of polling units generally stood at 9:00 am in many parts of the country.
“There were, however, large reports of low voter turnout resulting from voter intimidation by thugs, political party agents and voter apathy linked to the perceived mismatch of voting and results announced in the February 25 Presidential and National Assembly
“The issue of voter suppression was flagged, especially as thugs disrupted voting and deployed violent intimidation to prevent voters from coming to cast their vote in some areas in Lagos, Oyo, Nassarawa, and Imo, among others. Similarly, there were reported cases of vote trading by political party agents in states like Cross River, Adamawa, Ogun, Ondo and Imo. Particularly in Imo, there were some cases of systematic vote-buying.
“It is our hope that this finding on the bandwagon effect will raise the much-needed awareness and sensitisation among stakeholders in the democratic project and attract more attention to the legislature before, during and post-elections to facilitate improved service delivery by this most critical arm of government at the state level,” he stated further.”
Epia added that the media-cum-legislative advocacy organisation ahead of the EOM exercise recruited, empowered and deployed hundreds of active citizens from its citizen legislative accountability programme, christened Leg’ACEs (Active Citizens Engaging the Legislature).
“These citizen observers were deployed to over 300 polling units in the 993 State Constituencies across the country in Election Observation and Monitoring (EOM) for the legislative elections on March 18, 2023”, he said.
Comments expressed here do not reflect the opinions of Vanguard newspapers or any employee thereof.