March 18, (THEWILL) – Over 87 million eligible Nigerian voters are electing new state Governors and Legislators this Saturday, March 18, 2023.
The elections were formerly scheduled for March 11, by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, timetable, but were postponed due to the reconfiguration of the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) machines.
Unlike the February 25th Presidential and National Assembly elections held in 470 constituencies comprising 109 senatorial districts, 360 federal constituencies and one presidential, today’s exercise will hold in 1,021 state constituencies at 176,846 polling units across 28 States to elect 28 governorship and 993 assembly seats.
Gubernatorial elections will not hold in eight out of 36 States and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT). These are Ekiti, Kogi, Edo, Bayelsa, Anambra, Ondo, Imo and Osun States.
Meanwhile, State Assembly elections will hold in the eight states except for the FCT.
Eighteen political parties are on the ballot. Although in some states, the political parties have had alliances and support for some major political parties, the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC) and major opposition parties including the Democrat Party (PDP), Labour Party (LP), New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP), Social Democratic Party (SDP) and Young Peoples Party (YPP) are beneficiaries.
Going by the last Presidential election results, the political map of Nigeria has been redrawn as a result of a major upset in states like Lagos, Rivers, Nassarawa, Gombe, Katsina, Kebbi, Benue, Kano, Plateau, Osun and Oyo states.
The traditional political fortress of APC and PDP was taken over by the LP and NNDP. Lagos, Katsina, Kaduna, Kebbi, Nassarawa, Plateau, and Gombe states, the stronghold of APC went to the LP. Kano fell to the NNPP and APC surprisingly won in Benue, Oyo and Rivers States. These are real political battlegrounds in the Gubernatorial and state Assembly polls.
Intra Party crises within the major political parties are pointers and signals to major political battle in Benue, Sokoto, Kano, Kaduna, Plateau, Delta Ogun and Oyo States These are within the radar of political pundits for upsets.
By traditional voting patterns in previous elections since 1999, voters tend to be swayed by the performance of the Presidential election results, voting for the ruling party at the Federal level. The sing song has always been” our state do not want to belong to the opposition.”
Despite criticism of the last Presidential election, the Electoral umpire vowed to conduct a free, fair and credible Gubernatorial and Local assembly elections.
Also, Security agencies embarked on road shows across the states to demonstrate readiness for adequate security during and after the elections. There are restrictions on vehicular movement during the voting hour.
According to the 2022 Electoral Act, election results will be declared at the polling units and sent to the INEC portal while the Resident electoral Commissioners will announce the official results.
BVAS will be used for accreditation, voting and transmission of results. The machine operates with a sim card on any mobile network. Civil Society Organisations have worked effectively with the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC and political parties for smooth operation of BVAS
Local and International observers are also monitoring the conduct of the election across states.