While 11 governors are seeking re-election, new candidates are vying for the governorship seats of the remaining 17 states.
The governorship and the state houses of assembly elections are taking place today across Nigeria.
Also holding today are the Esan Central/Esan West/Igueben Federal Constituency election halted during the 25 February Presidential and National Assembly polls as a result of the omission of the Labour Party logo and that of the Enugu East Senatorial District which was shifted following the killing of Oyibo Chukwu, the party’s candidate in the district, on 22 February.
The state elections, the second phase of the 2023 General Elections, was initially scheduled for 11 March but deferred by one week following a Court of Appeal order granting the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) permission to reconfigure the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) for the exercise. This followed the 3 March ex-parte order of the court given to some political parties to inspect materials used for the presidential poll whose results they are challenging.
Unlike last month’s 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 – 28 governorship and 993 assembly seats.
The governorship elections will hold in 28 out of the 36 states of the federation.
Elections will not be conducted in Anambra, Bayelsa, Edo, Ekiti, Imo, Kogi, Ondo and Osun States where off-cycle polls are held at different times. The electoral calendars of those states were altered due to judicial pronouncements. INEC has already scheduled the elections in Kogi, Bayelsa and Imo for November.
The exercise will not also hold in the FCT (Abuja) because it has neither a governor nor an assembly. The territory is administered by the federal government through a ministry and the National Assembly where it is represented by a senator and two members in the House of Representatives.
All 18 registered political parties are fielding over 400 governorship candidates in the 28 states in today’s contest. The breakdown shows that Abia, Akwa Ibom, Plateau and Taraba States have the highest number of candidates with 18 each followed closely by Delta, Enugu, Kano, Rivers and Sokoto with 17 candidates each. Cross River and Yobe have the least number of candidates with 11 each.
The candidates emerged from the various primary elections of their parties held last year while the court also replaced or confirmed the disputed ones following litigations trailing their primaries. One candidate, Uche Ikonne, the PDP candidate in Abia, who died in January, was replaced.
Some of the governorship candidates are running for their second and final term of four years. The 11 states where incumbent governors are seeking re-election are Adamawa, Bauchi, Borno, Gombe, Kwara, Lagos, Nasarawa, Ogun, Oyo, Yobe and Zamfara.
The governors of the other 17 states are rounding off their tenures on 29 May and so new governors must emerge from today’s exercise. The states are Abia, Akwa Ibom, Benue, Cross River, Delta, Ebonyi, Enugu, Jigawa, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Kebbi, Niger, Plateau, Rivers, Sokoto, and Taraba states.
Barring any hitches or judicial pronouncements, winners of today’s governorship elections, whether old or new, will be inaugurated on 29 May.
A total of 10,231 candidates are vying for 993 seats in the 36 state houses of assembly. Kano and Lagos have the highest number of seats in their legislatures with 40 followed by Katsina with 34, Oyo and Rivers with 32, Bauchi and Kaduna with 31, and Benue, Jigawa, Anambra and Sokoto with 30. Thirteen states have 24 members each. Elected lawmakers, who are usually inaugurated in June in Nigeria have a limitless term.
Unlike in the previous contests where two parties were dominant in most of the states, today’s elections may be different. With the impressive outing and upset created by some parties, notably the LP, SDP and NNPP, in the recent presidential and National Assembly elections, there are indications that they may also grab some seats in the state legislatures. Analysts say the battleground states are Lagos, Oyo, Kano, Adamawa, Nasarawa, Bauchi, Delta and Rivers.
Although INEC registered a total of 93.5 million Nigerians for the 2023 General Elections, only 87 million of them collected their Permanent Voters Cards (PVC). Yet not all of them will participate in today’s polls because elections will not be conducted in the FCT. Also, there are 176,846 polling units (PUs) in the country where the voters will exercise their franchise but elections will not be held in FCT’s 1,328 PUs.
INEC also accredited a total of 229 observer groups comprising 196 domestic and 33 international observers all of which will be deploying 146,913 personnel for the elections. Media organisations and other relevant bodies have also been accredited to observe the elections.
The military, police and other security agencies have similarly deployed their personnel in the states to secure the process while the EFCC deployed its operatives to ensure the integrity of the elections.
INEC says it is ready for the polls. It assured that it will avoid the pitfalls identified in the elections held three weeks ago.
“As we approach the Governorship and State Assembly election, we must work harder to overcome the challenges experienced in the last election. Nothing else will be acceptable to Nigerians,” its chairman, Mahmood Yakubu, said.
It is not, however, not clear if the electoral body will transmit the results of the polls electronically.
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