The High Stakes in Today’s Guber Elections

Just like I did on Saturday 25th February during the Presidential and National Assembly elections, I went out to vote today in Lagos with family and friends, this time for governorship and State House of Assembly elections.
However, unlike three weeks ago, today did not look as vibrant and crowded, possibly out of voters disillusionment or scepticism on whether their votes will count or to avoid violence as has been advocated by some party supporters who had sent out threats to intimidate opposing candidates and their followers. The hordes of youths and other young adults we saw last time was missing today in my unit and those close by and queues were practically non-existent.
Also, the blanket restriction on vehicular movement was not obeyed today as vehicles, including buses and motorcycles, were seen driving on the highways and inner city roads. The few policemen one could see did not make any attempt to stop these vehicles, unlike three weeks ago when no one dared drive around unless they were on election duty and could prove it.
But make no mistake about it – today’s elections, particularly for Governorship positions, are very crucial and will determine the strengths or otherwise of the four main parties, especially those hitherto regarded as unchallengeable.
Before this election circle, Nigeria was basically a two party state, with the All Progressives Congress, APC, and the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, holding sway. But in this dispensation, Labour Party, LP, Nigerian National People’s Party, NNPP and even the Social Democratic Party, SDP have shown that they can hold their own and upset the applecart. These parties won several seats in the Senate and House of Representatives and scared the ‘big boys’ in the Presidential Election, the result of which is still a matter before the election tribunal and may likely go higher up to the Supreme Court.
Therefore, incumbent parties have a lot to fear in states like Lagos, Oyo, Nasarawa, Rivers, Delta, Kano, Benue, Nassarawa and Kaduna, some of which have lame duck governors while those like Lagos where Governor Jide Sanwo-Olu is trying to go for a second term are fighting tooth and nail to retain their seats.
In all, 28 states are choosing their governors today out of the 36 states. The other 8 states elect their governors season and have their Governorship Elections at different times because of court decisions over previous elections. So governors are not being elected this weekend in Anambra, Ekiti, Osun, Ondo, Edo, Imo, Bayelsa and Kogi states but Houses of Assembly polls are taking place in all the 36 states.
Pre election campaigns towards today have been all but civil in many of these states, especially with the upsets witnessed in the presidential election, in states like Lagos, Rivers, Kano, Kaduna, Plateau, Edo and Nassarawa where the ruling APC and opposition PDP were shocked in their strongholds.
The only part of Nigeria where no election is taking place this weekend is the Federal Capital Territory which does not have a governor or state assembly. In Abuja yesterday, life was as usual and it was only folks like us hurrying to the airport to catch our flights to our locations to vote today that seemed to be in a hurry.
Reports from different locations today are mixed about voters turnout and arrival of INEC officials at polling stations. But the rains last night have provided some cool weather in Lagos area and we expect that several pockets of violence and thuggery that marred many locations on presidential election day will not rear their heads again this time.
The expectations are that the police and other security agencies will be up and doing and INEC will make efforts to fulfill their promises of free, fair and credible elections this time around, to at least make up for the lapses of three weeks ago.
We await results from battlegrounds like Lagos, Oyo, Kaduna, Kano, Sokoto, Nasarawa, Delta, Rivers, Abia, Enugu, Benue and others.

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