Violence may mar Kogi, Imo, Bayelsa governorship election – Study

THE November 11 governorship election in Imo, Bayelsa and Kogi states are likely to witness violence, a study by Kimpact Development Initiative (KDI) has shown.

Findings of pre-election environment risk assessment carried out by KDI in the three states showed that the states saw violence in previous governorship polls, and the factors that triggered such crises remained.

Elections in Kogi and Imo are more susceptible to violence than in Bayelsa, according to the findings. 

In Imo, the activities of secessionists – The Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), the Eastern Security Network – and other armed non-state actors are a threat to the poll.

In Kogi, political thugs and other armed criminals capable of re-enacting the attack at Ochadamu ward, where the Women Leader of Wada Aro Campaign Council, Acheju Abuh, was burnt alive in her home by suspected thugs in 2019, are still on the ground.

There are many roads linking Kogi state. Kogi borders ten states, and there are issues of herders-farmers crisis. It will be easy for people to come into the state to perpetrate crime during the election, said KDI’s Team Lead, Bukola Idowu, while presenting the findings in Abuja on Friday, October 27.

Similarly, in Bayelsa, political thugs with good knowledge of the state waterways could unleash mayhem.

 However, the organisation noted that despite its findings, there were opportunities to explore to ensure the peaceful conduct of the election. 

It suggested that if all stakeholders carried out strategic violence prevention interventions, there was a high chance that the election would be peaceful.

“Recognising the wide-ranging implications of election security in Nigeria, this study explores the impact of the actions and activities of various state and non-state political actors on the electoral landscape in Bayelsa, Imo and Kogi States,” the report summary stated.

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It explained that while Imo State had not experienced much electoral and non-electoral violence for most of 2023, Kogi and Bayelsa had seen a surge in electoral violence in the last two months preceding the election. 

KDI also predicted a keenly-contested poll because of the many political parties fielding candidates. 

“While the dominant political parties across the three states vary, we have seen how the emergence of a third force, such as the Labour Party and Social Democratic Party in Imo and Kogi States, has changed the consistent dominance of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) across the three states.

“The actions of their party supporters have significantly led to the tension and violence experienced in the states. The exception is in Imo, where the violence witnessed is a function of multi-dimensional crises in the state. 

“Based on the findings of this study, it is expected that the elections will be keenly contested in all three states. This projection follows the observation of the trend and pattern of the violence witnessed in this pre-election phase and the pattern of candidate selection by political parties in the three states designed along senatorial or ethnic divides to give the parties a political edge.”

Possible hot spots for crisis during election

There are no major hot spots for the political crisis in Bayelsa, except for Nembe, where the organisation said the media had been restricted from covering major political conflicts.

But in Imo and Kogi, several LGAs were listed as potential areas where crises could break out.

Five LGAs named in Kogi are Ijumu, Dekina, Ofu, Igalamela Odolu, and Ankpa. 

In Imo, 11 LGAs are prone to political violence. They are Oru West, Oru East, Orlu, Okigwe, Nwangele, Isiala Mbano, Ikeduru, Ngor Okpala, Ahiazu Mbaise, Obowo and Orsu.

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Key data on the election

According to KDI, there are 5,409,438 million registered voters in the three states. 

In Bayelsa, INEC registered 1,056,862. Imo has 2,419,922, while 1,932,654 eligible voters are in Kogi state.

The three states have 10,510 polling units with 45,084 regular and ad hoc staff on the ground for deployment by INEC, KDI stated.




     

     

    In Bayelsa, 16 candidates are vying for the governorship seat. Imo has 17, and Kogi has 18.

    There is no female candidate in any of the three states., and only Imo State has a person with disability (PWD) contesting for governor.

    The front runners in the election are:

    • Bayelsa: Timipreye Sylva (APC), Duoye Diri (PDP), and Udengs Eradiri (LP).
    • Imo: Hope Uzodinma (APC), Sam Anyanwu (PDP), Anthony Nnaji (LP).
    • Kogi: Usman Ododo (APC), Dino Melaye (PDP), Murtala Ajaka (SDP).

    KDI is an independent non-governmental organisation that advances good governance, democratic rights, public policy, and public engagement. 

    Marcus bears the light, and he beams it everywhere. He's a good governance and decent society advocate. He's The ICIR Reporter of the Year 2022 and has been the organisation's News Editor since September 2022. Contact him via email @ [email protected].

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