5th November, 2021
By Jethro Ibileke
Ahead of Saturday’s governorship election in Anambra State, Yiaga Africa has said that there may likely be a serious decline in voter turnout in the state due to the threat of violence and a pervasive culture of voter apathy in the state.
The citizen-led NGO stated this in a pre-election statement signed by Samson Itodo and Ezenwa Nwagwu, Executive Director and Board Member of Yiaga Africa respectively, and released on Friday in Awka, the State capital.
According to “Low voter turnout enhances the chances for electoral manipulation in the rural areas and strongholds of the major political parties.”
Yiaga Africa further noted that violent attacks, political intimidation, violent enforcement of the sit-at-home order and threats to shut down the region by secessionist groups could have negative impact on the outcome of the election.
It also identified Anambra East, Ogbaru LGA, Nnewi North, Orumba North and Ihiala as areas considered potential hotspots for violence, based on early warning signs of violence.
“This volatility impeded the conduct of political party campaigns, voter education and mobilization by electoral stakeholders who continue to deploy with more caution,” the statement said.
Meanwhile, Yiaga Africa has commended efforts by INEC to improve voter access to polling units by creating additional 1,112 polling units in Anambra State.
It however express concern that there are 963 polling units with over 750 and 1, 000 registered voters.
“With the likely shortfall in the number of polling officials, the high number of registered voters in these polling units may pose a major challenge for crowd control and effective management of the polling units on election day” it said.
Meanwhile, the State Public Affair Officer of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Reginald Onyeukwu, has allayed fear that the election would be affected by the absence of people.
He said: “The fact that people stayed at home today (Friday) does not mean that they will not come out to vote on Saturday. It will surely not have a negative impact on the election. Though people stayed in their houses early on Friday but I am sure they will check their names in the voters registered so that they can vote.
“Election will hold and nothing can stop it. INEC is fully prepared. We have put everything in place for a successful exercise.. IPOB is no longer after the disruption of the election. They have calm down but I understand that people are still afraid.. We are telling them to stop being afraid. We are telling the voters to come out and exercise their right. There is no problem,” he added.