The 2019 general elections will be a turning point in Nigerian Democracy, and the consolidation of her democracy is dependent on how well she manages the election. It will also be the first time Nigerians will have the opportunity to evaluate President Muhammadu Buhari under democratic rule and make a judgment with their ballot.
There are indicators that may likely be threats to the 2019 general elections. For instance, there is the perceived failures of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) that has not been able to deliver on their campaign promises. Also, the heightened insecurity across the country, particularly the Boko Haram insurgency and suspected herders-farmers’ conflicts pose a bigger threat to the 2019 general election.
The failure of the APC government to address the conflicts is damaging the image of the ruling party, and giving room for legitimacy crisis among Nigerians. For some people, this should be a basis for voting APC out, and should the ruling party frustrates free, fair election, it is likely to be resisted by citizens that have this perception and the potential implication is electoral violence.
In the build-up to the 2019 general elections, CLEEN Foundation was among the research team deployed by the United States Institute of Peace (USIP) to carry out pre-election security risk assessment in Anambra state.
In the study, respondents cut across leaders of political parties, election management body, traditional/religious/youth leaders, journalists, senior security officers, election observers, civil servants in Awka were selected and interviewed.
One of the key findings is, Anambra does not have the history of electoral violence. One of the respondents said, in Anambra, “we can talk, but we don’t fight”. Although there are efforts to address election rigging in the state, ballot buying is becoming a norm in the state and it has the tendency to determine the outcomes of elections in the state.
Within the electoral cycle, party primaries pose a threat to the 2019 general elections. If the process is not credible, and candidates are imposed, resistance from aggrieved party members could lead to violence.
In Anambra, there is a strong relationship between the church and politics. Catholic and Anglican play a major role in determining party candidates and election outcome. Many do not see the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) as a threat to the 2019 general elections. Although they had made several comments targeted at scuttling election in the southeast, they do not constitute a threat to the 2019 general elections.
Respondents made recommendations on what to be done for 2019 general elections to be violent free in Anambra state. They are:
• INEC, political parties, National Orientation Agency must carry out effective voter and civic education
• Electoral body (INEC) must be completely independent
• Security agents on election duty must be independent and professionals
• Political parties and contestants must exhibit integrity and honesty
• Party primaries must be transparent and honest
• Security agencies should be trained on election security
Audu Liberty Oseni, CLEEN Foundation