Following its observation of the State Assembly Polls, OrderPaper releases a consolidated assessment of the March 18 Election along with other critical findings
With elections into Nigeria’s Governorship and 36 State Houses of Assembly now largely concluded, OrderPaper Advocacy Initiative can now report on its consolidated assessment of the polls.
A key finding from our observation of the elections is that no less than 63% of voters cast their ballot for state legislative candidates on the basis of a bandwagon anchored on political party preferences and the choices made for the governorship positions.
While 81.59% of sampled voters that participated in the State Assembly elections across the country had prior knowledge of the candidates, only 37.39% of them voted for these candidates based on individual merits. This finding is a confirmation of the bandwagon trend in the State Assembly elections; similar to the National Assembly polls, where 61.35% of voters made their voting choices at the Senate and House of Representatives elections based on party affiliation and choice of presidential candidates.
“An aggregated 63% of the respondents our trained observers spoke with, made their voting choice based on factors such as party affiliation (34.28%), previous choice of presidential candidate (5.38%), governorship candidate (3.97%).
About 18.98% of these respondents also confirmed to us that they made their voting choice on the basis of random decisions,” Oke Epia, Executive Director of OrderPaper, revealed while explaining the consolidated report.
Other aspects highlighted in the ‘Consolidated Report on the 2023 State Assembly Elections,’ which was held simultaneously with the governorship elections, showed that election results were uploaded to INEC’s Result Viewing (IREV) Portal in 78.63% of the polling units sampled across the country.
“In the area of punctuality on the part of polling officials and opening of polling units, there was a marked improvement from the National Assembly polls, where only 61.34% of the polling units opened on time.
As captured in the report by OrderPaper, 84.29% of the polling units sampled opened on time in line with INEC’s guidelines for polls to open at 8:30 am. The average time of arrival and opening of polling units generally stood at 9:00 am in many parts of the country.
There were, however, large reports of low voter turnout resulting from voter intimidation by thugs, political party agents and voter apathy linked to the perceived mismatch of voting and results announced in the February 25 Presidential and National Assembly elections.
The issue of voter suppression was flagged, especially as thugs disrupted voting and deployed violent intimidation to prevent voters from coming to cast their vote in some areas in Lagos, Oyo, Nassarawa, and Imo, among others. Similarly, there were reported cases of vote trading by political party agents in states like Cross River, Adamawa, Ogun, Ondo and Imo. Particularly in Imo, there were some cases of systematic vote-buying.
It is our hope that this finding on the bandwagon effect will raise the much-needed awareness and sensitisation among stakeholders in the democratic project and attract more attention to the legislature before, during and post-elections to facilitate improved service delivery by this most critical arm of government at the state level,” he stated further.
OrderPaper, Nigeria’s premier and pre-eminent parliament-focused organisation, undertook Election Observation and Monitoring (EOM) for the 2023 National and State Assembly polls as an integral part of its VOTER (Validating the Office of the Electorate on Representation) Project being implemented with support from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and technical guidance by Palladium under the Strengthening Civic Advocacy and Local Engagement (SCALE) Project.
The media-cum-legislative advocacy organisation, ahead of the EOM exercise, carefully recruited, empowered and deployed hundreds of active citizens from its citizen legislative accountability programme, christened Leg’ACEs (Active Citizens Engaging the Legislature).
These citizen observers were deployed to over 300 polling units in the 993 State State Constituencies across the country in Election Observation and Monitoring (EOM) for the legislative elections on March 18, 2023.
As with the National Assembly Elections, OrderPaper also set up a Situation Room for the State Assembly elections with the objective of observing a possible bandwagon trend in the legislative elections, as well as ascertaining compliance of the election management body- the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) – and other stakeholders with the electoral law and INEC guidelines. The Situation Room opened from Friday, 17th to Sunday, 19th March 2023.
OrderPaper deploys dedicated media reportage of the National Assembly, legislative advocacy as well exclusive legislative accountability measures towards promoting legislative strengthening and deepening of democracy in the country.