Rising from their election observatory roles, the Civil Society Organizations, CSOs who monitored the election noted that the November, 2017 Anambra State governorship election which has come and gone was all a win win situation for the people.
In the weeks close to the election there were visible apprehensions that the election may be marred by large scale violence given several reports pointing to frightening presence of security threats. Few days to the election no few than five election observers issued pre election reports highlighting violent flash points across the state. The self styled Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) had earlier issued warning to its members to boycott the election, but as the election date drew close it further said there will be no election in Anambra State and ordered Anambra people to boycott election and observe a “sit at home” on the election day. This was not to be as the people came out to exercise their franchise.
The election was generally peaceful as security agencies were on hand to maintain law and order. All the Voting Centers visited, including those in rural communities had security presence. Earlier the police chief in Abuja had hinted of deploying more than 21000 policemen from across police formations in the country. We view this effort commendable, but note that several policemen were stranded as there was no commensurate logistics arrangement put in place to cater for their welfare. Some policemen got their welfare stipends from their unit before arriving Anambra State, whereas many did not. Means of transportation was another challenge the police faced. At Nzam, the Head Quarter of Anambra West Local Government Area, over 40 policemen were sited stranded at the Headquarter, with no food, water or shelter.
On the average, observer groups commended Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on timely deployment of ADHOC workers and election materials. There were few incidences of ballot box snatching or stuffing boxes.
The Anambra election threw up another challenge of electoral malpractices that we must watch out for in future elections, and that is the issue of vote buying. In all hotels occupied by major contenders in the election, bags of “ghana must go” stuffed with money were seen dragged about on the eve of the election. The coalitions of CSOs however called on politicians to ensure that they abhor the trend of rigging and go for the votes of the citizens.