The Factors That Will Shape Gubernatorial Polls According To Civil Society

The cash crunch, identity politics, insecurity, institutional preparedness according to Nigeria’s think tank CDD, are likely to shape the outcome of the governorship elections. 

Political forecasters are always keen to know what the Average Man On The Street thinks. 

It could be said that Michael Oluwadare, a middle-aged taxi driver in Abuja, is part of that demographic. 

When HumAngle spoke to him, he complained bitterly about the outcome of the just concluded presidential polls. 

His green-and-white taxi was decorated with a flag and stickers of Labour Party candidate, Peter Obi, a contender in the last presidential elections. 

He was quick to complain about the outcome, and about the technical issues that were evident in the process. As a result he has finally decided to boycott the gubernatorial elections that are scheduled for Saturday, March 18. 

He is not going to vote, because in his words: “the outcome of the gubernatorial elections will not favour me, just like the presidential.” 

Mike is not the only eligible voter that has reservations on the upcoming governorship elections.

According to one of the leading civil society organisations in the country, some will not vote because of the cash crunch, others for the lingering fuel scarcity and a lack of belief in the umpire.


As Nigerians get ready to vote for governors of 28 states of the country and 36 house of assemblies, the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) has said that the upcoming poll is “challenged by the threat of violence, logistical obstacles linked to insecurity and cash and fuel scarcity, and decreased trust in the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) following the delays and technical issues that undermined the polls on 25 February.”

The think-tank, in a statement titled ‘Previewing Postponed Polls: Nigeria’s State Elections’ listed and x-rayed the issues that may shape the outcome and credibility of the gubernatorial polls, which it listed under six themes.

The themes are identity, insecurity, institutional preparedness, intra and inter-party disputes, voter participation and the question of personalities versus parties. 

In most elections in the past, people have been seen going for the candidate that shares the same ethnicity or religious affiliation, without little or no consideration on the candidate’s track record or qualification. 

The protracted insecurity in the north east, armed banditry and kidnappings in the north west, secessionists in the south east and farmers-herders clashes in the north central are security concerns ahead of the polls. 


In the February polls, there was “significant frustration expressed by many Nigerians”, on INEC’s preparedness. Many voters and observers have questioned whether the electoral body was prepared before the elections, despite claims of being ready months ahead of the date. 

Furthermore, voter participation according to the CDD is a factor that may shape the outcome of the March 18 polls, as INEC said about 6 million Permanent Voters’ Cards (PVCs) are yet to be collected. 

On the other hand, it said the performance in the presidential elections may not reflect in the outcome of the gubernatorial elections. They said: “The presidential results map illustrates a clear geographic division broadly along ethnic, but also religious, lines with some notable exceptions.”

According to CDD, the identity is more glaring at the national level, but the state it is its main domain, “with candidate selection requiring careful consideration of one, or a combination of, ethnicity, religion and senatorial district zone depending on the state,” which leads electorates to eschew competence and vote on their identity. 

The cash crunch and fuel scarcity has been quoted by the organisation as another factor that may affect voter participation. Travel to another state to vote where people are registered might now not be possible.

Female governor

The report also listed states that should be closely observed, those whose results will be close and those unique situations. 

One such place is Adamawa, which could produce the first female governor in the country’s history. 

In all, 24 women are flying the flags of their parties in the upcoming elections but only three candidates are from the major political parties. 

Among them, the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Adamawa is the most prominent as a former senator. Defeating popular figures to cling to the ticket of the APC in Adamawa State has given Aishatu Binani a rare opportunity to make history if she is able to defeat the incumbent male candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP). 

Rivers, Lagos, Kano, Kaduna and Sokoto are key states to watch but there will also be closely contested races in Cross River, Delta, Enugu and Zamfara states, according to the report released by CDD. 

Fiercely contested races will likely increase election-related violence and the pro-democracy body predicted that INEC staff will be “targets of intimidation and co-option from politically aligned actors; with efforts to manipulate voting processes most likely to target voter suppression in strongholds of political opponents through ballot box snatching and the destruction of election materials”, as seen in some parts of the country in the presidential polls. 

It also cautioned about misinformation and disinformation that are built on “divisive identity rhetoric”, a sad development that makes the state difficult to be governed. 

The CDD also foretold that there is likely to be increased vote trading, which is as a result of the economic hardship in the country. 

It finally pointed fingers at most parties and online commentaries that, “have erroneously forgotten to consider the senate and house of representatives’ results, which did not always go along the same line as the presidential outcome”. The consequences of that might enable political actors to call for the delegitimisation the process, and the winners, without understanding what that means for the democratic process. 

But for people like Mike the reasons might be expressed in a much simpler way; they are fed up, just plainly apathetic about the whole process. 

Instead of travelling to Kwara state where he is registered, he will ply the roads of Abuja, driving his battered Mazda 323, 2000 model taxi, painted in green and white.

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Mahdi Garba

Mahdi Garba covers development, security, conflict, climate & disinformation at HumAngle. He heads the Humanitarian Desk at HumAngle. He tweets regularly @MahdiGarba.

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