Alarm Bells Over 2023 Elections

Casmir Igbokwe

The road to 2023 is replete with danger signals. On four occasions now, the Labour Party has encountered politically-motivated attacks during some of its meetings in some parts of Enugu state. It first happened in Aninri a few weeks ago. Later, it occurred in Awgu and Oji River. A few days ago, a similar attack occurred at Umuida, Enugu-Ezike in Igbo-Eze North Local Government Area. Each time the gunmen strike, they shoot in the air to drive people away. They have burnt vehicles and destroyed some other valuables belonging to members of the party. Some supporters of the same Labour Party have similarly been attacked in Lagos.

But, this is even a minor one. Greater danger lies in how the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) will conduct its affairs before, during and after the 2023 general election. Voter registration is over for now. Many Nigerians now await the collection of their Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs). Though INEC said the new PVCs would be ready by November, there appears to be some hiccups along the line. We have heard and seen alleged mass dumping of people’s PVCs in some dumping sites in major cities like Lagos and Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital. So, are we sure that collecting these PVCs will be as easy as INEC has assured?

The worst now is the allegation by the opposition political parties under the aegis of Coalition of United Political Parties (CUPP). According to this group, there are plans to circumvent the use of Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) in the conduct of the 2023 general election. CUPP Spokesman, Ikenga Ugochinyere, in a news conference in Abuja last Wednesday, further alleged that some governors were plotting to cause leadership change in INEC. This would affect the Chairman, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, and some national commissioners who have insisted on the use of BVAS. Ugochinyere said there was immense pressure on the leadership of INEC to stop electronic transmission of the 2023 election results and deactivate the BVAS from the server. The CUPP said it would petition the British High Commission and the United States Embassy over the matter and urged them to keep vigilant eyes on Nigeria’s electoral process as development partners.

Sometime last month, CUPP had raised a similar alarm on alleged plots to remove the INEC Chairman and use a secret court action to stop the use of BVAS in the 2023 general election. The suit, CUPP said, was at the Owerri Federal High Court, where it was filed since August 24, 2022. The opposition parties also claimed a particular political party registered fake 10 million voters. It displayed extracts of the national voter register to back up its claim. The fake names were allegedly sourced from within and outside Nigeria. Some African countries mentioned are Gambia, Ghana, Cameroon Togo, Guinea, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

However, it is reassuring that INEC did not mince words to say the use of BVAS has come to stay. In his keynote address at a recent event in the United States, Professor Yakubu noted, “It (BVAS) has eliminated multiple accreditation that was observed in previous elections. Now, you are absolutely sure that the person who is accredited is actually the voter and the bearer of the card. It has increased public confidence in the outcome of elections as shown in the recent off cycle elections. People tend to be more confident now with the protection of the process of accreditation using technology.”

Obviously, we cannot dwell in the past and expect to gain good mileage in our democracy journey. No sane person embraces blindness when they can avoid it. I participated in the last governorship election in Anambra State where BVAS was used. Although there were some initial hiccups with the system which delayed the voting process, the election turned out to be credible and generally acceptable. The renewed interest by many Nigerians to participate in the upcoming general election is because of the confidence that BVAS has brought to the electoral system.

INEC Chairman said this much when he noted that about 95 million Nigerians had registered to vote in the 2023 election. This is against 84 million registered voters that participated in the 2019 election. Yakubu said that 2.7 million double registrations had been removed from INEC data through the adoption of the Automated Biometric Identification System (ABIS). So far, so good!

Nevertheless, we need to watch the conduct of the election itself. Many politicians are desperate now seeing that the prospect of rigging is greatly minimized with BVAS. They are not sleeping and must be plotting some other ways of compromising the election. As was observed in the 2019 election, some desperate politicians may engineer attacks on the opposition strongholds to scare ‘unfriendly’ voters away and reduce the number of votes of their opponents.

INEC Chairman alluded to this when he expressed worry about the new dimension of the security challenges in the country. In the past, he said, insecurity was localized to the North-East. Now, it is more widespread. He fears for the commission’s officials, materials and voters. The flashpoints are the North-East, North-West and South-East. As usual, security agencies have assured of improved security before the elections. But, are they equal to the task? Did they not give similar assurances before the 2019 elections? Let’s see how it goes.

Eternal vigilance should be our watchword. INEC must ensure constant audit of its staff so as to weed out the compromised ones. Transparency must be the cardinal principle in the conduct of the elections. The electoral umpire must be open and carry everybody along in its activities to avoid unnecessary suspicions and acrimony. It must ensure that people collect their PVCs because that is the only power they have to give meaning to the election. People’s votes must count and this starts with the PVCs.

We must also keep an eye on the judiciary. Some politicians use that arm of government to truncate the wishes of the people. The new Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Olukayode Ariwoola, must not allow this to happen in 2023. There should be no room for technicalities. At every point in time, what should be uppermost in the minds of the judges is justice. Before ruling on any case, they should ask themselves, has justice been served on this matter?

That is the only way our democracy can grow. Nigeria is gasping for breath currently. If we make the mistake of removing the oxygen machine still keeping the country alive in 2023 through a compromised election, Somalia will be a child’s play to the catastrophe that will befall us. Let us collectively say, God forbid!


Re: Now that Tinubu is back

At times, the trajectory of life may witness the invincible hand of death whisk away a much younger person even as the very old keeps waxing and marching stronger. That is the situational irony of life! Nobody wishes Tinubu or any of the presidential candidates dead!  Nigerians are eager to see the outcome of this most sought-for presidential election amidst the plethora of permutations by parties’ faithful and political analysts. The troublous path already trodden by the candidates and the ripples of the presidential primaries are still being felt. Particularly, we can’t forget in a hurry the presidential primary (debacle) of the APC and PDP where live Dollars fantastically shaped the affairs of delegates. Peter Obi has a known allergy to squandermania. If he has no past background of a path paved with gold and was able to squeeze out water from a rock, and now a member of the exclusive club of billionaires, then his biography is worth reading and  a signpost for Nigerians who earnestly want a departure from the dark days  of mindless consumption to an era of production. And take notice that there’s nothing to be gained from one who, in spite of one’s past bread and butter background, can’t exploit same for one’s survival and rather relies on ‘everlasting’ handouts from any fertile ground.

-Edet Essien Esq-Cal South, 0803 795 2470


Dear Casy, why waste time and precious newspaper space comparing the incomparable with comparable? While Peter Obi ended his stewardship as a State Governor creditably, the mouthy, garrulous megalomaniac Femi Fani-Kayode ended his stewardship as Minister running from pillar to post, scampering for safety from the nation’s institution charged with the duty of beaming her searchlight on public functionaries’ stewardship. Our country, Nigeria, has become an address where decency is clobbered and indecency garlanded, where obscene wealth and the owners are worshipped. So, the likes of the megalomaniac, primarily driven by the concern for sustained servicing of their stomach infrastructure, having tasted the ‘elite apple’ within Government corridor and desperate to go back, would, naturally, not be happy with the rising publicity of the Obidients’ Chief who is coming to change the econo-political narratives, mainly, in favour of the hoi-polloi. Hence, all the brickbats buried in the campaigns that have migrated from the corridors of discussing issues into the cauldron of mudslinging against the poor Obidients’ arrowhead. Now that the Bourdillon Chief is back, he should instruct his campaign managers to apply the ‘brakes’ and focus on marketing of his personality to Nigerians based on materials available in their kitty. Nigeria, presently, is at tipping point. All we need in 2023 is God-given, salvation-driven President and not one coming on grounds of actualisation of personal ambition or personal aggrandizement. Shikena!

-Steve Okoye, Awka, 08036630731.


Casmir, now that Tinubu is back, the countdown to the end of APC in government begins! I hope he won’t go again for another ’round of rest and consultations’ as his days of judgement are numbered. I guess he is now ‘mentally and physically fit as a fiddle’ (laughs). Please, no more shaking. As for Fanny Kayode a.k.a Fanny Nonsense, Fanny Rubbish, Fanny Commotion, now I know in modern day terms, why the scriptures say ‘o foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched thee’? That APC will lose the 2023 presidential elections is a no brainer. Each time its de-marketing officers (Tinubu and Shetimma) speak, they devalue APC. With the avalanche of challenges that Nigeria has now, we don’t need a president with question marks on his real age, health, academic qualifications and religious biases. Lagos – despite enjoying the status of former capital – is now to my chagrin, the most indebted state in Nigeria for obvious reasons known to all. Little wonder the roads are in terrible conditions. Ladipo road in Mushin is the worst road that I have ever seen! The debt to GDP is also worrisome. The evidence that it is a rich state is lacking – no public taps for instance – unlike the days of Jakande.

-Mike, Mushin, Lagos, +234 816 111 4572


Dear Casmir, it’s surprising that politicians prefer dying in the power ring to throwing in the towel. Woodrow Wilson of USA clutched to white house amidst severe medical case. Administration demands spirit of gamesmanship. Leaders should soft-pedal in the quest for stomach infrastructure.

– Cletus Frenchman, Enugu, +234 909 538 5215

  • Also published in the Daily Sun of Monday, October 17, 2022

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