Some Lagosians Share Their Thoughts Ahead Of Saturday’s Gubernatorial Election

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Lagos, along with the other 27 Nigerian states which shall be holding their gubernatorial and state assembly elections tomorrow, March 18, ought to have already had a governor-elect since last Saturday but for the Independent National Electoral Commission postponing the elections by a week, citing ill preparation as an excuse. But postponing the elections, it would seem, has not in any way lightened the burden of anxiety beared by many over the state elections, particularly in Lagos. Only yesterday, the campaign rally of the actor and politician Olumide Oworu, which was taking place in the Iponyi area of Surulere, Lagos, was raided by people suspected to be hooligans, leaving at least one person injured. Oworu is competing, under the Labour Party, to represent Surulere 1 Constituency at Lagos’s House of Assembly; he hopes to unseat Desmond Elliot, who also first made his name as an actor.

If many are anxious about Lagos’s elections, it is partly because of the overwhelming xenophobia displayed online many weeks leading to the elections, one which targeted the Igbos of South-Eastern Nigeria who live in Lagos. Such ethnic prejudice was also aimed at Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour, Labour Party’s gubernatorial candidate, whose mother and wife are Igbo.

Many have rightly worried that the ethnic tensions online could parlay into the streets on Saturday. Yesterday, a video that trended on social media showed MC Oluomo, the former chairman of the Lagos State branch of the National Union of Road Transport Workers, publicly making veiled threats to those—the Igbos, he implied—who will not be voting for Babajide Sanwo-Olu of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Saturday’s elections. MC Oluomo, whose real name is Musiliu Akinsanya, has long been a supporter of the APC and has been alleged by many to be a mob boss.

The fears many have expressed over the elections are also because tomorrow presents the first real possibility of the APC losing Lagos to either Abdul-Azeez Adediran, who is competing for governor under the People’s Democratic Party, or more plausibly to Rhodes-Vivour of the Labour Party. The APC, or a variation of it, has controlled Lagos since 1999. But that control is threatened, the clearest indication being that Bola Ahmed Tinubu, APC’s national chairman and currently the president-elect who is vastly more popular than Sanwo-Olu, lost in Lagos to Peter Obi of LP three weeks ago, during the presidential elections. It is not far-fetched to say that that loss has made the APC more desperate, a desperation many believe will make Saturday’s elections a do-or-die affair.

To get a sense of what Lagosians think about Saturday’s elections, The Culture Custodian talked to some people who will be voting in Lagos tomorrow.


Expect low turnout

Emmanuel, who will be voting in Ikotun tomorrow, said Saturday’s elections will yield a low turnout. His rationale is that the proceedings of the presidential and national assembly elections three weeks ago, which many have called dubious, have made many Lagosians cynical about voting in Saturday’s elections, because they are not sure their vote will count.

“There will be low turnout because people are demoralised. A lot of people feel cheated and don’t trust the electoral system anymore. You have touts and thugs openly declare how they want to sabotage the election and guess what? The security forces aren’t doing shit about it. So, yes, expect a low turnout,” Emmanuel said.


Expect violence in Oshodi, Alimosho, Surulere

Desmond will be voting in Ikorodu tomorrow, and while he believes his polling unit will be as peaceful as it was during the presidential election, he is certain peace will not hold in some other areas in the state, especially in “places like Oshodi, Alimosho, Surulere.”

He says that violence is inevitable, “given the trend of ethnic sentiments and conversations about whether a candidate is from a tribe or not, which has dominated the social media space in the last couple of weeks.”

It is also a sentiment shared by Onyinye Kenechukwu, who will also be voting in Ikorodu, her polling unit close to Lagos State Polytechnic. Onyinye said, “The threats that are coming in are quite serious. I’m hoping it doesn’t become a reality, but this is Lagos.”

Desmond left behind an admonition:

“The moment you have to suppress people or intimidate them [during elections], it shows the high level of disregard for the tenets of democracy which most of these guys claim to want to protect.”


Large turnout and more vigilance

Adaora Nwangwu voted in the presidential elections with her family somewhere in Amuwo Odofin. She will be voting there tomorrow and expects her polling unit to be peaceful. Unlike Emmanuel, Adaora believed that the elections tomorrow will record a high turnout, particularly among “LP supporters,” her reasoning being that the results of the presidential elections, which many believe to have been rigged, have left many aggrieved, aggrieved enough to make them troop en masse to the polls on Saturday.

Adaora also believed that, due to the allegations of rigging that trailed the presidential election, people will be more observant at the polls on Saturday. She said that “more pictures are going to be taken [of the result sheets and the polling units].”

But she was also cynical:

“I’m not expecting much from INEC. I know for a fact that Sanwo-Olu is going to rig the election, and this is because despite the intimidation and attacks on the opposing parties, he hasn’t come out to condemn it. So I feel like Sanwo-Olu is complicit. And everything he did in the past few weeks was fake.”


Some optimism: BVAS will be better

Tomorrow, Adedayo will cast his vote in Alimosho. He believes that, contrary to popular belief, instances of violence will be minimal. He also believes that the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) will work more seamlessly tomorrow. In the presidential and national assembly elections, BVAS, the technology adopted by INEC to minimise electoral malfeasance, failed woefully.

“Hopefully, INEC will not disappoint Nigerians by transmitting results directly from polling stations,” Adedayo said.

However, he did not explain his optimism.


Allegations of rigging are sure to follow

Sarah, a supporter of Sanwo-Olu, who will be voting in Ikorodu tomorrow, said she expects that accusations of rigging will trail the elections in Lagos tomorrow, just as it did the presidential elections. This, she said, will happen because “we have a poor spirit of sportsmanship, whereby losers will always agitate, even if the evidence of the result is so glaring.”


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