The Niger Delta, an area rich in oil and socio-economic influence, is no stranger to electoral fraud. Historically, election rigging does not occur at polling stations, where there is strong international oversight and, in this case, the presence of a more transparent overarching electoral body (INEC). Instead, malpractice occurs during the collation process where monitors might be absent.
Many Niger Delta residents have expressed concerns in recent months about the potential occurrence of voting malpractices, whereas others remain optimistic that the National and Gubernatorial elections of 2015 will be the first corruption “free and fair” in Nigeria’s history. Here, Radar reporters across Bayelsa, Delta and Rivers State, share their thoughts on the possibility of voting irregularities.
“They [PDP and APC] are ready to do anything at all costs.”
Issac Cotterell, Port Hartcourt City, Rivers State
“To me the governorship election can’t be free and fair because the desperation of APC and PDP is high. They are ready to do anything at all costs. Though the presidential election will be better than the gubernatorial, for in the Presidential Election only two things are involved: ethnic and religious lines. Simply, I believe the south-south, South-East will vote for PDP, while Northerners will vote for APC.”
“There is massive acquisition of PVC by both the APC and the PDP”
Best Uso, Erema, Rivers State
“Although there are assurance and reassurances that the elections will will be free, I do not subscribe to such expectations, notwithstanding my desire for credible polls.”
“What informs my opinion is the manner the PVC has been distributed, among other ills. There is unequal distribution of the PVC in terms of North and South, and then in Rivers state there is massive acquisition of PVC by both the APC and the PDP; what they intend to do with these cards I cannot discern. Tension is high and violence is inevitable. One thing is sure, 2015 will redefine Nigeria. ”
“The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) will surely rig this election”
Bokolo Nimiteinbofa, Nembe City, Bayelsa State
“The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) will surely rig this election to win says Mr. Levi, Nembe city, Bayelsa State. Mr. Levi [who asked for his real name to be removed, for safety reasons] has worked with the PDP for over 12 years now. He said, “the party actually votes before the elections start and they effect their votes immediately after the General Election, and they have influence on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
“I believe this will be the first election that would truly be free and fair without any element of rigging.”
Flora Asieri, Ogbia, Bayelsa State
“Going by information given during the test-running of the card readers, [I undertand that] information stored cannot be altered and is sent to a database. Neither can the number of accredited voters be inflated. I believe this will be the first election that would truly be free and fair without any element of rigging.”
“The mood here is palpable. Citizens have been enlightened and unlike previous years, they are making conscious efforts to ensure they partake in the voting process and exercise their rights.”
“The tension is as a result of the need for the PDP aspirant Goodluck Jonathan to succeed in his re-election bid amid strong competition from the most visible opposition, which is the APC represented by Buhari.”
“Measures have been put in place to ensure free and fair elections”
Nkaiso Akpan, Obio/Akpo LGA, Rivers State
“There will be a free and fair elections. These are my reasons:
Firstly, a lot of measures have been put in place by the relevant authorities to ensure free and fair elections. For instance, various security bodies have been deployed to work before, during and after the elections. Also, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) have trained staff on their carriage and duties during the conduct of the elections. The employment of the card reader by them is also to encourage a “one man, one vote ” process.
Secondly, since membership of the All Progressives Congress is drawn from the Peoples Democratic party(PDP), they will not want to try funny things like rigging because they were once allies and party faithfuls to each other. It therefore means that they had access to the rigging formula they may have employed in previous elections.
But I have a little problem, I feel there may be a some violence because as I type this message right now, the polity is heated (very hot).”
“The electorate now understand that they need to vote for their rights”
Collins Newuwumi, Warri North, Delta State
“With the level of awareness and sensitisation done by CSO’s in Delta State there might be some percentage of fairness in this upcoming election. The electorate now understand that they need to vote for their rights. Also due to monitoring the counting might also bring a little integrity.”