CDD: Fear of IPOB, unknown gunmen may cause voter apathy in Anambra guber poll

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The Center for Democracy and Development (CDD) says fear of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and “unknown gunmen” may lead to low voter turnout in the November 6 governorship election in Anambra.

Attacks and killings have been on the rise in the state in recent months.Although IPOB has denied being responsible for the attacks, its sit-at-home order has heightened tension in the state and other parts of the south-east.In a briefing issued ahead of the election, CDD said the possible low turn out of voters would weaken the mandate of the elected governor.

“Despite the likelihood that elections in some form will be held in Anambra on 6 November, it is also likely that the context of insecurity, a measure of latent public support for IPOB’s cause, the heavy deployment of security forces, and the acrimonious political competition leading up to the poll will depress voter turnout, leading to an even higher level of voter apathy than has typically been witnessed in Anambra elections,” the brief reads.

“This is a concerning outlook for several reasons. The first is that high voter abstention rates mean that instances of election malpractice such as vote-buying or rigging — which have proven impossible to eradicate in Nigerian elections — will have an even more dramatic impact on the final outcome.

“Secondly, the heightened possibility of low voter turnout risks weakening the mandate of Anambra’s next governor, given the likelihood that he will be elected by only a fraction of the entire voting population.

“Such a circumstance will serve to increase the already high degree of alienation a substantial proportion of citizens feel towards the state, as indicated in the emergence of non-state armed groups such as IPOB and the “unknown gunmen”.

“Finally, high-levels of voter abstention would likely also serve to reinforce the argument repeatedly advanced by groups such as IPOB that the Nigerian electoral system is fundamentally flawed and needs to be jettisoned as a whole.”

CDD said in light of the worrying repercussions of a failed, or widely boycotted election, relevant stakeholders should exhaust all reasonable avenues to ensure that the democratic franchise of Anambra voters is protected and delivered.

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