Ahead of the Imo State gubernatorial election scheduled for November 11, 2023, Yiaga Africa, a respected civil society organization, has identified six local government areas (LGAs) in the state as the most volatile.
Cynthia Mbamalau, the Director of Programmes at Yiaga Africa, shared these findings at Yiaga Africa’s WTV Media &CSO Round Table discussion held in Owerri.
The six LGAs she identified as hotspots for security issues are Okigwe, Ehime Mbano, Oru East, Oru West, Orlu, and Orsu.
According to Mbamalau, Yiaga Africa has already communicated its concerns about these LGAs to various security agencies.
According to her, the group’s commitment to ensuring a credible election was evident in its deployment of pre-election observers to monitor the pre-election space and processes in the state in September.
She revealed the lack of Permanent Voter Card (PVC) collection in Orsu Local Government Area, where PVCs had to be collected in Owerri.
She explained that in Imo State, a total of 2,318,919 PVCs were collected, stressing that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) also declared that in 38 polling units out of 4,758, elections would not take place.
She said the group will deploy 328 election observers for the polls.
Yiaga Africa’s Programme Officer, Paul James, in his submission, spoke extensively on the findings of the post-election report of Yiaga Africa after the 2023 general election.
According to him, the report highlighted that polling did not commence at an appreciable rate in the Southeast region, unlike in other geopolitical zones.
Participants at the parley collectively expressed concerns that the upcoming governorship election in Imo State might face challenges due to potential voter apathy.
Several speakers noted that many eligible voters have lost confidence in the electoral process and the electoral umpire, INEC.
Concerns were also raised about violence perpetrated by non-state actors, including thugs and unknown gunmen.
To address these concerns, participants called on the government, INEC, and security agencies to take measures to restore public confidence and alleviate fears related to the election.
They stressed the importance of a peaceful election that ensures the safety of all stakeholders.
In his welcome remarks, Chairman of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Imo State Council, Comrade Ifeanyi Nwanguma, expressed satisfaction that civil society organizations are increasingly involving the media in the state.
Represented by Mr.Chigozw Uzosike, he emphasized the importance of a peaceful election and thanked Yiaga Africa for its efforts to promote transparent and democratic electoral processes in the nation.