According to the European Union Election Observation Mission (EUEOM), state governors in Nigeria intimidated civil servants and employed threats of termination or salary withholding if the workers did not ensure their election victories.
The recently published “European Union Election Observation Mission Nigeria 2023 Final Report” disclosed these findings.
The report highlighted that “EU EOM observers also received credible reports of pressure on civil servants by governors, for example through termination of work contracts as an intimidation measure or withholding salaries as a guarantee for delivered results in the campaign.”
In the days leading up to the governorship election on March 18, a news outlet, Peoples Gazette, reported that Madewa Badejo, the medical director of Lagos-owned JK Randle Hospital, instructed all staff members to submit their permanent voter cards to the hospital management as part of a strategy to secure Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu’s re-election.
Likewise, Governor Okezie Ikpeazu, during his tenure, issued a threat to Abia civil servants, warning of consequences if they failed to vote for his preferred candidate from the People’s Democratic Party (PDP). He stated, “The consequences of your indiscretion.”
Additionally, in the lead-up to the gubernatorial poll, Governor Dapo Abiodun distributed expired food items to Ogun State civil servants to solicit their support for his second-term ambitions.
The EUEOM report did not specify the identities of the governors who coerced and intimidated civil servants. However, it emphasized a rise in vote buying during the 2023 elections compared to previous ones.
The damning report noted, “Misuse of state resources was evident, primarily through the promotion of social protection and relief programs, which significantly intensified shortly before the polls.”
Moreover, it highlighted that “Stakeholders noted an increase in intimidation and vote-buying strategies compared to previous elections suggesting this was a deliberate move to subvert the tightened electoral process after introducing new technology.”
The report drew attention to the 2022 Electoral Act, which explicitly prohibits “the use of state apparatus to the advantage or disadvantage of any political party or candidate.”