“For example, through termination of work contracts as an intimidation measure or withholding salaries as a guarantee for delivered results in the campaign.”
European Union Election Observation Mission (EUEOM) says state governors intimidated civil servants and threatened to sack or withhold their salaries if they did not win elections.
This was disclosed in the ‘European Union Election Observation Mission Nigeria 2023 Final Report’, released penultimate Tuesday.
“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,” the report noted.
Days before the March 18 governorship election, Peoples Gazette reported that Madewa Badejo, the medical director of Lagos-owned JK Randle Hospital, directed all staff to present their permanent voter cards to the hospital management as part of strategies to help Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu win reelection.
Similarly, then-Governor Okezie Ikpeazu threatened to deal with Abia civil servants if they failed to vote for his anointed PDP governorship candidate, warning of “the consequences of your indiscretion.”
Relatedly, in the build-up to the gubernatorial poll, Governor Dapo Abiodun distributed expired foodstuff to civil servants in Ogun as part of his moves to solicit their support for his second term bid.
The EUEOM, however, did not mention the governors that intimidated and coerced civil servants to do their bidding. It stressed there was increased voting buying during the 2023 elections compared to past elections.
“Misuse of state resources was evident, primarily through the promotion of social protection and relief programmes, which significantly intensified shortly before the polls,” the damning report added.
It further noted, “Overall, stakeholders noted an increase in intimidation and vote-buying strategies compared to previous elections suggesting this was a deliberate move to subvert the tightened up electoral process after the introduction of new technology.”
It drew attention to the 2022 Electoral Act that prohibits “the use of state apparatus to the advantage or disadvantage of any political party or candidate.”