EU Election Observation Mission (EOM) observers highlighted a particularly constrained campaign environment in Rivers State, Nigeria, during the recent elections and its role in undermining democracy in Nigeria. Former Governor Nyesom Wike imposed campaign rules that were found to be more restrictive than the regulations set by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
The EU EOM observers documented several instances of restricted access for opposition candidates to state-owned stadiums and school premises. Additionally, they found evidence of selectively imposed excessive venue fees, temporary road blockades, and the closure of party offices to impede campaigning by opponents.
These findings suggest that Governor Wike’s campaign tactics hindered the ability of opposition candidates to effectively reach voters and promote their platforms. The denial of access to state-owned facilities, the imposition of exorbitant fees, and the closure of party offices undermine the principles of fair competition and equal opportunities in the electoral process.
However, the constrained campaign environment was not limited to Wike’s Rivers State alone. EU EOM observers also noted that insecurity in certain parts of the country, along with acute cash and fuel scarcity, impeded campaigning efforts nationwide. This led to the suspension of the presidential campaign in some states and a general decrease in rallies and attendance, especially during the final phase of the campaign.
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The EU EOM observers’ report sheds light on the challenges faced by opposition candidates in Rivers State, where Governor Wike’s campaign rules went beyond the established regulations. The findings also highlight the broader issues of insecurity and scarcity that impacted the electoral process throughout the country.
The report’s observations will likely prompt further discussions and analysis of the electoral environment in Nigeria, with a focus on the need for transparent and equitable campaigning conditions. The EU EOM report underscores the importance of ensuring fair and competitive elections that allow all candidates to engage with voters on an equal footing.
The EU Election Observation Mission (EOM) quoted in their report:
“EU EOM observers also noted a particularly constrained campaign environment in Rivers State, with the governor imposing campaign rules that were more restrictive than INEC regulations.”
“EU EOM observers recorded denials of access to opposition candidates to state-owned stadiums and school premises, selectively imposed excessive venue fees, as well as cases of some roads being temporarily blocked, and party offices closed to impede campaigning by opponent candidates.” the EU added.