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Failed Nigerian Gubernatorial Election Makes Third Try


Some Nigerians will re-cast their votes this weekend in the country’s third try at its first gubernatorial election since major political realignments. Rather than demonstrating the influence of the new political parties, analysts say the botched election has only revealed that authorities are not ready for 2015, when Nigeria elects its next president.

The race for Anambra state governor was originally held two weeks ago, the first of its kind since the ruling People's Democratic Party split and four opposition parties merged.

If the election had demonstrated growing support for the main opposition party in the heart of President Goodluck Jonathan’s southern support base, it might have indicated the possibility of an upset in 2015.

Instead, the election itself was a train wreck, and residents in some areas are heading to the polls for the third time this weekend to try again.

Political analyst Anthony Chigbo said missing ballots, late ballots, and names not on the voter rolls marred the election. The day after the vote, much of the state went back to the polls to vote again but the election commission still was not prepared.

He said election officials also failed to stop politicians from buying votes. Votes in Anambra go for about $25 each these days.

“Vote buying is a product of poverty. Zero disposable income. People not knowing where the next meal is coming from,” said Chigbo.

In 2011, post-election violence killed more than 800 people in Nigeria and since then the country has grown even more volatile.

Chigbo said it was hard to believe election authorities in Anambra were so poorly prepared.

“If this was a national election it would have been a disaster. Because it’s a pocket election involving only one state we expected them to do beyond what they have done,” he said.

Since the failed vote, candidates from three parties, including the national ruling party and the main opposition party, have threatened to boycott the re-scheduled election in parts of the state, saying the entire vote should be scrapped.

One election official was arrested after the vote, accused of failing in his duties. Opposition leaders have accused the election commission of rigging the vote.

Election officials said there was not enough evidence to prove widespread fraud, which is needed to cancel the entire poll and start again.

(Hilary Uguru contributed to this report from Anambra state.)
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