By Augustine Ehikioya
After carrying out assessment across the country, the Security Watch Africa Initiatives (SWAI) has returned a verdict that many States in Nigeria will experience low threat and non-violent elections.
The report, however, noted that while the South-East and some States in the South-South and South-West are high threat areas, other States will have violence/attacks not directly related to the elections, pre, during and post-election periods.
Recall that the Presidential and National Assembly elections are scheduled to hold coming Saturday 25th, February, 2023, while the State Governorship and House of Assembly elections are billed for Saturday 11th, March, 2023.
According to a statement issued by the President/Chief Executive of SWAI, Mr. Patrick Agbambu, even though there will be spots of election violence/attacks in some States across the country, they will not be strong enough to affect the credibility of the general elections.
The assessment of security across all the States of Nigeria, he said, was done to ascertain the likely areas of violence and attacks before, during and after the 2023 general elections.
He disclosed that the indicators used for the 2-month assessment included political and security antecedents, current political and security dynamics, political gladiators, motivation, principles of do or die, concept of winner takes all, desperation, availability of tools and availability of hoodlums.
The SWAI President also explained that the assessment was in line with SWAI’s mission of providing security information that will help keep Africa and Africans safe.
He said “This threat analysis have been graded into five categories, from high threat level, to intermediate threat level, moderate threat level, low threat level and non-election related violence.
“Beginning from the South-Eastern States of Nigeria, comprising, Anambra, Imo, Enugu, Ebonyi and Abia States, these States have been graded high threat areas, because of the activities of secessionist groups who have continuously threatened to disrupt the general elections in the region.
“From the South-South States, some parts of Delta State, because of its closeness to the South-East, will fall under the high threat level as was the case in our 2019 analysis. But generally Delta State will fall under moderate threat level even with the contending political forces at play for the 2023 general elections.
“Rivers and Edo States have been graded under high threat areas while Akwa-Ibom and Cross River fall under moderate threat level. The only State in the South-South with low threat level is Bayelsa State.”
For the South-West zone, he said, States like Oyo and Osun may experience election violence and have been graded high threat areas.
The SWAI President added “Lagos State may face some level of election violence, because of the strong political forces at play in the State and have been graded at intermediate threat level.
“The State will witness non-election related violence/attacks. The remaining States in the South-West, that is, Ondo, Ekiti and Ogun have been graded low threat level States.”
On the North-Central States, he said, Benue State will record violence not directly related with elections, but with some spots of election violence in some part of the State.
“Benue is a flash point and have been graded under intermediate threat level. Nasarawa and Plateau States have been graded under low threat level, but Plateau State may have some violence/attacks not related to elections.
“Niger State have been graded under low threat level but with some non-election related violence / attacks. Kogi State is graded intermediate threat level, though the State will not be having the governorship elections, but the political gladiators in the State may want to prove a point, that may result to some level of violence in some areas of the State.
“Kwara State will record low threat level, even though there are strong contending political forces in the State,” he stated.
Also from the assessment, he said that all the North-West States, apart from Kaduna, will have low threat levels.
“The whole of the North-West States, that is Jigawa, Kano, Katsina, Kebbi, Sokoto and Zamfara States, except Kaduna State will record low threat level. Zamfara and Katsina States may experience violence/attacks not related to elections.
“Kaduna State unlike the other States in the North-West may record moderate threat level particularly in the Southern Kaduna axis but again there may be some violence/attacks not related to elections.”
For the North-East States of Adamawa, Bauchi, Borno, Gombe, Taraba and Yobe, which have been graded as low threat level, he said “though with likelihood of some violence/attacks that are not election related in Borno, Yobe, Adamawa and Bauchi. There are also political contending forces in some of these States but it may not lead to election violence.”
“Finally, the Federal Capital Territory FCT, have been graded as a low threat level, basically because there are no contending forces and the residents of Abuja are generally peaceful,” he said.
He expressed confidence that the lead security agency in charge of internal security, the Nigeria Police Force in collaboration with other security agencies and election stakeholders, the Independent National Electoral Commission INEC, political parties, are capable to handle any security challenge that may arise.
“In conclusion, the aim of this security threats report/analysis for the 2023 general elections is not to create fear or panic but to assist all concerned in their activities.
“If proper planning and deployment are made by the security agencies led by the Nigeria Police Force and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), valuable lives, property and materials will be secured,” he concluded.