Nigeria is set to witness another round of governorship elections in three states on Saturday, November 11, 2023.
The states are Bayelsa, Imo and Kogi, which have off-cycle elections due to court rulings that annulled or altered previous results.
The elections are seen as a test of the popularity and performance of the ruling All Progressives Congress and the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party, as well as other parties and candidates vying for the top seats in the states.
In Bayelsa, the incumbent Governor, Douye Diri of the PDP, is seeking a second term in office. He faces a stiff challenge from the APC candidate, Timipre Sylva, a former governor of the state and former minister of state for petroleum resources.
Sylva was initially declared the winner of the 2019 governorship election, but the supreme court nullified his victory and ordered INEC to issue a certificate of return to Diri, who came second in the poll.
In Imo, the incumbent Governor, Hope Uzodimma of the APC, is also seeking re-election. He became the governor in January 2020, after the supreme court sacked Emeka Ihedioha of the PDP, who had won the 2019 election.
Uzodimma, who came fourth in the poll, had challenged the result, claiming that some of his votes were excluded. The court agreed with him and declared him the winner.
He faces a tough battle from Samuel Anyanwu, who is contesting again under the PDP platform and Athan Achonu of the Labour Party.
In Kogi, the incumbent Governor, Yahaya Bello of the APC has completed his two-terms and the flag bearer for the party in the forthcoming election is Usman Ododo.
Bello won the 2015 election after the death of the APC candidate, Abubakar Audu, who had a clear lead in the poll. Bello, who was Audu’s running mate, was chosen by the party to replace him.
He won the 2019 election, but the result was challenged by the PDP candidate, Musa Wada, who alleged widespread irregularities and violence. The court dismissed Wada’s petition and upheld Bello’s victory.
Dino Melaye is running under the PDP banner, along with Alhaji Murtala Ajaka of the Social Democratic Party.
The elections are expected to be keenly contested and closely monitored by local and international observers. The Independent National Electoral Commission has assured the public of its readiness to conduct free, fair and credible polls.
The security agencies have also promised to maintain law and order and prevent any form of violence or disruption.
The voters in the three states have the opportunity to choose their leaders and shape the future of their states for the next four years.