By Ahmed Nasara


The general elections of 2023 have come and gone, but the dust raised in many states and constituencies remains thick in the air.

Every election in our country has its challenges, more so this year’s election which used new mechanisms which differ from the previous general elections. One such fresh features in this year’s election was the deployment of technology and increased use of social media for accreditation and transmission of results.

This limited employment of technology was the defining feature which unraveled the ugly character of the Nigerian political class and the absence of decency both in values and character as far as their attitude to the Democratic process is concerned.

One must commend the decision by the electoral umpire, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to employ the Bimodal Voters Accreditation System (BVAS) and the bold insistence to transmit results real-time from polling units.

The outcome of the elections reveal clearly why certain sections of the political class had vehemently and virulently opposed INEC’s decision to employ the system.

Up until the last week to the elections, the APC national leadership remained truculent and unrepentant in opposition to it. They kept calling on President Buhari and the National Assembly to review the electoral act in order to throw out the use of BVAS and electronic transmission of results.

The firm insistence of opposition political parties, the organized civil society and the media encouraged the INEC to stand its ground.

Looking at the conduct and outcomes of the elections in many states and constituencies, one can decipher why the opposition to the BVAS was so strong among certain political actors.

In Nasarawa and Kaduna states, to mention just two of the worse case scenarios, the employment of BVAS and the realtime transmission of results from polling units revealed the desperate determination by the politicians to bend the rules and set aside the regulations in order to win at all costs and by all means.

In Nasarawa, this desperation increased in the last two week to the gubernatorial election following the shocking victory in the state of Labour Party candidate Mr Peter Obi in the presidential election of February 25th 2023.

The ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) with all the leverage it had from its control of both the Federal and state governments as well as 13 local governments in the state, was roundly defeated by Mr. Obi.

Even more shocking was the revelation that the APC national chairman Abdullahi Adamu, a Former Governor and Senator in the state, could not deliver his polling unit to Asiwaju Bola Tinubu of the APC.

While the social media was still awashed with reports of Adamu’s loss in his polling unit, more embarrassing reports surfaced to the effect that incumbent Governor Audu Sule had lost in his ward and Local Government Area of Akwanga to Peter Obi in the Presidential election.

Former Governor Tanko Almakura, another APC top gun in the state also couldn’t deliver to Tinubu despite the stupendous resources deployed by the National and state party financiers of the ruling APC for the election.

To worsen matters for Almakura, he was roundly defeated by the opposition PDP in his bid to return to the senate from Nasarawa South Senatorial Zone.

It was widely expected that if Tinubu failed to win Nasarawa, it would be victory for Atiku Abubakar of the PDP; but again shockingly too, it wasn’t the case despite the close relationship between Governor Sule and Atiku Abubakar who is known to be Sule’s political Godfather since his days as Vice President and leader in the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN).


Immediately Obi defeated the APC and the PDP in the presidential election in Nasarawa state, there was an uproar in the media following an outburst of unrestrained anger and threats by pro APC commentators. They threatened to turn the governorship election into an ethnic and religious war.

These threats became more pronounced when the Labour Party aligned with the main opposition PDP in the state for the governorship election.


The Labour Party candidate Engr Joseph Ewuga stepped down for the main opposition party candidate Dr David Ombugadu of the PDP and decided to join forces with the later to face the ruling APC.

The beating of religious and tribal drums by the ruling APC supporters further hardened positions in many parts of the state against the APC in the governorship and state assembly elections. This development further made the 18 March 2023 governorship election in Nasarawa state truly explosive as tension rose sharply to unprecedented heights.

Governor Sule who was initially lax in the campaign for his re-election suddenly relocated from Lafia the state capital to Karu, the largest concentration of the voting population in the state by number of registered voters. Out of the total of 3256 polling units in Nasarawa state, Karu alone has 516 pulling units. The remaining 12 Local Government Areas share the rest with Lafia, Obi, Nasarawa and Nasarawa Eggon being the other heavyweights in terms of polling units and registered voters.

The tension that followed the Presidential election in Nasarawa state showed that it was not all well with the ruling APC in the state. To further buttress this point,

the Party’s governorship campaign was lacklustre, devoid of the boisterous excitement and attendance usually associated with ruling parties campaigns in an election year.

The first campaign outing in Toto witnessed public protests by the Party’s youths against Governor sule and his team for alleged failure of His Excellency to meet up with previous campaign promises.

Also, during the APC’s governorship campaign rallies in places such as Awe, Keana, Lafia and Kokona Local Government Areas there were unpleasant incidents suggesting things were not all smooth in the ruling party.

Although these LGAs were not the real threats except Lafia in terms of voting strength, the fact that Sule wasn’t received with pomp and fanfare pointed to difficulties ahead.

Clearly, some of the lukewarm receptions Governor Sule witnessed in parts of the state emanated from bitter outcomes of the APC state and National Assembly party primaries. In many constituencies the party didn’t hold transparent primaries. This forced popular candidates to flee from the APC to opposition parties, further depleting the party’s support base which had by now became shaky.

The consequence was that the ruling Party lost all the three Senatorial Seats in Nasarawa state and two House of Representatives seats to the opposition parties.

The opposition PDP had meanwhile, witnessed more rousing crowds and receptions in their campaigns than the ruling APC.

Leading the PDP campaign in the State was the former Chairman PDP Board of Trustees (BOT) and Chairman of the PDP presidential and state campaign council in Nasarawa state, Sen Walid Jibrin, Sarkin Fulani Nasarawa; the hardworking chairman of the PDP in the state Comrade Francis Orogu; Elder statesman Chief Matthew Attah Akwe Doma; Alh. Bagudu Danladi Usman, Chairman Elder Caucus; Former Deputy Governor Chief John Michael Abdul; Sen Suleiman Asonya Adokwe; Sen Philip Aruwa Gyunka; Elder Mark Ogbole; and Dr Joel Adagadzu.

Other big actors in the PDP Campaign in Nasarawa state were Former State Assembly Speaker and two time member of the House of Representatives Mohammed Onawo; Former North Central Zonal chairman Alh Yusuf Ayitogo; Former State Chairman Chief Yunana Iliya; Prof Jibrin who headed the Research Committee; Engr Kefas Kaura; Former Head of Service Alh Usman Dubagari; Former Director General National Orientation Agency (NOA) Dr Mike Omeri; and Maj Gen Nuhu Angbazo rtd who was the runner up in the PDP governorship primaries. All these galaxy of political leaders among several others united behind the 2023 PDP governorship campaign in Nasarawa state.

A key factor in the 2023 governorship campaign of the PDP in Nasarawa was the return of former Minister of Information and Communications and the Supervising Minister of Defense Labaran Maku, CON to the PDP.

Mr Maku had left the PDP to the All Progresssives Grand Alliance (APGA) in 2015 and became the leading opposition candidate in the governorship elections of 2915 and 2019. He was widely believed to have won the governorship election in 2015.

His return reunited all the main opposition factions in the PDP and raised the stakes in the 2023 elections in Nasarawa state.

When Mr Maku, also a former Deputy Governor in the state, accepted to become the Director General of all the PDP campaigns in Nasarawa State in 2023, it was obvious that the ruling APC was in for a real challenge. Maku is a strong Grassroot politician with strong network of followers and supporters across the state.

The return of Maku and his decision to collapse his structures behind the PDP Candidate David Ombugadu gave the PDP extra spring and momentum in the 2023 general election in Nasarawa state.

This background and the recurring complaints that incumbent Governor Sule had performed below average in the last 4 years tipped the balance in the 2023 governorship race in favour of the main opposition PDP and its candidate David Ombugadu who had earlier defeated strong contenders to emerge as the flag bearer of the party in the state primaries.

It is however curious that the final outcome of the election announced by the INEC gave victory to incumbent Governor Audu Sule. This was a most unlikely outcome because it was obvious and clear to all discerning political observers that he (Sule) was up against the headwinds.


When the results started coming in thanks to real time electronic transfers from polling units to INEC iREV platform, Sule had lost in his Local Government Area of Akwanga; while his Deputy Dr Emmanuel Akabe also lost in Doma his own Local Government Area to the PDP.The PDP had also won in Obi LGA.

It was more trouble yet as the PDP also defeated incumbent Governor Sule in the state Capital Lafia by all the polling units results on the INEC iREV platform. This was of course before the sudden and controversial twists in four polling units in Gayam and Chiroma wards.

Lafia, Obi and Doma are the most populous LGAs with majority of registered voters in the Nasarawa South Senatorial zone.

In the Northern Senatorial Zone where Sule comes from, he lost in Akwanga and Nasarawa Eggon, the two most populous LGAs in the Zone.

The real trouble for the ruling APC was in the Western Senatorial Zone where both the National and state chairmen of the APC hail from. When the dust had settled the National Chairman lost his polling unit in Keffi and his Local Government Area, Kokona to the PDP. The APC state Chairman John Mamman who also comes from Kokona lost to the opposition PDP.

Governor Sule’s problems were further compounded when the broad majority of Karu voters turned against him in favour of opposition candidate Dr David Ombugadu of the PDP. The APC lost most woefully in Karu in spite of the fact Gov Sule had practically relocated from Lafia to Karu in the last two weeks of the campaign. His campaign Director General Tanimu Adabson esq a former Attorney General of the state who hails from Karu lost in his polling unit, in his Ward in Panda Kare and in his Local Government Area.


From February 25 when the APC lost the Presidential election to Mr. Peter Obi and Former Governor Almakura also lost to PDP’s Mohammed Onawo in Nasarawa South, it was evident that Governor Audu Sule was up against a strong political storm. The APC had indeed lost all the three Senate seats in the state to opposition parties.

The governorship results finally announced after two days of delays from two electoral wards right in Lafia the state capital went against the grain of the electoral mood and voting pattern in the state.

Many still wonder for instance how the governorship accreditation figures for Gayam and Ciroma Wards in Lafia doubled the number of voters accredited for the House of Assembly election conducted in the same Wards, the same day; the two elections having held the same day under the same accreditation process with the same BVAS.

By the time the stupendous figures suddenly came from Gayam and Ciroma wards to give Governor Sule “victory,” 99.5% of all polling unit results in the state had already been uploaded on the INEC IREV platform.

Many who were keenly following the progress of the results from polling units on the INEC iREV and on the social media were dumbfounded by the sudden twist and the final tally announced by Prof Ishaya Tanko in Lafia on Monday 20 March 2023. Not surprisingly, the announcement of incumbent Governor Sule as “winner” was greeted with shock, consternation and absolute disquiet in the state. Not even the ruling Party could summon the courage to celebrate! An ominous silence thick as midnight enveloped Lafia and Nasarawa state!

Instead of celebrations and loud ovations that normally herald election victories, the silence was broken only by thousands of women, some nude or half dressed, who trouped out to protest the announcement.

As I write this commentary, the polling units results on the INEC iREV still point to obvious discrepancy between the polling units and the final tally announced in favour of incumbent Governor Audu Sule in Lafia.

‘Elections’ in Nigeria continue to defy logic and expectations of the people and lovers of our nation around the world. This recurring electoral malfeasance makes us a laughing stock even among fellow African countries.

This image battery which Nigeria continues to suffer from our election umpire the INEC and unscrupulous politicians ought to end before it brings this democratic dispensation to a sudden fall yet again. Elections that look like coups carry the same negative impact of military coups if not worse. There are very bad eggs in our system who have no feeling for the good of our country or its image. They must win at all costs no matter the cost to society and the progress and reputation of Nigeria.

The 2023 governorship election in Nasarawa and Kaduna states, to mention just two cases in the Northern part of Nigeria reminds us that something must be done urgently by all people of goodwill to deliver Nigeria from this four year circus called elections staged at very huge costs while the country continues to plunge on all indices of development.

What remains on the increase is the vicious circle of instability and violence that has stalled the development of Nasarawa state and Nigeria at large.

The 2023 Governorship ‘election’ in Nasarawa state symbolizes all that is wrong with Nigeria’s democracy and the electoral process.



Ahmed Nasara

Writes From

The Faculty of Social Sciences,

Fed Univerity Lafia,

Nasarawa State.

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