Why was the 2023 governorship election postponed?

Mar 09, 2023|Stears Explains

Almost two weeks after the conduct of the controversial presidential election, Nigerians were getting prepared to participate in the governorship and state assembly elections.

But these expectations have been cut short by an official announcement from the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) postponing the governorship elections. 

Why did INEC postpone the election?

Yesterday March 8th, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) officially announced the postponement of the governorship and state assembly elections to March 18, 2023. The elections, previously scheduled for March 11th, were rescheduled by one week due to legal issues concerning the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS). 

The postponement was to accommodate an ex-parte order by the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal to allow some political parties to inspect materials used for the presidential election.

The order also allowed a forensic investigation into over 176,000 BVAS devices utilised in the presidential election and at all INEC offices in LGAs nationwide. INEC wanted the tribunal to reconsider the order, fearing that the absence of an explicit timeframe for the inspection would disrupt its ability to conduct the governorship and state assembly elections. 

INEC said it could only activate BVAS for a specific date and time, so having used it for the presidential and national assembly elections, it needs a reconfiguration for the governorship and state assembly elections. While the Court of Appeal in Abuja has acceded to INEC's request to reconfigure BVAS, the commission complained that the ruling had come far too late for properly reconfiguring the devices for conducting the election at the previously scheduled date, making a postponement necessary.   

INEC thus postponed the election mainly because it needed adequate time to back up the data stored on the over 176,000 BVAS machines from the election held on February 25th, 2023, and reconfigure them for the governorship and state assembly elections. 

While this postponement is disruptive, it is the result of accommodating the wishes of the parties challenging the results of the presidential elections. Their access to the BVAS machines will enable them to gather all the necessary information to assemble a robust case.

Where else?

●  Will INEC postpone the 2023 elections?—We look into INEC’s trend of postponing elections, the legal justifications and key stakeholders impacted by such a decision.

●  A data story on Nigeria's next governors—Adesola Afolabi uses Stears Election historical data to analyse diversity trends or a lack thereof among Nigeria’s future governors.

●  Nigeria's governors matter for the country's future, here's why—Joachim Macebong looked at the importance of Nigeria’s governance, who have less scrutiny than the President. He explains why this should not continue.

●  Follow Stears elections here to get personalised election updates, insights and results for races and candidates you care about.