There is likely to be increased voter turnout in the coming elections partly because of the growing public dissatisfaction with the ruling party and partly because people believe the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS), an electronic device designed to read Permanent Voters Cards (PVCs) and accredit voters through biometric identification, would restore fairness to the democratic process.

However, some unpalatable judicial incidents have shaken the faith of the citizenry in the electoral system. One such ruling is the verdict passed by the Election Petition Tribunal on the 16 July Osun State governorship election, which was initially won by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)’s Ademola Adeleke.

Oyetola, the All Progressives Congress (APC) gubernatorial candidate, had asked the tribunal to cancel the election alleging that there was overvoting in some polling units; he also claimed that the PDP candidate had presented an inauthentic West African Examination Council (WAEC) certificate. Notwithstanding, the decision of the tribunal has cast doubts on the credibility of the BVAS, as people wonder whether politicians can override voting results in favour of their selfish interests.

The judiciary was involved in another controversial election issue after the Supreme Court declared that current Senate President Ahmad Ibrahim Lawan is the right APC senatorial candidate for Yobe North Senatorial District, thereby invalidating Bashir Sheriff Machina’s unopposed win at the APC primary on 28 May 2022.

Ahmad Lawan was vying for the APC’s presidential ticket when the primary election for the Senate seat was held, so he did not participate. It was, however, surprising that after his loss at the presidential level, his party conducted another primary that helped him retrieve his senatorial seat.

This case of judicial misconduct brings back memories of the Imo State gubernatorial election. Initially, the results by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had declared the victory of the PDP’s Emeka Ihedioha who had 273,404 votes and was tailed by Action Alliance’s Uche Nwosu who had 190,364 votes with the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA)’s Ifeanyi Ararume and the APC’s Hope Uzodinma following with 114,676 and 96,458 votes respectively.

In a strange turn of events, an election tribunal ruled that Hope Uzodinma, who came fourth, was the true winner of the election, not Ihedioha. Since then, Imo has been bedevilled by violence as the governor is largely considered to be illegitimate in the eyes of the people.

Regardless of the widespread scepticism about the elections and unpredictability of judicial decisions, Nigerians hope that the BVAS, whose effectiveness depends on its deployment and the right interpretation of voting results, will be sufficient to reduce the malpractices of corrupt politicians, prevent vote-padding and restore power to the electorate.