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Osun State 2022 Governorship Election: The Positives, Potentials, and Lessons

The Osun State governorship election which was held on 16 July 2022 might have come and gone, but its impact and lessons will be useful for future elections, especially as the 2023 general elections draw closer. The governorship election was held amidst fear of possible violence and widespread manipulation which characterized the rerun election of 2018 in the state. However, the election was adjudged relatively peaceful, despite seeing reported skirmishes before and after the election.[1] Also, the deployment of BVAS machines and instant announcement of results at the polling units, and transmission of same to the INEC server made manipulation of results difficult. Obviously, this left limited room for desperate politicians to unduly and unethically influence the results of the election as it was their practice.

One of such rooms left for desperate politicians is the perpetration of violence where they are losing so that the result of such polling units will be canceled, and thus reduce the chances of the opponents. However, you can only know if you are losing after the announcement of results, which was immediately transmitted in real-time to the INEC server. The deployment of Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) machines, while it does not totally eliminate chances of double registration, significantly reduced those chances, as biometric screening and verification are supported by facial recognition. It is more to the credit of Nigerians for this significant improvement in the electoral process. The continuous campaign and pressure on government and politicians by citizens led to reform in the electoral process. However, it is not yet Uhuru as the electoral system still needs important reforms to advance the democratic culture in Nigeria.

Weaponisation of Poverty

One of those issues to be addressed by electoral reform is the disturbing issue of vote buying. This was very evident in the Osun governorship elections, as there were reported cases of widespread vote buying and selling[2]. This is clearly a dangerous trend. It will be recalled that similar scenarios were witnessed during the 2018 governorship election in Osun State[3] and recently in the 2022 Ekiti governorship election[4]. This act is aimed at financially inducing voters to vote for a particular party. Politicians and political parties, having lost some ground for manipulation as a result of new electoral provisions, have perfected the act of weaponizing poverty for their pecuniary political interest. Voters, who have been economically impoverished for years are made to sell their votes to politicians for as low as one thousand naira (less than $3). While this does not resolve their economic challenge, the idea of getting ‘free’ money to resolve immediate economic problem is becoming enticing to many voters. Moreover, given the serial failure of politicians, many voters believe collecting their ‘share’ from politicians before election is the only way to have any dividend of democracy. While this trend of vote buying has been in existence for some years, it is now being seen as a ‘saving grace’ for desperate politicians, as a result of more stringent provisions in the electoral law.

Therefore, it will take serious political education, which must target the voters at the grassroots and urban communities, to reverse this trend, which is vast becoming a tradition in every election. Voters need to be enlightened on the poverty-recycling process of vote buying i.e. selling votes will only give politicians the authority to further worsen voters’ economic conditions. However, beyond this political education is the need to improve the electoral laws, especially in regards to monitoring of parties’ and candidates’ electoral finances by the election management body, INEC. It will give the opportunity to see the red light in party electoral finances.

Furthermore, there is the need to enforce the aspect of electoral law that criminalizes vote buying and selling. There should be adequate empowerment of security agencies, and especially media, civil society, and citizens need to be empowered to blow the whistle on vote buying and abuse of electoral financing. More than this is the need to reduce legalized monetization of elections. For instance, INEC needs to reduce the campaign spending limit of political parties and politicians, as this allows money-bag politicians to have leeway for malpractices. There is also the need to reduce the cost of nomination by political parties as this, alongside huge campaign funds, leads politicians to desperation.

Increase in Registered Number of Voters

Looking at it from a positive perspective, the election in Osun State also shows the growing consciousness of citizens as regard elections. This is reflected in the significant increase in registered voters, vote cast, and voters’ turnout. For instance, the number of registered voters increased from 1,678,985 in 2018 to 1,952,387 in 2022, an increase of 273,402 (16.3 percent increase). Also, the number of collected voters’ cards increased from 1,213,036 in 2018 to 1,518,303 in 2022, an increase of 305,267(25.2 percent increase). On the flip side, while the number of actual voters increased from 775,687 in 2018 to 827,218 in 2022, the percentage turnout in the 2022 election, at 42.37 percent, is the lowest since 2014 (54.17percent in 2014 and 46.2 percent in 2022).[5] This shows that, while more people collected their voter’s cards, the percentage of those who actually voted reduced. Although, Osun State turnout is higher than the national average, it is actually following the national trend of shrinking voters’ turnout or increasing voter apathy. Therefore, there is a need to embark on more serious voter education. The Independent National Electoral Commission must establish closer collaboration with civil society organizations and the media toward deepening voter education as regards turning out for elections. More than this is the need to also improve the voting process which will reduce waiting time and number of voters being processed by INEC.

Active Youth Participation During the Election

Another important development in the Osun State governorship election is the role of the youth. According to data released by INEC, there are 777,124 registered young voters between the ages of 18 and 35 in Osun State. This is almost 39.8 percent of the total number of registered voters, 80 percent (about 620,00) of whom are students[6]. This shows the readiness of youth, especially the educated youth, to participate in the electoral process. Given also that the election was relatively free of widespread violence usually associated with Nigerian elections, it confirms the position that youth can actually be peaceful agents of change, as against the pervasive and mainstream belief that youth are basically perpetrators of violence. However, only four candidates, out of fifteen (26.7 percent) are below the age of 40 years. While this is not bad, it is still not representative of the youth population in the state. Also, there are no female governorship candidates despite the fact that 47.24 percent of the voting population are women. However, nine (9) out of the fifteen (15) deputy governorship candidates were female. This trend, while still below expectations, shows the potential for youth and women’s direct involvement in elections in the coming period. But this will require serious engagements at various levels.


The Osun State governorship election has shown the positives and potential if all stakeholders commit themselves to implementing the electoral reform and effect serious changes in the electoral system. Yet, we need to understand that the Osun governorship election is an off-season election. While it shows the progress already made and the potential these have for the Nigeria’s electoral system, especially as we approach the 2023 general elections, we must note that the logistical arrangement and socio-economic and political milieu are different at the national level. Therefore, for every challenge identified in the Osun governorship election, we must know that it will be bigger at the national level; just as potentials identified will need bigger efforts in order to actualize them.

Ultimately, the electoral system cannot be divorced from the socio-economic and political system operating within the Nigerian society. Therefore, delivering the democratic dividends in terms of visible improvements in the living standards of the majority of the population, as well as social and economic advancement will greatly impact the electoral system. This is where civil society including pro-democracy movement, youth movement, labour movement, and the media need to play an important role in setting the agenda of governance that will ensure that public resources and wealth are used for the collective good of all, and not that of a few in corridors of power and big business. 

Written by

Kola Ibrahim
Research Fellow,
Building Blocks for Peace Foundation


[1] Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room. (2022). Second preliminary statement by the Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room on the Osun State governorship election. 16 July, 2022.

[2] Op. Cit.

[3] Busari, Kemi. (2018). OsunDecide2018: Vote buying reigns as thugs bar rival voters from polling unit. Premium Times (online). 27 September, 2018.

[4] Adebayo, Folorunsho-Francis.(2022). Ekiti election characterised by vote-buying. Daylight robbery – IPAC. Punch newspaper (online).

[5] Amata, Dennis. (2022). OsunDecides: only 42.16% of registered voters voted in the Osun governorship election. Dataphyte.


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