Nasarawa women, consisting mainly of housewives, young girls, widows, orphans, and destitute, have continued their protest in Nasarawa state, demanding justice in the gubernatorial election declaration by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). The protest has been ongoing for six okdays since the declaration of the incumbent Governor Sule by Professor Ishaya Tanko of the University of Jos as elected and returned. The women are insisting that the declaration does not reflect the actual polls as Nasarawa people massively voted for David Ombugadu of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP).
The gubernatorial and state Houses of Assembly elections held on March 18th, 2023, across Nigeria, including Nasarawa state. As the results were coming in, it was clear that the PDP candidate was leading. Out of the initial 11 LGAs results declared, PDP won more votes and LGA. However, when it came to the coalition of Awe and Lafia LGAs, it became clear that the APC candidate, Engr. Sule had lost while the PDPcandidate, David Ombugadu, had won the election. The collation was delayed, and when Professor Tanko Ishaya announced the results later, the figures announced were at variance with uploads on the IReV portal. Lafia, for instance, had a total of about 66,000 accredited voters, but the gubernatorial results for Lafia had over 107,000 votes.
People recalled that before the election, several videos went viral inciting the people along religious and ethnic lines. One renowned traditional ruler even boastfully said in one of the videos that if anybody wins the election and the winner is not in APC, the person has lost. The Governor himself was sitting beside the said monarch and was clapping and cheering to this.
The protest by Nasarawa women is a reflection of their desire for change and justice in the electoral process. The support for Ombugadu cuts across both tribal and religious boundaries, and Nasarawa people united across the zones to vote for him. Even the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) in Nasarawa and the Obedient Movement in Nasarawa state endorsed Ombugadu as their candidate for the 2023 elections.
The women are demanding that INEC reviews and reverses the declaration made by the Returning Officer for the state, Professor Ishaya Tanko, and that David Ombugadu is returned as elected by the majority of lawful votes cast. They have stated that they will not back down until victory is achieved.
The PDP Legal Team has already tabled a formal request to INEC for a review of the declaration. The peaceful protest by Nasarawa women continues as they lay curses on whoever had a hand in any electoral fraud. They have made it clear that all they want is justice.