The Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) in partnership with the Premium Times Centre for Investigative Journalism (PTCIJ) deployed 180 trained and accredited observers for the Osun State Governorship election of September 22, 2018. CDD and PTCIJ observers deployed across the 30 Local Governments (LGAs) in the state consisted of 100 stationary observers who kept an eye on the electoral process in pre-selected Polling Units (Pus) beginning with accreditation of voters, the voting process, counting and the declaration of results. Another group of 80 roving observers made up of trained journalists traversed the electoral terrain to observe, document and report on incidents capable of undermining the integrity and credibility of the electoral process. CDD-PTCIJ observers deployed on the field sent in their findings to an Elections Analysis Centre in Abuja, from which a team of data analysts mined information on the trends and narratives shaping the process.
Preliminary Findings –
CDD-PTCIJ observer reports indicate that election materials arrived in PUs on time in most PUs; the accreditation and voting process commenced with minimal hitches to the voting process. Although some voters experienced slight challenges while passing through the card reader accreditation process, CDD-PTCIJ observers reported that the card reader issues were not widespread enough, as to affect the ability of citizens to exercise their franchise. The voter turnout is impressive compared to previous off-cycle elections. We are hopeful it may be at par with the 53 per cent turnout recorded in the last 2014 governorship election of the state.
CDD-PTCIJ observer reports indicate that on the average, accreditation and voting processes commenced at 8:19 am across 122 polling units observed across the 30 LGAs. Our Observers reported that the voting process went on smoothly without significant hitches. In few instances, there were minor glitches with the smart card readers (SCR), but INEC technicians were on hand to fix them, an example is PU 04 located at Oja Oke Open Space, the voting session was momentarily halted to fix an issue with the card reader. On the whole, however, the voting process commenced promptly and mostly went on peacefully as citizens exercised their franchise.
INEC new policy reduces vote buying
The ban of the use of mobile phones and other recording devices in voting cubicles by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) largely thwarted blantant vote buying. In most of the polling units where we observed the ongoing election, voters willingly complied with the policy, and in a case where such attempt to violate the policy, law enforcement agents and INEC officials saw to its enforcement. The Nigerian Police force tweeted the arrest of two voter buys arrested with six hundred. Our observers also reported the arrest of a vote buyer identified as Sunday, was arrested at Polling Unit 03, Ward 06 of Ifedayo Local Government Area but he was arrested and later released by police officers in Osun State. In Ward 010, PU 004, Boripe LGA, our observer reported a voter snapping ballot paper after voting in the presence of security personnel. However, politicians deployed new tactics to perpetrate vote buying and selling during Osun Governorship election.
New Trend of Vote Buying Emerge
Despite the measures introduced by INEC to reduce vote buying in the ongoing elections, our observers still reported that politicians devised to buy votes. As against the usual money sharing at the polling units, our observers said that the agents of the political parties are now collating names for payment after the vote. This was reported in EDE North Local government Ward 11 polling unit 3, 4, 5 and 11, Ayedire Local government Ward 5, Polling Unit 005, Atapka Osogbo local government ward 005, polling unit 007. All the leading political parties in the elections are involved in this despicable acts of vote trading.
We commend INEC for the introduction of tactile ballots in the elections. However, there are instances of lack of availability of magnifying glasses and materials in some polling units. The priority voting introduced by the commission enables several elderly, pregnant women to vote quickly. However the assistance of the elderly raised concerns amongst party agents who alleged that the elderly are being manipulated to vote for other parties.
A minor fight was observed between an APC and PDP party agent at Ward 2, PU7 in Ejigbo shopping plaza. It was learnt that the misunderstanding was caused by a woman whose name appeared twice in the voters’ register. However, security operatives in the centre settled the misunderstanding and promised to sort out the issue.