The Edo 2020 gubernatorial election may have recorded huge successes compared to other elections in the country, but there are still areas to work on if having credible future elections in the country is anything to go by. A series of malpractices remain the order of the day. The roles of security agencies should include manning sales and buying of votes.
Journey to Place of Assignment
Travelling for first the first time to an unknown place could be intimidating, fearful and worrisome as you know little or nothing about the environment you are heading especially in a period of uncertainty, unrest atmosphere, fogs spreading over the cloud of Edo state as elections beckoned.
At 5:38 pm, we touched down in Agenebode under heavy rain; at the INEC office security men secured the distribution of election materials to various wards, the process started around 1 pm. Lawrence (APO 1) of Ward 6 praised the commission for fairness, but Mr Emmanuel objected.
6:45 pm: Engaging the youths
Youths recounted ugly scene at the ‘Power Garden’ one day earlier, involving the PDP and the APC members during a rally which led to stoning each other with sachet water.
7:39 pm: Underage sex workers: I could only get a brothel as a lodge (ESKO Hotel) with 80% of the sex workers being girls from age 14 to 16.
D-DAY 6:35 am:
Dressed for the day, expecting what the journey holds, I breathed a sigh of relief saying to myself “nothing dey sup!” At 7:55 am, just like in Samuel Beckett’s (Waiting for Godot) where Vladimir and Estragon, engaged themselves in a variety of discussions while awaiting Godot, I stood waiting for my (Godot) bike-man, Maya who came later than the agreed time.
At Upland Waterworks, APC party agents (Ogbomo) created a scene seeking to help voters in thumb-printing, others kicked against.
10:02 am: At Ofukpo primary School, vote-buying took to stage when an old man (one of many) had to show his ballot papers after thumb printing for party agents to see.
10:20 am: At Okpisa primary school, Agenebode, former commissioner of Water Resources Hon. Micha had food arranged for people after voting and called the process smooth and transparent.
11 am: At Adosi primary School, Wepa, Parties agents thumb printed on behalf of voters. Eshoma Andrew (APC) did this with all confidence. The police in charge, inspector Shadrach and his men looked bought over.
11:50 am: Ovugbe primary school, agents went bitter against voters who collected money but decided to vote another party.
1:30 pm: At Egori primary school, Wanno 1 Waterside, SSA to the governor, Barr Dokpesi’s caused a bit of uproar but peace was restored.
2:15 pm: Otoukwe polling unit saw complaint of insufficient card readers. Inspector Justice complained of the few numbers of security officers on the ground.
4:45 pm: Polling Unit 10 of Egbadu primary School, Agenebode experienced a bit delay in the voting process due to voters refusal to adhere to the COVID-19 preventive measures, the SPO extended voting time to 5 pm.
At the Collation Center: At 9:50 pm, Local government Collation Officer, Professor Christopher Onosemuode of the Fed. University of Petroleum Resources, Delta state pronounced the commencement of the process with 5 of 10 wards present.
10:22 pm: The collation officer for Three Ibies had challenges with a total number of accredited voters (3,303) lesser to the total number of valid votes (3,809); she stepped aside for reconciliation of the figures.
At 3:34 am, Unit 3, 4, and 6 of Okpella 2 were stepped aside for thuggery, a threat to life and hijackings of materials. The atmosphere at 4:49 am became tense as the SPO was alleged to have been involved in malpractices; angry men threatened to deal with the SPO with one of them saying ” we for don kill am for road.”
The security personnel are not to be trusted with the process as many sold off their conscience as seen in all the wards of the Etsako-East where vote-buying took place without any action taken. There is a need for more voters’ education and sensitization of the ad-hoc staff as well as their welfare be well taken care of. Meanwhile, observers should be allowed to take pictures at polling units to aid transparency in the process.
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