In the spirit of contributing to good governance, I joined the pool of first-time observers to observe the Ekiti State governorship election, as a domestic election observer for the Centre for Journalism Innovation and Development (formerly known as PTCIJ).
In a democratic society like Nigeria, election observation is an integral part of the electoral process in determining the fairness and credibility of an election.
After two days of online training provided by CJID, observers assembled at Prosperous hotel, Ado-Ekiti, Ekiti State on the 16th of June for the final briefing on the observation process that involved our respective Local Government Areas and security condition in the state.
The following day, all observers went to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) state headquarters in the state to get our tags. The tags would enable us to get easy access to the polling units as it serves as an identity for we observers on the field.
I was opportune to be in Ado Local Government which is the capital city, paired with my partner, Adeniyi Nicholas. On the eve of the election, I made arrangements for a bike man that will take me to different polling units in the state capital. After a tired long day, I had to sleep to get set for the election day.
Here comes the election
As early as 5:30 am, on Saturday I’ve been up and doing in my hotel room for the long day ahead, my bike man Mr Matthew was at my hotel as early as 6 am, but I had issues with water as my hotel decided to run out of water in the morning, I used the small water in the bucket to clean up and I left the hotel afterwards.
Polling unit 08 ward 7 was the first polling unit I visited, the INEC officials and security agencies are there to set up the voting arena, and electorates are also seen at the polling unit checking out their names from the voter’s list.
Almost all the polling units that I visited in Ado-Ekiti had vote-buying going on except the polling unit with a low turnout of voters.
At polling unit 30, ward 9, a woman in her mid-forties was there with her APC party tag cajoling voters to vote for her party candidate.
However, in polling unit 20, Ward 9, Electorates are seen in a separate place in a queue waiting for a particular party agent to pay them as they had already voted for the party agent’s candidate. The party agent, whom I could not identify, had earlier accused me of taking pictures of them immediately after I stepped into the polling unit.
Electorates in polling unit 01, ward 7 were stylishly opening their voter’s slip for party agents to see so that they can be paid.
As part of the new guidelines of INEC, at polling unit 7, ward 9, priority voting was given to an elderly man and a person with a disability, however, in polling unit 021, ward 9, elderly women were seen begging the security officials to tell the INEC officials to attend to them.
Covid-19 Protocols Breached
Most of the polling units I visited breached the Covid 19 protocols, especially polling units that experienced a massive turnout of voters.
INEC officials and electorates in some polling units breach the protocols, however, in some, it is just the electorates as INEC officials adhere strictly to the protocols.
After a successful election observation, I am pleasantly pleased to say I had an amazing time serving as a first-time observer for CJID.
DISCLAIMER: This story has been published on Campus Reporter with very minimal editing to preserve the original voice of the author.
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