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Opinion

#EkitiDecides: My Experience in Ekiti West

Observer Diary

Having served as an election observer in Edo and Ondo states in 2020, I was excited to be among the selected observers for the Centre for Journalism Innovation and Development (CJID) in the just concluded Ekiti state governorship election. 

 

On the 16th of June, 2022, I had to set out to Ado-Ekiti. Arriving at the popular Ojota park in Lagos, the bus to convey passengers to Ekiti was empty. I didn’t have so much patience in me as we were all required to get to the reserved hotel before 4 pm. I decided to board the bus to Akure since all that was needed to commence the journey was a passenger. I arrived at Akure by 2:30 pm and boarded a cab to Ado-Ekiti. The road leading to Ado from Akure is a rough one with countless potholes. After a long journey, I arrived at Prosperous Hotel at 5:33 pm.

 

I was deployed to Ekiti West with my colleague, Vindication Alawode, to observe the election process in the local government.

 

A few minutes before we checked out of the hotel in Ado-Ekiti, my partner informed me that his phone fell which caused the ink to spread across the screen. Due to this, we had to head to Fayose market to get it fixed before heading to our assigned local government.

 

On arriving at Aromoko (the headquarters of Ekiti West), we had to locate the INEC office and then ask riders for the closest hotel. After a merry-go-round ride, we finally found a hotel that wasn’t fully booked. Radjut hotel had a serene environment but the receptionist lacks customer-service skills.

 

 Sorting out transportation for the next day felt like an unachievable task because all the bike men we tried speaking with complained bitterly about not being able to source fuel around the vicinity-both from petrol stations and black market operators. We were still trying to sort out transportation when the rain started, having no mercy on people outdoor. After waiting till 9 pm and the intensity of the downpour had reduced, we had to stroll down to our hotel.

 

Election Day

 

I woke up as early as 5 am and got prepared for the day. By 6 am, I was out of the hotel to continue the search for transportation. After 45 minutes of search, I found Mr Marley who was lucky to have purchased fuel before petrol stations stopped operating. Negotiations were made and we set out to Ikogosi. Our first point of the stop was at the polling unit of the APC candidate who happens to be the newly elected governor, Biodun Adebayo Oyebanji. 

 

I set out to neighbouring polling units to continue the observation process. I missed out on capturing the newly elected governor casting his vote which is a mistake I’m still beating myself for. 

 

It is worthy to write that the election was violence-free but the rate of vote-buying was high. COVID-19 regulations were flouted by all voters I came across- didn’t see a single voter putting on a nose mask. Some polling units complained about the inefficiency of the BVAS machine- experiencing difficulties in capturing the faces of voters, especially the aged- which automatically disenfranchised them. 

 

At 2:00 pm, a security person in Ward 6, Polling Unit 1 reported that the youths in the queue had already voted and were trying to cast another vote. An observer from another NGO-also a voter in that polling unit-noticed I was aware of the drama. He tried distracting me severally and also made efforts in making me uncomfortable. When I noticed that the voters were being alerted of my presence, I had to flee from the polling unit. The encounter had frightened me more than I cared to admit. 

 

After the collation in the APC candidate’s polling unit was done, I set out to the local government collation centre. My partner had to wait outside because only one representative for an organisation was permitted entry into the hall. Just like Iretomiwa Dele-Yusuf’s experience in Anambra, Aunt Flo came but I wasn’t prepared. Her expected arrival was in the next four days. I had no option but to comport myself till the collation was over. 

 

On getting to the hotel room, it was flooded with water. My bag had already absorbed so much water, leaving my properties wet. After lodging a complaint to the management, my partner and I were relocated to another room. After settling in the new room, I had to take care of Aunt Flo immediately and get some well-deserved rest.

 

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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2 Comments

  1. Alabi, Oluwapelumi John

    Great job Miss Esther. More fun as you do what you enjoy and keep briefing us mate. God bless You, God bless NIGERIA.♥️🥂

  2. Bukunmi

    Nice reporting, Esther.

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