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Observer Diary: Electoral Violence and Vote-buying; We Are Not There Yet

After serving as an electoral observer for the Edo State governorship election, I embraced the opportunity to contribute to good governance by observing the Ondo State governorship election as election observation is an integral part of the electoral process in determining the fairness, freeness and credibility of an election.

As an electoral observer with Premium Times Centre for Investigative Journalism (PTCIJ) in collaboration with YIAGA Africa Initiative, I arrived Idanre local government, my area of deployment to carry out my observation assignment.

Part of my responsibility as an observer includes pre-election observation. The pre-election observation takes place a day before the election day proper, and this is to measure the readiness of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in deploying electoral materials to various Registration Area Centres (RACs) and Polling Units.

The pre-election observation also includes the deployment of security operatives to guide the officers and materials on the election day and the preparation made for the officials and corps members.

On getting to Owena, the location of INEC office in Idanre local government, I observed that materials and officials were deployed early to RACs. This shows that INEC made adjustments to the late deployment for the Edo State.

I left the INEC office to visit few Registration Area Centres, and I confirmed that the materials were deployed already and security operatives were on standby. Then I left for my lodge to prepare for the election day proper.

Vote-Buying

One ill act during an election that directly or indirectly affirms that votes count is vote-buying. As there are two sides to the coin — the buyer and the seller — for trading for a vote for a certain amount of money. Some opine that voters would vote even if there is no political party to pay for the vote. Few people still feel some electorates are motivated by money to exercise their rights as citizens.

At the cubicle where the electorates are to put the thumb on the ballot paper, they are expected to show the political party agent that they had truly voted for the party before they are directed to a corner where they would be given a ticket to tender at the collection centre.

Electoral Violence

The results of five units out of 13 polling units at Idale-Logbosere Ward 4, in particular, were cancelled due to violence. Violence during an election is a threat to the fairness and credibility of the election process, it also tampers on good governance in a democratic society.

Sadly the youths, who are the crowned leaders of tomorrow that is yet to come are the actors of electoral violence. They pick up weapons after being paid stipends, while the “honourable” chills in a well-conditioned environment. 

It is expedient that we face the reality that the few thousand Naira gotten from selling votes cannot feed a large family, not to talk less of solving the problems we crave for solutions to.

Electoral violence gives a threat to good governance, and it destroys the future of those that partake in it.

For our collective development as a society, we must all shun vote-buying and electoral violence, then we can stop stealing defeat from the jaws of victory.

This story has been published on CAMPUS REPORTER with very minimal editing to preserve the original voice of the author.

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