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Observer Diary: Secret Vote Buying, More Rocked Ondo Election

I was selected alongside others by YIAGA Africa Initiative and Premium Times Centre for Investigative Journalism to observe the just concluded Ondo gubernatorial election; I was posted to Akoko North-East Local Government, Ondo State. A long ride from where I currently reside, Ijebu-Igbo, Ogun state.

On Saturday morning, 10th of October, I was fully prepared and ready to leave the hotel I lodged in. my bike man was ready and we left to Arigidi, ward 1, unit 004, Akoko North East. We got there by 7:53 am and voting was yet to commence; voters were checking their names at the accredited voters’ list pasted in one part of the voting area. 

We left and got to Ikado 2, unit 004 by 8:20 am.

Voting was yet to commence in this unit. Voters were ready and waiting to vote, police officers were present at this unit, making sure nothing goes wrong. We immediately left to the same ward but unit 002. 

At 8:35 am, it was raining and voting has started. The social distancing rule wasn’t observed, a lot of people were seen without nose mask, going against the COVID-19 precautions set out clearly by INEC. This also was seen in Unit 009 of the same Ikado 2, Akoko North East. 

At around 9:15 am, we got to Ikado 2, unit 009 and voters were not observing the social distancing rule. Some voters were allowed to vote without the use of nose mask, breaching the rule of “no nose mask, no voting.”

After leaving Unit 009, of Ikado 2, I got to Unit 11, Odoside/Elomeje Orogun compound at 9:40 am. Voting had already commenced without observing social distancing, few people were also allowed to vote without nose mask. An APC agent was seen to be helping aged people determine who to vote for at the voting cubicle. After voting, names were written down and money being shared in a building, close to the voting area. This went on continuously, vote-buying at its peak. 

I left there to Ikado 1, Unit 001. I got to this Polling unit 10:10 am, no social distancing, no coordination, few voters with no nose mask. Aged and handicapped were allowed to vote first in this unit. After I stayed here for a while, I left to Ilepa 2, Unit 004. 

On getting to Ilepa at 10:50 am, I observed voters were not maintaining social distancing. The assistant Presiding officer was seen sanitising voters hands before they voted. Money was equally being shared in this unit. 

I got to Ward 2, Ekan, UnitS 001, 003 and 004. Voters were not observing social distancing. A lot of voters were yet to cast their vote as the environment was crowded with people, in which the majority of them did not have a nose mask. Leaving there to unit 002, I noticed the voting process was fast but voters were not also observing social distancing. 

At Ilepa 1, ward 1. Unit 005, voting was fast and peaceful, voters were peaceful and maintaining orderliness but not observing social distancing. Security operatives were working to ensure the voting process was done orderly. 

On my way to observe other units, I stopped at Ward 1, Unit 004 in Akoko North West LGA. APC agents were sharing N2000 each to voters who they were sure voted for them. The voting process was still ongoing. 

After a little while, I headed to Akoko north east LGA collation centre, victory primary school, results of each ward was being collated and at 9:40 pm, the general results were being announced and APC won in this local government. 

I immediately left the collation centre to the hotel I lodged in, hilltop hotel, Ikare.

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

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