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Opinion

Observer’s Diary

The Premium Times Center for Investigative Journalism (PTCIJ), had earlier invited observers from different parts of the country to Anambra state. The purpose of the invitation was to sensitize student journalists on the ethics of election coverage, especially the Anambra election which seem to be different from other states’ elections, based on the insecurity and IPOB threat in the state.

The journey began on Friday, November 5, 2021. It was a day to the Anambra state governorship election, where all INEC staff, ad-hoc staff and other officials were deployed to their areas of coverage. 

Being an observer with PTCIJ, I was deployed to Orumba North with my colleague, Igwe Uchenna, to observe the election process in the local government area of the state. 

While other observers alighted at their various local governments of coverage, I observed that the atmosphere was tense as people remained indoors. Many organizations such as banks, hotels and some filling stations were locked on Friday. 

Also, uber drivers and motorcyclists were off the street while many INEC ad-hoc staff and corp members struggled for rides.

Entering Orumba North was a different experience as people were seen running their businesses in the local government area especially people whose shops are close to the INEC office. They were relaxed. 

I was curious to know more about Orumba North and its environment. The local government is a remote area, the INEC office is located at Ajalli town and it has 18 wards under it.

Uchenna and I went to a nearby restaurant to eat and also to inquire if there’s a nearby hotel. There was none. We liaised with two motorcyclists, fortunately, one of them volunteered to accommodate us in his house. 

By 5:15 pm, my colleague and I were already at the INEC office to check if sensitive materials have been brought to the local government. At that time, many corp members and ad-hoc staff were stranded waiting patiently for vehicles that would convey them to their polling units.

We observed till around 6:35 pm due to the seasonal change it was getting dark. We were prepared for the task ahead based on the information we got from the motorcyclists. They advised that some towns are insecure.

On Saturday, 6th November, we were up by 6:00 am waiting for our motorcyclists to convey us down to our different wards. We were out at exactly 6:35 am to check if the ad-hoc staff and corp members have been conveyed to their polling units or they were left stranded at the INEC office. 

My colleague and I departed from a restaurant after we ate breakfast. I manned the Ajalli ward 1 area of the local government– where the INEC office is. 

I visited some polling units to observe if there’s adequate manpower to man each polling unit. Also, to check if the card readers and other materials were available for the electorates to cast their votes.

At 8:59 am, I visited Polling Unit (PU 015) to observe the activity there. This polling centre is one of the newly created polling units under Ajalli 1 ward. There was only a corp member handling the whole process. 

At 9:20 am, I was at PU 006, National unity school. Here, most of the electorate had temporary voters card with them. The Presiding Officer (PO), announced them as ineligible voters. The party agents told the P.O to allow people with temporary cards to cast their votes, but he declined.

Also, I was at PU 008, there were fully armed security personnel at the polling unit. Though two polling units are at the centre, primary schools 1&2.  These polling units were close to the INEC office which could have made security personnel focus on the centre. 

At 11:10am, I was at PU 013, a polling centre at Ezibe Ifionu. Here, there were lots of irregularities. The party agents and canvassers were busy dashing out money to the electorate especially the elderly after casting their votes. 

Although, the voter turnout was low, still, there were lots of irregularities. For a better Nigeria, citizens should be allowed to cast their votes freely without being intimidated.

This opinion story has been published on Campus Reporter with very minimal editing to preserve the original voice of the author. Campus Reporter does not bear any responsibility for the contents of this story, all views belong to the author.

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