Subscribe Now

Trending News

By using this website, you agree to the use of our cookies.
Opinion

#OsunDecides2022: Laughter, Fear, And My Experience As A First-Time Observer

Observer’s Diary

Getting to know I would be participating after taking up the task of observing the 2022 Osun gubernatorial election thrilled me to bits. It would be my first time, and I just want to have both the good and bad feel of it. When I say bad, I mean I was ready for any tussles whatsoever. Was I scared? Not really. Though I saw it coming, I was ready to fight it at all costs.

 

A 2-day virtual training was organised by CJID to specifically train us on the ethics of election both on the side of INEC and as observers. I almost missed that training for some funny reasons, but my humble appreciation goes to Mr Nicholas and Aunty Bukunmi, who were really intentional about our availability for such a hilarious session. Every bit of the session piqued my interest, and I almost couldn’t wait for that day to come. I also reached out to Sunday Awosoro after going through his observer’s diary for the Ekiti State election to explain certain things to me about what it takes to observe. He did justice to that.

 

Journey To Osogbo For The Physical And General Meeting

 

Thursday, 14th July 2022, I left my place for Osogbo. The journey was really interesting as I fed my eyes with interesting facts even if a 45- 1hour journey turned into 3 hours. The traffic on Thursday prior to the election was not from this planet. Security personnel were positioned at strategic locations while some were just trooping in. At some point, I was confused if it was just an election that was to happen or a third world war. 

 

Different parties were having their rally that same day. Alighting to get another bus to transport me to Halatria hotel and towers at stadium road wasn’t that easy until I boarded one having a female driver. Just on my way to the hotel, some parties were gathered to start their rally, and in a jiffy, I saw the All Progressive Congress (APC) political party having theirs already, with their forerunner being Portable as they were vibing to his song “ZAZU”. He was leading the crowd that day as he was just on a short and his body painted while running and lifting a broom that signifies the APC symbol. 

 

I arrived at Halatria hotel a few minutes before 2 pm and at the reception, I saw a few other CJID observers who were confirming their names. A loving personality smiled at me to introduce herself, Mariam darling with some of her friends while I did the same. We were all happy to know we were there for the same course. Everyone confirmed their names respectively and checked in. 

 

Coincidentally, I met the door of my room open. How? But I thought my roommate hadn’t arrived yet. Then I saw Mariam approaching me. She was to stay in my room until her room was tidied up. So I had someone to keep me company before my roommate arrived. We had a little chit chat and knowing it wasn’t her first time observing, opened the room for questions about how things are done. Shout out to my beautiful roommate Fiyin. 

 

Day 2 At Halatria Hotel

 

Waking up to behold another day at Halatria hotel was filled with activities. We were to meet by 7 am for further preparation for our travels and to get our kits at the INEC office, Osogbo. 

 

I had my bath early, so I wasn’t bothered when there was a scarcity of water for a while at the hotel. After taking breakfast, we dashed out to the INEC office to get our kits.

 

On our way back to the hotel after getting our kits, I was threatened by a military officer who saw me capturing the situation of the heavy traffic jam. He yelled and threatened to smash my phone if I didn’t delete what I had captured. I melted and was in shock for about 30 minutes. I was left with no option but to delete it.

 

We were paired with our different partners and posted to our different places of function. My ever-caring and agile partner Wahab and I were posted to Ilesa West though our tag carried Ilesa East. At some point, we were confused, but we later observed in Ilesa West after informing the executives.

 

Heringan Hotel

 

After visiting several hotels that had its room all booked in Ilesha East, we later settled for one even if the room wasn’t really ok. Thereafter, we spoke with the bike man if he could take us around on election day. His answer was positive, and we had already negotiated the price. Unfortunately, he disappointed us. My partner and I had to look for another person that same day. 

 

Vote-Trading

 

I have always read on the news or just hearsay that such things happen in elections, but I happen to gather first-hand information about the past Osun elections. Vote Trading was like the order of the day that there’s always a corner behind or just at a stone’s throw where parties pay for them to get the votes of people. Funny enough, some security personnel are aware of such practice and didn’t do anything. I remember going to a particular polling unit at Isida Adeti where I noticed people going to a house just adjacent to the polling unit to get their share and would be given a card. Some also noticed me and, seeing my tag as an observer, pretended not to do anything. Whereas they are guilty of vote buying. Below is the picture of the house they were entering to and fro to trade their vote.

 

Priority Voting

 

I took the first glimpse of this at the polling unit I first visited, even if the environment wasn’t favourable. An old woman was assisted in climbing the step and didn’t have to be part of the queue. 

I also saw where a man with crutches was given the privilege to cast his vote. An awful one was when a lady with a low IQ  and learning disability was confused as to where to cast her vote. The security man and polling agent there assisted her. See pictures below

 

Security

 

Security personnel at each polling unit I visited were on guard. There were some polling units I visited where I was questioned until I announced my function and showed my tag as an observer to the security personnel. I was totally given my way when they were aware of my role as an observer. Some were just on patrol to different polling units.

 

I was also challenged by security personnel at a polling unit where I tried to move close to observe how well the BVAS was working. But this security personnel, despite explaining to him I was an observer, still requested I leave there and stand with the voters. It was really embarrassing.

 

Result Collation

 

It was at this point my excretory system was battling with me that I became restless and down. Going through different polling units for sorting and counting votes revealed to me that people actually voted for their choice even after collecting money from other parties. Some were there to witness this count and jubilated at seeing that PDP took the lead. In fact, PDP won for the different polling units I visited as I overheard some polling agents for APC saying people are tricky for promising to vote for their party.

 

We couldn’t help but go to the INEC office as I almost embarrassed myself out there. Finally, I used their convenience. Thinking the result collation would take place there, we checked out of the hotel and decided we would just pass the night at the INEC office. After some minutes, we realised collation would take place at the palace. We had to call our bike man again to take us to the palace after we had already paid him off.

 

The collation of results started at about 8:30 pm when some presiding officers were around and others joined in the process. It wasn’t really easy to hear as there was no mic to aid the voice, but thank God it was projected. This session ended past 9.

 

My partner and I were left dumb because we had nowhere to pass the night, and we couldn’t be allowed to do so at the palace. We were confused about what to do. 

 

Fortunately, we found ourselves back in Osogbo that night, where we spent our night. We arrived in Osogbo at 11:50 pm.

 

On my way back home, there was jubilation at different points, especially Ede. People were happy their votes counted. Can we say the election was free and fair? 

 

Thank you, CJID, for this beautiful experience. It’s a privilege to do this. I saw there is a lot to being a journalist, and it requires energy and determination. I can’t really give the full detail of everything, but the memories are thoughtful.

DISCLAIMER: This story has been published on Campus Reporter with very minimal editing to preserve the original voice of the author.

 

Related posts

Leave a Reply

Required fields are marked *

Copyright © 2022. All Rights Reserved.