CENTRE LSD REPORT ON THE ONDO STATE GUBER ELECTION HELD NOVEMBER 26, 2016
The Ondo State gubernatorial election held as planned on the 26th of November 2016, despite calls in some quarters that the election should be postponed to a later date. The call which was necessitated by the candidacy problem within the Peoples Democratic Party, relapsed with the Supreme Court judgement of Thursday November 24, 2016 which put paid to the issue. The major contending political parties for the election included; the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), All Progressive Congress (APC), Alliance for Democracy (AD) and the Social Democratic Party (SDP). The African Centre for Leadership, Strategy & Development (Centre LSD), deployed its team of observers to observe the election having been accredited by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to observe the election. The report of the observation is captured thus;
INEC logistics arrangement:
The logistics arrangement by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) was commendable. INEC officials with their materials got to the polling units early. Set up was done early as materials arrived. In registration area 03 Gbogi/Isikan 11, polling unit 003 Ayetutu, National Bank, on Albert Lane, off Oyemekun Road, INEC personnel arrived with election materials at about 7.55am and set up was done immediately. At Ebenezer Primary School 2, PU28/06/05/005, INEC personnel came with materials at about 8.00am. The same was the case at ‘Jomo Motor’ Custom junction PU 28/06/02/011, St. Anthony Primary School PU 28/06/10/007, ward 8 PU 016 near Poly Gate, Owo and at PU 28/06/11/19 Owode Imuagun Akure South. The polling units had good security presence including 5 policemen, 2 Road safety officers and 1 Civil Defense officer. Materials were also adequate. Apart from the security at the polling units, there were also rigorous patrol by men of the Nigeria Police and Nigeria Security and Civil Defense Corps (NSCDC). Officials and materials were adequate and were alive to their responsibilities.
Set up was concluded before 8.05am in all the polling units visited. The Polling Officers before commencement informed the voters that accreditation and voting will take place simultaneously. The exercise was scheduled to end once the last person on the queue was accredited. In some of the units, like in registration area 03 Gbogi/Isikan 11, polling unit 003 Ayetutu, National Bank, on Albert Lane, off Oyemekun Road, whereas some voters came with their PVC to vote, their names were not found on the register, and were thus not allowed to vote. Though the turnout was not that impressive, the adoption of a simultaneous approach for both accreditation and voting was useful for crowed control at the polling units.
Security of the process:
The security deployment was commendable. Men of the Nigeria Police, Federal Road Safety Corps, Nigeria Security and Civil Defense Corps (NSCDC) were on hand to ensure law and order. There were 5 policemen, 2 Road safety officers and 1 Civil Defense officer at each of the units. Party agents behaved themselves, perhaps due to the commendable presence of security officials and the sporadic patrols by the Mobile Unit of the Nigeria Police and Nigeria Security and Civil Defense Corps (NSCDC). it is worthy to note that as the election was on at the different locations, security helicopters were roving the in the air checking the nooks and cranny of the State, obviously to spot and respond to any security issue that may arise. There was an observed inter-security co-ordination amongst the different security agencies.
The security deployment largely accounted for the peaceful nature of the election, such that the premonition of uprising by some persons, did not materialize at the end. The anticipation of crises was premised on some alleged killings that happened prior to election day of some politicians in the State. overall, the conduct of the security men was good and commendable. it was obvious that they had been groomed on how to perform election day duty.
The turnout though low, the election was generally peaceful. The system adopted for accreditation and voting was quite useful for time management. Counting of ballot was done in a participatory manner and by 2.30 and 3pm the exercise has been concluded in majority of the polling units. As a matter of fact, the election stakeholders including security, media, Civil Society Organizations, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), political parties and the electorates performed did well. Thuggery was completely non-existent. Party agents conduct were salutory. The voting environment where altogether peaceful.
INEC and other relevant stakeholders including security agencies, media, Civil Society Organizations, political parties and the electorates proved their mettle. Late arrival of INEC personnel with materials which used to be the order in the past has been unlearned by the Independent National Electoral Commission. Security deployment and the inter-security co-operation should be upheld as we look forward to other elections in the country. Above all, the presence and support of members of the Civil Society Organizations in the observation of the exercise, brought credibility and value-add to the election. That said, the only hiccup in the entire election process was the several cases of voter’s inducement by members of political parties ie vote buying.
The challenge noticed during the exercise was;
b)The position of most voting cubicles does not give opportunity for voting secrecy.
We recommend the following;
a)Literature highlighting what constitute electoral offences should be pasted at the polling units to check the menace of vote buying.
b)Voting cubicles should be kept at a reasonable distance to pave way for voting secrecy.
The election was generally peaceful. This level of stakeholders’ support to INEC and the process should be sustained because if it continues, in no time all the challenges that often characterize our elections will fizzle out and we would begin to have a rancor free elections. INEC should find a way of dealing with vote buying on election day and determine reasonable distance for voting cubicle to achieve complete voting secrecy.