Wole Balogun, Ado Ekiti
Stakeholders who commented on the Saturday governorship poll have commended some improvement noticed in the conduct of the election and tasked the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), to put up tighter measures that would ensure more credible process in future polls.
Also, there was impressive turn out of electorate across Iragbiji, country home of the flag bearer of the All Progressive Congress (APC), Alhaji Gboyega Isiaka Oyetola.
Same huge turn out was witnessed in some parts of Ikirun, a very close town to Iragbiji.
Accreditation and voting begun at about 8:26am in Oloti ward 1, polling unit 2 at the premises of the L.A primary School, Popo community in Iragbiji, Boripe Local Government Are of Osun State.
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The polling unit has three voting points, one of which had electorate prevailed on INEC officers to count void votes at about 3:08pm when voting ended there. But for the urgent intervention of security agents who restored calm after a few minutes of rancour, the polling unit would have erupted in chaos.
The polling unit is where Oyetola voted at about 10:13 on Saturday morning.
Iragbiji witnessed a tight security during the voting as officials of the military, Nigeria Police Force, men of the Nigeria Civil And Security Defence Corps among other were on too of their game.
Every vehicles coming into the community was thoroughly searched by the stern looking security officials.
Meanwhile, voting went on smoothly the card readers worked quite.
Many of the voters who spoke to Sunday Sun commended the efforts of the INEC officials, and the security agents for ensuring a rancour free process.
Flag bearer of APC, Oyetola expressed satisfaction with the conduct of the poll in his home country, Iragbiji.
Oyetola who voted at about 10:13am amidst applause from his many supporters who formed a crowd around him, said: “The electoral process has been free and fair. I am grateful to our people who have come out en-mass to vote.
I promise them good governance if elected as governor. INEC is doing a good job and the people have been coming out to vote without any intimidation. The card reader is working perfectly. well there has been no issues. I look forward to a very free and fair poll.
” The security agents presence is encouraging and they have been doing g well. The process has been peaceful. The presence of the security has made the process peaceful so far.
By and large, the report we have been hearing has been good.
There is no vote buying in this place but I wouldn’t know what has been happening elsewhere.
They should expect continuous provision of infrastructure, social security scheme, bringing the dividends of democracy more closer to our people and many more.”
The European Union (E.U), Transition Monitoring Group and Yiaga Africa among other election observers who monitored the electoral process in Iragbiji, hometown of Gboyega Oyetola, All Progressive Congress (APC) flag bearer, have commended the Independent National Electoral Commission, (INEC), the security agents and the electorate for conducting themselves peacefully and fairly.
They however pointed out areas such as ensuring more secrecy of the ballot system, creating more access for Persons living With Disabilities (PWDs) to vote and putting tighter measures to prevent votes buying among others, to the INEC to improve on.
The local and international observers spoke to Daily Sun at Oloti ward 1 , unit 2 where Oyetola of APC voted in the morning.
The E.U team, was led by Ambassador Ketil Karlsen, who applauded the process, saying it is an improvement in major areas in comparison to what obtained in July 14 poll in Ekiti State.
Karlsen said: “The process has been very smooth and orderly and we commend INEC in this. It looks like they have learnt their lessons from previous elections and are putting measures that would ensure an hitch free process to enable Nigerians elect their leader in a fair process.
” Here in Osun, so far it has been impressive. hopefully by the time the election results begins to fine out at the end if the day, all parties would be pleased with the outcome.
A good start is a good start.
I have seen a very large number of voters who are very calm, very humble and law abiding.
The best of democracy is getting wonderful opportunity to select your leaders according to your wish.
” Hopefully this can serve as an inspiration for the general elections in 2019.
We hope this would continue till the end of the day and that people would not fall into the trap of buying votes.
” At this time we haven’t noticed any act of vote buying as it occurred in Ekiti but it is too soon to say.
But that is not to say it is not happening as there are many ways of doing this, but we commend INEC for taking decisive decisions to tame that act as we have observed here.
” We commend INEC for having measures that have made the poll to be peaceful. But it is too late to say now,” he said.
Dr. Abiola Akinyode Afolabi, Chairman of the Transition Monitoring Group, a local election observer group, said:
“Most of the electoral material have arrive on time and there was much issues with card readers.
If you compare this election with the last one in Ekiti, we discover that the issue of votes trading isn’t that pronounced as it was in Ekiti.
It might be happening but not being done in the open and that is like an improvement, and we hope this continues.
” On the secrecy of the ballot system, I think we are still learning on that. It has been a good attempt but that attempt is not enough. Today we still saw some who displayed their ballot papers in such a way that the people saw it.
Also, there is more . election officers should be more conscious of ensuring that people make their vote secretive.
Akinyode while commenting on the banning of cell phones at polling units, said INEC has the discretion to ensure that measures that could prevent votes’ trading are put in place, she commended the electoral umpire’s decision, saying it has helped restricting vote buying to some extent.
” INEC has make some provisions for Persons Living With Disabilities ( PWDs), to vote as we have noticed in some polling booths but In terms of accessibility for the PWDs to vote, there are still challenges. And I think there is need for INEC to do more ahead of the 2019.” She said.
Samson Itodo, the Executive Director, YIAGA Africa, with a slogan; “watching the votes”, said: So far the poll across the polling units I have visited commenced on an impressive note s at 8:20 as opposed to 8am.
” The card reader seems to been working well, although there have been a few non authentication of finger prints.
But the enhanced card reader have been recapturing.
This is in line with what INEC has promised the stakeholders that where the ringer prints are not authenticated, the enhanced card readers will recapture the finger prints. We have observed that at these particular polling units.
” There seems to be some chaos and misunderstanding on the part of the voters as some of them have showed up at the three voting units claiming that they could not find their names on the voters’ registers, but the election officers have been alert to their responsibilities.
One of the greatest concerns is the secrecy of the ballot system, yes the elections officials have been doing their best especially in educating the people on how to handle their ballot papers and make the process secretive but many more electorate are flouting these rules, they are compromising and opening their ballot papers for the public to see.
So, on this note, we urge the INEC to address this and urge voters to keep the secrecy of their votes.
” Another challenge to these particular polling units is that they are not accessible to persons living with disabilities and there is no provision for that here. This is very worrisome
Those with disabilities, including those visually impaired have been helped by the election officials to cast their votes.
This is very worrisome and we call on INEC to ensure there are adequate provisions to assist the PWDs vote easily in future elections, ” he said.
Meanwhile, Daily Sun observed that vote buying still featured but in a more covert manner.
Many voters still succeeded in displaying their votes at the polling units but generally, while there has been very impressive turnout, electoral violence has not been recorded as the security agents have been on top of their game.
A representative of the Police Service Commission (PSC), and lawyer, Mr. Bright Saagwe has denied the rumour that went round in Osun State on Friday that some politicians had wired a sum of N 50, O00 into each account of policemen and other security agents detailed to monitor Saturday’s governorship poll in the state, saying such report is speculating and may be false.
Saagwe, who spoke to newsmen at Oloti ward 1, in Popo, Iragbiji, Boripe Local Government area of the state earlier today, praised the electorate for having conducted themselves very well, adding that the development has made the electoral process to be orderly.
He also praised the security agents for having done their job very well.
When asked to comment on the rumour that some politicians have wired money into the accounts of security agents before the poll commenced, he said:
” I cannot comment on that because I am neither the account officer of the force and I have not seen anyone doing that.
So, it would be speculative to say politicians paid money into accounts of security agents.”