At 5:30 pm on the 2nd of November, 2021, I and other observers of Premium Times Centre for Investigative Journalism (PTCIJ) arrived the fascinating and friendly hotel we were being lodged at for four days, ahead of the Anambra State gubernatorial poll held on November 6th, 2021.
Months earlier, I have been preparing and planning for the journey not only because I will be travelling to the Eastern part of the country (Anambra precisely) but also to carry out a national development responsibility by observing the election.
I had left Kaduna for Ondo on the 31st of October and on the 2nd of November, as early as 6 am, I was already at the park from Ikare-Akoko in Ondo state to Onitsha, Anambra state. Trust me, the journey from Ikare-Akoko was a very stressful and tiring one – a journey of over 8hrs.
Travelling from North (Kaduna) to the West (Ondo state) to the East (Anambra) within 48hrs was indeed an exhausted journey which I have no option but to embark on.
I notified family and few friends about my travelling to the Light of the Nation state. This many opined I back out of it because of news and tension surrounding the election. The threat by the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) of stopping the election from holding through a sitathome order and heavy deployment of security personnel by the federal contributed to the fear. Many had seen it as a war between the IPOB and government. Even few who believe in my strength, passion, interest in journalism and news reportage had to admonish I turn down the observation duty. But in all, they all had no option but to support me in prayers when I notified them of my stand that, I will still be travelling to Anambra no matter what the election will result to.
I got to Onitsha at around 4 pm on the 2nd of November with my colleague, Tosin Ologun, who we both left the park. From Onitsha, we locate our way to Ifite, a very popular area in Anambra which doubles as the location of the Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka.
The institution has fascinating buildings I was amazed seeing such as the Faculty of Law, the ASUU building and some other lecture rooms. However, the “Giant House” of the Students Union Government is however not giant as the name. It is a structure of a bungalow house, I will say.
Nevertheless, I enjoyed the fruit salad sold at night near the school premises and the cheap cost of rice while the exorbitant price of swallowed foods and small meat is a concern for me.
For four days we were lodged, we were all exposed to a series of activities and media. On Wednesday, 3rd of November, Mr. Ajibola Hamzat, the Managing Editor of International Centre for Investigative Reporting (ICIR) took us on “Fact-checking in Practice: Election Observation” Mr. Idris Akinbajo took us through the “Rudiments and ethics of Journalism during Election Observation”, Mrs. Busola Ajibola impacted in us “Observing through the lens of Inclusivity” while Mr. Abiodun Alade, the Bureau Chief, South West of Daily Trust, took a session on Multimedia Journalism in Election Observation and Reporting.
And on Thursday, 4th of November, the training continued with Mr. Ajibola Hamzat of ICIR taking us on “Security in Elections Observation” the Anambra Cohort took us through the terrain of Anambra state and basic Igbo language to be conversant with when on the election field; and the PTCIJ team tutored us on the “Rules of Election and Observation: Covid 19 edition.”
The training exposed me to new knowledge, ideas of carrying out my work not just as an election observer but also as a journalist.
One thing that cannot be taken away from me is travelling and meeting new people.
The journey to Anambra gave me the privilege for the first time of meeting Mrs. Busola Ajibola, the Coordinator of Campus Reporter, a platform under PTCIJ. I was also able to meet like-minded individuals such as Iretomiwa Dele-Yusuf, Sunday Awosoro, Ukoha Chidinma Prestige, Precious Ewuji, Abasi-Ibiangake Udoka, Omoniyi Jeremiah, Onyeagorom Chineye and many more.
Before our journey to Anambra, INEC had deployed each of us to all the 21 local government areas of the state. An Eve to the election, the security checks could not grant many of us the opportunity of going to the field on Election day basically because the areas we were deployed to were marked with “caution.”
Just as it is said in the world of journalism, “no report worths your life”, we always have another day to go on the field and account for several other news.
Delta, Edo, Ondo, Ekiti, Kogi, Abuja, Niger were states I journeyed through within a week from Kaduna to Anambra.
I stopped by in Benin-City, Edo state and I took my time to visit and walk around the tertiary institution, University of Benin. I explored the environment and took my time to take beautiful pictures with my other colleagues, Udoka and Nicholas.
Before my return to Kaduna on Sunday, 7th of November, I had stayed back in Suleja, Niger state as well for few hours. Although, it was late at night, the aura was not a bad one.
An acronym of my journey I called N.E.S.T is Network, Experience, Support and Transformation. This was made possible through meeting new people, the training adding more to my experience, the assistance provided by the organizers and the new development.
As the Osun and Ekiti guber polls hold between June and July of next year, I anticipate contributing my quota to the development of the nation once again through reportage of factual information by minimising the spread of fake news.
Thanks to the entire PTCIJ for this memory and the opportunity given. Next year election observation will be much better and more fulfilling.
DISCLAIMER: This story has been published on Campus Reporter with very minimal editing to preserve the original voice of the author.
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