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#Edo2020: My Observer Diary

I ran into the broadcast message for the Premium Times Campus Journalism Training precisely on 1st of June, 2020. In spite of my lacking in experience or knowledge about journalism, I signified my interest in the training. This was prompted by my enthusiasm for exploring and learning something new. 

The training started on August 10, 2020, which spanned through four days. It was well organized by the great brains in PTCIJ. We were provided with the required facilities both financially and materially. Ultimately, I gained a whole lot of insights and knowledge about every aspect of journalism.

However, an additional benefit of the training was to volunteer as an election observer for the forthcoming Edo and Ondo State Gubernatorial Election. Without giving consideration to any possible hindrance, I volunteered. I did so because I thought it would give me the ability to have more experience specifically in my career (journalism) and generally in life. With utmost anxiety, I awaited the day of the election as I prepared and equipped myself for the task.

The time for the adventure finally came. I travelled to Edo State on the 17th of September, 2020 with the sole aim of contributing my quota to the advancement of Nigeria. One of the things I experienced from this adventure was the sight of Edo State. I’d never thought I would be there anytime soon. I arrived at Edo State and first secured accommodation for myself. I met with my teammates on a preceding day to the election proper. We were deployed to Ovia South-west local government area. Deliberation was done on how effectively we would execute the task. Although, we had had some discussions on the group created on the online platform. We strategized on how to cover enough polling units and the means of moving from one polling unit to another.

One of the required tasks in the election observation was the pre-election observation. We set out as a team on that same day to observe the communities in the LGA. We interviewed some of the residents on how prepared they are for the upcoming election and their expectations. Also, we went to the INEC Office Secretariat to observe how things were going there. We reported the preparatory activities going on. It was then I realized how demanding the task ahead of me. I initially thought it would be easier but unfortunately, I was wrong. We went back to the respective hotels we lodged in after the pre-election observation activities in order to prepare for the D-Day.

The next day, I woke up as early as 6 am. I went to meet my teammates at the hotel they lodged. The day started with a radiant atmosphere as we started the election observation right from the nearest polling unit before everyone departed to the wards assigned to each person. At first, I felt nervous as it was my first time executing such a crucial task. Not long after, I braced up and determined to give it my best. I reported the first polling unit opening before voting commenced. Despite the nervousness in me, I was not oblivious of the necessary ethics of journalism. I took cover and reported everything worthy of reporting with utmost loyalty.

During the election observation, I realized that people are the true determinant factor of the nation progress. I wondered anytime I see some individuals involving in election malpractice either buying votes or any form of rigging. Despite the fact that we are all aware that we are going to experience the aftermath of our actions, we still remain steadfast in benefiting our selfish interest rather than national interest.

I covered the required wards expected of me and reported the closing of two polling units. Another thing I experienced was how voting is done. I am the kind of person who doesn’t have much political interest. So, I knew little about how voting is done. However, the adventure gave me this opportunity. I witnessed how vote-counting is done and the logistics behind it. The election and the election observation went successfully. I gathered a lot of experiences from the adventure.

When the election was over, my team went to the collation center to observe the collation of the votes. The election results of nine wards out of the ten wards in the local government was announced. The result from the last ward seemed to be controversial and was later declared stepped down. Afterwards, the general result was announced and the winner was declared.

The following morning, I submitted the gadgets provided for us for the observation. Then, I travelled back home. Indeed, it was a worthwhile adventure full of remarkable experiences. It is one I would love to be part of again. 

A resounding thanks to PTCIJ for the golden opportunity.

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