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Observer Diary: Ondo Election, A Poll Marred By Vote-Buying

“If you don’t give us #5,000, we won’t vote. Since the other party is giving out #5,000, and you’re here offering us #3,000. #5,000 or no vote!” These were the words from a member of the electorate at the just concluded Ondo state election. And this is just one amongst many others. Before I proceed with the detailed report of my experience at Ondo state Gubernatorial election, I’d love to say a very big thanks to Premium Times Center for Investigative Journalism (PTCIJ) for the privilege given. It was indeed an experience.

Being deployed to Akoko South-East, under Ondo North Senatorial District, I left for mu Local Government Area of deployment alongside my Team Lead, Mogaji Ayomide and Hammed Sheriffdeen, a member of the Team. We got to Isua, the L.G secretariat and headed straight to the INEC office for the pre-election observation. We saw how election materials were being transported to their various Wards. We shared the 11 Wards amongst ourselves and booked for transportation towards the following day assignment. We retired to our various hotel rooms for the day, to get energized for the task that lies ahead the following day.

The following day, we all set out to our various Wards. I observed for Ipesi, Sosan and Ifira. I first visited St. Andrew’s pry school at Sosan. The school mother’s two Polling Units. The election was declared open at both polling units at exactly 8:30 am after the Polling Officers had read out the election guidelines to the electorate present. I proceeded to the remaining 2 polling units making up the 4 polling units in the Ward. The population at the 2 polling unit as at my time of visit were low due to the weather being cloudy.

Z/I school at Ifira Ward was my next place of visit. I experienced the first election malpractice on this particular assignment. I saw a group of about 20 people gather round at the polling centre. Upon moving closer to them, I discovered they were making arrangement to start distributing money to the voters at the polling unit. A woman said: “I don’t have any party I want to vote for, it is whoever that gives me money I’d be voting for.” The next scene I saw at the same polling unit was a party chieftain taking a police officer to a corner in the school and handed some stack of cash over to him.

I visited other polling units across the Wards and witnessed the same scenario as other polling units visited earlier: the electorate was collecting cash in exchange for their vote. Voting stopped at exactly 2:30 pm in most polling units, as the majority already cast their vote 1hr before the end of the vote. APC won the polling units I observed the counting at Sosan. At the L.G Collation Center, APC also won in the Local Government.

In conclusion, with the election observed at the Ondo poll, I would say our present definition of a free and fair election in this nation is one without a riot. The election was relatively peaceful across the Wards I observed as there was no record of riots. On the other hand, vote-buying was the other of the day. It was done openly, leaving the security operatives on guard helpless.

This story has been published on CAMPUS REPORTER with very minimal editing to preserve the original voice of the author.

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