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#OsunDecides2022: Nuances of my Travels Within Osun During the Guber Election

Observer Diary

“It is going to be another thrilling experience.” That was the 8-word sentence that lived rent-free in my thoughts as I prepared for the Osun state gubernatorial election. Having had an experience in Edo, Ondo and Ekiti gubernatorial elections as an observer, I was excited to be involved in the electoral process: monitoring, helping to keep the public informed and gathering helpful information from the field.
On Thursday, 14 July 2022, I left the house at 7:25 am after a brief safety talk from my mummy. After a travel time of 5 hours and 25 minutes from Lagos, I arrived at Halatria hotel and towers, Osogbo-the reserved hotel for CJID observers- at 2:18 pm.


The magnificent building and clean environment give you a warm welcome to a home away from home. When I got to the reception and was informed that I would have to wait at the restaurant for 30 minutes due to the unavailability of the room that was reserved, my 5-star rating for the hotel dropped down by 3 figures. Thankfully, Sunday Awosoro came to the rescue. I was able to keep my bags safe in Awosoro’s room. I had skipped my breakfast in the morning, so we went to a restaurant beside the hotel to calm the protesting microorganisms in my stomach with a plate of fufu and egusi.
On returning to the hotel, I was informed that the room was ready. Like a child who had just received a #1000 note from a visiting uncle, I hurried to Sunday’s room to pick up my bags and headed to my room with so much joy. My roommate, Adebayo Miracle, welcomed me. The bonding happened swiftly, with discussions about the neglected academic status of the nation acting as a catalyst.
On Friday, 15 July 2022, I was awake by 5:20 am, and I got prepared for the day. When my roommate wanted to have her bath, the water stopped running, and after lodging a complaint at the reception, it took so long for the water to start running. She ended up taking her bath in room 407: the only room lucky to find favour in the sight of the water tank. Due to the unavailability of water, the meeting was postponed from 6:50 am to 7:45 am.
The meeting was brief with Mr Ajibola Hamzat. He enlightened us on safe picture-taking and familiarization with other journalists on-field as they could be our saving grace when trouble looms. After the meeting, we had breakfast and headed to the INEC office to pick up our observers kits. Some kits-stickers and files-were not sufficient. Observers got either a file or election duty sticker, and I doubt if anyone got both. With the slash of jacket and face cap from the observer’s kit, I feel stickers should be provided because it saves observers and their transporters from being delayed by manned security personnel on the road.
After leaving the INEC office, we returned to Halatria hotel to set out to our assigned local government.
I was assigned to Odo-Otin local government alongside Fatola Taiwo. The cab we boarded at the park was filled in a few minutes. Osogbo to Odo-otin took about 30 minutes. We arrived at the INEC office at 2:25 pm. We had to sort out transportation first because I didn’t want a repeat of my experience in Ekiti state- the inability to sort transportation till election day. In less than 10 minutes, transportation was sorted out. With the help of Mr Opeyemi, my bike man, we were able to get the nearest hotel to the INEC office-which is the local government collation centre- Crownfit hotel, which is about 8 minutes from the INEC office. After settling down, my partner and I returned to the INEC office to proceed with our pre-election observation. Transportation of election materials to some wards was delayed due to the unavailability of the assigned security personnel to move with them. After several phone calls by one of the INEC staff, the security personnel arrived. 
Crownfit hotel has a spacious building. The receptionist, a male, is quite relatable, unlike the receptionist I had an encounter with at Radjut hotel, Aramoko, Ekiti state. Everything was going fine until 8:25 pm. Just like the experience in Halatria hotel, the water stopped running. I had to lodge a complaint to the receptionist. Mosquitoes had so much convenience in the room, but I wasn’t ready to request an insecticide spraying because I was so exhausted and needed to rest.


I woke up 3:30 am and I was unable to catch a nap afterwards. I performed my morning rituals. Realizing that they had not pumped water since last night, I lodged a complaint. The receptionist apologized that their generator doesn’t power the pumping machine. He requested that I should bring a bucket from the room to fetch water from a tap within the compound that was still dispensing water.
By 7 am, my partner and I set out to our wards as we had strategically mapped out the wards based on proximity with the help of his mummy, who was conversant with the area.
My first stop was at Ward 02, polling unit 06. The INEC officials assigned to the unit had just arrived and were setting up the voting cubicle. The neighbouring polling unit, PU 05, was just a stone’s throw. When I got there, the INEC officials requested that all campaign flyers on the wall be removed by the indigenes -as this could influence the voting decision of the voters- before they commenced pasting of voters list.
I got to ward 02, PU 03, and some voters greeted me, “Ekaabo INEC kekere,” which means “welcome small INEC official”, which sounded sarcastic to me. With a big smile, I returned the greeting, “ekaaro ma, Ekaaro sir,” which translates to “good morning ma, good morning sir.”
I went to the former governor, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola’s polling unit, Ward 01, polling unit 03, but I was informed by an indigene that he should show up between 10:00 am-11:00 am. I requested if the person could call me immediately he (Prince Olagunsoye) arrived at the polling unit, and we exchanged numbers. At 10:43 am, he called me as promised to inform me of the arrival. My bike man was helpful in conveying me back to the polling unit speedily. I was able to capture some patriotic moments.
Out of 32 polling units I visited, I was able to notice vote-buying in just 3 polling units. The first one was Ward 1, polling unit 10, which happened to be my bike man’s polling unit. The woman was holding A4 papers in which “ward 10” was printed boldly in sections. There was secrecy in voting in that polling unit, so I’m clueless on how the woman-who is an APC supporter- was able to ascertain that voters voted for her party. The paper she was giving to voters after casting their votes was to serve as proof of entitlement to the vote funds.
The second one was in Ward 02, polling unit 03. An Alhaja was assisting voters to check their names, and afterwards persuaded them to vote for her party, AAC, if the voter yields to her persuasion, she would mark the person’s number on the voters list as evidence. She takes their phone numbers and promises to reach out for further directives.
The third one was in Ward 08, polling unit 01, I noticed some men and women stood close to the voting cubicle-despite being chased severally by a policeman- to ascertain that the voter voted for their party. After voting, the voters are directed to a certain house to obtain their money. I followed a voter to the house, it was quite far from the polling unit and the houses along the area were clustered- demacation between houses were about 10cm pathways. When the person entered the house, I was aware that was the point of payment but going in would have been a risky move because I would easily be spotted as these voters know themselves too well. While I was trying to get a perfect shot of the house, a man called me and asked who I was and I introduced myself as an observer. “Observer ni e, se ojule si ojule ni won ni ko ma so ni”, he asked me in a harsh tone. which means, “You are an observer. Were you instructed to monitor houses too?” Immediately I had to lie to save myself saying, “I missed my way trying to locate the nearest polling unit” . He described the next polling unit and instructed me to leave immediately. It was a cold feet experience because I thought the man would alert the people in the house about my presence. While trying to find my way back, I eavesdropped on some women conversation, which made me aware that APC paid #3000 while PDP paid #4000 to voters in that unit.
I had a funny experience in Ward 08, polling unit 04 which brought a relaxation to my heavy heart after my experience in the former polling unit(Ward 08, polling unit 01).
While I was checking the voters list to verify the name and code of the polling unit, a man approached me and said “a ma n fe adoji ni bi bayi” meaning “we usually get married to strangers here”. While he was making attempts to take my phone number, a woman informed his wife about it and the wife shouted with so much excitement from a distance saying, “oko mi okare. O gbodo je ko le. Mo fo wo si. Mo gba bi iyawo kekere. Ma je ko lo” meaning “Well-done my husband. You must not let her go. I accept her as the second wife. You must not let her go”. The husband gave a reply back,”ose iyawo mi. Mi o ni je ko lo” meaning “thanks my wife. I won’t let her go”. Voters who watched the scene burst into laughter but I tried my best to keep a serious look. I told the man I would give him my phone number before I leave the polling unit but I left unnoticed and didn’t return there.
The last polling unit I visited was ward 01, polling unit 10. They had already counted the votes and announced the figures. While one of the presiding officers was  filling the EC 40 (E) form, the clouds began to weep and they had to forsake the tent they were using and find shelter in the closest residential building. The tent protect the officials and election materials from the wetting effect of the rain. It would be great if INEC could look into making proper provision for shelter in polling units that lack one. In Ward 02, polling unit 03, the voters list kept falling off despite the presiding officer using paper tape and gum. A top-bond glue could provide more binding strength than the paper-tape and gum.
Also, I noticed a lot of void ballot papers in the polling units I was able to witness counting of votes. I was wondering how a person would spend minutes or even hours on a queue, get accredited, and get to the voting cubicle and drop the ballot paper without voting for any party. A sensitization lecture on the process of voting should be done for voters. Rejected votes due to thumbs exceeding  the allocated box for a party can also be avoided by educating voters.
I must commend the improvement of the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) machine. Unlike Ekiti election where some voters got disenfranchised due to ~unrecognition~ recognition failure by the BVAS machine, all Presiding officers I was able to speak with had no complaints about the efficiency of the machine.
Odo-Otin was peaceful except a case of ballot-box snatching in Ward 06, polling unit 02 which rendered the polling unit result nullified.
Also, a sensitization should be done for the Nigeria Police force and other security agencies. Election observers shouldn’t be seen as threat. I was in Ward 01, polling unit 07 trying to listen to a voice note when a policeman approached me and asked why I was snapping him and I had to prove to him that I was just listening to a voice note. Then he said, “Observers are the ones usually causing havoc on the social media space with manipulating pictures”. He also warned me not to take any picture in the polling unit- which I feel is a wrong instruction.
The collation of the local government’s votes ended 9:55pm. With so much pleas to my bike man, he agreed to pick up my partner and I from the local government collation centre, INEC office. The 8-minute drive seemed longer because we paved through bushes at high speed with the fear of being attacked. It was really a thrilling experience. I’m really grateful to the entire team of the Centre for Journalism Innovation and Development (CJID) for giving campus journalists an opportunity to have a feel of on-field election experience.

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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