Civil Society Organizations monitoring the Osun State Gubernatorial Elections have expressed confidence in the level of preparedness of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for the election billed to hold on Saturday, July 16, 2022.
The CSO groups believe that in comparison with the Ekiti State Election, it can be said that INEC is fully prepared, also confirming that non-sensitive materials have been distributed to polling units, which would address the challenges of late start of election exercises.
The CSOs in separate interviews with BONews Service also raise concerns about voters’ inducement which has been displayed in different forms and would determine the person who would emerge as the Governor of the state.
Jah Seray, Country Director of the International Foundation for Electoral System (IFES), commended INEC for the level of preparedness that it has demonstrated ahead of the gubernatorial election, noting that it is a positive progression.
Seray also noted that the electoral umpire, in partnership with different groups has conducted different rigorous voter education, to curb the menace of vote trading.
Dr. Rasheed Adebiyi, Team Lead, Positive Agenda Nigeria, a group that monitors political campaigns, who commended INEC for improving the election process, noted that Political actors would be deploying numerous measures to induce voters at the polls.
“INEC is continuously improving on the election system and it is becoming difficult to rig the elections. As such, politicians are working tirelessly to buy votes.”
Mr. Bukola Idowu, the Executive Director of Kimpact Development Initiatives (KDI) explained that vote buying has been ongoing before the elections, but people are usually focused on the vote buying that takes place on election day.
According to Idowu, there are three major categories of vote buying which include; Institutional Vote buying where candidates donate money to Institutions to get their support; Questionable empowerment where different empowerment schemes are set up just to get the support of voters; and transactional vote buying which takes place on election day.
Idowu who noted that the three forms of vote buying needed to be looked into and addressed because it has a great impact on the outcomes of the elections, also appealed to voters not to sell their votes as that would withdraw their rights to hold such person accountable.
Speaking about KDI’s findings on pre-election violence, Idowu revealed that 63 cases of violence have been tracked and documented in Osun State as at July 12, 2022, out of which there have been 39 deaths.
Regarding the participation of Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) in the election, the KDI boss noted that INEC has confirmed that it has provided assistive devices for PWDs, which he believed would aid the seamless participation of PWDs in their respective polling units.
Corroborating him, Mrs. Funmi Abdullahi, an executive member of the Joint National Association of Persons with Disabilities (JONAPWD), Osun State chapter, said she is positive that Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) will come out en masse to participate in the election as there have been efforts to address the numerous barriers that PWDs encounter while voting.
Mrs. Abdullahi said, “we have trained INEC, Security agencies, Political parties, and different stakeholders to understand the needs of PWDs and provide for them to ensure that any barriers that can prevent PWDs from voting have been eliminated.
“We conducted accessibility audits of polling units and presented reports to INEC and I can confirm that this has been addressed and more accessible polling units have been set up.”
Speaking from a gender lens, Ibijoke Faborode, the Chief executive Officer of Elect Her, shared that it is expected that women will come out en masse to vote, despite that there are no female gubernatorial candidates. Faborode noted that it is high time the issue of tokenism is addressed when it comes to women and that women are made to be equal contributors to society.
Dr. Abiola Akiode of Women Advocates Research and Development Centre (WARDC) charged voters in Osun to protect their votes and desist from any form of vote trading.