When the Edo Governorship election was shifted from Septmber 10, 2016 to September 28th 2016 on security grounds, not a few people condemned the move.
Civil Society Organisations were particularly vocal in expressing their disappointment with the decision to postpone the election. Situation Room, a coalition of Civil Society Organisations working in support of credible and transparent elections in Nigeria described the postponement of the election as “an assault on democracy”.
Like a speed train, two weeks have sped by and Edo governorship election is just a few hours away.
Some members of Civil Society Organisations, duly accredited by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) shared their expectations for the elections.
My expectation for Edo elections is that it takes place and that the process is concluded. During my interaction with members of local civil society groups and Edo citizens before the initial cancellation of the poll, I deduced that Edo people are proud of their state. Some of those who spoke to me then said they wanted Edo State to be the first major election concluded on first ballot this year. They expressed their willingness to comply with electoral guidelines to ensure that the process is credible and violence free. However, the shifting of the election affected the enthusiasm of the voters. It is my hope that they shun voter apathy and that the election is peaceful and credible. I am also interested in the role security agents will play in the success of the elections. Will their presence enhance or mar the process? Time will tell
Tunji Lardner (WANGONeT)
A fortnight ago, the election was precipitately cancelled as a result of security reasons as adduced by the police and other security agents. It’s good to be back for the elections. Clearly, there has been a much stepped up presence of security officials. An aggregate of 50,000 armed personnels will move around to ensure security during the election. This raises two issue: could too much security frighten voters and prevent them from coming out to vote? The second is the question of whether the security agents will allow for free movement of voters and election monitors and observers to various polling units. This is a double edged sword and we are not sure how that will go. It may hinder voter turnout or it may improve voter turnout.
As for INEC’s preparedness for the election, they were prepared two weeks ago. I hope that they are logistically better prepared today than two weeks ago.
I expect the citizens of Edo to come out and vote on election day. For us at the Civil Society, this is a dry run for Ondo Elections. A lot of factors here in Edo suggest that there has been steady improvement in INEC’s procedures and we are optimistic and hopeful that this will be a precursor for subsequent elections.
Eta Uso, IRI
I am quite positive about the election and hoping for conclusive results. I am impressed by the preparedness of INEC and the security agents. I think they are up to the task and look forward to peaceful and successful elections in Edo.
Esther Uzoma, Proactive Gender Initiatives
A lot is expected from INEC and the Security Agencies. We have interfaced with INEC who have assured all stakeholders of their preparedness for the elections. The security agencies have also deployed across Edo State. We were informed that an average of 5 Police Officers will be in each Polling Unit. My expectation from the election is that it will be peaceful. Further, I expect and encourage Edo people to come out with their PVCs, cast their votes and monitor the result collation. I expect that the collation process will be well observed by election observers.
Ezenwa Nwagwu, Chair Partners for Electoral Reform
Basically, the most important thing about this election is its unpredictability. Before now, it was such that the winner of the election could be clearly predicted because of the nature of the dominance of one party. As we speak, no one can predict accuracy in what direction Edo governorship election will swing. Every political party is working hard to get the people on their side. The beauty of this is that, before now, an election was seen as something to be given. Now, we are happy to see contestation. That new change is what Edo people have to be conversant with.
I am not scared about the way campaign has gone. The most important thing is for Edo people to see themselves as stakeholders who will turn around the fortunes of the state.
I want Edo people to disappoint politicians who expect them to rig elections on their behalf, cause trouble and get into the do or die mood. It is the responsibility of Edo people to show them that it is no longer business as usual. All stakeholders must understand the importance of a peaceful and credible Edo election.
I am more interested in why an election may not be concluded than the inconclusiveness of the election proper. If politicians behave themselves, do not over vote, do not orchestrate violence, INEC will be compelled to conclude the election. If they choose to go the other way, it is incumbent of INEC to ensure that places where due electoral guidelines were not followed, they must cancel the election.
Cancellation of an election is not necessarily bad. It simply shows that process was not followed and the umpire wielded the big stick. It’s time that narrative sank into our people. If stakeholders behave themselves, the likelihood of an inconclusive election becomes slimmer.
Without a doubt, Civil Society Organisations expect the election management body, security agents, voters and other stakeholders to play their parts in ensuring that Edo election is not only free and fair but that it is violence-free. Will that expectation materialize? Time will tell.