On Saturday, July 16, 2022, Yiaga Africa Watching The Vote (WTV) deployed 500 carefully trained stationary observers and 32 mobile observers to all the 30 Local Government Areas (LGAs) in Osun State to observe the accreditation and voting process as well as present its assessment on the general conduct of the election and credibility of polling unit level results. At the close of polls, 30 WTV result collation observers will be present in the 30 LGA Result collation centres to observe the results collation process.
Consistent with our observation in the Ekiti Election, Yiaga Africa notes the significant improvement in logistics management for the Osun 2022 governorship election. The personnel and essential materials such as the Voter Register, BVAS, voting cubicles and ballot box were deployed early in a majority of the polling units. Yiaga Africa also observed the presence of assistive materials for persons with disability in some polling units and improved set-up of polling units to enable access for persons with a physical disability.
As noted in Yiaga Africa’s pre-election statement, the imbalance in voter distribution to polling units has grave implications for voter participation and election day administration. Yiaga Africa’s analysis of the PU distribution for Osun shows some polling units have registered voters above 750 threshold of registered voter per polling unit. The redistribution of voters to polling is priority issue that INEC must address to avert logistical hiccups and voter disenfranchisement.
Yiaga Africa commends INEC for fulfilling its promise to provide the disaggregated number of PVCs collected by polling units.
Yiaga Africa’s preliminary statement is based on verified reports from 242 of 250 sampled polling units. The statement provides data on the commencement of polls, availability of election materials and critical incidents that may impact the quality of the election.
- Early Opening of Polls: Yiaga Africa WTV observed the early arrival of polling officials and materials at polling units across the State. As of 7:30 am, Yiaga Africa WTV observers reported that INEC officials had arrived at 78% of polling units.
By 8:30 am, 41% of polling units had commenced accreditation and voting. By 9:00am 89% of polling units had commenced accreditation and voting. This, however, increased to 96% by 9:30 am. This is consistent with Yiaga Africa’s observation findings in the 2018 elections, where 91% of polling units opened by 9:00 am.
- Deployment and Functionality of the BVAS: Yiaga Africa observed the deployment of the BVAS across the polling units visited. At 23% of polling units, Yiaga Africa observed the deployment of 2 BVAS devices per polling unit. The vast majority of these polling units where 2 BVAS were present had more than 750 registered voters. Across most of the observed polling units, the BVAS functioned optimally.
In 99% of polling units, the BVAS had zero records for the total number of accredited voters on the BVAS before the commencement of the process.
- Deployment of polling officials: In those polling units where INEC officials and materials arrived, 93% of polling units had more than three polling officials present, and 61% had at least two female polling unit officials present.
- Deployment of Party Agents: An Accord Party Agent was seen in 23% of polling units. All Progressives Congress (APC) party agents were seen at 99% of polling units, Labour Party (LP) polling agents were seen at 14% of polling units and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) at 99% of polling units.
- Deployment of Assistive Materials and Set up of Polling Unit: The Braille ballot guides were observed in 60% of polling units, the PWD poster was seen in 71% of polling units and PWD voter information and statistics were seen in 79% of polling units.
- Access to polling units: In 29% of polling units, individuals had to climb steps to access the polling units, which made it difficult for persons with disability.
Yiaga Africa received and verified the following critical incident reports:
- Voter Inducement/Bribery: Yiaga Africa received reports of acts of vote buying perpetrated by agents of the APC and PDP in some polling units. For instance, PU 009, Akinlalu Commercial Grammar School, Ward 01 in Ife North. The party agents strategically positioned themselves by the voting cubicle to see how voters marked their ballots. In PU 003 Opp. Olomu Mosque in Osogbo, PDP party agents were seen handing out between N2000 and N5000 to induce voters. Also, in Disu Polling Unit 003, ward 7 in Orolu LGA, APC agents were seen distributing N4000 to voters who voted for the party while PDP party agents were seen distributing N2000 to induce voters
- Secrecy of the Ballots compromised: In Ward 11, Unit 3, Palace Town Hall (old post office Iree) in Boripe, Yiaga Africa observed voters showing how they mark their ballot papers to APC party agents before dropping them in the ballot box.
- BVAS Malfunctioned: In Ife North LGA, PU 001 at St. Rapahel primary school Toro, the BVAS malfunctioned at about 11 am. A request has been made for a replacement and as of 1: 30pm they are yet to get the replacement.
- Intimidation of Voters: At Open Space-Under Tree, Ojude Oke, PU 010, Iragbiji Ward 4, Boripe LGA, Thugs associated with the APC threatened to stab any voter who did not vote for the APC. The voters however insisted on casting their votes for the candidate of their choice. Yiaga Africa also received a report from Ogbagba Village, Ward 11, Pu 013 of a thug/cultist affiliated with the PDP coming to disrupt the process.
In view of the foregoing, Yiaga Africa WTV makes the following preliminary recommendations:
Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC)
- INEC should extend the voting time and deploy additional BVAS machines to polling units with number of registered voters above the threshold of 750 and polling units with late commencement of accreditation and voting.
- INEC should continue to uphold the secrecy of the ballot by ensuring voting cubicles and ballot boxes are situated to guarantee the secrecy of the ballot.
- INEC should audit the newly created polling units and ensure equitable distribution of voters to the polling unit. In cases where voters have been allotted to new polling units, INEC should update the voter records on its website and communicate the changes to prevent voter disenfranchisement.
- The security agencies should impose appropriate sanctions for any form of violation of the Electoral Act on Election Day, especially any threat to the right to vote or attempts to buy votes.
- Yiaga Africa urges security agencies to continue to ensure a peaceful process, especially as the voting process comes to an end and collation begins.
Yiaga Africa commends the good people of Osun State for their peaceful conduct during the voting process. Yiaga Africa will continue to provide updates on the voting and counting process and will provide independent verification of the election results as announced by INEC. Yiaga Africa appeals to INEC, all security agents, political party candidates and their supporters as well as all Osun people to work together to ensure that the Osun gubernatorial election is credible and peaceful.
Yiaga Africa restates its commitment to sharing accurate data and information on the conduct of the election and results based on its deployment of the Parallel Vote Tabulation methodology. If INEC’s official results fall within Yiaga Africa’s estimated range, then the public, political parties and candidates should have confidence that the official results reflect the ballots cast at the polling units; however, if the announced results have been manipulated and do not match the polling units’ results, Yiaga Africa will expose it.
Watching the Vote is “Driven by Data – For All Nigerians – Beholden to None!”
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Hussain Abdu, PhD Samson Itodo
Board Chair Executive Director
Yiaga Africa Yiaga Africa
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