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The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) conducted election into the Ondo State governorship seat today, Saturday 26 November, 2016. As duly accredited observers, the INDEPENDENT SERVICE DELIVERY MONITORING GROUP (Centre for Transparency and Advocacy) deployed observers to all the Local Government Areas in the state. In line with our commitment to give credit were it is due,at this moment , we congratulate the people of Ondo state on the peaceful conduct of the election. We also commend the political parties who have so far maintained peace.
In the same light, we commend security agencies who as at this time have conducted themselves in a non-partisan way. However, top marks , at this point in time must go to the INEC who provided leadership and exhibited total professionalism in the handling of the voting process so far.
Reports from our observers across polling units in the state indicate that early arrival of voting materials and personnel was the norm . Accreditation and voting started simultaneously about 8:30 am in most polling units.
There were no significant reports of infringements of peoples’ rights or violence as was projected or noticed in previous elections.
Elections were generally peaceful and voting devoid of intimidation;turn out was hugely impressive.
Voting stopped at about 2pm, while sorting, counting and announcement of poll unit results commenced immediately. The result sheets were placed at an accessible place for all to see.
Vote buying remains an issue in elections in Nigeria and the electoral body is yet to perfect the operations of the card readers . A few cases of malfunction of the card readers was observed and so failed to capture finger prints of some intending voters,however, at some point, this situation was quickly rectified through the provision of replacements after filling incidence forms. Also, collation remains a nutty issue that has defied remedy. We observe that five hours after elections ended in the various wards, collation is still ongoing in some wards, which will still have to proceed to local governments before reaching the state collation Centre. However, we must state that the collation process is transparent and is being done openly to the delight of all stakeholders .
Since the success of elections is dependent on strong collaborations between various actors, particularly the security agencies and the EMB, We strongly urge the hierarchy of the security agencies to take very seriously the welfare of its personnel that are deployed for elections , this is to prevent them from being induced by desperate politicians.
Over all, today’s election and its conduct has raised a very high bar for the conduct of subsequent elections and admittedly and arguably, represents a greatly improved process from previous elections. We hope that politicians will play by the rules and step up to the plate and assume their historic roles in the conduct of free and fair elections in our country. We reject instances where politicians unnecessarily heat up the polity by raising undue alarm which usually creates panic and tension among electorates.
We hope that part of the much needed reforms of the electoral process will include the institution of a reprimand process that deters undue and reprehensible heating up of the polity either through actions or rhetoric.
We shall be issuing further statements as collation continues and results trickle in.
Director, Mobilization and Public Communication/ Team Leader, ISDMG Elections Observer Group
Centre for Transparency Advocacy( ISDMG)