The build up to the July 14th, 2018Ekiti Gubernatorial election was characterized by unhealthy competition, accusations and counter accusations, hate speeches and violence- all of which contributed to creating an atmosphere of tension and fear as well as predictions of Armageddon. Happily, all these fears and apocalyptic predictions did not come through after all. This election is important given that it was generally seen as a test case for the 2019 general elections and its outcome is crucial for the consolidation of democratic governance in Nigeria.
It was for this reason that all eyes were on the Ekiti Gubernatorial election in terms of how violence free and credible it will be. It was against the backdrop of our commitment to electoral transparency and the consolidation of our electoral gains that the Centre for Transparency Advocacy (CTA) trained and deployed 62 accredited independent observers. The following is our preliminary report based on findings from our field observers:
Time of arrival of INEC Officials and materials
Except for few instances, reports from observers indicate that voting officials and materials arrived on time and voting also started as scheduled.
Time of arrival of Security Agents
While there are indications that security officials were present in most polling booths, there were also reports that in some locations, security officials were stranded in police stations and at the INEC offices due to inadequate logistics arrangements to move the officials to their various polling units.
Time of commencement of accreditation and voting
Accreditation and voting started simultaneously between 8 and 8:30 am in most polling units. There were however few exceptions where either due to logistical issues or lack of adequate security voting started much later.
Contrary to widespread fears that the massive deployment of security personnel will scare away voters from polling booths, the turnout was generally massive.
Performance/Conduct of INEC Officials
We note with satisfaction, that there was a tremendous improvement in the performance of INEC. Such innovations as simultaneous accreditation and voting, tracking of movement materials and electronic transmission of results to the collation centres have improved election management as was clearly shown in this election.Although, there were reports of dysfunctional cardreaders, INEC made prompt effort to address these hitches.
Performance/Conduct of Security Agencies
From observers’ report, security agents drawn from the police and other security agencies perform creditably well. Cases of harassment and intimidation were minimal. The only area of concern was the inability and or failure of security agents to arrest people openly buying and selling votes.There were at least3 in most polling units in addition to the personnel of other security agencies.
Conduct of Political Parties/Voters (Vote buying and vote selling)
This election more than ever before was characterized by brazen and scandalously high level of vote buying and selling by agents of political parties and voters. This development more than other cast serious slur on the credibility of the elections. We call on INEC and the security agencies to think seriously about measures to address this malignant problem of our electoral process.
Logistics arrangements/Welfare of Security Personnel
We note a major improvement in the preparations towards elections and the provisionn for logistics by INEC. We also commend the improvement in the handling of the welfare of security agents particularly the police.However, there is the need to take note of the cases in few locations where security officials were stranded in police stations and INEC offices due to inadequate logistical arrangements.
Although the election was generally peaceful, vote buying seems to have become the new sore point in elections in Nigeria starting from Edo, Anambra and now Ekiti. While we commend INEC for the incremental improvement in the management of elections in Nigeria, we hope that INEC and security authorities will take step to prevent in subsequent elections especially the 2019 elections.