WELCOME SPEECH BY THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, CENTRE FOR TRANSPARENCY ADVOCACY (CTA) DURING THE STAKEHOLDERS’ MEETING IN PREPARATION TOWARDS THE JULY 16, 2022, OSUN STATE GOVERNORSHIP ELECTION HELD AT JULIE MORADEKE SERVICED APARTMENT SUITE AND HOTEL DADA ESTATE OSOGBO ON JUNE 28, 2022.
I sincerely welcome you to this conversation today. Our mission here is simple, to have a conversation on the preparedness of the different stakeholders in the electoral value chain towards the Governorship election on July 16, 2022. The Centre for Transparency Advocacy as an accredited observer group was here in 2018 during the last Governorship Election. This is yet another defining moment for us as citizens to make a difference and to create a discerning pathway for a credible election.
This election fell into the category of states with off season election because of subsequent court actions leading to a shift in the normal national election schedule for Osun State. the 2018 Governorship Election in Osun State was keenly contested and so we don’t expect less from the fifteen political parties that have fielded candidates for the July 16, 2022, Governorship Election. It is important that I point out that all the political parties fielded all male candidates, yet again relegating the women to the background. There are 30 Local Government Areas in Osun State with 1,955,657 registered voters. There are 332 wards and 3583 polling units including the 573 newly created polling units in Osun State. As of June 20, there are 1,577,850 PVCs that have been collected by citizens leaving out 377,807 PVCs uncollected.
The role of citizens and stakeholders in the electoral process is important and critical to the success of any election. It is imperative therefore, that everyone of us here today must play our part. That is what it is, and that is what it should be. the participants are carefully selected to represent all critical areas of the citizenry who are the actual CEOs in the electoral process. The Centre for Transparency Advocacy, an accredited Domestic Observer Group like many other stakeholders, is preparing for the election with the mandate to contribute its quota towards a free, fair, peaceful, and credible election in Osun State.
We recognize the important role you play as citizens and stakeholders, with equal stake in the political events in our state hence, transparency should be the hallmark of every group, agency, individuals, the media, security agencies, civil society and citizens that will be involved in the conduct of this election on July 16, 2022.
Vote trading has become a dangerous trend in our elections. The last election as we observed in Ekiti State was a sad signpost of infamy where citizens shamelessly traded their votes for money and one pack of spaghetti. It was that bad. That is not what we expect in Osun State. You can make a difference by rejecting to sell your votes and only vote for your choice candidates. vote buying or undue financial inducement of any kind constitutes an electoral offence. The 2022 Electoral Act is clear on this as captured in sections 121(1)a-d, 127 (a-b). The act of bribery and conspiracy attracts a penalty of 500,000 fine or 12 months imprisonment or both if convicted
The deployment of technology such as the Bi-modal Voter Accreditation System (B-VAS) that replaced the Smart Card Reader has improved the electoral process tremendously. This was attested to by both domestic and foreign observers in the just concluded Governorship election in Ekiti State. Equally, we noticed that election commenced in good time and ended at the prescribed time making it possible for collation and announcement of result to take place within a short period of time. We hope this success shall be replicated in the Osun State Governorship Election. This also goes to the security agencies whose appreciable synergy contributed to the success in the Ekiti election.
It is important to remind us as stakeholders to ensure that all voices are heard, especially those of the vulnerable groups such as women, youth, and people with disability in the electoral process to engender better democratic practices which in turn will help the Electoral Umpire to fashion a credible pathway to elections and the electoral process.
Centre for Transparency Advocacy (CTA) will be deploying 60 observers including our expert team members to the 30 Local Government Areas of Osun State. These observers will be trained on Election Observation and adherence to INEC Election Guidelines and the Covid-19 Protocols in the next few weeks before the election. CTA will also be setting up a Situation Room here in Osogbo on election day to receive reports from the field observers from across the state in real time.
We encourage politicians to campaign without acrimony but discuss issues relevant to the well-being of citizens, convince citizens to cast their votes in good conscience without inducing voters with money or commodities. Let there be peace.
CTA will continue to consult and collaborate with all the critical stakeholders to promote credible, free, peaceful, and fair election. Our votes truly count. Play your good part and surely, our votes must count.
The Centre for Transparency Advocacy (CTA) is registered as a non-profit, non-governmental, non-partisan and non-religious organisation with a mission is to promote the benefits of transparency and accountability in public service and to cause a reawakening in the society to imbibe the tenets of transparency and accountability in Nigeria.
CTA an accredited election observer equally operates as a critical watch dog in the electoral value chain and is involved in election observation in Nigeria
CTA most sincerely appreciates everyone that is in this meeting today. We acknowledge the Department of State Service (DSS), the National Orientation Agency (NOA) and the media houses that granted us an audience before now. We specially thank Mr Ademola Adebisi, our Osun State contact person who has done a lot to see this meeting holding today. We do not take your presence for granted. It is our hope that we shall continue to have quality collaboration from INEC, the National Orientation Agency, the security agencies, traditional rulers, religious leaders, professional organizations, CSOs, and other participants who in one way or the other has added value to our work and ultimately this meeting today.
Once again, I sincerely welcome everyone and wish for a fruitful meeting.
Thank you for coming.