Saturday, September 19, 2020 9:12 pm
Ayorinde Oluokun/ Abuja
Collations of results are underway in the 18 local government areas of Edo State after a relatively peaceful governorship election. Attention is expected to shift to the state collation centre in Benin later in day where the standings of the 14 candidates that participated in the election in each of the local governments will be declared and consequently, the overall winner of the poll.
Results tricking in indicate that one of either Pastor Osagie Ize- Iyamu of All Progressives Congress, APC and Godwin Obaseki of Peoples Democratic Party, PDP will be declared the winner as they are in far lead above the 12 other candidates in the results declared so far. The election was held under tight security in the 18 local government areas of the state and was general described as peaceful by observers.
The turnout of voters varies between low and high across the three senatorial zones while there were also incidents of vote buying. However, it was observed that the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC find it difficult to enforce the COVID-19 protocols it has outlined for the election in most of the places visited by this magazine.
Many of the voters obviously fall in the category of ‘COVID-19 deniers’ and hence, were not willing to voluntarily comply with the protocol. The European Centre for Electoral Support, for instance, observed that voters in Ologbosere primary school, ward 4 with 40 units and other polling units they visited were not observing the COVID-19 guidelines as stipulated in the INEC voting guidelines for the election.
Mr Wilson Manji, the deputy project coordinator, said although the voters were all wearing face masks but they did not maintain social distancing.
He also noted that INEC staff arrived at some of the polling units at about 10 am and accreditation and voting started at about 10:30 am instead of 8:30 am. However, the Head, INEC Voter Education and Publicity, Timidi Wariowei, told newsmen at INEC office in Benin that most of the polling units and voting points started voting at 8.30 am.
“But we are aware that there are some few isolated cases that started 9.a.m. or after 9.a.m. because of some issues they needed to sort out. However, Governor Obaseki was not impressed by the performance of INEC, especially, problems related to use of card reader.
The Governor, who spent over an hour on queue at Oredo Ward 4, Unit 19 before casting his vote said he was disappointed in INEC: “I expected that INEC would have prepared better for this election. I waited for one and half hours on the queue before exercising my franchise, it’s a beat disappointing. “Giving that this is a sole day election, I expected a better planning for this election. Card readers were very slow and that’s the situation everywhere.”
In contrast, Pastor Ize-Iyamu commended INEC, describing the voting process as good and smooth: “I am happy that INEC has a thermometer to check the temperature and they gave out face masks to our people. We encourage our people to come out in batches, so they can strictly adhere to the Covid-19 protocols of social distancing.”
However, while observers agree that the election was generally peaceful, there were also reports of violence. For instance, there were reports of gunshots at Uneme-Nekhua, Ward 1, Unit 9 in Akoko-Edo Local Government Area of Edo State, the polling unit where Peter Akpatason, the Deputy Majority Leader of the House of Representatives cast his vote. The APC also accused Governor Godwin Obaseki of leading thugs to the polling centre at Emokpae School, Mission Road to molest its agents.
It added that the attack on its agents at Emokpae was witnessed by policemen, who were seemingly indifferent. Obaseki voted at the centre and pandemonium occurring there was reported by newsmen. Also, APC also accused PDP of sponsoring hoodlums sponsored to beat up the wife of its ward chairman in Egor who was trying to stop hoodlums from disrupting the voting exercise in the area.
The party, in another tweet, also alleged that its agents in Akoko Edo Ward 6 Unit 14 were driven away by the agents of PDP.
Of course, the PDP has countered the allegations. For now, it will be difficult to know which of the two parties is telling the truth on the allegations. But the residents of Edo State will be relieved that the prediction that the poll will be accompanied by bloodbath did not come to pass.