Stakeholders in Ondo State generally believe that yesterday’s governorship election was an improvement on previous ones in many respects.
There were improvements in the area of logistics, particularly with regards to arrival of electoral officials on time at their assigned stations and the setting up of polling units.
In many places, however, particularly in the riverine areas, the process of accreditation and voting started late in spite of the early arrival of electoral officials and materials.
Electoral officials came out on time and were prepared to do their work, but prospective voters took their time in coming out to exercise their duties.
Yiaga Africa, a non-governmental organisation dedicated to reforming Nigeria’s elections, noted that officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) arrived at their stations at 7.30 am in 77 per cent of the polling units.
Its preliminary report on the election by the co-chairs, Dr. Aisha Abdullahi and Ezenwa Nwagwu, described the development as a significant improvement on the September 19 Edo governorship election, where officials arrived at the same time in 38 per cent of the polling units.
It rained heavily, particularly in the riverine areas of Ilaje and Ese-Odo local government areas, but voters defied the weather to exercise their franchise.
Yiaga Africa enjoined INEC to extend the voting period in polling units where election commenced late due to late deployment of election materials and personnel and in the location where elections were delayed due to rainfall.
It added: “As the voting process comes to an end, INEC should ensure that the ballots are counted openly and the Form EC60E containing polling units’ results are posted at the polling unit for the public.
“To ensure that the polling unit result sheet; form EC8A for each polling is uploaded on the INEC Result Viewing Portal and also post information on polling units where elections did not hold or results were cancelled on the results viewing portal.
“We urge INEC to ensure transparency and openness in the management of cancellation of votes and determination of the margin of lead in line with extant electoral laws. Uniformity of processes and consistency in applying its guidelines should be maintained across all polling units and LGAs.
“INEC should ensure due diligence and oversight on the result collation process in blind spots in the riverine communities of Ilaje and Ese-Odo.”
Generally, the process of voting was peaceful and organised, but there were reports of irregularities in several places.