Ahead of Saturday’s governorship election in Ondo, the Transition Monitoring Group (TMG), a network of over 200 active civic organizations, on Friday, October 9, 2020, asked the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC to “effectively deploy the Z-pad technology as promised to uphold result real-time from all 3,009 polling units, 203 wards and 18 local government areas of the State”.
This, the group said would build confidence in the election and further ensure transparency and accountability in Ondo Elections.
Chairperson of TMG, Dr. Abiola Akiyode–Afolabi stated this during a joint briefing by the group and the National Association for Peaceful Elections in Nigeria (NAPEN).
She also condemned the practice of governors from other states that have “invaded” Ondo state and refused to leave after campaign has ended.
She stated that these governors “who travelled and sponsored their political expedition with the meagre resources of their states may constitute threat to free and fair election by taking advantage of their immunity to be involved in election malpractice like vote-buying, intimidation of security operatives and sponsorship of political violence.”
The group however asked all “invading governors” to leave since campaign has ended.
She explained that a study by the TMG and its partners indicated that despite the assurances of a free and fair election by INEC, “a cross-section of the public and potential voters is still holding INEC with apprehension and suspicion to walk its talk and fulfil promises made.”
“People’s anxiety is a product of their past disappointing experience of the late arrival of INEC officials and materials especially in riverine areas, nonfunctional card readers, missing names on the voters’ register, mixed-up of polling units among other problems which disfranchised many voters in the past in the state,” she said.
Akiyode-Afolabi also disclosed that the group had identified eight hotspots which the security agencies should look into. These, according to her, are Akoko South-East, Ilaje, Oke-Igbo/Ile Oluji, Akoko South-West, Owo, Idanre, Akure South, Ese Odo local government areas.
“We are aware that Police will be deploying 33,000 officers for election duty in the state. This is more than total police strength of some countries. So, the police force and other security agencies cannot afford to fail in ensuring violence-free, peaceful election by conducting themselves peacefully and professionally without bias,” she added.
On the conduct of political parties, the TMG chairperson observed that political parties have been involved in “promoting political banditry, violence and reprisal, allegations and counter-allegations, vote-buying and voters inducement at different levels and in varied forms.”
“This action is illegal as it flouts electoral law. This has raised political tension in the state until few days to election when more security personnel were deployed to keep peace. TMG condemns this desperation for power by political parties as it undermines the fundamental tenet of democracy which is free choice,” she said.