All seems set for Saturday’s gubernatorial election in Osun State except for some challenges, going by reports from our reporters and observers deployed to all the 30 local government areas of the state.
Our reporters said the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has deployed election materials to many of its offices in local government areas of the state where staff and other ad-hoc electoral officials are either sorting or transporting the materials, under the keen eyes of security officials.
Delays were, however, experienced in some local governments as electoral officials waited for materials.
Premium Times Centre for Investigative Journalism in partnership with the Centre for Democracy and Development have deployed about 180 election observers across the 30 local government areas of Osun.
Around 5 p.m., materials started leaving the INEC office at Egbedore local government to the wards. At about the same time in Ede North local government, materials were being sorted ditto for Ileogbo Ayedire and Ayedaade local governments.
However, INEC ad hoc staff told PREMIUM TIMES that they were awaiting the deployment of security officials who would escort election materials to the wards.
As early as 11.30 am on Friday at the INEC office at Irewole local government, the staff of INEC were seen addressing stakeholders for the election – party agents, election observers and ad-hoc staff about logistic arrangement made for tomorrow’s poll.
At about 2 pm, materials, accompanied by security officials, started leaving the INEC office at the local government, to the various wards for onward distribution at the polling units tomorrow morning.
Ejigbo local government headquarters had a sleepy atmosphere. A security guard told PREMIUM TIMES that Friday had been declared a work-free day for the staff of the council. But at the INEC office, work was going on in earnest.
Election materials were being distributed at, Beulah Baptist Elementary school, one of the registration area centres (RAC) at around 4 p.m. INEC officials were giving final guidelines to some ad-hoc staff including NYSC corps members on procedures of election coverage.
Some security personnel were on the ground with buses ready to convey the materials to different wards. The sharing of sensitive materials was yet to commence before it started raining
At Iwo local government, commercial bus drivers waited patiently while INEC official and some ad-hoc staff sorted election materials to be conveyed to the wards.
Everything seemed well organised and devoid of rancour. Security officials were also on ground to make sure things went on peacefully.
At Isokan local government, at about 2 p.m., INEC technicians were inspecting the state of the card readers to be used tomorrow.
In Osogbo local government, electoral materials were being distributed to the officials as early as 3.40 p.m. for onward movement to the RACs. The heavy downpour prevented further monitoring of the RACs.
At Odo Otin local government, precisely at 3.24 p.m., electoral materials were distributed to the officials who were on their way to the RACs.
At Ifelodun, as at 4.26 p.m., some electoral officers had already received their materials and were heading to the RACs. In spite of this, some were still confused as to where they were listed to perform their duties.
Electoral materials also had left the INEC secretariat in Boluwaduro local government area at about 4 pm for onward delivery to the RACs.
Also, all materials and the electoral officers departed for their respective RACs at 5.40 p.m.
Ife East, North, Central
In Ife East, North, South and Central as well as Oriade local government areas, preparation was hampered by a heavy downpour.
Collection of voting items from INEC LGA headquarters by corps members started on time Friday morning and continued to drag into the night with some hiccups still being recorded as of 7.00 p.m.
In some parts of Ife South, NYSC members were unable to get vehicles to their destinations early. At some centres, ad-hoc staff, also in Ife South, were complaining that they could not find their names on the list of those accredited to supervise elections.
In Ife North, registration area 5-8, Origbo Anglican High School, Yakooyo/Moro, some presiding officers were not present to coordinate preparations as at 6 p.m.
Logistics Challenge, Minimal- Official
The resident electoral commissioner, Segun Agbaje, said logistics challenges, although minimal, would be addressed in time for polls kick-off Saturday morning.
The police and civil defence officials maintain they have not received reports of attacks or imminent threats to public safety ahead of the election across the five local government areas.
Olorunda local government has 119 polling units. There, the distribution of materials did not commence until past 1 p.m. The deployment list of the local government got missing leaving several corps members and ad-hoc staff worried.
A corps member posted to Ward 4 who refused to mention his name said the electoral officer moved the list to his office, and as the time of the report the list has not yet been pasted. Aside from this, movement of materials to the RAC centres was slow as the road to the entrance to INEC office was in a bad condition.
Irepodun, Orolu, Ifedayo, Others
At Irepodun local government, corp members complained that they are not sure of their welfare. And the deployment of materials started late in places like Ilobu where the materials were not distributed until 5.30 p.m.
At Orolu local government, the distribution of materials to the ward commenced late.
At Ifedayo local government, the sensitive materials arrived at the RACs at 5.45 pm in most of the centres.
At Ila local government, the technical team had a difficulty moving to the various wards.
This is an indication that these five local government INEC offices are not fully ready for this election. Aside from the preparedness, the deployment of materials and personnel to the RACs are not well planned for.
However, the preparation of the election in Ilesa East local government area started on a good note, with early arrangements and distributions of materials.
The exercise started as early as possible and in an orderly manner, with all supervisors and personnel of INEC on the ground, as well as policemen.
The electoral officer, Olawale Akinsola, said as at the time of filing report that all arrangements were intact, with the provision of vehicles and security operatives to convey the election officials and materials to their various RACS.
Our correspondent also reported that as at 2.00 p.m., the officials were moving to their various centres, accompanied by policemen.
The centres include Ilesa Grammar School; L.A Primary School; Imo Baptist Primary School; Federal Government Technical College, Capa; St John Primary School; Ijesa Muslim Grammar School and United Anglican Secondary School.
The resident electoral commissioner, Yobe State, Ahmad Makama, a support official, is in charge of Ilesa East and Ilesa West local governments.
He spoke with PREMIUM TIMES on his assessment of the whole exercise.
He said he was impressed with the level of preparedness, adding that facilities provided for the election officials were encouraging.
“It is moving well. I met all INEC officials and ad-hoc staff on the ground. By the time I came, they were distributing sensitive materials, and all consignments as at 4 p.m. were already distributed. All materials were collected and moved to their various registration area centres and facilities. I will still go around to see other activities,” he said.