12th October, 2020
By Angela Atabo
The Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) has commended the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for their conduct in the concluded Ondo State governorship election.
Prof. Adele Jinadu, Chairman of CDD Election Analysis Centre (EAC), gave the commendation at a news conference on the Post-Election: 2020 Ondo Off-circle Governorship Election on Monday in Abuja.
Jinadu said that the report provided an account of CDD’s major findings, derived primarily from field data gathered by researchers and observers deployed for the election.
He said that INEC deployed election officials and materials to all polling units in a timely and efficient manner to enable the accreditation and voting process start and end as scheduled in most polling units including those in remote areas.
Also, Smart Card Readers functioned well, although there were hitches that were quickly rectified by technicians on stand-by duty in some polling units.
“Generally the collation process at the various centres went on well and results were uploaded without delay on the INEC result viewing portal.
“As in the case of Edo election, the immediate uploading of results ensured the transparency of INEC’s result management process in preempting attempts to introduce changes or alterations at other levels of collation beginning from the ward to RA level.
“The uploading also enabled stakeholders to track the progress of result upload and protect the outcome of the election before the final declaration.
“In the case of the Ondo election, as in the case of Edo, the results were processed within about seven to eight hours of the close of poll.
“CDD recommends that going forward, INEC should continue to embrace not only the results management process but also the electoral process in general,” he said.
He added: “Towards this end, it will be important to begin focusing on the need for the replacement or upgrade of equipment such as the card readers or indeed looking for better multifunctional equipment that can encompass the entire process from the registration of new voters through to the processing of results.”
Jinadu said that there was widespread disregard by voters of the COVID-19 protocols issued by the Presidential Task Force and INEC during the poll.
He added that facemasks were generally not worn and social distancing not observed.
He said that the group also observed vote-buying in several polling units.
He added that CDD observed a consistent pattern of vote-buying, involving vote buyers who used various devices to evade the watch of security officials and election observers.
“It was alleged by those the CDD observers spoke with about vote-buying at polling units on Election Day that bulk sums ranging from N150,000 to N600,000 were earmarked for each polling unit across each Local Government Area.
“Another vote-buying tactic used was to make electronic cash transfers to the voter after proving he or she voted for the preferred candidate of the vote buyer.”
CDD Director, Ms Idayat Hassan, said that increasing threat of fake observers was another trend observed by CDD at the election.
Hassan said that there was the presence of fake observers, who were neither accredited by INEC nor trained to engage in non-partisan observation.
She said CDD investigations showed that the role of the fake observers was to muddy the waters and conflate the messaging about key processes in the election being disseminated by genuine observers.
She said that the centre recommended the immediate enactment of legislation to establish an Electoral Offences Commission to deal with the rising incidence of vote-buying and other forms of electoral corruption and offences.
Hassan said that there was also a need to create a civil society network of volunteers at polling units dedicated to monitor and discourage vote-buying on Election Day.
She called for a party reform to make the country’s political parties reflect the democratic culture of accountability, transparency, inclusion and participation in their internal decision-making structures.
She said that going forward to build on the gains of the 2020 Ondo State Election and clear the dark clouds that hung over it required revisiting and implementing the recommendations and those of Uwaise-led election reform committee.
According to her, CDD is hopeful that INEC and relevant stakeholders in Nigeria generally will come together to address these dark spots.