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Ondo Election: GEW commends Gender Inclusive Deployment of Female Electoral Officials, Security Operatives

A non-governmental Organization and gender-based electoral observer, Gender Election Watch (GEW), has commended the inclusive deployment of female electoral officials and security operatives during the Ondo state governorship elections.

In a statement made available to journalists, they observed that there was an appreciative voter turn-out of women in about 50% of polling units
visited.

GEW also maintained that there was poor adherence to Covid-19
protocol despite INEC’s adequate provision of hand sanitizers and infra-ray thermometers which were used in the polling units.

“In many instances, there was a complete lack of
adherence to the social distancing principle of the protocol while in addition to voter’s refusal to put on their face masks”

The full statement reads:

Interim Election Day Press Statement on the Ondo State Governorship Election.

10 October 2020

Preamble:

The Nigerian Women Trust Fund (NWTF) Gender and Election Watch (GEW) is in Ondo state to observe the 2020 Ondo State Governorship elections from a gender perspective; focusing on the elections and how it impacts on women and men differently and against the COVID –19 Public health emergency. Having deployed a network of stationary observers across the 18 LGAs to observe the elections taking place today, October 10, 2020 GEW observes as follows:

1. GENDER DEPLOYMENT OF ELECTORAL OFFICIALS: GEW observed a commendable gender inclusive deployment of electoral officials in the Ondo state election. Reports from the GEW observers indicate that the gender deployment of poll workers was between ratio 2:2 and 2:3 in favour of the women in most polling units visited. GEW further observed an improved efficiency in the gender deployment of security operatives deployed at various polling units and intersections within the state which is commendable. Furthermore, the gender deployment of party agents is also commendable.

2. VOTER TURN OUT: An appreciative voter turn-out of women in about 50% of polling units visited. The turn-out of women during the Ondo State election is commendable. However,
generally, the voter turn-out was low when compared to the numbers of collected PVCs in the state. GEW also observed the presence of the elderly showing commitment to participate in the election. Notable was PU 001, Adonmu in Akure South were we observed more aged women who turned up for the elections.

3. ACCESSIBILITY OF VOTING POINTS AND PRIORITY VOTING: While there was priority voting for PWDs, nursing and pregnant women as well as the elderly in most polling units visited, there were notable cases were voters rejected the priority voting directive and demanded that all voters must join the queue for example, PU 019, Ward 2, St. John/Mary Hospital in Akure South and PU 013, Gbogi/Isikan ward, Honeymoon also in Akure South
LGA. GEW further observes that most polling units visited were inaccessible to PWD’s.

4. COMPLIANCE TO COVID-19 PROTOCOLS: GEW observed poor adherence to Covid-19 protocol despite INEC’s adequate provision of hand sanitizers and infra-ray thermometers
which were used in the polling units visited. In many instances, there was complete lack of adherence to the social distancing principle of the protocol while in addition to voter’s refusal to put on their face masks. However, Ward 2, PU 010, Sacred Heart school in Akure South LGA had a commendable practice of social distancing measure.

5. VOTE TRADING: GEW Room observed yet again the continuous cases of vote trading among leading political parties in the polling units observed. Some reported incidences include PU-004, ward 1, Ondo East LGA, and Only Jesus Can Save, ward 5, Akure South LGA where voters were seen selling their votes in exchange for cash ranging from five to seven thousand naira depending on the purchasing power of the political party. However, a more notable case for GEW was seen in PU 011, ward 9, Obaile in Akure South were it was a female party agent who almost disrupted the poll while trying to buy votes for her party.

6. CONDUCT OF FEMALE SECURITY OPERATIVES: GEW observed that female security operatives were professional, warm, and supportive during the voting process. More specifically, they supported vulnerable groups during the elections in most polling units visited.

Challenges were observed around the following:

i. Absence of braille ballot guide for the visually impaired in some of the polling units. Some poll workers when asked did not know what the document looks like or what it is to be used for.

ii. Incidences of malfunctioning of card readers in some polling units, most notable was the situation at PU-023, ward 007, Idiagba, Akure South LGA where out of 148 accredited voters, only 11 of them were successfully authenticated by the card readers while 137 failed the finger print authentication but were however allowed to vote manually.

iii. Some of the Adhoc-Staff did not have good working knowledge of the voting procedures and documents.

CONCLUSION

As election proceeds to the next stages of collation, announcement and uploading of results on the INEC’s viewing portal, we urge all stakeholders to continue to conduct themselves peacefully to ensure the conducive atmosphere recorded so far is sustained.

Specifically, we urge political parties and their agents to continue to engage peacefully and constructively during the collation process to ensure a smooth process. We further call on the security operatives to be vigilant in mitigating
incidences of electoral violence which normally characterizes the collation process.

INEC should ensure the remaining phases of the election process proceeds in a transparent manner.

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