Ahead of the July 16 governorship election in Osun State, a non-governmental organisation renowned for its keen election observation, Centre for Transparency Advocacy (CTA) on Tuesday organised a Stakeholders’ Meeting in Preparation towards the poll.
The Department of the State Security, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, Immigration Service, Correctional Service, National Orientation Agency, religious leaders, traditional rulers, the media, youths, market leaders, civil society organisations among other stakeholders attended the meeting held at Julie Moradeke Serviced Apartment Suite and Hotel, Dada Estate, Osogbo.
In her welcome speech, the Executive Director of CTA, Faith Nwadishi, urged the people of the state to shun vote-trading saying that they should not be like some Ekiti voters who “shamelessly traded their votes for money and one pack of spaghetti. It was that bad. That is not what we expect in Osun State.
She said the meeting was organised for stakeholders to deliberate and fashion way forward for a credible, free, fair and acceptable poll in Osun.
“This election fell into the category of states with off season election because of subsequent court actions leading to a shift in the normal national election schedule for Osun State. The 2018 Governorship election in Osun State as keenly contested and so we don’t expect less from the fifteen political parties that have fielded candidates for the July 16, 2022 governorship election.
“It is important that I point out that all political parties fielded all male candidates, yet again, relegating the women to the background. There are 30 Local Government Areas in Osun State with 1,955,657 registered voters. There are 332 wards and 3583 polling units including the 573 newly created polling units in Osun State. As of June 20, three are 1,577,850 PVCs that have been collected by citizens leaving out 377,807 PVCs uncollected.
“The role of citizens and stakeholders in the electoral process is important and critical to the success of any election. It is imperative, therefore, that everyone of us here today must play out part. That is what it is, and that is what it should be. The participants are carefully selected to represent all critical areas of the citizenry who are the actual CEOs in the electoral process.
“The Centre for Transparency Advocacy, an accredited Domestic Observer Group, like many other stakeholders, is preparing for the election with the mandate to contribute its quota towards a free, fair, peaceful, and credible election in Osun State.
We recognize the important role you play as citizens and stakeholders, with equal stake in the political events in our state, hence, transparency should be the hallmark of every group, agency, individuals, the media, security, civil society and citizens that will be involved in the conduct of this election on July 16, 2022.
“Vote trading has become a dangerous trend in our elections. The last election as we observed in Ekiti State was a sad signpost of infamy where citizens shamelessly traded their votes for money and one pack of spaghetti. Osun people, you can make a difference by rejecting to sell your votes and only vote for your choice candidates.
“Centre for Transparency Advocacy (CTA) will be deploying 60 observers including our expert team members to the 30 LGAs of Osun State. CTA will also be setting up a Situation Room in Osogbo on election day to receive reports from field observers from across the state in real time.
“We encourage politicians to campaign without acrimony but discuss issues relevant to the well-being of citizens, convince citizens to cast their votes in good conscience without inducing voters with money or commodities. Let there be peace,” Nwadishi urged.
At the meeting, security agencies said they would be launching operations against hoodlums who are planning to foment troubles and assured electorate to come out en masse and cast their votes for their preferred candidates.
While making remarks at the conversation, a Deputy Director of DSS Command in the state, the agency has identified some flashpoints across the state and the plans of some hoodlums to cause trouble on election day adding that it was working with other security agencies to mop up criminal elements in the state.
“We have identified some flash points where there are lots of hoodlums that are trying to cause some problems for us on that day and we are trying to mop them up. A lot of efforts will be made to ensure election is peaceful. We have learnt one or two lessons from Ekiti election that will be needful to us. We are also tackling voter-buying. We are trying to gather enough evidence against vote-buying.
“Machinery has been set in motion to see what we can do about that. We are going to mobilise to local government and wards to ensure that the process is credible. We appreciate CTA for organising this stakeholders meeting. Osun election will end well and there won’t be crisis. I want the people of Osun to come out and vote and don’t allow few people to decide who lead them,” the official said.
Meanwhile, the Deputy Vice Chancellor (Academic, Research, Innovations and Partnerships), Prof Anthony Kola-Olusanya asked electorate to make necessary findings about the governorship candidates as to discover their antecedents, competence, integrity and capacity to deliver on their premises.
Kola-Olusanya, an election expert, urged security agencies, traditional rulers, religious leaders, CSOs and other stakeholders to step down the interaction and lessons to their members with a view to having a peaceful, free, fair and credible election in the state.
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