The clock has ticked the long awaited September 19 here. Today, the people of Edo will be deciding who will be their next governor for the next four years across 192 wards in the State.
Although Edo is not the largest state, With a population of a little over 4 million people spread in 18 local government areas, the poll has generated heat not just for the state but Nigeria and other foreign eyes.
The number of registered voters in Edo is 2, 210,534; the number of PVCs collected is 1,735,910; The number of uncollected PVCs is 483,868; These uncollected PVCs have been deposited with the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, for safe keeping so that nobody can have access to them.
The number of Polling Units where elections will be conducted are 2, 627. The number of political wards are 192 wards. There are 18 local government areas spread across the three senatorial districts.
There are 14 political parties participating in the exercise. Twelve of the political parties presented male candidates while two presented female governorship candidates. Admidst this, the” horse race” seems to be between only the incumbent governor, Godwin Obaseki of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP and Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu of the All Progressives Congress, APC. Both Obaseki and Ize-Iyamu are Benin indigenes in Edo South Senatorial District.
Campaigns are over going by INEC guidelines and timetable. There is heavy presence of security personnel at the Benin City office of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) along Ramat Park.
Recall that the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC had promised to conduct a credible poll, as the electorate in Edo State file out to vote in their next governor today, all eyes are on the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to deliver on its mandate of conducting a free, fair and credible election. The Commission has dutifully carried out 13 of the 14 scheduled tasks contained in the timetable and schedule of activities for the election, the last is the actual election today.
However, while the electoral umpire has a great role to play in this regard, it is pertinent to note that in spite of its preparations, if other stakeholders like the security agencies, politicians and the people refuse to cooperate with it, the dream of having a free, fair and credible election would just be a mirage.
The INEC Chairman has said In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, polling units will be opened at 8.30am (instead of 8.00am) and close at 2.30pm (instead of 2.00pm). However, all eligible voters who are on the queue by 2.30pm will be allowed to vote in line with the Commission’s regulations.
Meanwhile, it is worthy to note that peace talks have been giving, security personnel are on ground and the people have been charged to come out in mass to vote for the candidate of their choice as this only will make the day a success of the day.
The governorship election in Edo has begin peacefully with impressive voters’ turnout in most wards across the state, although the situation does not suggest the likelihood of violence, there is a massive security presence in cities, town and villages. With total compliance with restriction movement across the state, the processes of making the election peaceful and credible is uninterrupted.
What is your thought as Edo decides