The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on Monday said it was working on secret balloting to curb vote-buying in the Sept. 22 governorship election in Osun.
Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) in Osun, Mr Olusegun Agbaje, said this while making a presentation on INEC’s Preparations ahead of Osun election at the Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room Dialogue Session in Abuja.
Agbaje said that the commission had been worried about vote-buying since the Ekiti elections and was looking for ways to curb it.
According to him, the current trend of inducing voters with money popularly known as ‘see and buy’ in the local parlance, was particularly worrisome to the commission.
“The issue of vote-buying is worrisome to the commission because it is not easy for INEC to prepare for election and on that day people will come with bags of money.
“This undermines the credibility of elections; so, INEC has decided to re-arrange its voting cubicle in a way that voters cannot display their votes.
“There will no longer be a way of showing your votes to politicians to go and collect money; we are also working on not allowing voters with phones into the area and security agents will be there to make arrests.
“Vote-buying is a disease that is graduating to kill our electoral system and must be stopped,’’ he said.
Agbaje said that INEC was ready for the Osun election, adding that 1,192,386 Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs) had been collected while 483,826 were yet to be collected in the state.
He said that there were 3, 010 polling units, 332 registration areas and 30 local government areas in the state.
He added that voting points were 755, registered voters, 1, 682, 495 and that 71 per cent of registered persons had collected their PVCs while 29 per cent were yet to do so.
The REC said that the commission would continue to strengthen its voter-education machinery for improved and targeted exercise.
He urged those that had not collected their PVCs to do so because there won’t be voting without the PVC.
He said that there were 48 governorship candidates contesting the Osun election, adding that more than N73, 525,500 was used for training of ad hoc staff for the election.
Agbaje said that the attitude of politicians remained a stumbling block to credible election, adding that their mind-set on winning elections was worrisome.
He said that violence and malpractices were also a thing of concern to the commission and stakeholders and that lack of adequate capacity to deal with electoral offences and offenders was another challenge.
He insisted that there was urgent need for the political class to stop using money to buy votes during elections.
The electoral boss in the state called on stakeholders to join hands with INEC to fight the ills in the electoral process by playing their roles in line with relevant laws.
He said that the commission in Osun would create hot lines about two weeks to the election, for citizens to call in cases of noticed irregularities.
He said that the hotline for INEC’s headquarters for the election was called INEC’s citizens contact centre 0700callinec or 070022554632, adding that the number was a 12-digit special number.
On his part, Mr Clement Nwankwo, Convener, Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room, a coalition of civil society organisations, said that the meeting was organised to ensure credible polls in Osun.
Nwankwo said that the issue of dealing with electoral offenders was a big task that should be carried out by a designated body.
According to him, the government needs to, as a matter of urgency, establish a commission to handle that aspect for effective arrest, investigation and prosecution of electoral offenders.
“we are looking forward to a credible election in Osun as CSOs will be there and draw INEC’s attention to issues that may arise,’’ he said.