• Says Reduction In Fake News, Attacks Against INEC Indicate Level of Confidence In Process
• Urges Electoral Umpire To Reciprocate Confidence Reposed In It
Forty-eight hours to the commencement of voting in the October 10 Governorship election, the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) through its dedicated Election Analysis Centre (EAC) has commended the electorate in Ondo State for focusing on key governance issues in the build up to the election. The frontline pro-democracy think tank, which has deployed observers in the 18 Local Government Areas (LGAs) enthused that the people in Ondo State have shown a “refreshing resolve” to focus on issues which affect their everyday existence. The grouped informed that the attention being paid to issues of good governance has led to a comparative reduction in the spread of fake news and misinformation. CDD Director, Idayat Hassan presented the group’s findings at a press briefing held in Akure, the Ondo State capital today.
The group said: “CDD observation shows that the level of the spread of fake news and misinformation in the Ondo election has been relatively low when compared to recent governorship elections in Kogi, Bayelsa and Ondo State. This positive trend is partly so because citizens are busy discussing issues of governance. CDD hopes the people of Ondo State will put those issues in perspective as they go to cast their ballot on October 10.”
The group therefore urged voters continue to frame the election as a contest to be determined on the basis of the of which of the political actors has the best ideas to solve the problems facing citizens. “It is in line with global best practice for citizens to take all political contestants to task on how they intend to accomplish the promises they have made on the campaign trail. CDD calls on all political actors in the electoral contest of October 10 to take a cue from the people by focusing their discussion during the remaining part of the campaign on how they will govern if given the mandate.”
The pro-democracy think tank called on political parties, and their candidates to refrain from making preemptive statements, allegations and counter allegations, which could stoke partisan tensions and heat up the polity during the rest of the campaign period and on Election Day.
She said: “The war of words, which the political actors are fond of engaging in adds no value to the quest by citizens for credible elections and by extension, good governance. Such verbal altercations are capable of undermining voter confidence and delegitimizing the outcome of the election. It is therefore important in the spirit of the signed Peace Accord for the politicians to be mindful of what they say and do as voters head to the polls.”
Similarly, the Centre stated that its monitoring of social and traditional media equally indicated a reduction in the number of attacks targeted at the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). It stated that compared to recent governorship elections in other states, INEC has been largely spared of denunciations and attacks from political actors, which are clearly aimed at undermining the idea of the Commission’s impartiality.
“Politicians normally resort to the strategy of denouncing INEC so that if they lose the election, they can quickly blame INEC’s alleged compromise as the reason for their loss. In Ondo State, INEC has not had to respond to such vicious potshots aimed at undermining its non-partisan role, and distracting it. CDD believes this to be a sign of the high level of confidence the people of Ondo State have in the Commission.
“INEC therefore cannot afford to fritter away this level of good will. It has to ensure the confidence reposed in it is properly reciprocated. This it can do by ensuring materials arrive at the polling units on time; INEC should therefore consider the nature of the terrain in some parts of the state, especially the riverine and mountainous nature of some Local Government Areas.”
However, the group warned that notwithstanding some of the positive trends witnessed in the build up to the election, there remained warning signs of possible violence. The group said since political campaigns began, it had documented an upsurge of political tensions in at least 11 of the 18 local government areas of the State with several reported cases of election-related violence. “A trend analysis of data gathered so far indicates that group clashes, attacks on party secretariat and political rallies and campaigns by thugs and party supporters escalated in most LGAs across the State with the highest number of cases reported in Akure South and Idanre LGAs.
“Of the 34 incidents of electoral violence reported between August and early October 2020, at least 12 cases of clashes during campaigns were reported. Also CDD further calls on the security agencies to monitor movement into Ondo State from other states. CDD observers reported seeing scores of buses entering Akure the Ondo State capital on the night of October 7, 2020. While freedom of movement is a constitutionally guaranteed right, it is up to the security agencies to ensure those coming into the state have no sinister intention with respect to the election.” CDD said while the early warning signs are not definite indicators to give 100 percent certainty that there will be violence in the areas highlighted, they nonetheless call for a strategic deployment of security. “CDD is of the view the presence of security in areas with history of election violence will deter elements which would be inclined to resort to violence. CDD however calls on the security agencies to brief their officers on their specific roles; as we do not expect to see officers who turn a blind eye when electoral offences, such as vote buying, ballot snatching and others are being perpetrated.