Observations on the Presidential and National Assembly Elections in Okwe-Asaba held on 25th Feb. 2023 at 1,2,3,4, and 8 units spread across the vicinity of the Area.
By Comrade Citizen Victor Chima
1a. Security personnel were present and on duty including Police, Immigration, FRSC, Correctional Services and of course CSOs and Media officials.
1b. Non-state actors and party members were fully present. Party thugs were seen but handicapped by the orderly conduct of the voter and electoral proceedings.
2. No incidences of violence except the delay in uploading, warranting the insistence of voters to remain there until about 10.30pm, even after the state Police Commissioner responded to a distress call by the INEC lady in duty. The CP was impressed with the orderliness and only admonished that peace be maintained as there was no infraction of the Electoral Law.
3. Monitors were given unhindered access to the various units. The atmosphere was friendly.
4. There was a relative adherence to the Electoral Laws, except that the polling booths were too close to the queues to which I drew attention of the security agents. Thereafter, the required distance was observed.
However, in polling unit 1, the Corps members who were not fully abreast of the operation of the BVAS as uploading was stalled after only five persons were captured. I put a call to the INEC technical officer who busied my line and refused to pick subsequent calls. Hence the delay till 10.30pm when all agreed to go the INEC office for uploading. Unit 4,6 and 8 also had similar challenge and were all brought to the common ground for security.
5. I had interviews with some of the voters and their opinions were divided on the untidy conduct of the elections there. About three had their reservations for slow start even though the officials arrived early. Others complained of seeming bias by the utterances of the INEC officials. Almost all persons present cast their votes despite some hitches bothering on system malfunctioning at some point.
One strange development was that many did not know of the creation of more units making it difficult for many to locate their proper units.
The election around Okwe was relatively peaceful and the enthusiasm was clearly obvious. The turnout was massive and impressive. I had a chat with two gentlemen who traveled from UK and Switzerland just to participate in the exercise having obtained their PVC earlier. Their views were not impressive as they could not trust the process.
Expectation: But for the technical inadequacies, the exercise was fair and holds hope for the future. Manpower was not properly trained. The security agents were too casual and didn’t seem to be prepared enough in the event of any violence as they didn’t have batons.
Awareness among the citizens has significantly improved and it does seem that more training on ICT is key for future exercises
Comrade Citizen Victor Chima, Coordinator, Okpanam Unit.