21 September 2020
The Nigerian Women Trust Fund (NWTF) Gender and Election Watch, (GEW) observed the Edo Governorship election in Edo State in partnership with the Westminster Foundation for Democracy with support from the European Union under the #OurVoteCountsNG project. GEW deployed 25 citizen observers across the three senatorial districts of Edo state; particularly in Egor, Oredo, Ikpoba Okha, Estsako West, Etsako East, Igueben, Akoko-edo, and Orhiowon LGAs for the 2020 Edo State Governorship Elections. NWTF GEW observations are informed by reports obtained from the citizens observers deployed and calls received on the three (3) GEW hotlines.
GEW observed the Edo Governorship elections through a gender lens; focusing on the election and how it impacts on women and men differently and against the background of COVID – 19 Public health emergencies.
NWTF GEW observes as follows:
- An appreciative voter turn-out in about 35% of polling units and voter apathy in 65% of other polling units. The voter turn-out was low when compared to the number of collected PVCs in the state. A considerable number of women were observed on the que.
- Despite the inaccessibility of polling units to PWD’s, there was still priority voting for PWDs, nursing and pregnant women as well as the elderly.
- Female poll workers were not adequately kitted as many of them were seen using torn hand gloves well into the voting process.
- The use of the Z-pad and the election result viewing portal by INEC is a welcome development.
- Female security personnel were warm and supportive during the voting process
- Separate queues for vulnerable groups in some polling units were observed.
- An improved efficiency in INEC’s gender deployment of poll workers.
- No observation of physical distancing and adherence of Covid-19 protocol except in the use of face masks. However, Ward 4, PU 01 – 04 had almost a perfect set-up with Covid-19 protocol adhered to.
- There was good gender mix of security agents, observers, party agents and poll workers. In most polling units visited the ratio of male to female was between 3:2 for security agents, 2:2 for poll officials, 3:2 party agents and 3:2 for media and INEC Monitors.
- The election was generally peaceful even though there were reported pockets of violence in Akoko-edo, Oredo, Oriohonwan, Okpoba Okha and Esan West LGAs.
- Presence of the elderly, especially women showing commitment and participation in the election
Challenges were observed around the following:
- Enforcement of restriction of movement order which was abused by some overzealous security personnel who also restricted the movement of some observers.
- Some voting points were clustered together, thus poll workers were overwhelmed.
- Electoral officials: especially women were not properly catered for in some polling units, for example, PU 010, ward 11 and ward 6 which had 28 polling units all in Oredo LGA of the state had no shelter. The polling units were bare to the sun and rain.
- Presence of braille ballot guide for the visually impaired in some of the polling units. However, polling officials did not display this and in some cases, when asked did not know what it is to be used for.
GEW therefore recommends as follows:
- Women should continue to participate actively in the electoral process. The elderly women are highly commended for their turn out. Young women are encouraged to participate more in electoral activities.
- INEC should ensure that polling units are in accessible points so as to sustain the participation of Persons with Disabilities.
- While there was an improved conduct of security agents during the just concluded elections. There is still room for further improvement. Security agents should remain non-partisan.
- Polling units should be de-clustered especially amidst the Covid-19 pandemic.
- INEC should ensure that the safety and welfare needs of female poll workers are adequately catered for while conducting other off cycle elections amidst the pandemic.
- Better training of Adhoc – staff, particularly those handling the voter’s registration booklet and smart card readers.
- There is need for improvement in obeying the government directives on Covid-19 while conducting subsequent off-cycle elections.
- The ratio 2:2 gender mix of security agents, observers, accredited journalists, party agents and poll workers should be sustained.
- Citizens of Edo State should continue to conduct themselves in a peaceful manner and shun all acts of violence.
GEW Hotlines: +234-7025005026, 7025005027, 7025005028
For Gender and Election Watch (GEW) Room of the Nigerian Women Trust Fund (NWTF).
Ms. Mufuliat Fijabi
Chief Executive Officer (NWTF).