By Mariam Onaolapo
A Civil Society Organisation, ‘Brain Builders Youth Development Initiative (BBYDI) has observed sharp decline in vote-buying in the just concluded Presidential and National Assembly elections that took place on Saturday (February 25, 2023).
The organisation, which recently launched a tech solution aiding the monitoring of violence during the election; Election Violence Incidence Tracker, said its observation revealed several critical issues regarding the conduct of the exercise that need to be addressed.
Addressing journalists on Saturday shortly after the end of voting exercise, the Executive Director of BBYDI, Abideen Olasupo, said his organisation had swung into action and closely followed the election incidents across the 36 states of the federation.
“Our situation room observed that there was a significant fall in vote-buying across the country today. While cases of electronic transfer to voters by party agents and distribution of food items were visible in a pocket of polling units, the trend appeared very low compared to past elections.
“We will continue to observe through our on-field observers to ascertain whether the recent change of naira notes is actually responsible for this”, he added.
Speaking on the electoral violence, Olasupo hinted that his observers recorded cases of violence in 20 different locations in Lagos State alone while other states like Kogi, Edo, Abuja, Kwara, Rivers, Imo, Akwa Ibom and Anambra also recorded pockets of violence.
He added, “We strongly condemn these acts of violence as they are the greatest danger to the continued existence of our democratic institutions. We also maintained that security agencies must rise up to the occasion in the coming days to douse the tension that naturally follows general elections in the country”.
On fake news, he noted that his situation room recorded a series of fake news designed to influence the decision of voters across the country.
“A breakdown of the data of false claims recorded by our situation room and debunked by our project, Factcheckelections, indicates that it is mostly based on events in Kogi, Lagos, Rivers, Adama, Imo and Gombe states”.
The BBYDI also condemned flagrant disregard for electoral law by some public officials by openly displaying their ballot papers after thumb printing.
“In our midday briefing, we highlighted how President Muhammadu Buhari’s decision to display his ballot papers after he had thumb printed them represents a flagrant disregard for the country’s electoral law.
“BBYDI observed that public officials like Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom; Senator Orji Uzor Kalu and Teslim Folarin of Abia and Oyo States, and the President’s Media Aide, Bashir Ahmad have also followed suit.
“We strongly condemn this action and maintain that for citizens to start following the dictates of the constitution, political office holders must lead by example. We also urge the electoral body to take legal steps against the culprits to send a strong message to the public.
“In the thousands of polling units across the country’s 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory where the exercise is still underway and the hundreds of polling units in states like Bayelsa where the electoral body postponed the exercise, our situation room will continue to closely observe developments by tracking voter turnout through Yvotenaija, monitoring cases of electoral violence through EvitNG, debunking fake news through Factcheckelections, and presenting briefings at intervals through our press conference dorm”, he said.