Yiaga Africa, a leading election observer group, has raised alarm that the Osun Governorship election billed for July 16th, 2022 may be threatened by activities of political thugs and cult groups. This was contained in Yiaga Africa’s Watching The Vote Pre-election observation report for Osun state.
The organisation said it deployed Long Term Observers to all 30 Local Government Areas in Osun state to assess preparatory activities of the Independent National Electoral Commission towards the election, the security planning, activities of election stakeholders, campaigns and activities of political parties, and voter education in the state and violence monitoring.
According to the report, Yiaga Africa Long Term Observers tracked and reported activities that could affect the planning of the election and the peaceful conduct of the election in Osun state. Some of the activities reported according to the report are violent physical attacks during political party meetings or campaigns and vandalism of properties belonging to party supporters.
Yiaga Africa said, it specifically received reports of political thugs attacking PDP party leaders while holding a meeting on May 7, 2022, in Ede South LGA; and APC supporters being attacked after a rally in Gbongan, Ayedaade LGA, On May 23, 2022.
Yiaga Africa also noted an increase in the activities of cult groups in some LGAs. Reports of politicians engaging the services of cult groups during rallies or campaign trails were received from Ilesa West LGA. Other early warning signs of electoral violence according to Yiaga Africa include vandalism or the destruction of billboards belonging to political party opponents. This was majorly recorded in Ilesa West LGA, Ward 1, Itakogun street on On May 10, 2022.
Similarly, the organisation also tracked voter inducement in the form of distribution of money and gift items to voters and the purchase of PVCs in Atakumosa West LGA. “Long Term Observers witnessed and heard of the distribution of money and food items by candidates or their supporters while campaigning in Boluwaduro, Ejigbo, Ife North, Ifedayo, Ilesa East, Ilesa West Irepodun, Isokan, Odon-Otin and Orolu LGAs”, the report revealed. Also, “politicians distributed food items like rice, beans, garri, and semolina; and money ranging between N2,000 and N5,000 per voter”.
Yiaga Africa also lamented that poorly targeted voter education will impact the pparticipation of marginalized group in the Osun election. The report says, “beyond the politics of the parties, is the role of women and the near absence of women candidates in the governorship race, with no female candidate for the office of the Governor and only 6 female deputy governorship candidates’ ‘