There is early indication that the highest bidder may carry the day in the on-going governorship election in Edo State. The incumbent governor and candidate of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP in the state, Godwin Obaseki and that of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Osagie Ize-Iyamu are the two strong contenders for the coveted seat out of 14 candidates.
In all the centres visited in the Benin metropolis, it was the same trend of cash inducement such that potential voters smiled home having collected from both parties. At Emokpae Model Primary School, Mission Road where the governor cast his votes, there were different centres for cash-for-votes. Such centres were set up in the Hausa community both at Nevis Street and near Holy Cathedral. Each voter got two thousand Naira and four packs of Indomie noodles. A vehicle loaded with cash was noticed at one of the vote-buying centres. The interesting thing was that supporters of each of the parties were hunting each other degenerating into heated allegation and counter-allegation of vote-buying.
The situation was the same at Ologbosere Primary School, Ugbekun ward 7, Igbesanmwan Model Primary School, and George Idah Model Primary School, all in Oredo local government area. Reports from Edo South and North senatorial districts pointed to the same pattern.
An election observer who spoke to TELL at George Idah Model Primary School, Government Reserved Area, GRA, Benin, Dr. Nwambu Gabriel, expressed concern over the development. Nwambu, director-general, Centre for Credible Leadership and Citizens Awareness, said there were allegations of vote-buying around in places he had visited and had called the attention of INEC to the development. According to him, “There are persons who are disbursing some inducements; we call it inducements. There are people who are inducing some voters and then they would come and thumbprint and vote and then also raise their ballot papers in a manner that the pay master has seen that the agreement has been conformed with so that the money would be disbursed. So, we have also called the attention of the presiding officer. But as you know very well, the election observer observes elections and does not interfere in the process of elections. The most we do is that we do our reports and send it to Professor Yakubu in Abuja”.
The Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu had earlier Saturday morning in Abuja in his preliminary address at the “Edo Governorship Election Virtual Situation Control Room” which held through Zoom condemned reports of vote-buying and selling also frowned at the violation of Covid-19 safety protocols especially with regards to the social distancing rule.