Voters across Edo State trooped out to vote on Saturday, in an election that will decide who occupies the Dennis Osadebey Government House for the next four years.
The Independent National Electoral Commission says 1.72 million residents of the State are eligible to vote in the election.
However, going by past experience, less than 50 per cent of the persons on the register may turn up to vote.
Voters across the 18 Local Government Areas, 192 Wards and 2,627 polling units are expected to use their ballot papers to determine if they want the incumbent Governor, Godwin Obaseki, who is contesting on the platform of Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, to continue in office or if they want any of the other 13 candidates on the ballot to replace him.
Among the 13, the strongest opposition to Obaseki’s second term was unarguably the candidate of All Progressives Congress, APC Pastor Osagie Ize- Iyamu. Indeed, Obaseki and Ize- Iyamu were the only candidates among the 14 believed to have structures to win the election.
In a way, today’s election is a replay of the 2016 gubernatorial election of the State in which Obaseki and Ize-Iyamu were also the major candidates.
Obaseki, who contested on the platform of APC defeated Ize Iyamu, then of PDP, in the 2016 battle by a slim margin.
However, the candidates have now switched platforms with Obaseki now the flag bearer of PDP while Ize Iyamu is the candidate of APC.
7.30am: INEC officials have arrived at Agbado primary school polling unit and set up had commence ahead of accreditation and voting.
At 8:00am, voters are already on ground but INEC officials yet to arrive at Polling Unit 1&2, Ward 02, GRA/Oredo.
8:15am: INEC adhoc officials yet to arrive Ward 02, GRA/Etete with 36 polling units.
8:40am: There’s a large turn out at Oredo Local Government, Polling Units 004, the polling unit of the incumbent governor, Godwin Obaseki.
Many voters though not observing social distancing but are wearing their face masks.
There’s also heavy presence of Security officials.
Reports from NAN:
The governorship election in Edo begins peacefully with impressive voters’ turnout in most wards across the state.
Although the situation does not suggest the likelihood of violence, there is massive security presence in cities, town and villages.
Major streets, especially in Benin, don’t witness the usual traffic as the residents move to their respective polling stations for accreditation.
Also reports from other areas of Edo, such as Uzzebba, Igueben, Auchi, Ososo, Ekpoma, Jattu and Ughoton, among other towns and villages, say there is impressive turnout and orderly situation. Edo has 193 wards with 18 local government areas.
In most polling units, security operatives arrived in their duty points to enforce restriction on movement of people and vehicles during election.
NAN correspondents that went round observed that security operatives were present as early as 6a.m. in strategic locations in the city centres of the three senatorial districts of Edo South, Central and North.
Securitymen mount roadblocks at boundaries in Edo South — Idogbo, Etete/Adesuwa, Oluku, Upper Siluko, Ologbo and Eyean. They ask motorists without movement permit to park and check for Permanent Voter Card (PVC), before they are allowed to pass.
The situation is similar in Ekpoma, Iruepken in Edo Central, Okepella, Jattu junction and Agbede in Edo North.
*9am: Voting has begun in Iruekpen, Esan West LGA.
Some of the polling units where voting has commenced are in Ward 6 (Ogbomoide Primary School) with polling units 6, 7 & 8, and polling units 3, 4 & 5 (Central Primary School
Also voting is apace in polling Unit 2 in Ward 5 (Uhunmudumu Primary School) in Ekpoma. It has six voting points.
9.25 am: APC candidate Ize-Iyamu joins the queue at his polling unit located at Iguododo Primary school at about 9:20a.m. before casting his vote at about 9: 25a.m.
He commends the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for the peaceful and smooth electoral process.
He also commends INEC for adhering to the COVID-19 protocol.
“The process is good and going on smoothly; there is no thuggery and violence, the place is peaceful and calm.
“I am happy that INEC has a thermometer to check temperature and they also give out face masks to our people.
“We encourage our people to come out in batches so they can strictly adhere to the COVID-19 protocols of social distances”.
Accreditation and voting commenced simultaneously at Ugboko ward 5, unit 26 at about 8: 46 a.m. amidst the presence of security personnel.
10.15 am: Supporters defy social distancing rules as Governor Obaseki and wife arrive Polling Unit to vote.
Watch the video:
Yiaga’s statement on the poll:
Investigation by Yiaga Africa has shown that officials of Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, arrived late at most polling centers in Edo south senatorial districts.
Benin city, the state capital, is the base of INEC from where the materials are being shipped to other parts of the state.
Yiaga Africa reports that materials for the election arrived from as early as 7.30 in the three senatorial districts, but at varying ratios.
Edo north, the farthest from Benin, got the materials as early as 7.30 am
Late arrival of voting materials in Edo south has become a recurring problem in every election.
Materials arrived in the ratio of 43, 51 and 33 percents in Edo North, Central and South districts respectively.