Introduction

On October 10, 2020, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) conducted the 2020 Ondo governorship election. Yiaga Africa Watching The Vote (WTV) deployed its Parallel Vote Tabulation (PVT) methodology to ensure the integrity and sanctity of the ballot were protected and guaranteed. Six hundred (600) stationary observers were deployed in pairs to a representative statistical sample of 300 polling units. Twenty-eight (28) mobile observers located in all 18 Local Government Areas and Nineteen (19) collation centre observers were also deployed to the 18 LGA Collation Centres and 1 to the state collation centre. With this deployment, Yiaga Africa is positioned to provide timely and accurate information on accreditation and voting and counting and independently verify the Ondo gubernatorial election’s official results as announced by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). On election day, Yiaga Africa released its situational report on the election day process. This report is an update to the findings shared on election day and the results verification statement.

Yiaga Africa notes the significant improvement in INEC’s management of election logistics. The people of Ondo state deserve commendation for their resilience and peaceful conduct during the voting, counting and result collation process. However, Yiaga Africa deplores the isolated incidents of intimidation and harassment of observers, voters and polling officials by party thugs, which led to violent disruption of the voting process in a limited number of units and likely resulted in the disenfranchisement of voters in the affected locations. Yiaga Africa observers reported acts of violence, intimidation, harassment and assault directed against women especially female voters, polling officials, security, party agents or observers in 6% of polling units.

Nigerian elections are signposted with practices that compromise the freedom of choice and undermine political legitimacy. Yiaga Africa notes with great concern the menace of vote-buying and the impunity exhibited by major political actors in procuring votes with huge amounts of cash during the Ondo governorship election. Across several polling units, the secrecy of the ballot was severely compromised despite attempts by polling officials to prevent voters and party agents from showing how ballot papers were marked. On election day, votes traded between N1000 and N7,000 at the polling unit. It is Yiaga Africa’s opinion that the massive vote buying employed by political actors in the election made it difficult for voters to freely cast their ballots in the polling units where they occurred. It is disappointing that elections are largely defined by the highest bidder and spender.

Whilst Yiaga Africa urges INEC to undertake reforms to protect the secrecy of the ballot, it is important to note that vote-buying is a governance challenge that diminishes human dignity and questions the legitimacy of electoral outcomes. Addressing this menace requires a multi-pronged approach that fosters improved public governance, abolishes do-or-die politics and strengthens mechanisms of accountability.

As stated in our pre-election reports, Yiaga Africa undertook Watching the Vote to provide citizens, governorship candidates, political parties, and INEC with independent information on whether the official results truly reflect the ballots cast at polling units. If INEC’s official results fall within Yiaga Africa’s estimated range, then the public, political parties, and candidates should have confidence that the official results reflect the ballots cast in the polling units. However, if the announced results have been manipulated and do not match the polling unit results, Yiaga Africa will expose it.

Election Day Process Findings

Yiaga Africa’s Watching the Vote observers observed accreditation and voting and counting at polling units in all 18 LGAs. These findings on the process are based on reports from 295 of 300 (98%) sampled polling units.

Accreditation and Voting

  • At 88% of polling units, the card reader functioned throughout the day and in 9% of the polling units, the card reader malfunctioned but was fixed.
  • At 98% of polling units, every potential voter’s permanent voter card (PVC) was checked by the card reader.
  • At 95% of polling units, every potential voter’s fingerprints were checked by the card reader.
  • At 99% of polling units, indelible ink was applied to the cuticle of a finger of every accredited voter.
  • 95% of polling units were set up so no one could see how the voters marked their ballot papers. Nevertheless, at 8% of polling units it was possible to see how a voter’s ballot paper was marked when it was put in the ballot box at some point throughout the day. Voters crowded the polling officials in 13% of polling units.
  • In addition, in 4% of polling units, voting was conducted without a voting cubicle, and in 5% of polling units the voting cubicle was not set up in a way that would preserve the secrecy of the ballot.
  • Party agents attempted to influence the vote in 10% of polling units – including, in some limited instances, through open vote-buying.
  • 100% of polling units had a hand sanitization point (hand sanitizer/soap and water).
  • In 6% of polling units, women were particularly affected by incidents of intimidation, harassment or violence (this includes women as voters, polling officials, security, party agents or observers).
  • 37% of polling units completed accreditation and voting by the designated time of 2:30 pm, while by 4:30 pm, 97% of polling units had completed accreditation and voting.

Counting

  • At 99% of polling units, polling officials showed how every ballot paper was marked to everyone present.
  • At 99% of polling units, an All Progressives Congress (APC) and a People’s Democratic Party (PDP) polling agent signed the official results form (EC.8A).
  • At 8% of polling units and at 89% of polling units the Social Democratic Party (SDP) and the Zenith Labour Party (ZLP) polling agent signed the official results form (EC.8A) respectively.
  • At 11% of polling units, polling officials recounted the ballot papers.
  • At 96% of polling units, the official results were posted for the public to see.
  • At 80% of polling units, presiding officers used the Smart Card Reader to transmit results from the polling units.
  • At 77% of polling units, presiding officers used the electronic tablet to transmit the Result form EC8A.
  • In 8% of polling units no polling officials were women, 30% of polling units had one woman polling official, 39% of polling units had two women polling officials and 19% of polling units had three women officials. In 4% of polling units, all four polling officials were women. In 41% of the polling units, the presiding officers were women.

Results Verification

Based on reports from 97% (291 of 300) of sampled polling units, Yiaga Africa’s statistical analysis shows that the APC should receive between 48.9% and 54.1% of the vote; the PDP should receive between 31.2% and 36.6% of the vote; ZLP should receive between 10.5% and 13.3% of the votes, while no other party will receive more than 1% of the vote share.

Table 1:    Comparison of INEC Official Results with Yiaga Africa WTV Estimates for Select Political Parties for the 2020 Ondo Gubernatorial Election
Party INEC Yiaga Africa WTV Match
Official Result Estimate Margin of Error Estimated Range
Lower Limit Upper Limit
APC 51.1% 51.5% ±2.6% 48.9% 54.1%
PDP 34.2% 33.9% ±2.7% 31.2% 36.6%
ZLP 12.1% 11.9% ±1.4% 10.5% 13.3%
Note: No other party received more than 1% of the vote share
Source: Yiaga Africa WTV Ondo 2020

The INEC official result for the 2020 Ondo State gubernatorial election falls within the Yiaga Africa WTV estimate. Had the official results been changed at the ward, LGA or state collation centres, the official results would not have fallen within the Yiaga Africa WTV estimated ranges. Because the official results fall within the estimated ranges, governorship contestants, parties, and voters should have confidence that INEC’s official results for the 2020 Ondo gubernatorial election reflect the ballots cast at polling units.

It is important to highlight that the counting process at polling units was transparent and included representatives from the three political parties that received the most votes.

  • At 94% of polling units, counting had concluded by 4:00 pm.
  • Incidents of intimidation, harassment or violence were reported in 3% of polling units during counting.
  • Further, at 98% of polling units, APC party agents received a copy of the EC.8A results form; at 98% of polling units, PDP party agents received a copy of the EC.8A results form, at 9% of polling units, SDP party agents received a copy of the EC.8A results form and at 87% of polling units ZLP party agents received a copy of the EC.8A results form; in 83% of polling units’ party agents from all parties present received a copy of the EC.8A results form.

INEC’s official results for turnout and rejected ballots also fall within Yiaga Africa WTV estimates. Yiaga Africa is able to estimate that turnout is 33.4% with a margin of error of ±1.3% (between 32.1% and 34.7%) while INEC’s official turnout is 32.6%. Similarly, Yiaga Africa estimates rejected ballots are 2.8% with a margin of error of ±0.3% (between 2.5% and 3.1%) while INEC’s official result for rejected ballots is 3.1%. This can be compared to the Ondo 2016 governorship turnout rate of 35% and Ondo state turnout rate of 33% in the 2019 presidential election.

Critical Incidents

Yiaga Africa received and confirmed 28 critical incident reports from its WTV observers. The incident reports capture instances of infractions that could undermine the electoral process. These included:

  1. Disruption of the Voting Process & Stuffing of Ballot Box: Election infraction, including disruption of the voting process and stuffing of ballot boxes were reported and confirmed from: Odoewu/Onipanu, open space polling unit (PU 009) of Idale-Logbosere ward (04) in Idanre LGA, Ago Joshua, L.A. school (PU 007), Isalu/Ehinpetu ward (07) in Idanre, Surulere PU (003) in Oke-Igbo II ward of Ileoluji/ Okeibo LGA and Oniseere I & II, St. Peters Oniseere (PU 007) in Ofosu/Oniseere ward (09) Idanre.
  2. Vote buying and interference by party agents: Reports of voter inducement and vote-buying were reported from across the LGAs. Specifically, reports of vote-buying were received from Pu 015 St. Paul Primary School Mosunmola Olowu Area. Ondo Westlga, Pu 008 Uwayowa Camp, Oke-Ose LGA, Obaile 007, ward 9 Akure North LGA, Centre. Pu 15, ward 9 Ondo East LGA, PU 008 Uwayowa Camp, Okeoselga, Apurere Health Centre. PU 15, Ward 9 Ondo East LGA, Open Space at Onisoosi I, PU 007, ward 02, Ondo West LGA
  3. Intimidation or harassment of voters and polling officials: Yiaga Africa recorded intimidation and harassment of voters, observers and polling officials by political party agents. These cases were reported from: Ago Onipanu unit 4. 28/03/02/001 Itanorowo, st colmans sch, Asoko Idanre LGA, Oniseere I & II, st Peters Oniseere (PU) 007, ward 09 Idanre LGA.
  4. Community Collusion: In Open Space at Onisoosi (PU 007) of Ward 02 in Ondo West, community members and party agents crowded around the voting cubicle and influenced how voters marked their ballots.
  5. Interference by Security Personnel: There was chaos at St. John Primary School II (PU 025) in Ggogi/Isikan Ward 02 of Akure South LGA because security personnel were observed to be revealing voters’ choice. Specifically, the security personnel positioned themselves close to the voting cubicle and could see how voters marked their ballots.

While these incidents are serious and must be addressed by electoral stakeholders, they did not occur at levels and rates that would substantially undermine the integrity of the overall electoral process or the results due to the large margin between the contestants.

Conclusion

Yiaga Africa calls on the winning candidate and his supporters to be magnanimous in victory. For those candidates who did not win, we urge them to accept the results because they reflect the votes cast. Yiaga Africa calls upon all candidates, all parties and all Nigerians to show political maturity and to maintain the peace.

Given the significant rate of procedural infractions around counting of spoilt and counterfoil ballot paper, Yiaga Africa recommends better training for election day INEC ad-hoc officials. While these infractions do not undermine the integrity of the process, they are a sign that election day officials’ training can be improved.

Yiaga Africa commends INEC for its efforts to improve on the election day process and efforts to comply with the COVID-19 protocol with respect to providing disinfectant/hand sanitizers in all polling units. Yiaga Africa however, believes that there are opportunities for improvement in our elections and calls on INEC to conduct a post-election audit on both the Edo and Ondo governorship elections in order to enable the Commission to assess its performance, identify operational areas for improvement and drive policy reforms to effectively plan for future elections. Additionally, the National Assembly should accelerate reforms to the Electoral Act to legalize the effective deployment of technological tools to promote citizen’s participation and enhance transparency in the electoral process. The INEC Result Viewing portal deployed for the election has demonstrated how citizens’ access to polling unit results increases the integrity of the electoral process and encourages acceptability of electoral outcomes.

Yiaga Africa commends the National Peace Committee (NPC) for responding to the call by stakeholders on the threat of violence as indicated in Yiaga Africa’s Pre-election observation report. The interventions contributed in no small measure to the peaceful conduct of the election.

Yiaga Africa would like to thank the many Nigerians across the state who volunteered to serve as non-partisan WTV citizen observers on behalf of all the people of Ondo. Yiaga Africa commends the dedication of the permanent INEC staff in Abuja and Ondo state who organized the election and the commitment of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) members who served as poll officials. Yiaga Africa would like to thank sister election observer groups and the international community for their solidarity and support.

Yiaga Africa, through the Watching The Vote initiative, is committed to promoting more credible elections by providing independent information on the conduct of elections and independently verifying the accuracy of election results. #WatchingTheVote is For All Nigerians, Beholden to No One, and Driven By Data.

Long live Ondo state, long live Nigeria. Thank you.

— End —

Ezenwa Nwagwu                                                  Dr Aisha Abdullahi

Co-Chair                                                                    Co-Chair

Yiaga Africa WTV Working Group                                    Yiaga Africa WTV Working Group

For media inquiries please contact:

Moshood Isah

Communication Officer

Yiaga Africa

Tel. +234 (0) 703 666 9339

Email: misah@yiaga.org

Learn more about #WatchingTheVote at www.watchingthevote.org or on social media on Facebook at facebook.com/yiaga.org or on Twitter @YIAGA.

 

Appendix I: Distribution of all polling units and PVT sampled polling units

 

Distribution of All Polling Units and PVT Sampled Polling Units for the
2020 Ondo Gubernatorial Election
S/No LGA Registered Voters Polling Units Percent of Total Polling Units Sampled Polling Units Percent of Total Sampled Polling Units Observers
1 AKOKO NORTH EAST 80,040 135 4.49% 14 4.67% 28
2 AKOKO NORTH WEST 72,139 166 5.52% 16 5.33% 32
3 AKOKO SOUTH EAST 35,747 76 2.53% 8 2.67% 16
4 AKOKO SOUTH WEST 101,842 168 5.58% 16 5.33% 32
5 AKURE NORTH 74,821 106 3.52% 11 3.67% 22
6 AKURE SOUTH 290,267 302 10.04% 30 10.00% 60
7 ESE-ODO 70,014 126 4.19% 13 4.33% 26
8 IDANRE 82,449 112 3.72% 11 3.67% 22
9 IFEDORE 75,257 151 5.02% 15 5.00% 30
10 ILAJE 132,189 271 9.01% 27 9.00% 54
11 ILEOLUJI/OKEIGBO 73,051 157 5.22% 16 5.33% 32
12 IRELE 66,959 132 4.39% 13 4.33% 26
13 ODIGBO 136,146 210 6.98% 21 7.00% 42
14 OKITIPUPA 110,572 246 8.18% 24 8.00% 48
15 ONDO EAST 50,496 74 2.46% 8 2.67% 16
16 ONDO WEST 172,815 233 7.74% 23 7.67% 46
17 OSE 69,087 126 4.19% 12 4.00% 24
18 OWO 128,455 218 7.24% 22 7.33% 44
  Total 1,822,346 3,009 100.00% 300 100.00% 600
Source: Yiaga Africa WTV Ondo 2020

Appendix II

The below table is a comparison of INEC official results with the Yiaga Africa WTV estimates for all 17 political parties contesting the 2020 Ondo gubernatorial election.

Appendix II:     Comparison of INEC Official Results with Yiaga Africa WTV Estimates for All Political Parties in the 2020 Edo Gubernatorial Election
Party INEC Yiaga Africa WTV Match
Official Result Estimate Margin of Error Estimated Range
Lower Limit Upper Limit
A 0.0% 0.0% 0.1% 0.0% 0.1% ü
AA 0.0% 0.0% 0.1% 0.0% 0.1% ü
AAC 0.1% 0.1% 0.1% 0.0% 0.2% ü
ADC 0.4% 0.5% 0.1% 0.4% 0.6% ü
ADP 0.6% 0.6% 0.1% 0.5% 0.7% ü
APC 51.1% 51.5% 2.6% 48.9% 54.1% ü
APGA 0.0% 0.0% 0.1% 0.0% 0.1% ü
APM 0.0% 0.0% 0.1% 0.0% 0.1% ü
APP 0.1% 0.1% 0.1% 0.0% 0.2% ü
LP 0.4% 0.4% 0.1% 0.3% 0.5% ü
NNPP 0.0% 0.1% 0.1% 0.0% 0.2% ü
NRM 0.1% 0.1% 0.1% 0.0% 0.2% ü
PDP 34.2% 33.9% 2.7% 31.2% 36.6% ü
PRP 0.1% 0.1% 0.1% 0.0% 0.2% ü
SDP 0.5% 0.6% 0.1% 0.5% 0.7% ü
YPP 0.1% 0.1% 0.1% 0.0% 0.2% ü
ZLP 12.1% 11.9% 1.4% 10.5% 13.3% ü
Source: Yiaga Africa WTV Ondo 2020