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Overview of Key Issues in the Pre-Election Period for the July 16, 2022 Osun State
Governorship Election


Introduction
The second of two off-cycle governorship elections for 2022 will be conducted by the
Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in Osun State, on July 16, 2022. The
election is the seventh in the state since the return of the current democratic dispensation in 1999 following a Court of Appeal verdict, on 26 November 2010, Osun’s elections moved
from the general election cycle to an off-cycle polls. Rauf Aregbesola served two terms (2010 – 2018), and was succeeded by Gboyega Oyetola, who now seeks a second term as governor.


The July 2022 Osun State gubernatorial elections will be the second to be conducted under
the amended Electoral Act, 2022. There are 1,955,657 registered voters for the coming
elections, which is a vast increase from the 1,246,915 voters that decided the 2018 elections
and records a 36% increase in voters registered. Voters in Osun State go to the polls for Saturday’s governorship elections to either re-elect an incumbent governor, who is a member of the All Progressives Congress (APC) or change control of the state to any of the fifteen opposition parties, led by the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) who produced a former governor of the state (2003 – 2010). However, a major
difference in this election is the strength of third party candidates and the possible impact it
might have on the electoral results. In 2018, the Social Democratic Party, represented by
Iyiola Omisore, was a prominent candidate and won several Local Governments in the
populous Ife area. Omisore has since moved to the APC and, as a result, the CDD EAC
observes that of the other party candidates, none is able to command a significant level of
support to avoid an APC or PDP win. The CDD-EAC notes that there are 15 political parties
fielding candidates for the election. None of the governorship candidates and six of the
deputy governorship candidates are women, just as the age range of the candidates indicates a
low participation of the youth.


Following on from a successful exercise during the June 2022 Ekiti State governorship
elections, the CDD-EAC will be closely observing the electoral process with the objective of
collecting data to support evidence-based analysis of key aspects of the Osun State
governorship election. Similarly, the CDD-EAC will also host a fake news hub for the
purpose of tracking and countering fake news and misinformation as it affects the election.
Pre-Election Observations Based on the observation of the CDD EAC in the pre-election period, the following are the key trends, which will play a major role in the successful conduct of the polls:


Review of INEC’s Preparedness
Voter turnout will affect the legitimacy and acceptance of the Osun 2022 elections. As at 10
July 2022, INEC reported that only 1,479,595 million of the 1,955,657 registered voters had
collected their permanent voters cards (PVC). This equates to 76% of voters registered and
the low number led to INEC extending the deadline for collecting PVCS to 14 July – two
days before the elections. INEC’s preparations for the election extends to the resources
deployed and areas outlined for the election. 5,305 BVAS machines have been deployed to
cover 3,763 polling units across the 30 Local Governments in the state. The CDD-EAC will
observe if the number is sufficient to ensure that voting is carried out efficiently and if any
technical difficulty is dealt with promptly. The CDD-EAC also notes that because of the
increased size, number of polling units, LGAs and registered voters, the Osun elections
provides a sterner test of INEC’s capacity, when compared to the June 2022 Ekiti
governorship elections.


Finally, the CDD-EAC notes the need for a re-run in the 2018 Governorship elections. This
incident led to some concerns about the result because of the PDP candidate’s defeat, after
leading the first day of the poll and the small margin between the two candidates. Ahead of
the 2023 elections, the CDD-EAC hopes that the conduct of the Osun governorship election
will raise no doubts of INEC’s ability to conduct free, fair and credible elections.
Use of Technology by INEC.


The CDD-EAC notes that the 16 July 2022 Osun State Governorship election is significant
because it will be the last preliminary election as the INEC prepares for the 2023 general
elections. The election also reaffirms precedence that has been set under the Electoral Act
2022 concerning guidelines and regulations for the conduct of elections. The CDD-EAC
commended the progress recorded during the Ekiti elections by INEC and election
stakeholders. Highlighted areas include the high rate of officials arriving at polling units on
time and the high usage of the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) – which resulted
in quick accreditation numbers and brief issues in relation to the review of issues raised. This
led to the prompt release of results via the INEC Result Viewing Portal (IReV). However,
Ekiti’s elections were still marred by incidents of vote buying, violence and a few instances
where voters were allowed to cast their votes without being authenticated by the BVAS. The
CDD-EAC remarks that consolidating on the progress made, and addressing the areas for
improvement, will be key for the credibility of the process.


Emphasis of zoning over issues
The CDD-EAC is concerned about the lack of an issue-based campaign by the major
candidates. In the build up to the 2022 elections, a major area of consideration is zoning –
since 1999, both Osun Central and Osun East senatorial zones have produced governors,
while Osun West has not done so. The PDP candidate, Adeleke, is from the Osun West zone
has based a campaign on representation via this zoning principle.


Incidents of Violence and Insecurity
The CDD-EAC also expresses worry about recent instances of violence, such as the report
that gun men recently attacked the home of the Labour Party’s candidate, Yusuf Sulaimon
Lasun. The home of the Accord Party candidate, Akin Ogunbiyi, was set on fire and the PDP
has reported that police officers arrested some of their members without cause in Osogbo, as
well as in Ije-Ijesha and Etioni in Ori Ade and Atakumosa Local Government Areas
in Osun state signed a Peace Accord on the 13th of July 2022, there is need for a proper
security analysis that will map out hotspots of violence. This is pertinent as the state is
notorious for cultism and street gangs that can easily be appropriated for violence especially
during the ongoing ASUU strike. With current security realities, the Osun election will
require a greater deployment of security personnel. It is hoped that the recent signing of the
peace accords by the governorship candidates will ensure that their supporters refrain from
violent activities regardless of the result of the polls.


Impact of National Politicians
The Osun election is not just the last dress rehearsal before the 2023 general election but also
hosts a number of national figures that can influence the conduct and outcome of the election.
The presidential candidate of the ruling APC, Bola Tinubu, is from the South-West
geopolitical zone, while the former interim national chair of the party, Bisi Akande, is a
former governor of the state. Likewise, the PDP has shown more interest in the Osun
election, when compared to the Ekiti governorship polls. Dr. Iyorchia Ayu, the national chair
and Atiku Abubakar, the presidential candidate alongside other PDP governors have attended
rallies in Osun. This has raised fears that there might be an increase in vote-buying and the
use of security forces to intimidate the opposition and voters.


Voter Inducement
Despite the 2022 Electoral Act, the spate of vote-buying has not reduced. This was evident in
the Ekiti governorship election and likely to be worse in the Osun gubernatorial election. In
2018, three men were arrested for vote-buying by police officers and the International Centre
for Investigative Reporting (ICIR) recorded instances of PDP agents partaking in such
activities. CDD-EAC observers during the June 2022 Ekiti Governorship Elections noted
several instances of vote buying and calls for stronger monitoring by INEC.


Fake News and Misinformation
An increasing aspect of concern is the prevalence of fake news, misinformation and
inflammatory rhetoric. These issues can lead to incidents of violence and reduced voter
turnout depending on the impact. An instance during the June 2022 Ekiti Governorship
Election was the report that a frontline candidate had withdrawn and endorsed another. While
CSOs and the CDD strived to circulate the fact that this was not the case, the impact on votes
cannot be ascertained. The CDD-EAC has deployed resources to track any instance of fake
news so that prompt verification can be carried out as necessary.


Lastly, the CDD-EAC hopes that all critical stakeholders in the election process, from INEC
to traditional leaders and relevant security agencies, work together to ensure a credible
election in Osun. CDD-EAC observers will be on ground to provide real-time information
and data that will inform subsequent reports respectively. Although 13 of the 15 political parties participating in the gubernatorial election

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