As voters in Edo State go out later today to elect a candidate to fill the office of Governor of Edo State for the next four (4) years, they must do the following in order to ensure that their collective will prevails and that their votes count:
1. Make sure that their mobile phones and other devices are properly charged. If need be, they should carry power banks. This would enable them record any activities by anyone who attempts to disrupt the electoral process. Pictorial and video evidence would validate any assertions of wrong doing.
2. They should ensure that all electoral materials are accounted for. The Electoral Act (2010) as amended gives everyone the right to ask questions and receive answers from INEC staff in the various polling units. The Act places an obligation on all INEC staff to display all electoral materials and the voters’ register before the commencement of the voting exercise.
3. All voters must be aware that voting and accreditation takes place at the same time. As such they should come out early for accreditation and voting.
4. Having voted, all voters should stay behind till the results of election have been declared and the results pasted on the wall of their polling units. It is important that all voters remain law abiding and peaceful during this time. As long as they are being peaceful and law abiding there is no need to fear law enforcement agents who may seek to harass or intimidate.
5. Once the election results have been declared, voters must not return home, but must escort the results, ballot papers and other electoral materials first to the Ward Collation Centres and then to the Local Government Collation Centres. Doing this would ensure that no one can tamper with the results during transit from polling units to the Ward Collation Centres and from the Ward Collation Centres to the Local Government Collation Centres.
After this, selected voters should be chosen to escort results from the Local Government Collation Centres to INEC’s office in Benin City. This would help prevent manipulation of the results during transit to INEC’s office in Benin City.
I urge all voters to take these steps, as tiresome as they may seem. We all know that the price for democracy is eternal vigilance.
I leave you with the words of James Baldwin – “Freedom is not something people can be given. Freedom is something people take, and people are as free as they want to be.”