Disturbed by the alarming trend of vote buying, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) said beginning with the September 22nd, 2018 Osun Governorship Election, more strategies would be adopted to stem the tide.

This was revealed by the Resident Electoral Commissioner, INEC, Osun State, Mr Olusegun Agbaje, MFR, mni during a one-day Implementation Meeting on Voter Education and Publicity in Osogbo, today.

Commissioner Agbaje said in addition to measures already taken by the Commission in previous elections to check the menace of vote buying during elections, INEC would reposition the polling unit structure to strengthen the sanctity of the balloting process to ensure all weak points were blocked to prevent vote buying.

Mr Agbaje hinted that among the three security officials to be deployed to every polling unit, one would be briefed to ensure that no voter displays his/her ballot paper to politicians for reward after voting.

The commissioner, who urged voters not to enter the voting cubicles with their cell phones, said he was working with the Commission’s National Headquarters to create a policy that would stop voters from entering the voting cubicle with cell phones.

He said some voters enter the voting cubicle with cell phones to make photographs of their ballot paper for subsequent display to buyers.

‘’If air travellers could afford to switch off their phones for the length of time they are air-bound, I see no reason why voters can not afford to keep their phones away for the two minutes they would spend inside the voting cubicle to cast their ballots’’, he queried.

On the size of ballot paper for the election, Mr Agbaje said, ‘’with 48 political parties contesting in the election, the ballot paper will be enlarged.’’

He urged stakeholders to carry out effective sensitisation on elections to ensure voters are well enlightened on voting.

Reeling out the statistics of Permanent Voters’ Card (PVCs) collection, Mr Agbaje said the state received a total of 1, 676,212 PVCs (both the new and old), out of which 1,180, 049 have been collected by their respective owners, while 496,163 were yet to be collected; a figure which he said represents 70.9 per cent and 29.6 per cent, respectively.

The commissioner said the current number of PVC collection in the state is well ahead of the recorded 70 per cent in 2014 and more efforts are being made to encourage collection, which might possibly reach 75 per cent before the governorship election.

“We have devolved the collection to Registration Area level and would wish to take it to polling unit levels but for obvious logistical reasons and funding’’, he added.

In his remarks, the director, Voter Education and Publicity, INEC, Barr Oluwole Osaze Uzzi, charged participants to sensitise voters on ballot paper handling and correct thumb printing to minimise the number of invalid votes.

He said with the high number political parties contesting in the election, which invariably translates to larger size of the ballot papers, voters need to be enlightened on how best to handle the ballot paper to avoid high number of voided ballots.

Director Uzzi also warned that ‘’until final collation and declaration is made by the appointed officials, it is wrong and sanctionable to announce or publish the election outcome by any person.’’

The Osun State Director of National Orientation Agency, Yomi Olashade; IFES Deputy Country Director, Mrs Oloma I; general managers of Media Corporations as well as representatives of both Muslim and Christian communities in the state, were among the many stakeholders that attended the meeting.