Ladies and Gentlemen,
On behalf of the YIAGA AFRICA Watching The Vote; Nigeria’s largest non-partisan and independent citizens movement on electoral integrity, we welcome you to this Pre-Election Press Briefing on the 2018 governorship election in Osun State. This press briefing is the first in series of press conferences to be hosted by YIAGA AFRICA WTV during the 2018 Osun Governorship election.
On September 22, 2018, the people of Osun state will go to the polls to elect a Governor in what promises to be a keenly contested election with forty-eight political parties jostling for the votes of 1, 682, 495 registered voters. This election is the seventh off-cycle election conducted by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) since the 2015 general election and the last off-cycle election before the 2019 general election, as such, this election will further serve as a test to assess the preparedness of INEC and other stakeholders for the 2019 elections.
As indicated in WTV Pre-Election observation report, the Action Democratic Party (ADP), All Progressives Congress (APC), Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the Social Democratic party (SDP) dominate the political space with robust campaigns and large support base. With each of these parties fielding candidates from each of the three Senatorial districts coupled with an even distribution of registered voters who have collected their Permanent Voter Card (PVC) across the senatorial districts, the election may be decided by the swing Local Government Areas in the State.
As Nigeria’s largest non-partisan and independent movement of citizens observers committed to promoting electoral integrity, Watching The Vote will be providing systematic, accurate and timely information on the election day process. YIAGA AFRICA will be the only observer group that can independently verify the accuracy of the official results. As deployed in Ondo 2016, Anambra 2017 and the recent Ekiti 2018 State Governorship Elections, Watching The Vote will confirm the outcome of the election if the result announced reflect the votes cast. However, if the announced results have been manipulated and do not match the results posted at polling units, then YIAGA AFRICA Watching The Vote will expose it. YIAGA’s Watching the Vote is “Driven by Data – For All Nigerians – Beholden to None!”
WTV Pre-election Observation
In line with our commitment to electoral integrity through the provision of citizens oversight on the electoral process, Watching The Vote deployed a Pre-Election Observation (PREO) mission to Osun from 3rd August – 19 September, 2018 to observe the pre-election environment. This press statement highlights findings of observations from the first, second, third and fourth reporting phase. In previous pre-election observation reports, we presented our findings on activities of major political actors, voter education campaigns, activities of marginalized groups and threats of violence. In the final reporting period, Watching The Vote makes observations on early warning signs of violence, conduct of electoral stakeholders, compliance with electoral laws amongst others.
YIAGA AFRICA WTV PREO observation findings provide an indication of emerging trends during the pre-election period.
Summary of Findings:
- Election Administration: Watching The Vote notes impressive level of preparations by INEC for the Osun governorship election. These preparatory activities include voter education, collection of Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs), production and distribution of voter register to political parties, recruitment and training of polling officials staff and distribution of election observation kits. Notably, Watching The Vote LTOs observers reported voter education activities by INEC in 29 of the 30 LGAs in Osun state.
- Noncompliance with the electoral legal framework: Watching The Vote observed gross violations of the Electoral Act 2010 as amended in the pre-election period by political parties and candidates in the election. Political parties were involved in voter inducement through the distribution of money, gift items and other suspicious empowerment programs. Cases of voter inducement and vote buying was prevalent in Boluwaduro, Boripe, Ifedayo, Ifelodun, Irepodun, Ila Irepodun, Odo-Otin, Olorunda, Orolu, Osogbo, Atakumosa East, Atakumosa West, Ife Central, Ife East, Ife North, Ife South, Ilesha West, Obokun, Oriade, Ayedaade, Ayedire, Ede North,Egbedore, Ejigbo, Irewole and Iwo.
- Voter sensitization and mobilization: Watching The Vote also observed increased voter education by the electoral commission, National Orientation Agency (NOA) and civil society groups. Unlike the previous reporting period, the National Orientation Agency was visible in conducting voter education. Audience specific voter education messages were designed and disseminated to women, youth and people with disabilities. Our LTOs observed this in Boluwaduro, Boripe, Ifedayo, Ifelodun, Ila, Irepodun, Olorunda, Odo-Otin, Orolu, Osobgo, Atakumosa East, Atakumosa West, Ife North, Ife South, Ife West, Ilesha West, Oraide, Ede North Ede South, Ejigbo, Irewole, Isokan and Ola-Oluwa
- Political Campaigns: Political parties have intensified campaign rallies across all LGAs of the state. Out of 48 parties that presented candidates for this election, only the ADP, APC, PDP and SDP have extended their campaign rallies to more LGAs in this reporting period as compared to earlier reporting periods (From August 3 to September 13, 2018).
- Early Warning: Watching The Vote observers reported cases of violent physical or verbal attacks, vandalism or destruction of properties, inflammatory or inciting statements and recruitment of political thugs by a candidate or his/her supporters. These incidences were reported in the following locations;
- Violent physical or verbal attacks at political party rallies/meetings occurred in Boluwaduro, Boripe, Ifedayo, Ifelodun, Irepodun, Olorunda, Osogbo, Atakumosa East, Ife North, Ede North,Illesha West, and Iwo LGA. There were acts of violence against women during campaign rallies.,
- Destruction of billboards and campaign materials at rallies were observed in Boluwaduro, Illesha West, Ifelodun, Osogbo, and Isokan. Recruitment of political thugs by a candidate or his/her supporters:
- Recruitment of political thugs by a candidate or his/her supporters occurred in Boripe, Ifelodun, Irepodun, Ilesha West, Ede North, Irewole and Iwo LGA
Watching The Vote notes that these are incidences could potentially lead to breach of peace if not abated.
- Participation of marginalized groups: Watching The Vote LTOs noted heightened involvement of youth and women in campaigning and canvassing for votes for political parties and candidates. Women and Youth groups were seen or heard to be actively engaging the electoral process by canvassing for votes in 22 LGAs and PWDs or PWD groups in 8 LGAs
EMERGING ISSUES AND RECOMMENDATIONS
- Calm and peaceful political climate: Watching The Vote notes the peaceful and calm atmosphere in the state less than 48 hours to the elections. We commend the people of Osun for their resilience and peaceful disposition in the build to the election. We urge all stakeholders to maintain peace and decorum to ensure a successful governorship election on September 22, 2018.
- Misinformation and fake news: Watching The Vote is concerned with the growing rate of fake news and misinformation in the public space ahead of the election. This is dangerous and could negatively influence political behaviour in this election.
We urge INEC and the security agencies to remain alert and counter fake news and misinformation in a timely and expeditious manner. Sponsors and peddlers of fake news and misinformation should be reprimanded and sanctioned in line with legal stipulations.
- Election Security: Watching The Vote would like to reiterate its call that security agents on election duty must uphold the principles of non-partisanship, transparency, civil policing and professionalism in the conduct of their affairs. Watching The Vote calls on security agencies deployed for the election to respect the rights of citizens and observers, including the right to freedom of movement on election day for duly accredited observers.
- Conduct of VIPs on election day: Watching The Vote is concerned with the influx of top government functionaries from other states into Osun. Government officials and political elites should be barred from moving with security personnel to and from polling booths, ostensibly to supervise or monitor elections. There should be a strict implementation of the restriction of government officials/VIP with armed security personnel on election day.
- Vote buying and selling: As noted during the 2018 Ekiti governorship election, the Osun governorship election may be decided by the highest bidder. This is based on prevalence of voter inducement that precedes election day voting. Watching The Vote welcomes the reorganization of polling units by INEC in its bid to protect the secrecy of ballot. Specifically, we welcome to ban on use of phones in the voting cubicles of voting booth. If properly enforced, Watching The Vote believes it will reduce the incidence of vote buying and selling at the polling unit.
The voters must resist any attempt by politicians to subvert the process through material inducement or cash. We urge voters to make informed voting choices based on capacity, character and competence of candidates and not amount of cash or gift items distributed by parties and candidates.
- Election logistics: Watching The Vote commends INEC for the early distribution of election materials from the Central bank to the Local Government offices. The commission is urged to ensure transparency and timely deployment of its staff, materials (sensitive and insensitive) and other resources from the Local Government to the Registration Area Camps (RACS). In view of the raining season, INEC is urged to make contingency arrangement in the event of heavy downpour on election day.
- Transparency of result collation and transmission: Judging from history, we are concerned polling officials will not adhere to INEC directive or comply with the guideline. We would like to reiterate that posting results at the polling unit will enhance the integrity of the elections, therefore Supervising Polling Officers (SPOs) and INEC monitors should ensure Presiding Officers post the polling unit results at the polling units using FORM EC 60 E. INEC should endeavour all polling staff who flout this directive are duly sanctioned. Watching The Vote will be closely observing the e-collation process and urges INEC to ensure transparency and openness in the result collation and transmission process. Voters are also encouraged to take pictures of the results posted at the polling unit using the FORM EC 60 E popularly referred to as “The People’s Result Sheet’
- Youth and Women Candidacy: Watching The Vote notes the low level of youth and women representation in the list of candidates fielded by political parties in the Osun elections. For the Osun election, only four political parties presented female governorship candidates representing 8% women candidacy while thirteen parties presented youth candidates representing 13% youth candidacy. Accordingly to INEC, 48% of registered voters are between 18 – 35 years of age while the gender distribution reveals 52% of registered voters in Osun are males and 48% are women. Despite this demography, political parties have maintained the culture of constricting the space for women and youth.
WTV Election Day Observation
YIAGA AFRICA’s WTV Election Day deployment is based on the Parallel Vote Tabulation (PVT) methodology – the gold standard for citizen observation. The PVT is an advanced observation methodology that employs well-established statistical principles and utilizes sophisticated information technologies. YIAGA AFRICA’s WTV provides timely and accurate information on the conduct of accreditation, voting, and counting as well as independently verifies the official governorship results as announced by the INEC. YIAGA AFRICA deployed the methodology in the July 2018 Governorship election in Ekiti State 2017 governorship election in Anambra state, as well as in 2016 in Ondo State, and verified the official results.
For the September 22 Governorship Election, WTV will deploy duly trained and non-partisan 500 stationary observers to a representative statistical sample of 250 polling units and 32 mobile observers located in all 30 local government areas (LGAs) of Osun state. WTV will also deploy 30 collation centre observers to each of the LGA Collation Centres. All Watching The Vote citizen observers had to sign a pledge of neutrality and were given a code of conduct to which they have to adhere when observing. The sampled polling units were determined by established statistical principles to ensure the resulting information is representative of the state and unbiased. The PVT sample of polling units is truly representative of all of the polling units because the percentage of sampled polling units for each LGA is similar to the percentage of all polling unit for each LGA. For example, Orolu LGA has 2.8% of all the polling units in Osun (83 of 3010) and 2.8% (7 of 250) of the sampled polling units are in Orolu LGA. While not identical, the percentages for every LGA are very close, clearly demonstrating that the PVT sample is representative of the entire state (Appendix I demonstrates the representativeness of sampled polling units).
On Election Day, WTV observers will report to their assigned polling units at 7:00 am and remain there throughout setup, accreditation and voting, counting and the announcement and posting of the official results. Throughout the day, every citizen observer at sampled polling units will send in eleven coded text messages to the Osun data centre located here at Ideal Nest Hotel, Osogbo. Coded text messages sent by WTV citizen observers will provide detailed information on the conduct of the process as well as the official results for the polling unit as announced by the polling officials. Over the course of Election Day, YIAGA AFRICA’s data centre will receive 5,500 text messages containing approximately 56,000 individual pieces of information about the 2018 Osun governorship election. Once the text messages are received at YIAGA AFRICA’s data centre, they will be processed and reviewed to ensure the information is complete, authentic and accurate.
On Election Day, YIAGA AFRICA’s Osun data centre will open at 6:00 am and will remain open until counting is finished at all sampled polling units and all WTV citizen observers have sent all eleven of their observation reports. YIAGA AFRICA’s data centre is open to the public and media at all times. Throughout Election Day, YIAGA AFRICA will provide – as appropriate – updates on the conduct of the election based on the near real-time reports from its observers. These will be released at the data centre and posted on social media at YIAGA AFRICA’s Facebook page (www.facebook.com/yiaga.org) and YIAGA AFRICA’s Twitter page (@YIAGA).
On Saturday, September 22, 2018, at 9 pm, YIAGA AFRICA will release its estimated projections based on its preliminary data. On Sunday, 23 September, 2018, at Ideal Nest Hotel, Osogbo, YIAGA AFRICA will share its preliminary WTV findings on the conduct of set-up, accreditation, voting and counting. Immediately after INEC announces the official results for the gubernatorial election, YIAGA AFRICA will hold its own press conference and issue its election results verification statement. Verification of the election results will be based on the INEC official results as announced by poll officials at the 250 sampled polling stations. WTV is NOT an exit poll. No voter is asked for whom he/she voted.
Since WTV is based on official results from a representative random sample of polling units, YIAGA AFRICA will be able to estimate the state-wide results for the governorship election within a narrow range based on well-established statistical principles. 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 at polling units; if the announced official results do not reflect the ballot cast, YIAGA AFRICA will expose it.
Watching The Vote is ready to observe the 2018 Ekiti gubernatorial elections. To demonstrate our readiness, YIAGA AFRICA is conducting a full simulation exercise today Thursday, September 20, 2018 at Ideal Nest, Lameco Junction, Ring Road, Osogbo, Osun State It will involve all 500 WTV citizen observers sending in practice coded text messages to YIAGA AFRICA’s computer database. This will test every aspect of WTV to ensure that all citizen observers are prepared and that all reporting systems function properly on Election Day.
Watching The Vote calls on Osun voters to go to the polls confident that their votes will count. WTV will provide independent verification of the election results as announced by INEC. Watching The Vote appeals to INEC permanent and ad hoc staff, all security agents, political party candidates and their supporters as well as all Osun people to work together to ensure that the Osun gubernatorial election is credible and peaceful. Election Day is expected to be long for voters who will spend hours at the polling unit queuing for accreditation and voting. It is likely to be hot and tempers may rise. We urge the electorate to remain calm even in the face of challenges that may arise as every Osun voter has the right to participate irrespective of party affiliation. In the interests of transparency and accountability, we recommend INEC to make polling unit results publicly available in a timely manner. This will enhance the confidence of political parties, contestants and the public in the accuracy of the official results. Watching The Vote wishes to encourage all registered, PVC-holding voters of Osun to go out on Saturday, 22 September 2018 to vote their choice in the Governorship election.
Long live Osun state, long live Nigeria.
Dr. Aisha .L. Abdullahi
Co-Chair, Watching The Vote Osun Election Observation Mission
Co-Chair, Watching The Vote Osun Election Observation Mission
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|Distribution of All Polling Units and PVT Sampled Polling Units for the 2018 Osun Gubernatorial Election|
|S/No||LGA||Registered Voters||Polling Units||Percent of Total Polling Units||Sampled Polling Units||Percent of Total Sampled Polling Units||Observers|