WTV Pre-election observation Press Statement

Is the Integrity of Nigeria’s 2019 Elections Under THREAT?

2019: YIAGA AFRICA RELEASES SECOND PRE-ELECTION OBSERVATION REPORT

As part of her commitment to the promotion of electoral integrity in the Nigerian 2019 general elections, YIAGA AFRICA has been conducting pre-election observation in the 774 Local Government Areas of Nigeria. The pre-election observation entails the deployment of 822 Watching The Vote citizens observers in each of the 774 LGAs to monitor pre-election activities, assess the political and security context and provide accurate and verifiable reports based on their observation. The observers are equipped with a checklist to record relevant information and provide verifiable findings. 774 of the observers report bi-weekly on a standard set of questions at the local government level, while 48 observers are mobile within a state and report critical incidents only. Unlike the WTV election-day observation methodology; the Parallel Vote Tabulation (PVT), which relies on sample-based observation, YIAGA AFRICA WTV PREO uses a more traditional approach in its pre-election observation. YIAGA AFRICA, therefore,encourages users of this report to independently corroborate and respond appropriately to trends identified in this report.

YIAGAAFRICA released its report on the first reporting phase on December 6, 2018.This report is the second of six reports to be issued by the organization covering the period of 23rd November to 6th December 2018, and it is based on reports received from all 774 Long-Term Observers (LTOs) across the country.

KEY FINDINGS

The WTV second PREO report reveals a positive trend in the level of preparations for the elections when compared with the findings of the first reporting period. The systematic collection of data indicated an increase in the level of preparations by INEC for the elections. The North West region has the highest incidence of preparatory activities by INEC while the North central region recorded the lowest. Also, the WTV LTOs witnessed/heard of an increase in the collection of Permanent Voters Cards (PVCs). The North Central geopolitical zone recorded the highest collection rate while the North East witnessed the least rate of PVC collection. In addition, WTV LTOs also witnessed increased attempts to undermine the integrity of the elections through actions that amount to electoral malfeasance. This was accentuated by the heightened incidence of buying of PVCs, vandalism and hate speech.  WTV specifically found that;

  1. Campaigns are dominated by two major parties: Political parties have intensified their campaigns for votes in the coming elections.This is visible in the frequency of party rallies, posting of posters and fliers, party meetings ongoing in all LGAs. Based on reports from WTV LTOs the two major parties namely All Progressive Congress (APC) and Peoples Democratic Party (APC) have dominated the campaign scene across the federation. The South-West region recorded the lowest rate of campaigns by political parties. The PDP recorded 65% while the APC 63% in the level of electoral campaigns nationwide.
  • Clientelistic politics on the rise: Political campaigns have been signposted by voter inducement through distribution of money and gift items. Based on reports from WTV LTOs, voter inducement increased in the second phase of the pre-election observation. There was an incidence of voter inducement in at least one LGA in each of the 36 states and the FCT. WTV LTOs witnessed the cases of voter inducement in 15% of LGAs, a marginal increase of 3% from the 12% reported in the first reporting period.
  • Early warning signs of violence remain apparent: The early warning signs of violence have remained apparent as the political temperature in some states rise. WTV observers witnessed incidence of vandalism and destruction of properties belonging to candidates or political parties. The North west region has the highest record of pre-election violence. In 18% of LGAs, WTV Observers witnessed or heard of hate speech, violence or intimidation of candidates or people because they are women. Hate speech against people or candidate because of their faith was reported in 13% of LGAs. Similarly, in 22%of LGAs, there was hate speech against people or candidate because of their age and hate speech violence or intimidation of people as a result of their disability was reported in 6% of LGAs.
  • Purchase of Permanent Voter Card (PVCs): WTV LTOs reported incidence of illegal procurement of PVCs from voters is 15 states namely; Benue, Kogi, Nassarawa, Abia, Akwa Ibom, Ebonyi,Edo, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Niger, Imo, Rivers, Oyo and Yobe States. WTV observers directly witnessed the buying of PVCs in 1% of LGAs and in 16% of LGAs, the observers heard of this illegal act. The report indicates the PVC are bought for as high as N10, 000 and N20,000 in some States. This portends great danger for the credibility of the 2019 elections if unaddressed. 
  • Threat to Women Political Participation: WTV observers reported in the second reporting period same trend of physical violence towards women during political party campaign rallies like it was observed in the first reporting period. This incident was directly observed in 1% of the LGAs during the first reporting period, the same percentage was also reported during the second reporting period. Incidents of physical attacks against women during political party campaign rallies were directly witnessed by LTOs in Benue,Kogi, Borno, Jigawa, Kebbi, Sokoto, Imo and Oyo States.
  • Marginal Increase in Voter Education: the findings show that voter education activities are being conducted by INEC, National Orientation Agency (NOA) and CSOs. However, while there is a marginal increase in voter education conducted by the NOA in the second reporting period by 4%,there is a decrease in the activity conducted by INEC and CSOs in the same period.

Recommendations

Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC)

  1. Whilst there has been an increase in the distribution of PVCs in the second reporting period,INEC should intensify efforts to ensure PVCs are readily available for collection by voters that registered between the months of March and August 2018.
  2. INEC should intensify its voter education activities across the country. It is important for the electoral commission to conduct voter outreach activities targeted at marginalized groups as the 2019 general election approaches.
  3. Voter education messages should be embedded with content that discourage vote buying and selling; and promote issue-based electoral participation. INEC should also strengthen its collaboration with the National Orientation agency and civil society groups in achieving this goal.
  4. INEC should take extra measures to safeguard the voter accreditation process for the 2019 general elections due to the prevalence of reports on illegal procurement of PVCs.  In addition, INEC should consider limiting the discretionary powers of polling officials deployed for the 2019 elections by strengthening its layers of supervision and oversight.
  5. INEC and Police should investigate the reports of the purchase of Permanent Voter Cards (PVC)from voters and make public its report.

Political Parties

  • Political parties should uphold the principles of democracy and accountability in their campaigns. For the purposes of national interest, political parties and candidates should refrain from acts that undermine the integrity of the 2019 elections.
  • Candidates and their supporters should demonstrate a high degree of tolerance towards women.Creating safe spaces for women in politics is critical for democracy development successful elections.
  • Parties and candidates should refrain from propagating hate speeches and provocative statements that threaten public peace. Elections can only take place in an atmosphere of peace.

Security Agencies

  1. Security agencies should be proactive in curbing incidence of violence and intimidation of candidates, women and voters
  2. Security agencies should thoroughly investigate apparent cases of electoral offences and prosecute defaulters or culprits irrespective of party affiliation, geographical or religious extraction.

YIAGA AFRICA encourages candidates, media houses and citizens to refrain from acts of violence and from using incendiary language and to maintain a respectful and healthy campaign environment. YIAGA AFRICA also recommends that the security forces should remain vigilant in the protection of personal property, as politically motivated destruction of property can be a trigger for election-related violence. In addition, YIAGA AFRICA calls on the security agencies to remain neutral in their operations and maintain a proactive response system to any form of conflict or violence that may erupt.

Signed.

Samson Itodo

Executive Director, YIAGA AFRICA

For media inquiries please contact:

Moshood Isah, Communication Officer, YIAGA AFRICA

Tel. +234 (0) 703 666 9339 Email: [email protected]

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

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