Idris Muhammad at WTV Data centre

Inconclusive Elections: Lessons Not Learnt – Idris Muhammed

The essence of democracy is to give citizens equal access and conducive atmosphere to elect their leaders regardless of who they choose or what the candidates have to offer, anything less is a great threat to the existence of democracy. The current progressive decline of the quality of elections in Nigeria is worrisome and frightening, with the situation dragging the nation to a democratic precipice.  The just concluded supplementary elections in Kano, Sokoto, Plateau, Benue, Bauchi have recorded the same or even more irregularities that led to its initial cancellation by Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). No matter what the outcome of these elections, Nigerians may still lose confidence in the system.

Regardless of one’s political affiliation, there was high level of abuse of human rights in the recent gubernatorial elections in Nigeria.  The desperation exhibited by both the incumbent and the opposition to get the result in their favour by all means is taking us back to square one with desperate politicians deploying every trick in their hats to disrupt the peaceful conduct of the election with a view to swaying voters to their side. In fact, the electoral guideline did not matter at all, going by the level of intimidation of voters especially women, elections observers and journalists witnessed during the elections. The political actors from both sides had a field day destroying the sanctity of the democratic process.

More controversial was the Kano rerun election described by most election observers as nothing but a sham and a charade that turned the tenets of democracy on its head. In broad daylight, politicians deployed political thugs that overpowered the security agencies and forced the electorates to leave the polling units. There were clear instances where party agents and political thugs tortured and intimidated voters into voting their candidates. In Nasarawa, Dala, Bichi and Minjibir Local governments for example, political thugs restricted the electorates’ access to polling units, stoning them and violently disrupting the peaceful elections.  In a nutshell, several observer groups report showed a lot of irregularities, harassment of voters, INEC officials and abuse of the exercise. All these power tussle and desperation was as a result of the political value of Kano state and the political calculation ahead of 2023 elections. However, these desperate political elites have little or no interest of the masses in their hearts.

Despite the heavy security deployment in Benue state, an INEC returning officer was shot dead by political thugs in Gboko, where election materials were burnt to ashes, polling officials assaulted and disallowed to perform their duties. This is not the kind of elections that Nigerians need, of course democracy is supposed to be functioning well to provide enabling environment for everyone to feel safe. While, Sokoto and Plateau recorded little incidents but have issues of underage voting and high rate voter inducement, Bauchi election was peaceful as reported, but there were incidences of policemen leaving polling units as a result of rancor among the party supporters and agents. This is a clear indication that we are not ready to move from the present political madness.

Many public affairs commentators are of the belief that Nigerians deserve elections at once. This will enable the country to cut down on election expenses, and above all discourage voter apathy. They opined that this is doable only if the relevant sections of the electoral law are amended by adopting simple majority system just like in the national assembly elections. Furthermore, INEC should be given the power to disqualify any candidate or political party that causes electoral.

The factors that resulted in inconclusive election such as violence, over voting, underage voting, and cancellation have repeated themselves in the just concluded supplementary polls. Sadly, the factors became worse due to the desperation of politicians who turned elections into a do or die affair. For instance, in Kano state, the war of supremacy between Kwankwaso and Ganduje has reached its peak with the supporters of the duo brandishing and using dangerous weapons against one another. The quest for power among Nigerian politicians is born out of the huge financial benefits attached to the offices. We need to make politics less attractive, If politicians see politics as a call to duty many would drop their desperation to clinch power against all odds.

Idris Mohammed is a Program Officer YIAGA Africa Abuja.

[email protected]

Tweets @idpyar

Upright 4 Nigeria

YIAGA urges youths to be law abiding, shun corruption

An NGO, YIAGA Africa, has called on youths in the country to be law abiding and shun corruption.

The Project Officer of Yiaga Africa, Ms Tracy Keshi, made the call at a forum in Kaduna on Tuesday organised in partnership with Strengthening Citizens Resistance Against Prevalence Corruption (SCRAP-C).

Keshi said that the forum was necessary in order to review the experiences of youths during the 2019 general elections, in relation to vote buying and other election irregularities in Kaduna state.

She said that YIAGA Africa and SCRAP-C, had before the elections, held sensitisation programmes to promote Corrupt-Free Societies in Nigeria with Kaduna, Kano, Jigawa, Borno, Yobe and Abuja as coverage areas.

“We choose Kaduna to be one of our host states because it is a religious, homogeneous state; advocating corrupt-free society will help minimise the influence of hate speech and religious violence in the state,“ she said.

She further urged the youth to continue to be upright and embrace positive endeavours so that they could be useful to Nigeria.

A participant at the forum, Abubakar Aliyu, said that the sensitisation he had from YIAGA Africa and SCRAP-C, before the 2019 general elections, was an eye opener to the effect of vote selling and vote buying.

“I was approached to sell my voter card during elections, I refused to sell it because it was the only weapon I have as a citizen of Nigeria to vote for the leader of my choice during election. Thanks to YIAGA Africa for the sensitisation.

Aliyu Musa, a student of Kaduna State University who, “thanks YIAGA Africa for enlightening us on corruption”, described corruption as a symptom that things, somewhere, were going in the wrong direction.

“It is not only government that engages in corrupt practices; as an individual, I have learnt that even playing truancy by staying away from school is corruption.

Ishaq Idris, a businessman, however, said that people who did not comply with laid down rules in the society and failed to be law abiding citizens should be sanctioned.

“If people should respect rules and regulations that govern the entity –family, enterprise, government, council, country — certainly the society will be corrupt free.

Umma Sani, another participant, expressed concern that some people in authority turned around to manipulate the system to their advantage.

“Custodians of policies, rules and regulations should be held with high sense of respect and accountability, they should wish to meet their creator with pure hearts,” he said.

High point at the occasion was the swearing of oats by the participants to be conscious of avoiding any form of corruption; either at home or work places.

Source: nnn.com

WTV MID DAY SITUATION PRESS CONFERENCE

YIAGA AFRICA Watching The Vote Mid day Situational Statement on the Set up and Opening of Polls



Introduction

Ladies and Gentlemen, distinguished guests – welcome to the YIAGA AFRICA Watching The Vote (WTV)’s Situational Press Conference on Opening and Set-Up of Polling Units for the March 23, 2019 governorship supplementary elections. This briefing is the second in a series of three planned press conferences to be hosted by YIAGA AFRICA. We equally invite you to join us at the same location on Sunday, March 24 2019 at 2:00pm when YIAGA AFRICA will share its findings from the observation of the conduct of the elections in each of the states affected.

For the Governorship supplementary elections, YIAGA AFRICA deployed 258 stationary polling unit observers, 6 roving observers and 97 LGA results collation centre observers. The observers were properly trained to observe the entire election day process from opening and setup of the polling units, accreditation, voting, announcement and posting of the official results. All reports are sent via coded text messages to the National Data Centre to enable YIAGA AFRICA provide timely information on the conduct of elections in the polling units observed.

Watching the Vote Findings

This report contains initial WTV findings as at 1:30 pm, with complete reports received from her observers in 225 Polling units in 89 LGAs in the 5 states where the Governorship Supplementary Elections are being conducted.

  1. As at 7:30 am, YIAGA AFRICA WTV observers reported that INEC officials had arrived at 83% of 23 PUs in Bauchi, 46% of 65 PUs in Benue, 68% of 28 PUs in Plateau, 48% of 85 PUs in Kano and 98% of 45 PUs in Sokoto state. 
  • At 9:00 am, 100% of 22 PUs in Bauchi, 71% of 56 PUs in Benue, 100% of 27 PUs in Plateau, 78% of 76 PUs in Kano and 100% of 39 PUs visited in Sokoto had commenced accreditation and voting.
  • 100% of the polling units visited in Bauchi, Benue, Plateau and Sokoto states had both APC and PDP agents present. While 97% of polling units in Kano had APC agents and 87% had PDP agents.
  • All the polling units visited in Bauchi, Benue, Plateau, Kano and Sokoto state had 4 or more polling officials present. At least 1 in 4 of the officials is a female. When compared to other states, the polling units visited in Bauchi state had fewer women as polling officials. In addition, not less than 96% of polling units visited in these states, had security personnel present.
  • One or more essential materials like register of voters, indelible ink/marker pen, polling official stamp, voting cubicle, ink pad, gubernatorial ballot box and polling unit booklet, were not seen in 10% of 59 PUs in Bauchi, 37% of 23 PUs in Benue, 33% of 28 PUs in Plateau, 18% of 79 PUs in Kano and 9% of 40 PUs visited in Sokoto state. More importantly, Smart Card Readers were present in 100% of polling units in Benue, Plateau and Sokoto state and were not present in 2% of 57 PUs in Bauchi and 1% of 79 PUs in Kano state.
  • Polling units were set up so that voters could mark their ballot paper in secret without exposure in: 87% of 23 PUs in Bauchi, 95% of 57 PUs in Benue, 85% of 26P Us Plateau, 81% of 79 PUs in Kano and 90% of 40 PUs visited in Sokoto states.

Critical Incidents

YIAGA AFRICA has received the following critical incidents from her observers;

  1. Voter Suppression and Intimidation: YIAGA AFRICA received reports on voter suppression manifested in the form of denying voters access to polling units by political thugs. This was prevalent in Kano State in the specific locations; In Kofa Gida Allahrama PU 008, Kanawa Cikin Gari Ward 05, in Sumaila LGA; Zango PU 021, Karaye ward 03, Karaye LGA; and Agawawa, PU 012, Bichi ward 02, Bichi LGA in Kano state, voters believed to be supporters of one of the major parties were harassed by party thugs. In some cases, the thugs chased out the voters from the polling unit.
  2. Intimidation of Observers and media reporters: In PUs 008 and 010, Kwarkiya Ward of Minjibir LGA Kano state, WTV Observers’ Election Observation Checklist were snatched and destroyed by thugs alleged to be supporters of the All Progressives Congress (APC). . Observers were also chased away in polling unit 008, Kanawa ward; Cikin Gari ward 05, in Sumaila LGA; and PU 07, Batayya ward 02, Albasu LGA in Kano state. In Zango PU 021, Karaye ward 03, Karaye LGA in Kano state, observers and media reporters were chased away by political party thugs.
  3. Disruption of the Electoral Process: YIAGA AFRICA also received reports of destruction of the election materials, clash between political party agents and political thugs which resulted in disruption of the process. For instance Election materials for Azendi-Eshi Council Ward-02 of Ukum LGA in Benue state were burnt before deployment to polling units. This affected the commencement of the elections in all the polling units under this ward. In Tse Akough- Near Tse Ak Polling unit 012, Yaav Ward, Kwande LGA in Benue state, a political party thug attempted to snatch the ballot papers and it resulted to a fracas between party agents at the polling unit. The security officials intervened by providing security for INEC officials. A clash between APC and PDP supporters disrupted the process and threatened voters and observers access to Naadatul Islam primary school polling unit, Gwammaja ward 21, Dala LGA and PU  021 (Zango 4), Karaye ward of Karaye LGA, Kano state. This was later resolved after the police intervened.  In Kofar Gidan Litti Kulku l, PU 020, Yelwa ward 12 of Dala LGA, Kano state, voting process commenced after 10am due to disruption of the electoral process and determination of political party thugs to prevent commencement of polls. Voting was also disrupted in Dudu PU 010, Rara ward 03, Raba LGA in Sokoto as political thugs were reported to have snatched the ballot box for the polling unit.

4. Vote Buying:

Widespread reports of vote buying and selling were received from polling units in Plateau, Kano and Benue states.

5. Bribery and Conspiracy: YIAGA AFRICA received reports of bribery of polling officials and security officials in Angwa Kasua 001 PU, ward 11, Mangu LGA in Plateau State. In PU 001, Kodape Primary School, Karu, Nassarawa state, security agents particularly the Nigerian Police received bribes from party agents. Embarrassingly, the negotiation for the bribe resulted in a brawl between police and party agents.

6. Threat to Secrecy of the Ballot: In PU 011 Darki Zango Islamiya, ward Darki, Wudil LGA in Kano State, voting was conducted without a voting cubicle, with party agents allowed to cross-check how each voter voted.

Preliminary Observation

  1. YIAGA AFRICA notes the resilience demonstrated by registered voters in some states to cast their vote in the supplementary elections. Kano, Bauchi and Sokoto recorded an appreciable level of turnout of women and youths for the election.
  • YIAGA AFRICA condemns the deployment of thugs by the two major political parties in the elections. Despite huge deployment of security personnel for the elections, political thugs visibly attacked voters and disrupted elections in some polling stations in Kano and Benue states without any resistance or reprimand from security agencies. This is worrisome and raises serious questions on the effectiveness of security deployment for the supplementary elections.
  • Proliferation of small and light arms: YIAGA AFRICA notes with concern the possession of small and light arms by political thugs in the election. This illegal possession of arms poses a threat to political stability and human rights. There’s need to investigate the illegal possession of arms by political thugs and hold their sponsors to account.
  • In view of the contentious nature of the elections in some states, INEC should strengthen its oversight on the results collation process. Judging from experience, collation and returning officers should be put under strict supervision as the collation process begins to halt any attempt to cancel votes arbitrarily. Where returning and collation officials misapply the electoral guidelines, the Commission should ensure timely reversal of such misapplication and communicate its decision in a timely manner. This is essential for boosting stakeholder confidence in the elections.
  • INEC should maintain its periodic briefing with election stakeholders on the elections at the National and state levels. INEC’s online and offline media platforms should be utilized in sharing information with the public. YIAGA AFRICA reiterates its earlier call to INEC to make public the data on PVC collection rates in the affected polling units.
  • YIAGA AFRICA urges security agencies to perform their functions within constitutional limits. We reiterate our call on security agencies to provide adequate security for election materials and officials, accredited observers, media personnel and voters. Also, security agents must remain non-partisan and professional throughout the election. We call on the leadership of the Nigerian police to investigate reports of bribery and corruption against police officers on election duty.

YIAGA AFRICA will continue to observe the elections in the 5 states where her observers are deployed. As noted earlier, YIAGA AFRICA will deploy 97 LGA results collation centre observers to monitor the results collation process. We urge INEC to ensure the results collation centers are accessible to observers, media and party agents. As an independent election observer group, we will provide a detailed assessment report of the result collation process in the 5 states with governorship rerun elections.

YIAGA AFRICA is undertaking the Watching The Vote project to provide Nigerian voters, governorship candidates, political parties, civil society and INEC with independent information on the conduct of the elections. The Watching The Vote project is “Driven by Data – For All Nigerians – Beholden to None!”

Thank you and God Bless the people of Nigeria!

Dr. Hussaini Abdu

Chair, Watching The Vote Working Group

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.



WTV SUPPLEMENTARY ELECTION PRE-ELECTION PRESS CONFERENCE

Pre-Election Press Statement YIAGA AFRICA Watching The Vote 2019 Governorship and State Assembly Supplementary Elections

Introduction

Ladies and Gentlemen, distinguished guests – welcome to the YIAGA AFRICA Watching The Vote (WTV)’s Preliminary Press Conference on the observation plans for the governorship and state assembly supplementary elections scheduled for March 23, 2019 and the pre-election environment leading up to the elections. This briefing is the first in a series of three planned press conferences to be hosted by YIAGA AFRICA in this election. We equally invite you to join us at the Watching The Vote Data centre, Floor 01, Niger/Enugu Hall, Transcorp Hilton, Abuja on Saturday 23 March 2019 at 2pm when YIAGA AFRICA will share its Situational Statement on the set up and opening of polls and on Sunday 24 March 2019 at 2:00 pm when YIAGA AFRICA will share its Preliminary Statement on the conduct of the elections.

On March 9, 2019, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) conducted Governorship and State House of Assembly elections across the federation. Although there was an improvement with the management of election logistics, the election was fraught with egregious violations of electoral guidelines, intimidation, vote buying, violence and disruption by thugs and some security personnel resulting to inconclusive elections in some states. These inconclusive elections have become a subject of litigation resulting to several court injections restraining INEC from concluding the election in some states like Adamawa and Bauchi states. Notwithstanding, INEC has fixed March 23, 2019 to conclude the governorship elections in Bauchi, Benue, Kano, Plateau and Sokoto states and State Assembly elections in Adamawa, Bauchi, Bayelsa, Benue, Ebonyi, Edo, Ekiti, Edo, Imo, Kaduna, Kano, Kogi, Lagos, Nassarawa, Osun, Plateau, Sokoto, Taraba and FCT Area council elections in Abaji, Bwari, Gwagwalada and Kuje.   

YIAGA AFRICA Watching The Vote Observation of the 2019 Governorship and State Assembly Supplementary Elections

On March 23, 2019, YIAGA AFRICA will deploy duly trained and accredited stationary and roving observers to observe the conduct of the supplementary elections in the affected polling units and states. YIAGA AFRICA will deploy 258 stationary observers and 6 roving observers. 97 LGA results collation centre observers. Our observers will observe the entire election day process from setup of the polling units, accreditation, voting, announcement and posting of the official results and will send in periodic reports to the Watching the Vote National Data Centre located at Floor 01, Niger/Enugu Hall, Transcorp Hilton, Abuja where they will be processed and analyzed. This deployment will enable YIAGA AFRICA to provide the most timely and accurate information on the governorship rerun elections in the 5 states.

Matters Arising

  • Judicial interference with the electoral process: Following the March 9 elections, political parties have resorted to procuring court injunctions to restrain INEC from concluding the elections in states like Adamawa and Bauchi. YIAGA AFRICA is concerned with the manner some judges have granted applications without recourse to judicial precedent and extant laws. For instance, Justice Abdulaziz Waziri of the Adamawa State High Court issued an injunction restraining INEC from conducting rerun elections in Adamawa following an application by the Movement for Restoration and Defence of Democracy (MRDD), a political party that never presented a candidate in the main election. Similarly, Justice Inyang Ekwo of Federal High Court in Abuja also issued an order restraining INEC from continuing with the collation of results in Bauchi state based on an ex parte motion initiated by the All Progressive Congress (APC) and its candidate Mohammed Abubakar. This emerging trend undermines democratic institutions like INEC and could dampen citizens confidence in the judiciary. The National Judicial Council (NJC) should without further delay caution members of the bench to refrain from interfering with the electoral process through the issuance of questionable orders and injunctions.
  • INEC’s Information management and communication: YIAGA AFRICA notes the confusion and misinformation in public domain with respect to states and polling units where rerun governorship elections will be conducted. YIAGA AFRICA believes this confusion was informed by INEC’s poor data management and timely dissemination of information on the supplementary elections. This we believe, may affect turnout of voters for the supplementary elections. YIAGA AFRICA reiterates that openness and transparency are a pre-requisite for boosting stakeholder confidence in the electoral process.
  • Election Security: Nigerians have received assurances from security agencies on their non-partisanship and professionalism in the management of election security operations. INEC also informed stakeholder that it has received assurances of support from the security agencies. YIAGA AFRICA has received reports of heavy deployment of security personnel to the states with governorship rerun elections. It is our considered opinion that security deployment for elections should be commiserate with level of threats.
  • Heighten incidence of voter inducement: In an attempt to woo voters, politicians have resorted to voter inducement using gift items, suspicious community empowerment programs and cash handouts in locations considered to be swing wards and polling units. From all indications, the supplementary elections in some states will be determined by the highest bidder. This is worrisome and poses a huge threat to Nigeria’s democracy and political legitimacy.

Recommendations

Electoral transparency

  • INEC should make public the data on PVC collection rates in the affected polling units. This information should be shared with stakeholders and posted on all INEC’s online and offline media platforms.
  •  INEC should ensure accurate and timely deployment of election materials to affected polling units on election day.
  • It is important to note that these supplementary elections were occasioned by the non-use of card readers or failure to deploy them to affected polling units. With this in mind, INEC must insist on electronic accreditation of voters using the Smart Card Readers and PVC.
  • In view of the contentious nature of the elections in some states, INEC should strengthen its oversight on the electoral process especially the results collation process. There should be strict compliance with the Regulations and guidelines for the elections. Where INEC officials misapply the guidelines, the Commission should ensure timely reversal of such misapplication and communicate its decision in a timely manner. Also, election officials who disregard electoral guidelines should be sanctioned appropriately.
  • INEC should maintain its periodic briefing with election stakeholders on the elections at the National and state levels. INEC’s online and offline media platforms should be utilized in sharing information with the public.

Improved election Security

  • YIAGA AFRICA calls on the security agencies to ensure proper coordination and collaboration in the management of election security. The Nigerian Police is the lead security agency responsible for election security therefore, sister agencies should respect proper lines of communication and rules of engagement. Security agencies must at all cost remain non-partisan and professional in their conduct and operation.
  • Security agencies should ensure election officials and materials are adequately secured. YIAGA AFRICA reiterates the need for security agencies to respect the rights of Nigerians in the light of series of harassment and intimidation of voters that characterized the recently conducted elections.

Political Parties and candidates

  • YIAGA AFRICA calls on all political parties contesting in the supplementary elections to ensure they encourage their supporters to come out and vote within the ambit of the law and to refrain from vote selling and violence.
  • YIAGA AFRICA also calls on all Political parties to refrain from deploying thugs or promoting any disruptive action that would lead to violence or halt the conclusion of the elections.

Voters:

YIAGA AFRICA calls on Nigerian citizens who are the biggest stakeholder in this election to turn out in their numbers and cast their votes by properly thumbprinting the ballot to reduce the number of rejected/invalid votes.

YIAGA AFRICA undertook the Watching The Vote project to provide Nigerian voters, governorship candidates, political parties, civil society and INEC with independent information on the conduct of the elections. The Watching The Vote project is “Driven by Data – For All Nigerians – Beholden to None!

Thank you and God Bless the people of Nigeria!

Dr. Hussaini Abdu

Chair, Watching The Vote Working Group

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



WTV Press conference

ELECTION RIGGING ALERT: YIAGA AFRICA CONDEMNS PLOTS BY THE MILITARY AND PARTY AGENTS TO COMPROMISE THE RESULTS COLLATION PROCESS

Statement on Denial of Access to Results Collation Centres
(As at 8:00pm, Saturday, 9th March 2019)

Election Rigging ALERT: YIAGA AFRICA Condemns plots by the military and party agents to compromise the results collation process

Reports reaching the YIAGA AFRICA Watching the Vote data centre reveals that WTV observers and other observer groups have been denied access to observe the result collation process in the following Local Government collation centres

S/NStateLocal Government Area Collation CenterPerpetrator
1.Akwa I bomUran LGA Results Collation Center 

Ukanafun LGA Results Collation Center 
Ikot-Epene LGA Results Collation Center
Military Officers
Military Officers
Military Officers
2Rivers StateEleme Results Collation Center
s
Asari- Toru Results Collation Center

Oyigbo Results Collation Centers 


Gokana Results Collation Center 

Opobo Results Collation Center 

Military Officers
APC Members 
Military Officers
Military Officers

Military Officers
3ZamfaraTsafe LGA Results Collation CenterSecurity Agents

YIAGA AFRICA calls on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to as a matter of urgency ensure that access is granted to observer groups to observe the results collation process at the LGA and state level. YIAGA AFRICA notes that the lack of transparency in the results collation process will undermine the integrity of the elections in those locations. YIAGA AFRICA calls on security agencies especially the military to refrain from interfering with the results collation process.

YIAGA AFRICA once again reiterates its earlier position that military interference with the electoral process is a fundamental breach of the Constitution of Nigeria and a threat to our electoral democracy.

Thank you.

Dr. Hussaini Abdu
Chair, Watching The Vote Working Group

Samson Itodo
Executive Director, YIAGA AFRICA

DOWNLOAD FULL STATEMENT

YIAGA AFRICA Watching The Vote 2019 Governorship Elections Mid-day Situational Statement on the Opening and Set-up of Polling units

Introduction

Ladies and Gentlemen, distinguished guests – welcome to the YIAGA AFRICA Watching The Vote (WTV)’s Midday Situational Press Conference on Opening and Set-Up of Polling Units for the governorship and state assembly elections on March 9, 2019. This briefing is the second in a series of three planned press conferences to be hosted by YIAGA AFRICA. We equally invite you to join us at the same location on Sunday 10 March 2019 at 1:00 pm when YIAGA AFRICA will share its findings from the observation of the conduct of the governorship elections.

For the Governorship election, YIAGA AFRICA deployed 682 observers across 642 LGAs in 29 states where governorship elections are conducted. These include 642 stationary observers and 40 roving observers. YIAGA AFRICA will also deploy observers to 642 LGA results collation centres and 29 state result collation centres. Our observers were properly trained to observe the entire election day process from opening and setup of the polling units, accreditation, voting, announcement and posting of the official results. All report will be send in reports via coded text messages to the National Data Centre to enable YIAGA AFRICA provide timely information on the conduct of election in the polling units observed. This statement is an update on the Mid-Day Situational assessment of the opening of polls for the 9 March, 2019 Gubernatorial elections.

Watching the Vote Polling Unit Set-Up Findings

This report contains initial WTV findings as at 11:30 am on election day, with complete reports received from polling units visited by the Watching the Vote observers in 642 LGAs in the 29 states where Governorship Elections are being conducted.

  1. As of 7:30 am, YIAGA AFRICA WTV observers reported that INEC officials had arrived at 56% of 663 polling units visited across the 29 States.
  • By 9:00 am, 77% of 663 polling units visited had commenced accreditation and voting.
  • 585 of polling units visited had 4 or more polling officials present, of which at least 2 are female. The polling units visited in the North West geopolitical zone had fewer women as polling officials than other zones. In addition, 95% of these 584 polling units visited, had security personnel present.
  • Of the 585 Polling units visited, APC party agents were seen in 76%  polling units and PDP party agents in 97% polling units.
  • Essential materials (register of voters, indelible ink/marker pen, polling official stamp, voting cubicle, ink pad, presidential ballot box and polling unit booklet) were present in 99% of 585 polling units. Specifically, Smart Card Readers were present in 99% polling units visited.

Critical Incidents

YIAGA AFRICA has received the following critical incidents from her observers;

  1. Missing and Incomplete materials: Reports on missing ballot papers were received during the distribution of materials at the Rufu RAC Ussa LGA of Taraba State. In Kosofe LGA of Lagos State INEC officials as at 12noon were yet to deploy as packs of ballot papers were missing. Reports of incomplete ballots papers were received from ward 10, Eleta II Polling Unit 32, Ibadan South East LGA in Oyo State.
  • INEC Adhoc official Refusing to Deploy: Reports of adhoc officials protesting non-payment of their monies from previous election were received from Agege and Oshodi/Isolo LGAs in Lagos State. Due to security reasons and lack of adequate security protection, INEC official declined to deploy sensitive materials to the Open space Imenyi polling unit 009, ward 11, Emuoha LGA, Rivers state.  It is important to note that 4 persons were previously killed on March 8, 2019 in the ward which created a lot of tension.
  • Destruction and Burning of Election Materials: Reports on burning of election materials were received from Umughara Ward II affecting 13 Polling Units as well as Oriuzo Ward and Ekka Ward all in Ezza North LGAs in Ebonyi State.
  • Voting without the Smart Card Reader: WTV observers reported voting without card reader in custom II polling unit 028, Shehuri Hausari Mairi ward code 011 in Bama LGA Borno State.
  • Ballot Box Snatching: This was reported in Gidan Sarki PU 006 ward 09, Soba LGA in Kaduna state. Another report was received from Efere Town hall polling unit 002, ward 2 in Eleme LGA in Rivers State where hoodlums accompanied by military men hijacked ballot papers and result sheets. Group of thugs also snatched the ballot box and chased voters away in UBE Primary School polling unit 002, Magwai Ward in Jalingo LGA of Taraba State.
  • Threat to Media Reporters: Reports of abduction of six journalists were received from Ahoada West LGA in Rivers State.
  • Refusal to Deploy: INEC officials and materials yet to be deployed in Abua – Odua LGA in Rivers state due to a clash between the APC and PDP party supporters and the military. This was also reported in Giadom guest house junction polling unit 010, ward 1, Khana LGA with some APC agents and military personnel disrupting deployment.
  • Voter Intimidation: voter intimidation by PDP agents reported in Bakin Kasuwa Polling Unit 001/007/Gassol LGA in Taraba State. This was also reported from Giadom guest house junction polling unit 010, ward 1, Khana LGA by some APC agents.
  • Inducement and Vote buying: APC and PDP agents engaged in vote buying by distributing money ranging from N100 to N500 and bathing soap in Sabon Garin Wudil Ward 008, Kano State University of Science and Technology Polling units 16 and 17, Wudil LGA, Kano State. This was also reported in Eleme – LGA Ward 02, Ekenkwan Polling unit 006, Ward 02, and Epere polling unit 002 with reports of between N50,000 and N30,000 given to polling officials, N1000 for voters and N100,000 to security personnel.

Preliminary Recommendations

  1. Speedy Resolution of Logistics Challenges: YIAGA AFRICA calls on INEC to resolve issues relating to shortage of election materials, non-payment of allowances for adhoc officials and malfunctioning of Smart Card Readers.
  • Results Collation: As collation begin in a couple of hours, YIAGA AFRICA reiterates it call to INEC to ensure strict compliance with the electoral guidelines on results collation. The results collations centres should be accessible to accredited observers, media and party agents. INEC should respond to reports of substitution of trained collation officers mid-way to elections in some states like Plateau and Imo.
  • Application of the Margin of Lead Principle: YIAGA AFRICA call on INEC to ensure collation officers are abide by the guidelines and regulations on management of margin of lead principle. Results should not be declared and winner returned where the total number of registered voters in cancelled polling units will affect the margin of lead between candidates. This is in consonance with Section 26 and 53 of the 2010 Electoral Act as amended. Furthermore, YIAGA AFRICA urges INEC to ensure that where the scenario in the INEC guidelines on cancelled ballots provides for the election to be conducted the following day, that such elections are conducted as so required to reduce the threat of disenfranchising voters for no fault of theirs. INEC should also ensure the public is duly informed in a timely manner of its decision.
  • Posting of Polling Units Results using Form EC 60 E: YIAGA AFRICA urges the Commission to fully comply to the Electoral Guideline for the conduct of the general election by posting Forms EC.60E series in all collation centers. This recommendation is made based on WTV presidential election observation findings of results not posted in 19% of the observed sampled polling units.
  • Election security: YIAGA AFRICA condemns the role played by the military in disruption of elections and intimidation of voters and electoral personnel in some states. YIAGA AFRICA calls on security agencies especially the military to refrain from further disruption of elections in some states especially Rivers state. We call on the President Buhari to call the military to order and ensure accountability for erring military officers.
  • Adequate Security of Polling Units and Result Collation Centres: YIAGA AFRICA calls on the security agencies to adequately deploy security to the polling units and result collation centres to prevent the rising trend of disruption of the process, intimidation of voters and INEC officials and threat to lives.

YIAGA AFRICA undertook the Watching The Vote project to provide Nigerian voters, governorship candidates, political parties, civil society and INEC with independent information on the conduct of the elections. The Watching The Vote project is “Driven by Data – For All Nigerians – Beholden to None!”

Thank you and God Bless the people of Nigeria!

Dr. Hussaini Abdu

Chair, Watching The Vote Working Group

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.orgor on social media on Facebook at facebook.com/yiaga.orgor on Twitter @YIAGA.

WTV Pre-election press conference for governorship election

YIAGA AFRICA Watching The Vote Pre-election Press Statement for 2019 Governorship Elections

Introduction

Ladies and Gentlemen, distinguished guests – welcome to the YIAGA AFRICA Watching The Vote (WTV)’s Preliminary Press Conference on observation plans for the governorship and state assembly elections on March 9, 2019 and the pre-election environment leading up to the elections. This briefing is the first in a series of three planned press conferences to be hosted by YIAGA AFRICA. We equally invite you to join us at the same location on Saturday 9 March 2019 when YIAGA AFRICA will share its Mid-day Situational Statement on the opening of polls and on Sunday 10 March 2019 at 11:00 am when YIAGA AFRICA will share its preliminary statement on the conduct of the elections.

YIAGA AFRICA and Watching The Vote Observation of the 2019 Governorship and State Assembly Elections

On Saturday, 9 March 2019, Nigerians will once again go to the polls to elect their State Governors in 29 States across Nigeria excluding; Kogi, Bayelsa, Edo, Ondo, Anambra, Ekiti and Osun States. The Election will also include the election of the State Houses of Assembly members representing the 991 State constituencies and the Abuja Area Council elections. For these elections a total of 1066 Governorship Candidates contesting in the 29 States and 14, 580 candidates contesting for the State House of Assemblies.

YIAGA AFRICA is a strictly nonpartisan and independent civil society organization without affiliation to any political party, candidate or state agency. YIAGA AFRICA’s Watching The Vote effort includes volunteers representing Nigeria’s diversity: women and men, youth and the elderly, persons with disability, Muslims and Christians from the six geographical zones. YIAGA AFRICA’s observers have all been carefully selected and extensively trained in accordance with strict criteria to ensure their independence and neutrality, are properly accredited with INEC and have signed a project Code of Conduct to uphold standards of impartiality, objectivity and professionalism. YIAGA AFRICA observes on behalf of all Nigerian people and speaks in their name on the basis of verified data.

For the March 9 Governorship elections, YIAGA AFRICA Watching The Vote will not be deploying the Parallel Vote Tabulation (PVT) methodology. As such YIAGA AFRICA will not be verifying the election day result but will be assessing the election day process at the polling units and collation centres. YIAGA AFRICA will deploy a total of 682 observers to observe the elections in 29 states. This comprises 642 stationary observers and 48 roving observers. YIAGA AFRICA will also deploy observers to 642 LGA results collation centers and 29 state collation centers. Our observers will observe the entire election day process including setup of the polling units, accreditation, voting, announcement and posting of the official results and will send in periodic reports to the Watching the Vote National Data Centre located at Floor 01, Benue/Plateau Hall, Transcorp Hilton in Abuja where they will be processed and analysed. This deployment will enable YIAGA AFRICA to provide the most timely and accurate information on the governorship and state assembly elections in 29 states.

Matters Arising and recommendations

As noted in our statement on the February 23, Presidential and National Assembly elections, the elections were characterized by similar shortcomings that marred previous national elections in Nigeria. As in past elections, logistical challenges faced by INEC that resulted in widespread late opening of polling units and malfeasance by political parties compromised the ability of citizens to vote and undermined public confidence in the process. We maintained that Nigeria lost an opportunity to improve the quality of its elections as compared to the 2015 national elections. The elections were not the elections Nigerians expected neither is it the elections Nigerians deserved. The March 9 elections presents INEC and other stakeholders with an opportunity to address all the gaps and shortcomings observed in the February 23 elections. Nigerians deserve an election that inspires confidence and restore hope in electoral democracy. To this end, YIAGA AFRICA notes the following;

  1. Deployment of Election Materials: YIAGA AFRICA notes the deployment of election materials across the States with at least 27 States confirming the deployment of sensitive and non-sensitive materials in the Local Government Areas of the State. While this is a positive sign, YIAGA AFRICA calls on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to ensure a proper coordination and communication with the transport companies/unions providing logistics support to ensure early deployment of materials and personnel to polling units to break the trend of late commencement of polls.
  • Clarity of Election Day Process: YIAGA AFRICA notes from its observation of the Presidential Elections the need for INEC to ensure proper communication on the election process to ensure uniformity and strict compliance to the electoral guidelines. This includes the need for all Presiding officers/Assistant Presiding Officers at the Polling units/Voting points to ensure that the smart card readers are shown to be zero at the commencement of accreditation and announce the number of accredited voters at the close of polls before sorting and counting of ballots. There is need for clarity on who reserves the authority to cancel ballots and the levels where cancellation will take place.
  • Electronic Accreditation of voters: YIAGA AFRICA notes that during the February 23 elections the Smart Card Readers were not used throughout the process of accreditation of voters in 7% of polling units. In another 2% of polling units persons were permitted to vote without a Permanent Voter Card (PVC). This infractions pose a threat to the integrity of the electoral process if not curtailed. INEC should ensure strict compliance with use of the card readers for voter accreditation. Polling officials who disregard the INEC guidelines and regulations should be sanctioned.
  • Destruction and Attack on INEC Officials, Materials and Structures: YIAGA AFRICA notes the increasing reports of attacks on INEC officials, materials and structures and calls on the security agencies to effectively deploy security protection to properly secure INEC officials and election materials especially on election day. YIAGA AFRICA condemns the vandalization and destruction of INEC office in Ibesikpo, Akwa Ibom State.
  • Transparency of the results collation process: YIAGA AFRICA is concerned with the non-compliance with result collation guidelines by INEC officials especially Presiding Officers, Ward Collations officers and returning officers. INEC should ensure collation centres are accessible to accredited observers. The form EC 40 G should  be revised to include details for cancellation for every polling unit canceled. The current form only captures the name of the polling unit and the total number of registered voters affected without reasons for cancellation. To increase transparency of the collation process, INEC is encouraged to share Form EC40G series with party agents present during the different stages of the collation process.
  • Posting of Form EC 60 E: YIAGA AFRICA urges the Commission to fully comply to the Electoral Guideline for the conduct of the general election by posting Forms EC.60E series in all collation centers. This recommendation is made based on WTV presidential election observation findings of results not posted in 19% of the observed sampled polling units.
  • Strict Compliance on Guideline for Cancellation of Ballots: YIAGA AFRICA in its presidential election observation reports noted the high percentage of cancelled ballots and calls on INEC to ensure that the guidelines on cancelled ballots are strictly adhered to reduce discretion on the part of INEC officials. This includes ensuring that where the scenario in the INEC guidelines on cancelled ballots provides for the election to be conducted the following day, that such elections are conducted as so required to reduce the threat of disenfranchising voters for no fault of theirs.  
  • Election Security: YIAGA AFRICA calls on the security agencies to ensure proper coordination especially between the military and police. It is important to note that the Police has the coordinating responsibility of election security and not the soldiers, as such proper lines of communication and rules of engagement should be adhered to. In addition, security agencies must at all cost remain non-partisan and professional in their conduct and operation.

YIAGA AFRICA calls on all political parties contesting in this election to ensure they encourage their supporters to come out and vote within the ambit of the law and to refrain from electoral bribery. YIAGA AFRICA also calls on all Political parties to refrain from deploying thugs or promoting any action that would lead to violence which will disrupt the electoral process.

Voters: YIAGA AFRICA calls on Nigerian citizens who are the biggest stakeholder in this election to turn out in their numbers and cast their votes by properly thumbprinting to reduce the number of rejected/invalid votes.

YIAGA AFRICA undertook the Watching The Vote project to provide Nigerian voters, governorship candidates, political parties, civil society and INEC with independent information on the conduct of the elections. The Watching The Vote project is “Driven by Data – For All Nigerians – Beholden to None!

Thank you and God Bless the people of Nigeria!

Dr. Hussaini Abdu
Chair, Watching The Vote Working Group

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.

PRESENTATION OF SWOT ANALYSIS FOR YOUTH CANDIDATES IN 2019 ELECTION

YIAGA AFRICA Launches Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats (SWOT) Analysis of youth candidates in the 2019 elections

Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats (SWOT) of youth candidates in the 2019 elections

CLICK TO DOWNLOAD FULL REPORT

In the build-up to the general elections, YIAGA AFRICA with support from the Department for International Development (UKAID) undertook an assessment of youth candidates’ campaign activities to identify their strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT). The SWOT analysis was designed to facilitate evidence based and constructive engagement with youth candidates running for office in the 2019 elections. The outcome of the study serves as a resource for supporting youth candidates and promoting youth participation in politics. It is designed to enhance the quality of public discourse on youth participation in politics and facilitate data driven programming on civic engagement and political representation.

YIAGA AFRICA recruited, trained and deployed 37 field researchers to 34 states of the federation to study the campaigns of 99 candidates from 36 parties. The candidates were purposively sampled from the 334 youth candidates on YIAGA AFRICA ‘Ready To Run’ online platform. The methodology also entailed in-depth interviews with Interest or Influential Group Leaders in the constituencies of the candidates. Measures were taken by YIAGA AFRICA to ensure the findings of the study represent as much as possible, the general perceptions of the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats to youth candidates as identified by the respondents that participated in the research. 

Key Findings of the SWOT Analysis

  1. Strengths of Youth Candidates
  2. The popularity of youth candidates or parties, projects undertaken by youth candidates in their constituencies, personal leadership qualities, candidates’ visibility to the various categories of voters, financial backing and strong party structure, were identified as strengths by youth candidates and IGLs interviewed.
  3. 37% of youth candidates acknowledged that they received some form of financial support from their political parties.
  4. 21% of the IGLs surveyed considered qualities such as compassion, being truthful and respectful; being a visionary leader and being academically sound, among others, as the major strengths of the youth-candidates. This observation however varied significantly by geopolitical zone.
  • Weaknesses of Youth Candidates
  • Inadequate funding/inability to access enough funds, unpopularity of a youth candidate’s party platform, political inexperience, gender, religious and ethnic discrimination and candidates’ inability to meet with local, community or constituency associations, were considered as key weaknesses by the youth candidates.
  • Three out of five, 59.9% of the youth candidates, identified inadequate finance as a major weakness and challenge to their electoral success.
  • Only 26% of IGLs identified funding as an important limitation for youth candidates.
  •  7% of IGLs were of the view that failure of the youth candidates to reach out to influential members in their constituencies was a serious weakness.
  • Opportunities of Youth Candidates
  • Availability of and access to social media as a tool of mass communication and mobilisation; unpopularity of the incumbent, popularity of the youth candidates’ party platform especially in their own constituencies, were all identified by IGLs as opportunities for youth candidates, and if utilised effectively, they could enhance their electoral chances.
  • The most popular media used by the youth candidates were Facebook (used by 91 of 99 candidates), posters (87) and WhatsApp (85). This supports the view that youth candidates are very active on social media platforms which they could convert into opportunities to garner support from young voters.
  • About a quarter or 24.2% of the youth candidates identified increased voter education, increased awareness created on Radio/TV, 3%; empowering the youth, 20.2%, as opportunities.
  • 17.3% of the IGLs interviewed believed that the ‘youthfulness’ of youth candidates is an opportunity that could be leveraged upon to mobilize young voters who constitute the majority of the voting population. This view was corroborated by majority of the leaders in North-West, 4.6%, and North-East, 4.2%.
  • 33.3% of youth candidates acknowledged that more consultations, giving gifts to traditional rulers, access to a vehicle or vehicles for political campaigns, and using the mass media as campaign platforms, presented opportunities to be explored further.
  • 13.6% of the IGLs identified zoning, being a female, the only youthful candidate in the election, as potential opportunities, which if skilfully mobilised, could enhance the chances of youth candidates at the polls.
  • Youth candidates were of the view that the unpopularity of an incumbent presented them an opportunity, especially for those of them in the major parties.
  • Threats of Youth Candidates
  • Electoral malpractices, destruction of candidates’ billboards, posters and fliers, verbal attacks and physical violence against the youth candidates and their supporters; conflict between the youth candidates and the leaderships of their political parties, competing against opponents with strong financial war chest, were identified by the youth candidates as electoral threats.
  • 45.3% of the youth candidates believed that the actions of their opponents had negative impacts on their campaign, while only 6.3% believed that their opponents’ actions had a positive impact on their political activities and chances.
  • 48.4% of youth candidates averred that their political opponents’ actions had no impact on their campaigns, but 46.9% of youth candidates confirmed that they suffered verbal or physical attacks from their political opponents;
  • 4.8%, of youth candidates claimed that discrimination and intimidation on the basis of their age or gender, was a threat while only 3% believed that absence of or vague track record, and lack of a political godfather were threats to their chances of success in the 2019 elections.

Chances of Youth Candidates at the 2019 Polls

  1. On the chances of the youth candidates in the forthcoming elections, 26.6% of the IGLs assessed the youth candidates’ chances of success as “very likely” to win election, while 37.1% described their chances of success as just “likely”.
  • 63.7% of IGLs had a favourable assessment of the youth candidate’s ability to win in the 2019 elections.
  • 19% of the IGLs had a negative assessment of their chance, saying the youth candidates were either “unlikely” or “very unlikely” to win election. 17.2% were unsure of the candidate’s chances.

Recommendations

  1. Interpersonal engagements are valuable for political campaigns. Youth candidates should organise face-to-face meetings and adopt a door-to-door approach in their political campaigns. Visiting community leaders in their constituency would increase visibility to local elders and enhance the seriousness with which the later view campaigns by youth candidates.
  • Political parties should demonstrate commitment to youth inclusion by providing direct technical and funding support to youth candidates.
  • Electoral stakeholders like political parties, civil society groups and youth groups should develop a leadership capital development strategy aimed at recruiting and grooming leaders and facilitating political and leadership transition at all levels.
  • NGOs and development partners should focus interventions on youth candidates with defined campaign structures in their constituencies. Such interventions should evolve from consultation with local stakeholders.
  • Youth candidates and NGOs alike should be aware of and be realistic about the threats to the youth candidates’ campaigns posed by, among others; relatively unknown party platforms, popular and wealthy opponents, election malfeasance by opponents, and negative perceptions of youth candidacy by elders and community leaders.

For further inquiries please contact:

Ibrahim Faruk, Senior Program Officer, Youth
Tel. +234 (0) 703 666 9339
Email: [email protected]

Learn more about YIAGA AFRICA by visiting www.yiaga.org

Training of Trainers for Poll Agent training

YIAGA AFRICA TRAINS OVER 1000 PARTY AGENTS FOR YOUNG CANDIDATES 


As part of YIAGA AFRICA’s work under her support to Youth Candidates project, we are providing strategic support to young men and women running for various position in the 2019 General elections through the Not Too Young To Run movement. The goal of this project is to equip youth candidates with necessary tools for running effective political campaigns and building communities/networks for political solidarity and advocacy.

Since the passage of the age reduction constitution amendment into law, YIAGA AFRICA has continued to support to young candidates across all political parties to lead a successful campaign and win elections. Recall that we recently hosted the largest gathering of young candidates in Nigeria to build their competence, network, share experiences and advocate for greater representation and credible 2019 elections.

YIAGA AFRICA has deployed a team of trainers across Nigeria to train polling agents who will be representing young candidates at the 2019 Governorship and state house of assembly elections. In this vein, we have trained our cohort of trainers on the electoral process and how to effectively train poll agents. 

The team will be training at least 1,168 Poll agents representing 241 young men and women running for state assembly elections coming up on 9th March 2019. The team of trainers have also been trained adequately on the election day process, legal framework relating to party agents, rights and responsibilities of poll agents on election day. Having also been trained on the conduct of party agents and ethical issues on election day, YIAGA AFRICA’s team of trainers will train poll agents on to recognize these roles and operate within the electoral law. 

As an organization we recognize the legal framework that recognizes and allows all political parties to submit names of their Polling Agents to the electoral commission and to deploy them after accreditation by the commission.  Section 43 (4) of the Act entitles Polling Agents to  be present at the distribution of election materials as well as being present at the voting, counting, collation and announcement  of election results.

Also, Section 50 of the Act says: “A candidate or a Polling Agent may challenge the right of a person to receive a ballot paper on such grounds and in accordance with the procedures as are provided for in this Act.” Also, according to Section 64 of the Act, “A candidate or a Polling Agent may, where present at a Polling Unit when counting of votes is completed by the Presiding Officer, demand to have the votes recounted…” It is noteworthy that the Polling Agents are also given the opportunity to countersign results of elections and given official copies according to Sections 63 (3) and 74 of the Electoral Act 2010, as amended.

To this end, YIAGA AFRICA is committed to an effective training of party agents who will be representing young candidates and ensure interest of young candidates is protected and their mandate defended effectively.

Signed

Ibrahim Faruk

Senior Program Officer, YIAGA AFRICA