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

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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