Senior Program Officer Ibrahim Faruk during a learning visit to Hague

How Social Movements Can Achieve Purpose in Shrinking Civic Spaces

Senior Program Officer, Youth Programs, Ibrahim Faruk Shares Experience from Oxfam Novib Learning Event at the Hague

Social and youth movements are increasingly playing credible roles in global affairs including shaping policy agendas, political programmes and have become an important element of global democratic developments. Social and youth movements across Africa and Asia have also shown high flexibility and creativity in finding innovative ways to organise and express themselves even within the most restrictive political systems. Against this background, youth activists from Egypt, Kenya, Nigeria (from the Not Too Young To Run) movement, Pakistan, Somaliland and Tunisia were invited to The Hague by from the 6th -12th October, 2019 by Oxfam Novib to discuss and share how young people are using innovative ways in contexts of shrinking civic space to make their voices heard and how Dutch development cooperation and funding mechanisms can support the voices of youth.

 

Recent years have seen a trend towards civic space shrinking in countries all over the world. According to CIVICUS’ State of Civil Society 2018 Report, civic space is now under serious attack in 111 of the world’s countries and only four per cent of the world’s population live in countries where fundamental civil society freedoms – of association, peaceful assembly and expression – are respected. As restrictions target many rights-based development and advocacy groups, shrinking civic space cuts into the heart of the values of social and youth movements.

The activists at The Hague from diverse fields ranging from youth anti-Female Genital Mutilation, to sexual and reproductive health rights, economic empowerment, human rights protections and youth political participation shared similar values and practices. The methods adopted by movements of achieving their purposes can inspire more institutionalised civil society organisations to refresh their ways of working. Informal youth movements, groups, networks, artists and (many) individuals that seemingly act fragmented but have similar goals and activities. Youth movements often act in very different ways than more traditional civil society organizations have done, as activists, as influencers, as entrepreneurs, as disrupters, as peacebuilders.

Using various methodologies at a Learning Event, the young activists at The Hague, learned about civic space, presented World Cafe scenarios using their movements, facilitated workshops and had a panel debate with the Dutch Ambassador for Youth Education and Work, at the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Tijmen Rooseboom. Young activists were able to share in a safe space their stories and lead reflective sessions on the role of organizations and development cooperation in general to work together with youth and their organizations.

When space for civil society is shrinking, it is often the voices of youth that are affected first. Young women and men face other systematic challenges to make their voices meaningfully heard. They are marginalised from- or side-lined in decision-making processes that affect their lives. Young people need to deal with institutional, social and cultural barriers that limit the places and spaces for the articulation of their needs and concerns.

 

Throughout history young people have been key drivers of change. They have wishes and dreams that are different than adults have or know. The same can be said of young activists across the world such as those who brought the Arab Spring, or currently the youth movements demanding action on climate change that are sweeping the globe.

 

Ibrahim Faruk is a Senior Program Officer with YIAGA AFRICA’s Youth Program and is a member of the Leadership and Strategy Team of the Not Too Young To Run Movement.  He can be reached via [email protected] He tweets via @IbrhmFaruk

 

preo 1 graphics

Bayelsa/Kogi: Stakeholders, Citizens React to YIAGA AFRICA’s Pre-election Observation Report

Election stakeholders and citizens from Bayelsa and Kogi state have reacted to the recently released pre-election observation report by YIAGA AFRICA’s Watching The Vote. Recall that, YIAGA AFRICA through its WTV project had released its report saying there is ongoing voter inducement in both states as political actors are already inducing voters in a bid to secure their votes. The report also alleged that Civil Society Organisation leads the park when it comes to voter education, followed by the Independent National Electoral Commission and the National Orientation Agency (NOA).

Reacting to this report, Director of NOA in Bayelsa State, Mr Ideh Oduaseka admitted the agency is short in resources saying the they can improve in their effort with better resources. Ideh who spoke during Watching The Vote hour; a radio program on Peoples FM however said the NOA has been collaborating with CSOs and INEC to reach out to prospective voters with messages of peaceful and credible elections. He called on citizens to vote right and reject any form of voter inducement ahead of the polls.

Also speaking as a guest during the WTV hour in Bayelsa, Chair Person of the Nigerian Association of Women Journalists in Bayelsa State, Mrs Maria Olodi-Osuma said voter inducement for Bayelsa state is not peculiar and because of   poverty and poor  Orientation, a lot of people may not even understand that they are being induced, especially for those at the rural areas and  this has affected Nigeria’s electoral system.

The citizens according to her also have the mindset that for every political gathering, there has to be a token for them and that is a poverty mentality which is unacceptable.  She urged prospective voters to look beyond the token and analyse the credibility of candidates during campaign before taking decisions saying, “we need an ethical reorientation”.

Also speaking on WTV pre-election report in Kogi, Idris Muraina A Senior Program Officer at Lift Up Care Foundation (LUCAF) said, over time, everything has been left in the hands of CSOs to undertake the responsibility of voter education. Idris commended INEC for the recent increase in voter education and sensitization across the 21 local while urging the NOA has to make itself more visible in this regard.

He decried the lack of issue-based campaigns by political parties in the state saying the report on voter inducement may mean that the election may be determined by the highest bidder. He revealed that Voter inducement is on the high as political rallies are characterized by distribution of gift items and money. To him, It will take collective effort from all citizens to end vote buying and selling saying, It is important to also let citizens know that vote buying and selling is a crime that attracts punishment in accordance with the law.

Mr Idris who spoke during WTV hour on Prime FM 101.5 also expressed fear of electoral violence in the state saying, the political atmosphere in Kogi State is tensed ahead of the elections and If this continues, it could impact the elections. “It doesn’t speak well of a democracy if citizens cannot freely support political parties of their choice”, he said. ‘The security agencies have to openly guarantee the safety of all Kogi Citizens before, during and after the electionsas this will go a long way in tackling voter apathy”, he concluded

Similarly, Abaniwo Nathaniel, Executive Director of Rehoboth Community Advancement Initiative, a state-base organisation in Kogi said, It is worrisome that NOA is practically silent when it comes to the sensitisation of citizens and voter education, calling on the state agencies to sit up.

According to him, even political parties who should lead voter education aren’t doing the job of carrying citizens along. “Citizens want to know the plans and programs of political parties but political campaigns have been bereft of real issues affecting citizens and how they will be tackled.

He warned that Citizens need to understand that selling their vote means selling your development. “For that token you are given by the politician, you deny yourself development for 4 years. Is it worth it?”, he said.

He further urged INEC remain independent and non-partisan. For political parties, engage in issue-based campaigns. “For CSOs, keep doing what you are doing. For security agencies, ensure that the process is peaceful and safe”, he said

Reactions to the report continued with callers across various Local Government areas called into the radio program sharing their experience of voter education in their communities.

For example, SIMON Eneojo called from Lokoja to Commend religious leaders in Kogi State for using their platforms to inform citizens on the need to participate in the election.

Usman From Okehi LOcal Government of Kogi state decired the inactivity of the NOA in the LGA while also expressing fears of possible electoral violence. He blamed political parties for voter inducement saying, political parties have no manifestoes and expressed disappointment that citizens aren’t engaging political parties enough in this regard. This is also in tandem with another contributor who said that political parties of today don’t need the people educated. They need them voting on election day every 4 years and thus spend energy distributing largesse, whipping up religious and tribal sentiments and mobilizing thugs with hard cash and guns.

Overall, listeners commended YIAGA AFRICA’S Watching The Vote for prioritizing voter education ahead of the Kogi elections while urging other CSOs in other states to do same.

Panel discussion, Nigeria's democracy at 20 conference in Washington

YIAGA AFRICA, NED, Ford Foundation Champion Pathway for Nigeria’s Democracy at 20

 As Nigeria enters its third decade as a democracy, YIAGA AFRICA, National Endowment for Democracy (NED), and Ford Foundation hosted a conference titled “Nigeria’s Democracy at 20: Reflections and Reform” in Washington DC on October 22 – 23, 2019. The conference provides an opportunity for reflection on Nigeria’s democracy with special focus on how Nigeria can consolidate and deepen its democracy. The event designed to raise the profile of and build on on-going election review and governance reform conversations in Nigeria and mobilize international support for democratic reforms in Nigeria. The conference also featured a special roundtable on Nigeria’s economy and restructuring at the School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), John Hopkins University, Washington, DC.

During the conference United States diplomat, Linda Thomas-Greenfield,  said the ”gentleman agreement” of zoning of leadership in Nigeria may prompt a tougher electoral process in the next general elections in 2023 describing Nigeria’s political system as an ‘old men’s club’.

“Nigeria’s politics is an old men’s club. There is also a gentleman’s agreement to rotate power between the north and the south,” she said. “The next election will be a challenging one because of a gentleman’s agreement to rotate power,” Ms Thomas-Greenfield said.

Speaking on the challenges of Nigeria’s democracy in the past 20 years, the diplomat said Nigerian elections have a huge potential for violence. “Nigeria made a huge step backwards to violence in 2019,” she said. “I read that 30 people lost their lives to electoral violence, but I think it would be higher than that.”

According to Thomas-Greenfield, elections are expensive in Nigeria because there is no framework for candidates to receive donations from electorates. Although Nigeria was given credit for having the financial ability and institutional infrastructure to hold elections, Thomas-Greenfield said the government occasionally “uses its ability to pay to influence how the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) performs”.

The conference also hosted panel discussion on security, human rights and rule of law which featured YIAGA AFRICA Watching The Vote Board Chair, Dr Hussaini Abdu. This was followed by Panel Discussion where Programs Manager Cynthia Mbamalu discussed the inclusion of vulnerable groups like Women, youth and People With Disability during the 2019 elections while projecting a pathway for the future. According to Cynthia, we need to give credit to young people for the sacrifices they are making for our democracy either as election administrators, election observers or mobilization agents. He further urged that Nigeria needs vast political party reforms that engender internal democracy, political inclusion and democratic accountability.

The event  featured a cross section of Nigerian civil society, academics, and government officials discussing 20 years of inconsistent democratic progress, the 2019 elections, and avenues for reform. Key speakers include: Professor Okechukwu Ibeanu, National Commissioner in charge of electoral operations, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC); Prof. Eghosa Osaghae, University of Ibadan; Dr Hussaini Abdu, Country Director, PLAN International; Clement Nwankwo, Executive Director, Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre (PLAC), Ayo Obe, Ezenwa Nwagwu, Chairman, Partners for Electoral Reform Idayat Hassan, Director, Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD); Cynthia Mbamalu, Program Manager, YIAGA AFRICA. Others include Kemi Okenyodo, Executive Director, Partners West Africa; Yemi Adamolekun, Executive Director, Enough is Enough; Mufuliat Fijabi, CEO, Nigeria Women Trust Fund (NWTF), and Paul Phillip James, Watching The Vote Training manager.

The conference has  contributed immensely  to tangible policy reform priorities for election management, internal party democracy, security sector governance, and political inclusion, as well as a roadmap on what civil society, the government, the public, and the international community can do in accelerating the process of democratic reform in Nigeria.

Behind the scene making of wtv video

Power of Short Film: Connecting Everyday Life with Electoral Decisions – Ovinuchi Ejiohuo

Ahead of the Bayelsa and Kogi State governorship elections only few weeks away, YIAGA AFRICA’s Watching The Vote which is the country’s largest citizen-led election observation project is again harnessing the power of film to influence informed decision making by the voting populace and to also assure them of their ability to verify the accuracy of the election results.

Introducing character names such as Tare and Shehu representing both election regions, the film narrates how using a methodology called Parallel Vote Tabulation that employs ICT and statistics, they will ensure the credibility of the electoral process. The film also hammers on voter education, bringing to light the resultant effect of using our voting power, which is the Permanent Voters Card, the PVC. The video also portrayed everyday life of a typical Bayelsa, Kogi citizens and of course by extension a Nigerian while portraying possible motivation behind voting decisions.

The film shows Tare, (a typical Bayelsan name), law abiding citizen who has previous experience of voting and looks forward to the next election with cautious optimism. Having been exposed to voter education messages on radio and newspaper and also remembering the largest citizen movement committed to credible elections, YIAGA AFRICA, Tare renews her hope and is confident of participating in the process come November 16.

Similar scenario applies to Shehu (kogi name)  who is caught in between voting and apathy but finally makes a decision as he remembers YIAGA AFRICA’s Watching The Vote will observe and provide accurate information on the process. The Short film is scheduled to be released on State Television and on social media in due time ahead of the Governorship elections in Bayelsa and Kogi state.

The cast and crew worked tirelessly from before the break of dawn to create an inspiring and informative film that will put power back in the hands of the people and put their minds to rest. After all, we are YIAGA AFRICA and we are watching the vote.

YIAGA AFRICA has grasped the value of film making in promoting media for development and in time past have invested in documentaries and short film such as Winning Women that explores the participation and representation of women in Nigeria’s elections and Below the Legal Line that explores the participation of young Nigerians below the voting age of 18 in Nigeria’s democracy.

The screen through which we have  been able to live the experiences of great campaigns has been through that of the media. It has in every way shaped our opinions about issues around us and I can rightly say that it has compelled us to voice out and even act upon those opinions. It is now no doubt that media especially audio-visuals has attracted the attention of everyone regardless of political or socio-economic strata. But then again it begs the question of why people still cringe and sometimes hide at the sight or click of a camera. Would it suffice to say that in these instances, the camera has become mightier than the sword?

Looking at Nigeria’s political scenery, the use of audio-visual communication will project a transparent political system. This is so important that the Twitter account of the president with 2.3 million followers and that of the nation’s electoral body the Independent National Electoral Commission INEC with 1.3 million followers both leverage on video contents in disseminating information and in the engagement of the public especially the youth demography. Nigeria now realizes the importance of film in shaping public narratives with titles such as the 4th Republic and If I am President with the later enjoying a screening at YIAGA AFRICA’s The Convergence; the largest ever-gathering of elected lawmakers in Nigeria.

Moshood Isah (1)

Kogi/Bayelsa: Underscoring Early Warning Signals of Voter Inducement & Electoral Violence —Moshood Isah

The early warning signals of voter inducement and electoral violence should not be overlooked ahead of the November 16 Governorship elections in Kogi State. A recent report on the pre-election observation by YIAGA AFRICA has revealed commencement of voter inducement in both states while subsequent engagement by election stakeholders has conveyed the wrong signals.

The chaotic end to the recent stakeholders meeting organized by Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) towards ensuring a free, fair and credible governorship election is not sending the right signals ahead of the November 16 elections. It is no more news that the dramatic incident was expectedly caused by misunderstanding between the major political parties that will be vying for the Governorship seat next month.  Recall that a similar incident happened in Ekiti when supporters of political parties continued to chant and sing to disrupt the entire stakeholders meeting. All efforts by INEC, traditional leaders and even security agents to calm the situation fell on deaf ears.

As a matter of fact, in what looks like an anticipatory disclaimer, INEC boss Professor Yakubu Mahmood had also confessed that Bayelsa and Kogi “are not easy states” when it comes to conducting governorship elections. However he has also warned had warned the actions and utterances of political actors who were likely to militate against peaceful conduct of the November 16 governorship election in Bayelsa.

Unfortunately, the desperation and highhandedness of political parties doesn’t seem to be abating with barely a month to the Kogi and Bayelsa Governorship elections. Political parties have in recent times continued to accuse each other of plots for violence, which has been the norm in virtually every major election in Nigeria. Thus, in most cases when violence occurs, security agencies hardly find individuals responsible and most importantly, the political parties they are affiliated to. It is possible that lack of effective prosecution of electoral offenders has been the reason behind consistent violation of the electoral process.

Just like electoral violence, political parties are always in the habit of accusing each other of voter inducement before elections and vote buying on elections day. This has remained a recurring issue in our elections, with hardly any prosecution for violating the electoral law regarding vote buying. This is despite the fact that pre-election previews, reports and post-election reviews on voter inducement and electoral violence were highlighted as a major Achilles heel to Nigeria’s elections.

For instance, YIAGA AFRICA, a perennial election observer group last year released a report after the spate of vote buying during the Ekiti Governorship elections titled; Duly Elected or Duly Purchased. The report explicitly revealed how political actors jostled and tried to financially outmuscle each other to secure citizens vote both covertly and openly during elections. This trend continued at the Osun Governorship elections a couple of months later and subsequently in the 2019 general elections along with electoral violence in a handful of polling units.

There is no doubt that voter inducement not only undermine the legitimacy of electoral mandate but also creates a sense of entitlement by politicians who have ostensibly bought their ways into position of authority. This has contributed to the nonchalant attitude of the political class towards governance which has always left the citizens in a sorry situation.

Are we still wondering why voter turnout continue to dwindle? These are just the major reasons, as citizens don’t feel secured to come out and vote despite escalation in voter education for every electoral cycle. While there is a positive argument that vote buying is soaring simply because the electoral process has improved, making it difficult for manipulation, it remains imperative to tackle voter inducement, which in itself is a cause of electoral violence.

There is no doubt the gubernatorial elections will be having a large number of political parties contesting (23 in Kogi and 45 in Bayelsa), this may increase pressure on INEC and more importantly on polling officials on election day. INEC should, therefore, beef up its oversight and monitoring mechanisms that will further strengthen and ensure compliance to the electoral laws and guidelines, while avoiding unnecessary postponement of polls.

More so, to curb voter inducement or any form of breakdown of law and order, security agencies should be more intentional in addressing early signs of violence (hate speech, physical attacks, communal crises, voter inducements) and other criminal activities ongoing in the pre-election environment. Also, there is need for security agencies to engage in active engagement and communications with citizens on the principles regulating security deployment and its operations ahead of the election.

Moshood Isah

Media Officer of YIAGA AFRICA

Chisom Anaduaka Program Intern at YIAGA AFRICA Center for legislative engagement

Need for Progressive Synergy Between Legislature and Executive – Chisom Anaduaka

The doctrine of separation of powers among the three arms of government is one prerequisite that cannot be overemphasized in any country which practices true democracy. Thus, this doctrine empowers the arms to be distinct from each other giving the legislature the function of law making, the executive, to enforce or implement the law and the judiciary, to interpret the law. However, the doctrine further inculcate some over lapping among these arms so that the arbitrariness of each arms can be effectively checked by the other for this is essential in order to achieve good governance which is the very essence of the doctrine.

The Executive-Legislature relationship has always been one of interdependence of responsibilities and power sharing however, in most democracies they are always seen in a cat and mouse relationship and has been pejoratively referred to as deadlock. The Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 as amended provided that the executive powers of the Federation is vested in the President and be exercised by him directly or through the Vice President and Ministers of the Federal Government or officers in the public service of the federation.

On the other hand, the legislative powers of the federation are vested by the constitution on the National Assembly – the Senate and the House of Representatives. Also, the National Assembly are empowered to make laws for the peace, order and good government for the Federation. Likewise the constitution also vests the legislative powers of each State in the House of Assembly of the State which is empowered to make laws for the peace, order and good government for the State.

Nevertheless, since time immemorial, the nation has at different point witnessed unhealthy relationship between both arms of government which has been characterized by mutual suspicion, distrust, acrimony, intimidation, political rivalry and unnecessary bickering. While some were resolved amicably, some went ahead till the end of their tenure which was experienced by what was displayed between the 8th National Assembly and the Executive which led to several controversies amounting to some commentators stating that these disparities between the two arms affected their perceived performance. For instance, the period between 1979 and 1983, during Nigeria’s second republic was marked with unhealthy rivalry and competition for supremacy between the National Assembly and President Shehu Sagari who was often tensed with the legislature. There were various accusations by both arms of government of the other of going beyond constitutional responsibilities and major conflict was the one which occurred in Kaduna State where the PRP governor had a perennial conflict with the NPN dominated House of Assembly over programs and orientation. The relations became increasingly uncompromising, as the House perennially rejected Governor Balarebe Musa‟s political nominees. This culminated in his impeachment and removal from office by the NPN House in June 1981.

Thus the 8th NASS is no exception as the arm and the executive also had several contentious issues following the emanation of Senator Bukola Saraki as the President of the Senate as against the candidate desired by the All Progressive Congress (APC) leadership. This led to a lot of controversies and the two arms of government had to spend considerable amount of time establishing its independence and legitimacy and authority. Some parts of their major issues include but not limited to the following;

The passing of the 2017 budget had several reoccurring delay as the current face off is a different one that gave the law makers an edge over the executive as the budget has to be approved by the arm before it can be passed by the executive.

Another issue was the rejection of the nomination of Ibrahim Magu as Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) by the Senate on the ground of lack of integrity as the Department of State Services (DSS) were investigating him on some high profile files found in his residence, his purchase of his official residence and his past record as head of the EFCC’s Economic Governance Unit and concluded that base on security reports available, the senate cannot proceed to confirm Magu despite endorsement by President Buhari.

From the foregoing, the effect of the disparity between the two arms of government often leads to abuse of power which in turn creates the possibility that the liberty and the rights of the people which is the very essence of the establishment of these arms would be violated. This is therefore a clarion call on the 9th Assembly to try as much as possible to maintain a mutual, cordial and more importantly a genuine relationship with the executive and also the Judiciary while the operating the principle of separation of power, rule of law and checks and balances in essence that the legislature would not be an extension or under the whims and caprices of the executive or in turn be hostile to the executive but will carry out their duties without fear or favour in order to uphold justice, accountability and fairness.

Lastly, I would recommend that the executive and the legislature should learn on how to tolerate each other and to adopt dialogue in resolving their conflicts instead of resulting to outright confrontation which usually stalemate policy making and implementation process. They should further engage in capacity building on basic conflict resolution and management training to enhance their conflict management skills to be able to resolve their differences amicably.

Chisom Anaduaka

Program Intern at YIAGA AFRICA Centre for Legislative Engagement

Members of Zamfara state assembly and YIAGA AFRICA team during an inaugural meeting

YIAGA AFRICA Support Zamfara Assembly on Citizen-Driven Legislative Agenda

As part of its support for young legislators especially young speakers and principal officers of state house of assemblies, YIAGA AFRICA Centre for Legislative Engagement (CLE) has commenced the development of a citizens driven legislative agenda with the Zamfara State House of Assembly. Having met with speaker of Oyo state  house of assembly for the same purpose, YIAGA AFRICA CLE had an inaugural meeting with the Speaker of Zamfara state assembly Rt. Hon. Nasiru Mu’azu Magarya to facilitate a legislative agenda that will ensure proper citizen representation in the state.

During the inaugural meeting, Dr. Ernest Ereke, Coordinator, YIAGA AFRICA CLE, explained the importance of a citizen driven legislative agenda, saying it “will be achieved by administering questionnaires to all the Local Government Areas in Zamfara State”. He further explained that, “at the completion of the survey, a report would be produced, and the organization will organize a townhall to share the result of the findings with the Technical Working Group”. In addition, information gotten from the townhall will also be put into consideration when drafting the legislative agenda. Dr. Ereke also took the committee through the Legislative Needs Assessment template.

Hon. Nasiru Mu’azu Magarya, appreciated the effort of YIAGA AFRICA while assuring that the present crop of young legislatures in the state are ever ready to work in synergy with the CLE team to achieve all the desirable goals. He revealed that the Sixth Zamfara State House of Assembly has developed an agenda that will serve as a working document for the legislature in the State, however he also said “the Sixth assembly under his leadership is ever ready to work with nongovernmental organisations to bring rapid socio economic development to the state.

In attendance at the meeting was also the Chief Whip, Deputy Chief Whip, Clerk, Deputy Clerk, Director on Legal Matters and other Honourable Members. The members of the Technical Working Group include the Deputy Majority Leader of the Assembly, Alhaji Nasiru Bello (Bungudu West) as Chairman, The deputy Speaker of the house, Alhaji Bawa Musa as Vice Chairman and Zahradeen M-Sada (Kaura-Namoda North) as member. Other members are Aminu Jangebe, (Talata-Mafara South); Salihu Hamza, Director Budget, Ministry of Budget and Economic Planning; the House Deputy Clerk, Mahmuda Aliyu to serve as the Secretary, while the House Public Relations Officer, Mustapha Jafaru-Kaura is the assistant Secretary of the Committee.

YIAGA AFRICA

YIAGA AFRICA, NED,and Ford Foundation host conference to reflect on Nigeria’s 20 years ofdemocracy in Washington, DC

As Nigeria enters its third decade as a democracy, YIAGA AFRICA, National Endowment for Democracy (NED), and Ford Foundation is hosting a conference titled “Nigeria’s Democracy at 20: Reflections and Reform” in Washington DC on October 22 – 23, 2019. The conference provides an opportunity for reflection on Nigeria’s democracy with special focus on how Nigeria can consolidate and deepen its democracy. The event is designed to raise the profile of and build on on-going election review and governance reform conversations in Nigeria and mobilize international support for democratic reforms in Nigeria. The conference will also feature a special roundtable on Nigeria’s economy and restructuring at the School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), John Hopkins University, Washington, DC.

In February 2019, Nigeria held its sixth national election since the country returned to democratic civilian rule.  The election reflects both the strengths and deficiencies in Nigeria’s democracy. Whilst the political space is pluralistic and competitive, democratic institutions remain weak, and civic space restricted. Citizens have real expectations for government officials, and failure to meet these expectations can result in removal from office through the ballot, even as public trust in state institutions declines. Government structures and systems, including the electoral management bodies, security forces, and the courts are guided and constrained by democratic rules. And yet, politics is exclusionary and divisive. Government officials and agencies often fail to operate transparently and respond to the needs and demands of the people. Officials and agencies also fail to abide by the rule of law. This and many more will form the thrust of conversations and dialogue sessions moderated by Prof. Carl Levan, American University; Jennifer Cooke, George Washington University; and Christopher O’Connor, National Endowment for Democracy.

The event will feature a cross section of Nigerian civil society, academics, and government officials discussing 20 years of inconsistent democratic progress, the 2019 elections, and avenues for reform. Key speakers include: Professor Okechukwu Ibeanu, National Commissioner in charge of electoral operations, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC); Prof. Eghosa Osaghae, University of Ibadan; Dr Hussaini Abdu, Country Director, PLAN International; Clement Nwankwo, Executive Director, Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre (PLAC), Ayo Obe, Ezenwa Nwagwu, Chairman, Partners for Electoral Reform Idayat Hassan, Director, Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD); Cynthia Mbamalu, Program Manager, YIAGA AFRICA. Others include Kemi Okenyodo, Executive Director, Partners West Africa; Yemi Adamolekun, Executive Director, Enough is Enough; Mufuliat Fijabi, CEO, Nigeria Women Trust Fund (NWTF), and Paul Phillip James, Watching The Vote Training manager.

The conference will contribute to tangible policy reform priorities for election management, internal party democracy, security sector governance, and political inclusion, as well as a roadmap on what civil society, the government, the public, and the international community can do in accelerating the process of democratic reform in Nigeria.

Signed.

 Samson Itodo                                                                                                

Executive Director

YIAGA AFRICA

preo 1 graphics

Kogi/Bayelsa Polls: Voter Inducement on the Prowl as CSOs lead Voter Education Campaigns– YIAGA AFRICA Pre-election Observation Report Reveals

Electoral activities by all stakeholders, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), political parties, Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and political associations are now building momentum. Recall that YIAGA AFRICA’s Watching The Vote deployed Long Term Observers to all Local Government Ares in both Kogi and Bayelsa State to observe the pre-election environment. Below is the summary of the findings, based on INEC’s preparedness, political campaigns, voter education and participation of marginalized groups, and early warning signs of electoral violence.

1. INEC Preparatory Activities:

The WTV LTOs have monitored the pre-election environment relating to the activities of INEC from 9th November 2018 to the last week of the pre-election observation from 9th September to October 3rd, 2019. The activities of INEC in the first preelection observation was directly witnessed and heard across the 21 LGAs in Kogi state and 8 LGAs in Bayelsa state.

2. Distribution of Permanent Voter Cards:

As part of the preparatory activities for elections, the Electoral Commission stated that the distribution of Permanent Voters Cards (PVCs) will commence on 2nd September 2019, in both Bayelsa and Kogi state. In addition, the PVCs would be available for collection at the registration areas or wards of all the Local Government Areas (LGAs) in the states. WTV findings for this reporting period show that PVCs distribution is currently ongoing in all the LGAs in both Bayelsa and Bayelsa state.

3. Voter Education and Information:

WTV findings show that voter education activities were conducted by INEC, National Orientation Agency (NOA) and Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) across the state. The findings from Bayelsa state reveals that voter education activities were conducted by INEC, NOA and CSO in 50% ,80% and 85% LGAs respectively, and in Kogi state, voter education activities were conducted by INEC in %58 of LGAs, by NOA in %29 of LGAs and by CSO in %81 LGAs Most notably, voter education messages are targeted at marginalized groups like women and People Living with Disabilities (PWDs) was poor across the states, however, this was measurable for youth (50% by INEC and 60% by CSOs in Bayelsa state).

4. Political Party Campaign Activities:

Political party activities especially campaign rallies are minimal in Kogi state, as none of the popular political parties in the state (ADC, APC, PDP, SDP) seem not to be engaging voters. WTV Kogi report shows that only 38 %, 1% and 23%, of LTOs either witnessed or heard of rallies conducted by ADC, APC and PDP, respectively. And in Bayelsa state, 65% , 65% ,5%, and 5% of LTOs either witnessed or heard of rallies conducted by the same ADC, APC and PDP, as well as SDP.

5. Voter Inducement:

Generally, voter inducement was reported in at least 1 in every 3 LGAs of the 21 LGAs in Kogi state, and in all the LGAs in Bayelsa states. WTV LTOs witnessed or heard of cases of voter inducement in Kolokuma/Opokuma, Southern Ijaw, Yenagoa, Brass, Ogbia, Nembe and Sagbama LGA in Bayelsa state and in Adavi, Ogori Mangogo, Okehi,Okene, Bassa, Ibaji, Idah, Kabba/Bunu and Kogi K.K LGA in Kogi state.

RECOMMENDATIONS

Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

  • INEC should ensure inclusion, especially of all marginalized groups, there is a need for a more proactive and targeted communication using different channels of communication on the electoral process.
  • The gubernatorial elections will be having a large number of political parties contesting (23 in Kogi and 45 in Bayelsa), this may increase pressure on INEC and more importantly on polling officials on election day. INEC should, therefore, beef up its oversight and monitoring mechanisms that will further strengthen and ensure compliance to the electoral laws and guidelines, while avoiding unnecessary postponements of polls.
  • INEC should come up with a robust mechanism and collaborate with both state and non-state actors to curb the menace of buying and selling of PVCs and other forms of voter inducement.

Security Agencies

  • Security agencies should be more intentional in addressing early signs of violence (hate speech, physical attacks, communal crises, voter inducements) and other criminal activities ongoing in the pre-election environment.
  • Security agencies should engage in active engagement and communications with citizens on the principles regulating security deployment and its operations ahead of the election.

Political Parties

  • Political party candidates and supporters should ensure they promote unity and peaceful election by refraining from any form of physical or verbal attacks on opponents or their supporters.
  • Political parties should invest in getting out votes and mobilizing voters to turn out peacefully to vote and not delve into undemocratic ways (buying of PVCs and inducing voters) of winning elections.
  • All political parties, especially in Kogi state should increase their activities of engaging voters with their policy plan while soliciting their support and votes.

Citizens

  • The election is about Nigerians, every Nigerian has a role to play to promote peaceful elections.
  • Voters should get ready to vote with their PVCs and not sell it for short-time gain.

Read Full Report Below

Watching The Vote Pre-election Observation Report -1

preo 1 graphics

Bayelsa/Kogi Polls: YIAGA AFRICA Releases First Pre-election Observation Report

DOWNLOAD FULL REPORT BELOW WatchingTheVote Pre-Election Observation Report -1  SUMMARY OF FINDINGS The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had announced the 16th November 2019 as the date for the Bayelsa and Kogi governorship elections, which falls within the stipulated time for conducting the elections, as provided by the 1999 Constitution, as amended. The Constitution states that an election to the office of the governor shall be held on a date not earlier than 60 days and not later than 30 days before the expiration of the tenure of office of the last office holder. As such, electoral activities by all stakeholders, INEC, political parties, Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and political associations are now building momentum. Below are the summary of the findings, based on INEC’s preparedness, political campaigns, voter education and participation of marginalized groups, and early warning signs of electoral violence. 1. INEC Preparatory Activities: The WTV LTOs have monitored the pre-election environment relating to the activities of INEC from 9th November 2018 to the last week of the pre-election observation from 9th September to October 3rd, 2019. The activities of INEC in the first preelection observation was directly witnessed and heard across the 21 LGAs in Kogi state and 8 LGAs in Bayelsa state. 2. Distribution of Permanent Voter Cards: As part of the preparatory activities for elections, the Electoral Commission stated that the distribution of Permanent Voters Cards (PVCs) will commence on 2nd September 2019, in both Bayelsa and Kogi state. In addition, the PVCs would be available for collection at the registration areas or wards of all the Local Government Areas (LGAs) in the states. WTV findings for this reporting period show that PVCs distribution is currently ongoing in all the LGAs in both Bayelsa and Bayelsa state. 3. Voter Education and Information: WTV findings show that voter education activities were conducted by INEC, National Orientation Agency (NOA) and Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) across the state. The findings from Bayelsa state reveals that voter education activities were conducted by INEC, NOA and CSO in 50% ,80% and 85% LGAs respectively, and in Kogi state, voter education activities were conducted by INEC in %58 of LGAs, by NOA in %29 of LGAs and by CSO in %81 LGAs Most notably, voter education messages are targeted at marginalized groups like women and People Living with Disabilities (PWDs) was poor across the states, however, this was measurable for youth (50% by INEC and 60% by CSOs in Bayelsa state). 4. Political Party Campaign Activities: Political party activities especially campaign rallies are minimal in Kogi state, as none of the popular political parties in the state (ADC, APC, PDP, SDP) seem not to be engaging voters. WTV Kogi report shows that only 38 %, 1% and 23%, of LTOs either witnessed or heard of rallies conducted by ADC, APC and PDP, respectively. And in Bayelsa state, 65% , 65% ,5%, and 5% of LTOs either witnessed or heard of rallies conducted by the same ADC, APC and PDP, as well as SDP. 5. Voter Inducement: Generally, voter inducement was reported in at least 1 in every 3 LGAs of the 21 LGAs in Kogi state, and in all the LGAs in Bayelsa states. WTV LTOs witnessed or heard of cases of voter inducement in Kolokuma/Opokuma, Southern Ijaw, Yenagoa, Brass, Ogbia, Nembe and Sagbama LGA in Bayelsa state and in Adavi, Ogori Mangogo, Okehi,Okene, Bassa, Ibaji, Idah, Kabba/Bunu and Kogi K.K LGA in Kogi state. RECOMMENDATIONS Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). INEC should ensure inclusion, especially of all marginalized groups, there is a need for a more proactive and targeted communication using different channels of communication on the electoral process. The gubernatorial elections will be having a large number of political parties contesting (23 in Kogi and 45 in Bayelsa), this may increase pressure on INEC and more importantly on polling officials on election day. INEC should, therefore, beef up its oversight and monitoring mechanisms that will further strengthen and ensure compliance to the electoral laws and guidelines, while avoiding unnecessary postponements of polls. INEC should come up with a robust mechanism and collaborate with both state and non-state actors to curb the menace of buying and selling of PVCs and other forms of voter inducement. Security Agencies Security agencies should be more intentional in addressing early signs of violence (hate speech, physical attacks, communal crises, voter inducements) and other criminal activities ongoing in the pre-election environment. Security agencies should engage in active engagement and communications with citizens on the principles regulating security deployment and its operations ahead of the election. Political Parties Political party candidates and supporters should ensure they promote unity and peaceful election by refraining from any form of physical or verbal attacks on opponents or their supporters. Political parties should invest in getting out votes and mobilizing voters to turn out peacefully to vote and not delve into undemocratic ways (buying of PVCs and inducing voters) of winning elections. All political parties, especially in Kogi state should increase their activities of engaging voters with their policy plan while soliciting their support and votes. Citizens The election is about Nigerians, every Nigerian has a role to play to promote peaceful elections. Voters should get ready to vote with their PVCs and not sell it for short-time gain.