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Ladies and Gentlemen, it gives us great pleasure to welcome you to the YIAGA AFRICA Watching The Vote (WTV) press conference on the results for the 2019 Bayelsa governorship election.
On Sunday November 17, 2019 YIAGA AFRICA released its preliminary statement on the conduct of the Bayelsa governorship election. That statement was based on data reported by YIAGA AFRICA’s Watching the Vote (WTV) citizen observers who were deployed for over two months throughout the state. For the pre-election period, YIAGA AFRICA deployed 21 long-term observers across the state starting in late September.
For election day, we deployed 21 mobile observers and for our Parallel Vote Tabulation (PVT) we deployed 500 citizens observers to a statistical sample of 250 polling units located across all eight local government areas (LGAs) of Bayelsa. As well as 8 LGA Result collation observers to the LGA Collation Centers.
YIAGA AFRICA’s preliminary statement highlighted shortcomings in the pre-election period, the election day environment and the conduct of the polls on election day. In particular, PVT observers reported that there were no elections held at 61 of 250 sampled polling units and therefore potentially 24% of all polling units in Bayelsa did not hold elections. As a result, we released PVT results data indicating that the Bayelsa governorship election was too close to call. Therefore, YIAGA AFRICA called upon INEC to provide a detailed account of all polling units for which no election was held and to ensure elections are held for all polling units. Any decision short of this would undermine the inclusiveness of the process and would call into question the credibility of the election.
INEC has now released results for the Bayelsa governorship election without holding elections in all polling units. INEC announced 352,552 votes or 71% for APC and 143,172 or 29% votes for PDP. These results are not consistent with the PVT estimates of between 62% and 46% for APC and 52% and 37% for PDP. This suggests that the results were manipulated during the collation process. If the tabulation process had been conducted properly then INEC’s official results would fall within the PVT estimates.
YIAGA AFRICA Parallel Vote Tabulation (PVT)
YIAGA AFRICA WTV adopts the Parallel Vote Tabulation (PVT) methodology for election day observation at the polling units. The PVT is a proven and advanced observation methodology that employs well-established statistical principles and utilizes sophisticated information technologies. YIAGA AFRICA WTV provides timely and accurate information on the conduct of accreditation, voting, and counting as well as independently verifies the official governorship results as announced by the INEC.
PVTs are not exit polls. WTV citizen observers do not ask voters for whom they cast their ballot. Instead, the PVT relies on the official results from polling units for which there have been observers watching the entire process. This tested and proven election observation methodology has been deployed in over 50 countries around the world including Nigeria – most recently by YIAGA AFRICA for the 2019 presidential election.
YIAGA AFRICA PVT sample of polling units was drawn according to well established statistical principles and is truly representative of all of the polling units because the percentage of sampled polling units for each LGA is similar to the percentage of all polling units for each LGA. For example, Brass LGA has 8.80% of all the polling units in Bayelsa (159 of 1,804) and 8.80% (22 of 250) of the sampled polling units are in
Brass LGA. While not identical, the percentages for every LGA are very close, clearly demonstrating that the PVT sample is representative of the entire state demonstrates the representativeness of sampled polling units).
High Percentage of Polling Units with no Election.
The WTV data shows that election was not conducted in 24% (61 of 250) of YIAGA AFRICA’s WTV sampled polling units. This incident was more prevalent in 28 polling units in Southern Ijaw LGA, 11 polling units in Ogbia LGA, 9 polling units in Ekeremor LGA, 7 polling units in Nembe LGA, 5 in Sagbama LGA and 1 in Yenagoa LGA of the PVT sampled polling units. Statewide this data suggests that elections may not have been held in several hundred polling units thereby seriously compromising the rights of people of Bayelsa to freely determine for themselves their elected governor.
|Table 1: Distribution of Bayelsa Polling Units that Did Not Conduct Elections|
|PVT Sample||PVT Sample with No Elections||Percent PVT Sample with No Elections|
|Polling Units||Registered Voters||Polling Units||Registered Voters||Percent Polling Units||Percent Registered Voters|
|Source: YIAGA AFRICA|
INEC Official Results
INEC has announced the official results for the Bayelsa election and made a return. As stated in YIAGA AFRICA preliminary statement, the PVT is not able to independently verify, regardless of the outcome, who won the Bayelsa gubernatorial election because elections did not occur in 61 of 250, or approximately 24%, of sampled polling units. This reduces the PVT sample and therefore YIAGA AFRICA cannot verify the outcome of the result.
However, the PVT is still able to determine if the collation process was conducted properly and expose manipulation during the collation process. If the official results as announced fall outside of the PVT estimated range, then the results have been manipulated during the collation process.
As Table 2 shows, the official results as announced by INEC for APC and PDP are not consistent with the PVT estimates, suggesting that the collation process may have been manipulated. INEC announced that APC received 352,552 or 71% of the vote while the PVT estimated range is between 62% and 46% meaning that the largest vote share APC could have received is 62% of the vote. Similarly, INEC announced that PDP received 143,172 or 29% of the vote while the PVT estimated range is between 52% and 37% meaning that the smallest vote share PDP could have received is 37%.
|Table 2: Comparison of INEC Official Results and PVT Estimates for Bayelsa Gubernatorial Election|
|Brass||23,831||69%||77% to 30%||10,410||30%||70% to 22%|
|Ekeremor||2,1489||54%||49% to 32%||18,344||46%||68% to 51%|
|8,934||36%||45% to 22%||15,360||62%||77% to 54%|
|Nembe||83,041||98%||100% to 97%||874||1%||2% to 1%|
|Ogbia||58,016||80%||66% to 44%||13,763||19%||55% to 33%|
|Sagbama||7,831||11%||27% to 9%||60,339||87%||91% to 72%|
|Southern Ijaw||124,803||96%||80% to 30%||4,898||4%||66% to 16%|
|Yenagoa||24,697||55%||68% to 44%||19,184||43%||54% to 40%|
|Bayelsa||352,552||71%||62% to 46%||143,172||29%||52% to 37%|
|Source: YIAGA AFRICA|
While Table 2 shows discrepancies in other LGAs, the most significant manipulation of the collation process was for Southern Ijaw. INEC’s official result for APC is 124,803 votes or 96% while the PVT estimates the maximum vote share possible is 80%. At the same time, INEC’s official result for PDP is 4,989 or 4% while the PVT estimates the minimum vote share possible is 16%.
As noted above, 46% of PVT sampled polling units in Southern Ijaw held no election, suggesting that up to half of all polling units in the LGA did not open. However, INEC announced that a total of 130,121 votes were cast in Southern Ijaw out of 165,449 registered voters for a turnout of 79%. This is not possible given the widespread failure of polling units to hold elections across the LGA.
YIAGA AFRICA, through its Watching the Vote initiative, is committed to promoting more credible elections by providing independent information on the conduct of elections and independently determining if the results announced reflects the votes cast. #WatchingTheVote is For All Nigerians, Beholden to None, and Driven By Data.
Since the commencement of the Watching the Vote initiative, YIAGA AFRICA has consistently told the people of Nigeria that if election results are accurate we will confirm them, but if there is manipulation we will expose it. The PVT data shows that there were no elections in approximately 25% of polling units and suggests that the collation process for the Bayelsa governorship election was manipulated – particularly for Southern Ijaw LGA.
This calls into question the official results announced by INEC and credibility of this election. While the PVT cannot determine who has won the governorship election for Bayelsa, regardless of the outcome, the PVT estimates suggests that the official results were manipulated during the collation process.
YIAGA AFRICA urgently calls upon INEC to conduct an inclusive, transparent and accountable audit of the Bayelsa gubernatorial results that involves political parties and civil society. The audit must include two elements. First, it must identify all polling units that had no election on November 16 so that new elections can be held for those polling units. Second, it must re-collate the results for those polling units that did hold elections on November 16 so that the correct partial results can be determined. YIAGA AFRICA stands ready to work with INEC on this audit so that the people of Bayelsa can have confidence in their elections and the results for the 2019 governorship results.
It is important to state clearly that beyond INEC, the attitudes, actions and dispositions of stakeholders like the security agencies and political parties could make or mar the credibility of any election. The Bayelsa governorship election still experienced political parties building their campaign strategy around deploying sufficient money to buy the
elections, acquiring arms and paying thugs who are willing to disrupt the process. This practice remains inimical to democratic development in Nigeria and regardless of what party benefits from the outcome of the election, the question on the development of our electoral democracy and the quality of participation remains a major challenge.
The political class have perfected their act of undermining the process and is consistently making it difficult for INEC to conduct the elections across board. Beyond the parties are also the security agencies who are failing in their critical role of supporting the work of INEC for the safe, effective and successful deployment of materials and safeguarding the process. This failure remains a factor enabling the late commencement of polls, breach of the electoral laws and the willful commission of electoral offences.
Those found responsible, from INEC, political parties, security agencies, or any other body, for either preventing a polling unit from opening or manipulating the results during the collation process must be held accountable and brought to book. The culture of impunity in Nigeria must end. Further, Nigeria needs to retool her legal framework to address the duality of jurisdiction of courts and timeline for the determination of pre-election cases.
The Bayelsa governorship election which was held on the same day as the Kogi Gubernatorial and Kogi West Senatorial elections provided an opportunity for all election stakeholders to change Nigeria’s electoral trajectory especially after the experience of the 2019 general elections. While this trajectory was not changed, there are still opportunities for improvement, especially with the next round of off-cycle elections. The National Assembly must as a matter of urgency prioritize electoral reform in their legislative agenda.
This is a call to President Buhari to prove to Nigerians that he is committed to electoral reform and leave a legacy of reforms that ends electoral impunity, strengthens democratic institutions and deepen the culture of democratic accountability. Despite the serious challenges observed in the Bayelsa gubernatorial elections and the need for an audit, YIAGA AFRICA would like to thank voters who went to the polls despite the myriad of challenges and commends the people of Bayelsa for maintaining peace through the process of collation and announcement of results. We would also like to thank the many Nigerians across the state who volunteered to serve as WTV non-partisan election observers on behalf of all the people of Bayelsa. YIAGA AFRICA commends the dedication and commitment of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) members who served as ad hoc polling officials. YIAGA AFRICA also appreciates the collaboration of our development partners and their commitment to Nigerian initiatives to ensure credible elections in our country.
Long live Bayelsa state, long live Nigeria. Thank you.
Dr. Aisha Abdullahi
Chair, YIAGA AFRICA Watching the Vote – Bayelsa Observation Mission
Co-Chair, YIAGA AFRICA Watching the Vote – Bayelsa Observation Mission
Project Director, YIAGA AFRICA Watching the Vote
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