Moshood Isah (1)

2019: CSOs, Media Thrive in Daunting Shrinking Civic Landscape – Moshood Isah

The year 2019 was an interesting year for Civil Society Organisations who constantly interface directly or indirectly with relatively unwilling state and non-state actors in a bid to entrench democratic values in every facets of governance. Ranging from advocacies on credible elections, political inclusion and transformative leadership, accountability, and social justice, CSOs through various tools of campaign and movement building, made appreciable impact during the year.

One major impact was the appreciable increase in the number of young people who contested for various elective office after the historic passage of the age reduction bill into law. This is despite a lot of political parties’ conundrum and bottlenecks which young people must navigate in the process. Today, we not only have 103 under-35years old who are occupying elective offices, Nigeria can boast of four state of assembly speakers who are below the age of 35. This would not have been possible if not for consistent advocacy by CSOs led by Yiaga Africa who not only pushed for age reduction but provided technical support for young candidates in the run to the 2019 elections.

More recently, SERAP secured a landmark judgement ordering the Federal Government to “recover pensions collected by former governors now serving as ministers and members of the National Assembly. The court also directed the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice Mr. Abubakar Malami, SAN to challenge the legality of states’ pension laws permitting former governors and other ex-public officials to collect such pensions.”

For democracy to thrive, government must be accountable to the citizens. This informed series of capacity building drive to see that citizens take the lead in demanding accountability via tracking of fiscal policies and asking the right questions on its implementation. Initiatives like FollowTheMoney by Connected Development, BounceCorruption accountability lab by Yiaga Africa, tracka by BudgIT amongst other effort have successfully tracked budget implementation and demanded accountability from government especially at state, local government, and legislative constituency level.

Similarly, in a bid to ensure that lawmakers across Nigeria are accountable to their constituencies, CSOs conducted a comprehensive assessment of the 8th National Assembly which provided facts and figures giving pointers on how the assembly fared in legislations, representation, and oversight. The assessment provided a pathway for improved functionality of the legislative arm of government making the people as priority.

Citizens across the length and breadth of Nigeria are demanding electoral integrity at all phases of electoral process having been mobilised by concerned non-state actors. The 2019 elections came with a high expectation for all election stakeholders and CSOs lived up to it. For instance, With a nationwide structure across all 774 Local Government Areas in Nigeria, WatchingTheVote project of Yiaga Africa became a reference point for credible and accurate election information and recommendations for electoral reforms. The deployment of citizen pre-election observers across all 774 LGAs in Nigeria provided comprehensive data across the country which successfully predicted electoral tendencies, provide early warning signals amongst other important recommendations ahead of the 2019 general elections.

The year witnessed countless protest for various reasons ranging from human right abuse, disobedience of court orders and other forms of neglect of rule of law. While a few yielded results others ended in avoidable death and injury but the resolve to keep on this line of freedom of protest and refusal to be intimidated remains a profound feat during the year 2019.

It was not all rosy as journalists like Agba Jalingo continue to remain in illegal custody despite outrage and call for his release. Other journalists also suffer attacks during the 2019 elections and subsequently during Governorship elections in Kogi state. This again did not deter the media from digging deep and fact-checking and other forms of investigative journalism which exposed a lot during the year. In a bid to further drive journalism driven by facts and data, CSOs contributed to enhancing the capacity of media organizations on data driven journalism and reporting during the last general elections by conducting a comprehensive training of over 100 journalists, editors and media executives across Nigeria on data-driven journalism to stem the tide of fake news and disinformation.

Highlight of discoveries by media is the SexForGrade scandal that exposed university lecturers who sexually harass female students and the undercover reporting by Fisayo Soyombo that further exposed the rot in Nigerian security and justice system. Many more discoveries which has ensured some local councils now release their budget for public engagement. Citizens mobilized to take the lead in demanding accountability by tracking fiscal policies and asking the right questions on their implementation.

Its difficult to know what to expect in 2020 with still a lot to be desired in terms of fundamental human rights and absolute supremacy of the law. All arms of government have the opportunity to entrench democratic values in all their activities while non-state actors like the media and civil societies should remain neutral and continue to serve as voice of citizens even on a daunting political landscape.

Moshood Isah

Media Officer, Yiaga Africa

Tweets @moshoodpm

 

Youth Organising School

2019: A Year Defined by Voice and Accountability

Dear friends,2019 was intense and fulfilling. Just like you, we are asking ourselves what did we achieve this year? How did we serve our constituency? In this edition of our newsletter, we showcase key initiatives that shaped our 2019. In 2019, we witnessed a resurgence in civic activism, political participation and social accountability through our work. We remain grateful for your support, partnership and solidarity in helping us achieve our purpose. For us, 2020 is the next decade of positive disruption in politics, governance and civic spaces. It will be defined by intentionality, resilience and civic activism. As a movement, we will continue to count on your support, partnership and solidarity as we strive to make democracy deliver development to the people.

Here’s our 2019 journey

Mobilising Citizens to Demand for Electoral Integrity 

Citizens across Nigeria are demanding for electoral integrity in all phases of the electoral process. The 2019 elections came with high expectations for all election stakeholders especially citizens who expressed frustration with the decline in the quality of Nigerian elections. Through the Watching The Voteproject, we built a citizens movement on electoral integrity with structures across the 774 LGAs in Nigeria. In 2019, we recruited and directly engaged over 5, 500 citizen observers under the Watching The Vote project. They were drawn from villages, rural communities and urban centers. Each observer received high quality training on elections and the electoral process and how to use their phones as a tool for promoting credible elections, conflict mitigation and civic participation. Using the Parallel Vote Tabulation (PVT) methodology, we ascertained the accuracy of election results, detected fraud and electoral manipulation and provided real time data on election. We also conducted the first independent Voter Register Audit in Nigeria.

Get more details of our 2019 election projects and milestones HERE.

Election day observation in Kogi state

Using Technology to Revolutionise the Electoral Landscape  

The use of modern-day election technology to observe the electoral process by providing accurate and timely data has revolutionized Nigeria’s electoral landscape. Yiaga Africa’s Watching The Vote project continues to utilize the Parallel Vote Tabulation, the gold standard for election observation across the world, to observe elections—Nigerians now have a go-to hub for credible elections data as a result of our successful deployment of technology overtime to observe elections. This, to a very large extent, shaped public opinions and policy recommendations on the elections conducted in 2019.

Using Technology to Revolutionise the Electoral Landscape

Strengthening the Legislature to Protect the Future of Public Trust 

In a bid rebuild citizens trust in democratic institutions such as the legislature, we conducted a comprehensive assessment of the 8th National Assembly and provided facts and figures to give pointers on how the assembly fared in legislations, representation, and oversight. The assessment led by former Chairman of INEC, Professor Attahiru Jega provided vast recommendations on strengthening the legislature to rebuild public trust in democratic institutions. The report sets an agenda for legislative governance in the 9th National Assembly.

Read Full Report Here

Advancing Political Inclusion and Purposeful Leadership

Increasing the number of young political office holders from 60 to 103 out of 1,558 elective positions, as a result of the Not Too Young To Run and Ready To Run interventions, remains a historic milestone in the history of Nigeria that we celebrate. These interventions resulted in the Ready To Run TV showand The Convergence (Nigeria’s largest gathering of elected and unelected young politicians), which empowered young politicians with requisite tools and knowledge for providing excellent public leadership. With the Not Too Young To Run movement, we are determined to increase the number of young people in elected offices by 30% in the 2023 elections.

Enhancing State – Society Engagement 

The four youngest speakers of the State Houses of Assembly in Nigeria are collaborating with the citizens of their respective states—Zamfara, Oyo, Kwara and Plateau— to develop a legislative agenda that will guide the activities of their four-year tenure in office. As a brand that focuses on entrenching democratic values to ensure citizens derive the dividends of democracy, we provided technical support to the speakers to organize town halls for discussions with resident citizens and deployed researchers to all the local government areas in their states, to acquire data for the development of the agenda. This is a remarkable feat as the young speakers are introducing new innovations to improve legislative governance, thereby setting the pace for other Speakers.

Read More Here

Building New Models of Community Organizing and Movement Building 

In our continuous effort to promote accountability through collective citizens’ action, we held 2019 editions of our annual community organizing and movement building programs. 240 young people across Nigeria are making positive impact in their various communities through our Youth Organising School. Also, in the last 6 years, our annual Democracy Summer Camp—targeted at young people under 18—has educated young Nigerians on citizenship, civic activism, and fundamental human rights. This year, we held the sixth edition in secondary schools in Kogi, Bauchi, and Nasarawa states. Watch our documentary on this, “Below The Legal Line”, which was shortlisted for the  #iamAfrica Pan-African film festival.

In addition, we released a music album produced in Senegal, Music as a Messenger of Democracy’ and engaged youths in Ethiopia to support the democratization project in their country.

Enhancing Local Governance through Citizens Oversight

For democracy to thrive, government must be accountable to its citizens. Service delivery and public administration at the local government level has been poor owing to weak institutional mechanisms and poor citizens oversight. To address this gap, Yiaga Africa conducted social accountability trainings in local governments across six states under the Bounce Corruption project. As a result of this intervention, some local councils now release their budget for public engagement. Under the Strengthening Citizens’ Resistance Against Prevalence of Corruption (SCRAP-C) project, citizens were mobilized to take the lead in demanding accountability by tracking fiscal policies and asking the right questions on their implementation. We also partnered with the EFCC in Enugu on the anti-corruption fight.

Bounce Corruption lab budget tracking

Promoting Data – Driven Journalism 

We are super proud to have contributed to enhancing the capacity of media organizations on data driven journalism and reporting during the last general elections. We conducted a comprehensive training of over 100 journalists, editors and media executives across Nigeria on data-driven journalism to stem the tide of fake news and disinformation.

Read More Here

As we look forward to 2020, with a view to expanding our coast, your immense support and collaboration remains valuable to the success of our vision of empowering state and non-state actors with relevant knowledge and tools in promoting sustainable democracy and development. 

NOT TOO YOUNG TO RUN LOGO

Press Release: Not Too Young To Run Sets 2023 Agenda

The Not Too Young To Run (NTYTR) Movement held its leadership and strategy retreat on December 12 – 14, 2019. The retreat was designed to reflect on the Movement’s organizing model and to design scenarios for the 2023 Nigerian elections. Some of the resolutions from the retreat include but are not limited to the following:

  1. The Movement will maintain its identity as a social movement committed to political inclusion, transformative politics and leadership.
  2. The Movement will be defined by the following core values: S – Solidarity, P – Patriotism, I – Inclusion, R – Responsible leadership, I – Integrity and T – Trust (SPIRIT). These core values are a reflection of who we are and what we stand for.
  3. The Movement has designed three strategic goals;
    1. Increase the number of young women, men and PLWDs with competence, character and capacity in elective office to at least 30% in 2023.
    2. Build a grassroots movement of 5 million young women, men and PLWDs committed to promoting political education, democratic rights and transformative
    3. Expand the NTYTR Movement beyond Nigeria and build international solidarity on political inclusion and transformative leadership across 25 African countries by 2023.

A detailed action plan for achieving these goals will be released in due course.

                  4 The Movement will recruit more organizers and leaders in order to build the strategic capacity it requires to drive its agenda. To this end, in 2020, the Movement will establish 100 NTYTR Hubs across Nigeria.

                  5. For 2020, the movement will organize two major events.

                        a. NTYTR Africa Week of Action on Political Inclusion in May 2020;

                       b.The NTYTR Convention in August 2020 for members of the movement, especially the hubs. Over 2,000 members and guests are expected to attend the event.

We look forward to your continued support as we seek to generate a new SPIRIT in African politics.

Thank you

Not Too Young To Run Movement

December 14, 2019

For inquiries: [email protected]

Not Too Young to Run Strategy team members after a retreat in Lagos

Not Too Young To Run Movement Reaffirms Commitment on Political Inclusion, Transformative Politics, Purposeful Leadership

The Not Too Young To Run movement has reaffirmed its commitment to continue to promote  political inclusion of youth, women and People With Disabilities (PWDs), for  transformative politics and purposeful leadership, while reflecting on the movement’s successes and future prospects going into the next phase of Nigeria’s political dispensation. Having successfully reduced the age of running for the Presidency, House of Representatives and State Houses of Assembly from 40 to 35 years and from 35 to 25 years respectively, the leadership of the movement has vowed to mitigate any hinderance to increase youth representation in elective offices.

Rising from a three-day retreat in Lagos, the movement, which is arguably the most successful citizens-led movement in Nigeria, revealed that it aims to increase the number of young women, men, and PWDs with competence, character and capacity in elective office to 30% in 2023. According to a statement released by the movement and signed by the Convener of the movement, Samson Itodo, Not Too Young To Run will build a grassroots movement of 5 million young women, men and PWDs committed to promoting political inclusion, democratic rights, transformative politics and purposeful leadership.

While maintaining its non-partisan identity of a social movement committed to political inclusion and transformative politics and leadership, the movement remains driven by its core values of Solidarity, Patriotism, Inclusion, Responsible leadership, Integrity and Trust (SPIRIT).

In a bid to build the strategic capacity that the movement requires to drive its agenda, the movement will be opening and recruiting more organizers and leaders across Nigeria and some parts of Africa.  This, according to the movement, would enable expansion to build international solidarity on political inclusion and transformative leadership across 25 African countries by 2023.

“To this end, the movement will be establishing Not Too Young To Run hubs across Nigeria. In 2020, the movement will create 100 hubs across the country. State Coordinators will be assigned new responsibilities in furtherance of this goal,” Itodo said.

Reflecting on the success of the movement, Itodo said the Not Too Young To Run movement has built power from within, which the government couldn’t ignore. He further said the historic assent to the age reduction bill not only disrupted the political space but has renewed hope and mobilized the positive energy of young people. The movement, according to him, has birthed other movements because the team demonstrated how effective organizing can be in achieving good results.

Also speaking during the retreat, another strategy team member Cynthia Mbamalu, stated that despite the assent to the age reduction bill, there is still more work needed to be done to influence policy decision in National and state assemblies. Echoing similar thoughts, Bella Anne Ndubuisi said that the movement has a responsibility to drive the beneficiaries because there is high expectation from young people in office due to the popularity of the movement.

The movement also hosted Babcock University and Bayero University Kano alumni Jumoke Pinheiro and Bashir Rabiu who both presented their academic research focusing on Youth participation , social media and policy making using the Not Too Young to Run as a case.

Rethinking Nigeria’s Democracy Amidst Threat to Rule of Law – Moses Oluwaseyi

Within a week, two popular newspapers, The Punch and Business Day, respectively, have raised questions around the sustainability of Nigeria’s democracy, especially in the wake of the violation of human rights, disobedience of court orders and attempts to annihilate the rule of law.

It’s been over 20 years since Nigeria transcended from military rule to adopt what is said to be the best system of government across the world —democracy. Unfortunately, a recent editorial by Business Day this week has served as a firm reminder to President Muhammadu Buhari that this is not the 1985 military regime. The editors of the online medium are concerned about the direction of Nigeria’s democracy with the recent use of extrajudicial means to shut opposition.


Political science students have a saying that: “the worst democracy is better than the best military rule”, and the elementary class will define democracy as a system of the people, by the people and for the people. Democracy should therefore enable freedom of participation, association and human right, which drives development.  


Sadly, it appears that recent practices in Nigeria are extremely different from what the democratic system of other countries represents. If our founding fathers turn back from their graves, will they see that country they fought and strove for independence from the colonial masters? or will they be filled with regrets? This calls for deep reflections.


Pieter Williams Botha a South African politician once said, “black people cannot rule themselves because they don’t have the brain and mental capacity to govern a society. Give them guns, they will kill themselves, give them power they will steal all the government money; give them independence and democracy, they will use it to promote tribalism, ethnicity, bigotry, hatred, killings and wars”. This statement may just reflect the democratic system in Nigeria and the system of governance has, however, not proven this to be erroneous at several levels of governance.


The 1999 constitution in chapter II is very clear on the motto of the country, which is Unity and Faith, Peace and Progress but the level of disunity has led to several insecurity issues in various parts of our dear country, thereby stalling adequate progress. Issues of religious differences and high level of intolerance is consistently on the rise. Territorialism at various state level and expression of ignorance of some citizens, disregarding the provisions of chapter II of the constitution cannot be divorced from the cause of ethnicity and communal clashes in the country in the name of citizenship as the struggle with the abundant resources that have become scarce due to inadequate governance institutions and visibility. This and other menaces have characterized our democratic system.  


The provisions of fundamental human rights are now misrepresented as mere making of statements are distant from what the law requires. The acclaimed dividends of democracy such as rights to life, quality education, adequate health systems and basic infrastructure, seem to be more accessible and available during the military rule than the democratic system of government Nigerians fought for.  


Even though the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Tanko Muhammed, claimed he would not tolerate disobedience of court orders, his body language to such doesn’t reflect his claim. The judiciary is no longer the hope of a common man as it is usually said. There have been various instances of disobedience of court orders especially by the executive arm of Government. The delay in passing judgement and various conflicting court judgements especially around election related matters has led to waste of taxpayers’ money. The judicial system, no doubt needs to re-position itself to the apex of trust and integrity in order to shape the democratic system without being one sided in the dispatch of her responsibilities.


Similarly, public office holders, either elected or appointed must see such office to be worthy of trust, and capable of delivering on the needs of democracy, which would position the country in a way that generations unborn will be beneficiaries of what has been done. Elected officials at the federal and state levels should use their office and power to make laws for the peace, order and good governance of the Federation. Lawmakers should engage in people-oriented policies, and create an enabling environment in all parts of the country. Consequently, there is an urgent need for political office holders to look inwards, be accessible and increase engagement with citizens at all levels in order to have a progressive democratic government that would eradicate poverty, insecurity, hunger and enshrine a nation where there will be democratic gains.

Oluwaseyi Moses is a Zonal Program officer with YIAGA AFRICA

Tracy Keshi

Shrinking Civic Space: Threat to Human Rights and Anti-Graft War – Tracy Keshi

The Nigerian Senate on Tuesday, November 5, re-introduced the bill, “Protection from Internet Falsehood and Manipulations Bill 2019” a proposed law that will regulate the use of social media in the country.  The bill prohibits statements on social media considered to be likely prejudicial to the “security of Nigeria”, and “diminishing public confidence in the government”.

The lawmaker who led the debate on the bill at the plenary session of Wednesday, 20 November 2019, Sen. Mohammad Sani Musa, explained that the Bill sought to address the threat and mitigate against the risk associated with information via internet networks, by monitoring abuse and deliberate misconduct. However, the bill contains certain provisions that excessively restrict the use of social media, violate the law protecting freedom of speech, create ambiguous criminal offences that allow authorities prosecute anyone who criticizes the government.
The freedom of information and expression, right of assembly and association, inclusion, human rights and citizens’ participation in public decision making is fundamental to the functionality of a developing society and a vital prerequisite for accountable governance and social justice.

The emergence of President Muhammadu Buhari—for the second time—after the 2019 general elections may have brought with it a renewed hope of strength to overcome the numerous problems the country is currently facing.  Citizens believed his administration would commit to advancing the civic space and enable citizens engagement in a democratic way. Unfortunately, the right to freedom of expression has suffered abysmally with the organs of state charged with ensuring rule of law opposing voices of credible critics of bad governance and encouraging impunity and continued attacks on the fundamental human rights of citizens. An example is the arrest of Agba Jalingo, the publisher of Cross River Watch, who has been charged with treason for his writing and social media posts about the Cross-River Governor, Benedict Ayade.

A worrisome trend of shrinking civic space has emerged and created a system that denies citizens their basic human rights to freely express themselves and to hold their government accountable. The freedom of expression as enshrined in Section 39 (1) of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) is a necessary tool in the fight against corruption. President Muhammadu Buhari has made tackling corruption his administration’s key priority and the best way to end corruption is by respecting the constitutional right to freedom of speech. Any administration that participates in organised human rights abuses and civil society crackdowns, poses a serious threat to national peace and security.

When governments increasingly control and restrict freedom, it shrinks the civic space for effective citizens’ engagement and blocks meaningful participation of citizens in democratic governance, thereby weakening the social contract between government and its citizens, likely making violence an alternative to addressing grievances.

According to statistics, 29.3 million Nigerians majorly young people use social media across the country. The role of social media is critical in promoting good governance and limiting corruption as it raises public awareness about corruption, its causes and consequences. It is a platform where citizens report incidences of corruption. The use of social media has exposed corrupt officials, and prompted investigations by official bodies.

In commemorating the International Anti-corruption and Human Rights day this month, we are calling on Nigerian lawmakers to ensure the laws protecting human rights are properly enforced and the rights of everyone to peaceful criticism of the government without fear of reprisal, censorship, or legal sanctions is duly protected.  I am also urging civil society organisations, media and every anticorruption actor to stand #UnitedAgainstCorruption.

Tracy Keshi is a program officer with YIAGA AFRICA and actively involved with #BounceCorruption and #Upright4Nigeria campaigns. She can be reached via [email protected] and tweets via @tracykeshi

3T3A1740

Not Too Young To Run State Coordinators Project Pathways for Increased Youth Representation

The Age reduction constitution amendment, popularly known as the Not Too Young To Run legislation, remains a historic milestone in the Nigerian socio-political landscape. The battle for inclusion in the country’s politics, however, is not over yet, as several political party bottlenecks—amongst other challenges—are still faced by budding young politicians.

In this light, on Tuesday, December 12th, 2019, the State Coordinators across 36 states of Nigeria converged in Abuja to project a pathway for increased youth political representation in elective offices. The crusaders of the movement who mobilized citizens from their respective states were instrumental in ensuring State Houses of Assembly lawmakers voted ‘yes’ to the historic age reduction amendment.

Speaking during the meeting, the Convener of the movement, Samson Itodo, reflected on the historic journey saying the team has changed the political landscape of Nigeria forever. He said, “I remember a few years ago, we set out on a journey that seemed impossible, believing that the few contributions we are going to make is going to make a difference.”

He, however, explained to the State Coordinators that the push for inclusion in politics is beyond a democratic ideal, saying it is about capacity and the value the movement has brought to the table. According to him, it is about reclaiming the state to provide better dividends of democracy, jobs and quality health care for people. “It is important that we push the envelope to use political power to provide the right things”, he said.

In his words, “remain resilient because this country is breaking before our eyes,” the Convener, Samson Itodo, reminded everyone at the close of the meeting. “We are going to be taking bold steps. 2020 is the commencement of another decade”. Additionally, he firmly reminded the State Coordinators about the philosophy of the movement, saying “We have to come to a place where we tell ourselves that this struggle is not about us. And our driving philosophy is simple: that the goal for civic activism is the common good. “

The Strategy Team members also reiterated the need to remain politically vigilant as the movement moves to the next phase. According to Cynthia Mbamalu, Programs Manager of YIAGA AFRICA, “today our survival depends on our ability to stay awake, to remain vigilant to face the challenges of change”. “Only when we are awake and ready to act, can we really see the kind of change we want. Nigeria is still looking up to us. Nigeria can be better,” she said.

The State Coordinators shared their experiences and reflections on various related themes, which included leadership and governance, internal communication management, conflict and risk management, Not Too Young to Run campaign and advocacy tactics, stakeholder engagements, media and communications, inclusion and diversity management. The team revealed their thoughts on how the movement can leverage on existing capacities and relationships to further increase the number of young people in elective offices ahead of the 2023 elections.

All participants of the meeting also shared personal reflections on the Not Too Young to Run Movement, in an emotional session, while the Strategy Team Members consolidated on the results of the meeting into an action plan. At the end of the meeting, the participants were given their certificates of participation, as well as ‘Digital: The New Code of Wealth’ written by J.J. Omojuwa, who detailed parts of the Social Media Strategy of the #NotTooYoungToRun movement when it kicked off online about two years ago.

Also present at the meeting were some of the Strategy Team Members of the Not Too Young To Run Movement—Cynthia Mbamalu, Ibrahim Faruk, Chioma Ageuegbo, and Safiya Bichi. They shared their insights respectively, on charting a course for the future of the movement.

Check out more pictures from the event below.


Election day observation in Kogi state

Kogi-West Rerun: YIAGA AFRICA Raises Concerns Over Electoral Impunity

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YIAGA AFRICA STATEMENT ON KOGI-WEST SUPPLEMENTARY ELECTION

On November 30, 2019, YIAGA AFRICA observed the Kogi West supplementary election in 53 polling units in 7 Local Government Areas (LGAs) where elections were cancelled or not concluded due to violence and disruption (Ijumu, Kabba/Bunu, Lokoja, Koton Karfe, Mopa Moro, Yagba East and Yagba West). YIAGA AFRICA Watching the Vote (WTV) deployed a total of 63 trained and accredited citizen observers including 53 stationary observers and 10 roving and collation center observers for the supplementary elections in Kogi West.

This statement is based on YIAGA AFRICA WTV findings on the observation of accreditation and voting, counting of ballots, announcement and posting of results at the polling units, and collation of results at LGA collation centers. These findings are based on reports received from 52 out of 53 polling units in the 7 LGAs and 7 LGA collation centers.

Watching the Vote Preliminary Findings on the Supplementary Election

Findings from Polling Units

Opening and Set-Up of Polling Unit

  1. As of 7:30 am, YIAGA AFRICA WTV observers reported that INEC officials had arrived at 52 of the 53 polling units in the 7 LGAs where the supplementary elections held. By 10:00 am, 52 polling units had commenced accreditation and voting.
  2. All of the 53 polling units had 4 or more polling officials present with at least 1 female polling official.
  3. APC party agents were present in all the polling units while PDP party agents were seen in 51 of the polling units.
  4. One or more essential materials like the register of voters, indelible ink/marker pen, polling official stamp, voting cubicle, ink pad, gubernatorial ballot box, and polling unit booklet were seen in all the polling units. Specifically, Smart Card Readers were present in all the 53 polling units.

Election Procedures at the Polling Units (Accreditation and Voting, Counting, Announcement and Posting of Official Governorship Results)

  1. The Smart Card Reader was not used for the accreditation of voters in 7 of the 53 polling units. Of these 7 polling units, 5 are in Lokoja LGA and 2 in Kabba/Bunu LGA. In addition, voters were allowed to vote in these polling units without using the Smart Card Reader to verify their Permanent Voters Cards (PVCs).
  2. In 50 of the 53 polling units, only voters whose names were in the register of voters were allowed to vote.
  3. In one of the polling units (St. Paul’s Sch II Kabba, Kabba/Bunu LGA), counting was done in a venue (polling unit) different from where accreditation and voting was conducted.
  4. In 49 polling units, INEC polling officials counted the number of unused ballot papers; in 43 polling units, INEC polling officials counted the number of spoilt governorship ballot papers; and in 44 polling units, INEC polling officials counted the number of counterfoils for the ballot papers. However, INEC polling officials did not show how every ballot paper was marked to all party agents and observers in 2 polling units.
  5. The polling unit level results were not posted for the public to see in 7 polling units. The polling units involved were located in Lokoja, Mopa Moro and Kabba/Bunu LGA.

 

Misconduct at the Polling Units

    1. Voters were intimidated, harassed or assaulted in 3 polling units during accreditation and voting. INEC polling officials were identified as victims of the 3 incidences. Women were specifically intimidated, harassed or assaulted in 4 polling units during the same accreditation and voting process.
    2. Party agents attempted to influence voters or INEC polling officials in 10 polling units.

  

Findings on the Results Collation Process at the LGA Result Collation Centres

  1. Access to Result Collation Centers: WTV observers were initially denied access to the LGA results collation center in Mopa Moro LGA. This was later resolved.
  1. Presence of Security Personnel and Political Party Representatives: Security agents and party agents were present in all LGA collation centers.
  1. Results Collation Process:
  1. In all LGA collation centers, senatorial results Form EC 8Bs for all polling units from the wards were submitted to the collation officer and all the LGA collation center officers entered the votes in the original form EC 8C in words and in figures.
  1. APC party agents countersigned the results summary forms in all the LGA collation centers while the PDP in only 6 LGA collation centers. No PDP party agent was seen at the time of the countersigning of the results summary forms in Mopa Moro LGA.
  1. INEC officials distributed copies of the form EC 8C to the party agents and security agents present in all the LGA collation centres, and publicly posted the summary of the results in only 5 of the 7 LGA collation centers. No political party agent disagreed with the results declared in all the LGA collation centers.

 Reported Critical Incidents

YIAGA AFRICA received and confirmed a total of 25 critical incidents, which were majorly around vote-buying, vote suppression and community collusion to undermine the process. Below are some of the critical incidents and the locations where they occurred.

  1. Multiple voting: In PU 004, ward 8, Mopa Moro, voters who already had indelible ink on their fingers were allowed to vote.
  2. Voter suppression: In Open Space, Okedayo, Ijumu LGA, PU 004, ward 8 and PU 003, ward 5, Mopa Moro LGA, sorting and counting of votes were done before 2pm, denying some voters the opportunity to cast their ballot.
  3. Over voting: In PU 001, ward B, Lokoja LGA, voters staged a protest against the INEC officials because the number of total votes did not tally with the number of accredited voters captured by the card reader.
  4. Vote buying: In Oludun Furniture 002, Auta ward, Kabba/Bunu LGA, voters were trading their votes for money (N1,000). In PU001, ward 02 and PU 003, ward 1, Kogi Koton Karfe LGA, party agents were openly distributing money.
  5. Bribery: Party agents attempted to bribe observers in PU 002, Asuta ward, Kabba/Bunu.
  6. Lack of secrecy of the ballot: In PU 007, Asuta Ward, Kabba/Bunu LGA; PU 003, Open space by Aiyewa Quarters beside Comm. Bank Ijumu LGA; and Open space Oba Tedo polling unit, Yagba West LGA, voters showed how their ballot papers were marked before putting them in the ballot box. In Open Space by Okebukun Quarters, Aiyetoro polling unit and Open Space, Iluafon Quarters, Ayietoro polling unit in Ijum LGA, and Yaragi area Open Space polling unit, Ward D, Lokoja LGA, the voting cubicle was positioned in a way that people could see how voters marked their ballot paper. In Open Space, Okedayo, Ijumu LGA, party agents accompanied voters to the voting cubicle thereby compromising the secrecy of the ballot.
  7. Lack of results posting: In PU 004, Open Space, Inuwa, ward D, Lokoja LGA, INEC polling officials did not post the polling unit official result.
  8. Restricted observation: Four YIAGA AFRICA WTV observers were not allowed to observe in Ijumu LGA, at the commencement of the polls.

Recommendations

 Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC)

  1. YIAGA AFRICA calls on INEC to investigate polling units where the Smart Card Readers were not deployed and where there were incidences of over-voting. This investigation should be properly structured to ensure that officials found to have willfully acted in breach of the electoral guidelines are prosecuted.
  2. Conduct a special audit on the result collation process, especially for polling units where zero votes were recorded by the collation officer in the November 16 elections.
  3. In line with the principles of open election data, INEC should publish the polling unit results of the Kogi West Senatorial rerun and the November 16 elections.
  4. INEC should release complete details of the cancelled polling units, reasons for cancellation and the results for cancelled polling units where results were collated.
  5. Secrecy of the ballot was a challenge during the election, violating a fundamental dimension of democratic elections. INEC should continue to review the voting processes to allow voters to cast ballots with their choice free from scrutiny.

Security Agencies

  1. YIAGA AFRICA calls on security agencies to commence the prosecution of all electoral offenders arrested during the conduct of the first round and supplementary election.
  2. Security agencies must as a matter of urgency investigate the reports of security officials who interfered in the process, undermined the election process by their action or inaction, or engaged in any form of misconduct. Such officers must be duly prosecuted.

National Assembly (NASS)

  1. NASS should hold a public hearing on the conduct of the Bayelsa and Kogi governorship and rerun elections to document and aggregate instances of electoral impunity, violence and malpractice. This will foster accountability and inform reforms to the electoral legal framework.
  2. Accelerate the consideration of electoral amendment bills and ensure their quick passage.

Conclusion

YIAGA AFRICA notes the improvement in INEC election logistics deployment and management of the rerun election; however, there were reports of complicity of presiding officers who colluded with party agents and community leaders to manipulate election results.

In the YIAGA AFRICA post-election process statement for the November 16 elections in Kogi, we noted that the Kogi governorship and senatorial elections were severely compromised due to violence, brigandage, voter suppression and results manipulation. Political parties, candidates and security agencies deliberately worked to undermine the election. Consequently, we called upon INEC to conduct a thorough investigation of the conduct of the Kogi governorship and senatorial elections and to conduct a new election that gives voters a genuine opportunity to exercise their right to vote. INEC failed to conduct new governorship and senatorial elections in the state, and therefore YIAGA AFRICA believes that the rerun election represents an attempt to legitimize a flawed election.

We are deeply worried and concerned about this emerging trend in electoral manipulation and the deepening culture of impunity. Failure to institutionally and decisively act could undermine our democracy. Our politicians, political parties and security agencies have become important threats to our democracy and we must work to hold them to account. The Nigerian political class should be recognized as such and place in the right plinth for interrogations, increased engagement and be exposed for local and international sanction.

 

Signed

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.

Young speakers and principal officers with facilitators after capacity building work shop on developing citizens driven legislative agenda

YIAGA AFRICA Builds Capacity of Young Speakers, Principal Officers on Citizens-Driven Legislative Agenda

 As part of its effort to ensure quality representation and legislation, YIAGA AFRICA hosted a two-day legislative agenda workshop for young speakers and technical working committee members in State Houses of Assembly in Nigeria. The workshop was designed to contribute towards the development of a Legislative Agenda for the State Houses of Assembly, which would outline the key priorities and objectives of the 9th Assembly and aid the development of a coherent implementation strategy.

Addressing speakers and principal officers,  Coordinator of YIAGA AFRICA Centre for Legislative Engagement, Dr Ernest Ereke said developing a citizens’ driven legislative agenda will provide the platform for a responsive, innovative and accountable leadership which would encompass the needs of the citizens, thereby, providing direction for representatives in the discharge of their legislative duties.  He further said “it is critical to provide technical support to these State Houses of Assembly in designing and developing a citizens-driven legislative agenda to drive the legislative business of the Assembly.”

Dr Ernest speaking to young lawmakers on legislative agenda

He appreciated the huge sacrifice of young speakers and principal officers saying, despite tight schedules, they have availed themselves for the purpose of developing a citizens-driven legislative agenda. He said to the Speakers, “in between steering your various State Houses of Assembly, to the right path…we keep coming to you to input our contributions and you keep accommodating those contributions to further strengthen your legislative capacity and the institutions in your various states.”

Giving his remark, the Speaker, Oyo State Assembly, Rt. Hon. Adebo commended the technical support of YIAGA AFRICA, not just to the lawmakers but to the assembly.  He further promised to deliver the best legislation to serve as a positive precedent so that other young lawmakers can build on it.

In a similar vein, another young speaker, Rt. Hon. Abok Nuhu Ayuba of Plateau State House of Assembly noted that the legislative agenda workshop organised by YIAGA AFRICA is the first of its kind in Nigeria saying “we are doing so much to ensure that the Not Too Young To Run constitution amendment is fully implemented across Nigeria, and we are doing so much to ensure that we bring the much-needed change”. Since July this year, YIAGA AFRICA has been working with the youngest speakers of the legislature, to help build a citizens-driven legislative agenda. This two-day workshop was undertaken as part of the development process.

Legislative agenda workshop with young speakers and principal officers

In November, YIAGA AFRICA deployed researchers to all the Local Government areas of Oyo, Plateau and Zamfara States to administer research surveys to gather data that would encompass the needs of the citizens. At this workshop, the facilitators guided the Technical Working Groups and Speakers to assess the Legislative Priorities of the House of Assembly towards setting benchmarks for prioritizing legislation over the four-year tenure of the assembly. The workshop ultimately aided the development of action plans as well as monitoring frameworks.

 

Also present at the workshop were Board Chair, YIAGA AFRICA, Dr. Hussaini Abdu, Executive Director, YIAGA AFRICA, Samson Itodo, Senior Program Officer (Youth), Ibrahim Faruk, and research consultant, Prof. Shola Omotola, who gave presentations on the Legislative Agenda development process.

Legislative Score Card and Peer review

YIAGA AFRICA Hosts Peer Review Meeting as Not Too Young To Run Beneficiaries Share Successes, Challenges, Experiences

The experiences of young lawmakers and beneficiaries of the historic Not Too Young To Run Act in Nigeria, has been encouraging, fulfilling, empowering , rewarding, educative and revealing, as revealed by the young lawmakers themselves during a two-day peer-learning meeting in Lagos.

The meeting, which aimed to develop a peer review mechanism to enhance their legislative performance and provide opportunity for peer learning, saw young legislators share their learning experiences on the success in their first six months of legislative responsibilities. The meeting also provided a platform for young legislators across Nigeria with similar experiences to evaluate each other over a legislative session.

During the meeting, Executive Director of YIAGA AFRICA, Samson Itodo reminded young lawmakers, especially speakers and principal officers, that their performances as pioneers and beneficiaries of the Age reduction constitution amendment , would determine the success of young people in future elections.

Itodo said the  peer review meeting will enhance legislative performance and provide an opportunity for peer learning, enabled a platform for young lawmakers to share lessons, challenges and successes from their first six months in office.

In this vein, expert facilitator, Dr. Jake Dan-Azumi, a Senior Research Fellow from the National Institute for Legislative and Democratic Studies introduced the legislators to a framework for reviewing their activities. He also addressed the participants on ‘Committee System and Legislative Oversight’, as well as the constitutional power of the legislature to check and balance the executive.

Similarly, Mr. Hezekiah, Pioneer Administrative Head of the National Assembly Budget and Research Office (NABRO) gave an overview of the appropriation process, legal framework and jurisdiction, and best practices for budgeting. The meeting also had Dr. Shuaibu Danwanka, Director, National Institute for Legislative and Democratic Studies in attendance. He exposed the legislators to the process of bill drafting and motions; it was a highly participatory session.