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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
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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.
Representatives of Stop VAWIP , Vote Not fight and PWDs during WTV Hour in Kogi and Bayelsa

YIAGA AFRICA Amplifies Stakeholders’ Voices on Promoting Inclusive Electoral Process

As the largest citizen movement committed to credible elections in Nigeria, YIAGA AFRICA recognizes the importance of collaborative effort in achieving an inclusive, credible and peaceful electoral process. Thus, it is currently amplifying the voices of other election stakeholders in ensuring the message of credible, peaceful and inclusive elections reaches the people of Bayelsa and Kogi State ahead of the November Governorship elections.

As part of its continuous effort to ensure an inclusive electoral process for the November 16 Governorship elections in Kogi and Bayelsa states, YIAGA AFRICA’s Watching The Vote is amplifying the voices of election stakeholders through its weekly Citizens engagement platform on Radio.   The weekly program tagged “Watching The Vote Hour on Prime FM 101.5FM, Kogi State and Peoples FM 93.1, Bayelsa State,  which is aimed to engage citizens of the states on informed citizen participation has continued to provide platform for stakeholders to reach out to citizens peaceful and inclusive participation in the process ahead of November 16 Governorship elections.

During the WTV hour in Kogi State on Wednesday 9th October 2019, YIAGA AFRICA Watching The Vote Hour hosted the Convener of Stop Violence Against Women in Politics Campaign, Rosemary Oweifawari who shared the challenges women are currently facing in their bid to participate in the electoral process. Mrs Oweifawari decried the economic, sexual and political violence faced by women in Bayelsa state which has hindered their effective participation in the electoral process. She also highlighted intervention effort made by the Stop VAWIP campaign to further ensure women play a positive role in the electoral process.

Similarly, the convener of Stop VAWIP in Kogi state, Mrs Eunice Agbogun during the WTV Hour the following day raised concerns of the fact that just two female candidates running for the Governorship position is a reflection of low women participation in the process.  According to her there are links between gender based electoral violence and low level of women participation in elections saying, an atmosphere of violence affects women participation in elections. She said women and men have equal rights and thus there should be level playing ground when it comes to participating in the electoral process.

While decrying the challenge of lack of level playing ground and community cupport for young people especially as aspirants, Program Officer of FACE initiative, conveners of Vote Not Fight Bogofanyo Perekebina called on young people to eschew violence during elections. Also, representatives of Vote Not Fight during the WTV hour highlighted the importance of young people setting a positive agenda and playing an important role in the electoral process. Speaking during the program in Kogi State, Benard Ajewole from Behavioural Change Initiative who are the conveners of Vote Not Fight said, citizens, especially young people, have the responsibility to engage the politicians on issue-based campaigns.

The issue of inclusion cannot be completed without discussion on participation of People with Disability in electoral process. YIAGA AFRICA’s WTV hour provided platform for representatives of Joint National Association of People with Disability (JONAPWD) and physically challenged persons who shared prospects and challenges of PWDs in the electoral process.

Speaking on WTV hour in Kogi, Chairman of JONAPWD said the inclusion of PWDs in the electoral process is the hallmark of democracy saying, “there cannot be nothing for us without us”. He said “about 200 PWDs have been recruited to work as observers in the upcoming #Kogi Governorship elections. We are going to prove that we have all it takes to bring value to our democracy”.

However, he called on the electoral commission to ensure polling units accessible for PWDs saying PWDs face lots of challenges during the elections as many of the polling units are inaccessible. He said PWDs are engaging with the commission to ensure that magnifying glasses, braille ballot guide and other things that we need to effectively participate in Guber polls  are provided. “We also hope that INEC will do their part to ensure that ad-hoc staff understand the importance of giving PWDs and other vulnerable groups priority on voting day. Some get discouraged by the thought of queuing for long and may stay away,” he said.

Moshood Isah (1)

Lessons from 8th Assembly and Need to Improve Legislative Representation   —Moshood Isah

There were mixed reactions concerning the ability of the 8th National Assembly to perform at an optimum level when it emerged in 2015. In fact, during its four-year tenure between 2015 and 2019, there were some level of antagonism between the National Assembly and the Executive arm of government. The consequence of such reported negative alliance between these core arms of government no doubt left a significant impression that the 8th National Assembly was a “Clog to the wheel of progress” all through its period in office. However, political analysts in other quarters, believed that having the three arms of government with varying ideas on how the nation should progress is good for democracy as opposed to a “rubber-stamp” National Assembly.

However, when the 8th National Assembly finally concluded its tenure this year, there were more mixed reviews on the outcome of its performance. To put things into more perspective for criticism and verdict, a new research study on the assembly, conducted by an independent body, Centre for Legislative Engagement (an initiative of YIAGA AFRICA) was released last week; and the research has been making the rounds in the media and civil society space. The comprehensive report basically laid bare how the immediate past National Assembly performed in its core mandates of Legislation, Representation and Oversight. From the records available, this is the first and only comprehensive research that has been able to analyse the performance of any Legislature since the emergence of Nigeria’s democracy in 1999.

While the Saraki-Dogara led National Assembly might have been judged by its toxic relationship with the Executive in some quarters, this new research drew a verdict on the 8th National assembly through the quality of legislations it passed in the span of its time in office. In addition, the research also utilized key yardsticks such as legislations, constituency representation, and oversight functions of the legislature on the Executive and Judiciary. The study also utilized a  very key measuring tool of assessment, which has no doubt been relegated to the background in recent times—“constituency activities and the implementation of projects by lawmakers”.

The research, led by the former chairman of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Professor Attahiru Jega, credited the 8th NASS to have introduced 2,166 bills, while passing 515 pieces of legislations—this in itself is a record in the history of Nigeria’s democracy. Although many of the legislations are yet to be assented to by the President, the 8th Assembly has nonetheless been hailed for this feat.

It is also noteworthy that although landmark bills like the age reduction bill—now popularly called the Not Too Young To Run Act—was passed and assented to during the four-year period, the age running limit for senatorial and Gubernatorial offices were sustained for reasons best known to the leaders of the 8th assembly. This is no doubt a major dent on a legislation that was so revolutionary and worthy of praise, it was deemed historic and even spurred other African youths on, to begin a similar ‘Not Too Young To Run’ political movement in their own country.

Furthermore, despite the feat of the highest number of bills passed, the research study noted that poor quality of bills resulted from a lack of legislative proficiency and pre-legislative scrutiny. In addition, lawmakers remained notorious for abandoning their constituents until another election circle comes around. It is for this reason that the 8th NASS was rated poorly in terms of providing quality representation especially with respect to core components of representation such as visits and meetings with constituents, establishment and management of constituency offices, responses to constituents’ demands, attraction and execution of constituency projects, and communication with constituents.

It is imperative that the current National Assembly learns from its predecessors especially in the area passing better bills with quality and impact. There is need for the 9th NASS to entrench Pre-Legislative Scrutiny as a norm for all proposed legislations (whether executive or private member bills) except in circumstances where the legislation needs to be fast-tracked because of a national emergency or some other exceptional urgency.

This way, legislative proposals will be enriched because of consultations with practitioners, experts and all other stakeholders, before they are introduced in the legislature. The National Assembly as recommended should consider creating a Legislative Standards Committee to oversee the pre-legislative scrutiny process. The committee will serve as a gateway through which all bills would have to pass for quality control to progress to first reading.

There is also a need for the 9th National Assembly, and subsequent assemblies, to be more open and transparent as regards relations with the Nigerian citizens. This, according to the report, can be achieved through collaborations with citizen-groups to develop a framework for the conduct of public hearings in the National Assembly.

Importantly, the report advised Legislators to establish functional constituency offices that are not only accessible but also well-staffed and equipped. The NASS-leadership should compel legislators to provide periodic reports on constituency engagement and constituency office management. Legislators need to do more in terms of visits, meetings and communication with their constituents. Legislators should also take advantage of technology and social media to give an account of their stewardship.

Moshood Isah

Media Officer YIAGA AFRICA

Tweets @Moshoodpm

Members of Bounce Corruption Integrity Club after first integrity summit

Bounce Corruption Public Integrity Club Holds Summit in University of Jos

Having sprung from a nationwide public integrity debate organised by YIAGA AFRICA’s Bounce Corruption project, 2 years ago, Public Integrity Club, University of Jos chapter, organised its first integrity summit on the 11th and 12th of October, titled “The Paradigm Shift”. The club has fostered engagements to change the face of accountability in student leadership in University of Jos, thereby heralding a new crop of student and community leaders in the nearest future.

The summit was well attended by students, lecturers and other civil society organisation like Connected Development (CODE), Jos Toastmasters Club, with representatives from YIAGA AFRICA, CHANGEMAKERS AFRICA, including Professor Nnamdi Aduba, a Professor of Law at the University of Jos.

In his introductory address, Program Personnel of YIAGA AFRICA under the accountability and justice program, Michael Agada emphasised the impact of informed choices and technology in redefining leadership in our tertiary institutions, particularly as it relates to student union governance, noting that “we must continue to insist on innovations in student leaderships across board, as well as come to terms with the realisation that acts such as corruption, exam malpractices, alcoholism, cultism, drug abuse, self-indulgence, thuggery, intolerance to diversity and the likes, have been more or less responsible for a failed or faulty transition to young generation of leaders”.

He also reminded the students that it is possible to end corruption in their immediate community and Nigeria at large. But to achieve that, it is important to first change their mentality, habits, and actions. Participating students and club members were also admonished to be the change that they desire to see in our institutions and the country at large, as this is what it entails to be found worthy in character and of learning.

See more pictures below.

Members of the Public Integrity Club, University of Jos chapter

Nnamdi Aduba, Professor of Law and Board Member, YIAGA AFRICA

Summit Flyer

Professor Nnamdi Aduba and Program Assistant, YIAGA AFRICA (Accountability and Justice Department) with Club Excos

Research team led by Jega, EU Ambassador and research team at the unveiling of NASS scored card

YIAGA AFRICA Performance Assessment Score 8th Assembly High on Legislation, Low on Representation

The Immediate past 8th National Assembly has been rated high with regards to the number of legislations passed during its legislative period while being rated poorly in terms of providing quality representation especially with respect to core components of representation such as visits and meetings with constituents, establishment and management of constituency offices, responses to constituents’ demands, attraction and execution of constituency projects, and communication with constituents. This was contained in a comprehensive Performance Assessment Score Card of the 8th National Assembly  released by YIAGA AFRICA Centre of Legislative Engagement (YIAGA AFRICA CLE) on Friday 4th October 2019.

According to the report presented by the Former Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Professor Attahiru Jega said, the 8th Assembly introduced a total of 2,166 bills, out of which 515 pieces of legislation were passed. Out of the 515 bills passed, 80 (15.5%) received presidential assent while 53 were rejected as others awaiting assent even though there was no figure regarding the number of bills transmitted to the President for assent. The Senate passed a total of 172 bills while the House of Representatives passed 343 bills within the same period. The report also revealed that, over the same period, 15 Bills were withdrawn while 33 were ‘negatived’- killed. However, compared to the 7th National Assembly, which passed a total of 205 Bills out of a total of 1367 introduced, the 8th National Assembly was far better, the report suggests.

With 21 Constitutional Amendment bills passed and five assented to including landmark bills including the North East Development Commission Bill and Not Too Young to Run Bill, among others. This according to Jega who is also the lead researcher of the initiative is far better than any other National Assembly considering the antagonistic relationship between the Assembly and the Executive during the period.

The report also reveals a high level of increase in the number of private members bill, which accounted for 95.8% of all Bills introduced during the 8th National Assembly. The House of Representatives accounted for 65% of this category of Bills, albeit due to its numerical strength over the Senate. However, some of these Bills generally classified as Private Member Bills, though sponsored by legislators, were actually initiated by Professional Associations and Civil Society Organisations, including the Not Too Young To Run Bill.  This not only shows that civil society organisations have a significant impact on law-making efficiency in the 8th National Assembly, but also underscores its positive disposition to participatory law making.

However, report suggested that, the ratings are not as encouraging with respect to core components of representation such as visits and meetings with constituents, establishment and management of constituency offices, responses to constituents’ demands, attraction and execution of constituency projects, and communication with constituents. The 8th National Assembly reportedly performed poorly and below expectations in these areas as there was generally poor knowledge about the existence of constituency offices. But for the few who expressed awareness of such offices, their perception of functionality was damning.

“Access to these offices was rated to be poor. Performance in terms of attraction and execution of constituency projects was also poorly rated and generally considered to be below average in both chambers. It is either much was not done in this regard or limited or no awareness/publicity was created by the legislators about such interventions. But, the 8th National Assembly was rated to be responsive to constituents’ demands in multiple forms either directly or indirectly through their aides or party leaders.”, the report says.

Meanwhile, in terms of oversight, the 8th National Assembly was found to have excelled in some areas but performed below expectations in some others. Whereas some Committees were found to be very active (as indicated by the number of meetings, oversight activities undertaken and Bills/Motions considered), a few others were moderately active, while the rest were relatively inactive. Among the active committees were Senate Committee on Appropriation, which held over 79 meetings (ranging between 9 and 36 per session), considered four (4) Bills and four (4) Motions. Its counterpart in the House of Representatives held over 300 regular hearings with MDAs.

In this vein, YIAGA AFRICA CLE recommend that, as a lesson to the current 9th Assembly, the National Assembly should improve the quality of legislative oversight by establishing minimum benchmarks/ targets for committee meetings and oversight work in line with the assembly’s legislative agenda. Failure to meet those targets should attract sanctions. The report also urged Legislative committees to uphold the principles of integrity, professionalism, transparency and mutual respect in the performance of oversight functions.

It also recommends that 9th Assembly committees should work closely with civil society groups in performing their oversight functions as Civil society groups provide valuable resources and evidence for improving the quality of legislative oversight. Amongst other recommendations, it urged National Assembly should prioritise adequate funding for committees, which is pivotal to effective legislation and oversight. Further to this, the NASS should ensure transparency and accountability for funds allocated to committees, the report warned.

The National Assembly have also been urged to  improve the quality of bills passed by the National Assembly, the NASS should entrench Pre-Legislative Scrutiny as a norm for all proposed legislations (whether executive or private member bills) except in circumstances where the legislation needs to be fast-tracked because of a national emergency or some other exceptional urgency.

This way, legislative proposals will be enriched as a result of consultations with practitioners, experts and all other stakeholders, before they are introduced in the legislature. The National Assembly as recommended should consider creating a Legislative Standards Committee to oversee the pre-legislative scrutiny process. The Committee will serve as a gateway through which all bills would have to pass for quality control in order to progress to first reading.

There is need for the 9th National Assembly along with subsequent assemblies to be more open and transparent in its relations with the citizens. This according to the report can be achieved via collaborations with citizens groups to develop a framework for the conduct of public hearings in the National Assembly. Importantly, the report advised Legislators to establish functional constituency offices that is not only accessible, but also well-staffed and equipped. The NASS leadership should compel legislators to provide periodic reports on constituents’ engagement and constituency office management. Legislators need to do more in terms of visits, meetings and communication with their constituents. Legislators should take advantage of technology and social media to give an account of their stewardship, the report says.

 

Download Full Report

Performance Assessment Score Card of the 8th National Assembly

Bounce Corruption Changemakers and facilitators after a 2-day training on social audit

YIAGA AFRICA Trains 34 Change Makers on Budget Tracking, Assessment

With change makers, there are neither male nor female, just champions. In ensuring efficient institutions, young change makers need not only champion accountability and transparency efforts at higher levels but most importantly fix their binoculars at the grassroots in their communities. As the adage goes ‘he who wears the shoe knows where it pinches most’ hence young people need to be at the frontline in ensuring sustainable infrastructural development in their societies.

In light of this, YIAGA AFRICA saw an opportunity to empower young change makers in such grassroots communities through its #BounceCorruption Lab aimed at building the capacity of young people on how to understand a budget, analyze a budget and conduct social audits. It is likely that young people may know little or more about the federal and state budget but when it comes to the Local Government level, they are either not aware of its existence or how it translates to the development they see around them if any at all.

From the 25th of September to the 28thof September 2019 in Nigeria’s city of Jos which interestingly is where YIAGA AFRICA was birthed, the Accountability and Social Justice team through the Bounce Corruption Project, brought together 36 young people from 16 States in Nigeria for a 3-day #BounceCorruption Lab workshop. The BounceCorruption Changemakers as they are now famously called learnt the theoretic and practice of tracking and analyzing their Local Government budget and also the tools and resources needed to carry out social audit to that effect.

This is possibly the first of its kind that specifically focused on the Local Governments. “It is important for us to look at the grassroots and raise young people who can serve as change agents and inspiration for other young people in the society,” said Tracy Keshi, Programs Officer for YIAGA AFRICA’s Accountability and Social Justice Department.

Tracy Keshi at the opening ceremony in said the project complements the efforts of state and non-state actors in the fight against corruption through effective citizen oversight and mobilising action for good governance. Keshi said; “a lot of focus has been on the national budget so we want to build the capacity of young people to conduct social audits and to hold their leaders to account. The search light is now on the local government level and at the end of the day the young people become young anti-corruption change makers.”

Earlier, the Chairman of the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC), Prof. Bolaji Owasanoye said the Commission considers its relationship with YIAGA as a very essential campaign aimed at promoting zero tolerance for corruption, impunity and social injustice. Owasanoye who was represented by the State Commissioner for Bauchi, Abubakar Dutsinma said, “the things that currently matters now includes the war against corruption.”

In giving the welcome address, Abubakar Abdullahi Dutsinma, State Commissioner Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC) Bauchi State who was representing the Chairman ICPC stated his delight that the commission is working together with an organization such as YIAGA AFRICA who is relentless in the fight against corruption. He stated his willingness of the commission to support the change makers in providing transparency in budget spending at their local communities.

“we want to equip you with the tools to effect even small changes” Mr. Ezenwa Nwagu the Executive Director of Peering Advocacy and Advancement Centre in Africa, PAACA and Co-convener, SAYNO Campaign said during his session on Social Accountability and the Role of Citizens where he emphasized that for the #BCChangemakers to be socially accountable, they must first be aware of themselves and their environment. He further stated that the workshop will help the young change makers create the demand for interventions and increase access to services.

Using existing Local Government budgets as sample, the change makers learnt how to analyze the budget of a Local Government Area and pinpoint areas where oversight functions should be focused on. Mr. Ikenna-Donald Ofoegbu, the Project Coordinator of The Heinrich Boll Foundation, Nigeria and an expert on budget analysis facilitated the practical session where he broke down the frameworks for budget analysis, the calculations involved and how to give a narrative story that explains the findings in an engaging manner.

Social audit often deals with comparing government documents and looks at experiences and facts relating to specific projects and programs and Safiya Bichi, Head of Research and M&E at YIAGA AFRICA explained the four stakeholders critical to conducting social audit; community, organized civil society, government and the private sector. Michael Agada a member of the Accountability and Social Justice team strengthened further the tools and resources needed to effectively carry out social audits.

Other sessions that benefited the young change makers is the session that explained the need in understanding how public narratives can be used in mobilization and evoke social action where Efemena Ozugha, YIAGA AFRICA’s Programs personnel narrated the story of self, us and now as a tool to inspire and motivate people to action and also the session on the effects of corruption to governance and community development facilitated by the Accountability and Social Justice, Programs Officer, Tracy Keshi.

Lead by the Bounce Corruption Radio Ambassador, Plateau State, Mr. Bello Lukman, the media which serves as the watchdog of government and public service was present to amplify and make visible the efforts of these young change makers and among which where; Daily Trust, The Sun, Unity FM Radio, Daily Times and Sky News Africa.

Paying a friendly visit during the workshop, YIAGA AFRICA’s Board Member, Professor Nnamdi Aduba said that he felt a rising of hope seeing that these young people are committed to strengthening public institutions in Nigeria at the lowest level.

“If you really want to lead, you must be an example and show others that things can be different,” he said during his brief remarks as he ensured them of YIAGA AFRICA’s availability to provide support as they embark on their journey to promote accountability and foster transparency at their various Local Government Areas.

WTV Training Manager Paul James Speaking on WTV hour in Bayelsa

WatchingTheVote Hour Empowers Citizens to Engage Electoral Process- YIAGA AFRICA

The Watching The Vote Hour election program on Peoples FM Bayelsa and Prime FM Kogi is aimed to empower citizens in both states to engage the electoral process while making informed decision, YIAGA AFRICA has said. The Civic Advocacy  hub through its Watching The Vote (WTV) project has reiterated its commitment to see that citizens especially prospective voters in both Bayelsa and Kogi State, make informed decisions ahead of the November 16 Governorship elections in the states through constant engagement on Radio and other communication channels.

Speaking during the second episode of the weekly radio program; WTV Hour on Peoples FM Yenagoa, Training Manager Paul James said, the election circle are chained from the Pre-election activities up to the post-election period thus it behooves on the citizens to participate in the process right from the pre-election period. During the one hour program, Paul James emphasized the importance of the pre-election environment and why citizens need to engage the process saying the pre-election activities by stakeholders will go a long way in determining the credibility of the process.

According to him, YIAGA AFRICA has deployed 21 Long Term Observers who are currently observing prelection activities like Voter Education, Party campaigns, Activities of marginalised group amongst other activities which include the early warning indicators of electoral violence. He urged people of Bayelsa to track political parties’ campaign and manifestoes in order to be able to make informed decision.

“YIAGA AFRICA will be sharing its pre-election report with stakeholders like the electoral commission, Security agencies, Civil Society Organisations, Media and the citizens. This according to him will enable stakeholders take the right decisions ahead of the election. For instance, when we detect violent indicators, hate speech or any flash point during this period, we immediately escalate to security agencies so they can nib it in the bud as soon as possible”, he said.

He said, Long Term Observers currently residents in Local Government of observation, are observing pre-election activities around their Local Government. On election day however, observers will be deployed to sampled polling units and will remain stationary till the end of the election day process. This election day observation methodology is known as the Parallel Vote Tabulation which is the gold standard for election observation across the world.

Listeners have continued to make more inquiry about the process with questions around the collection of Permanent Voters Card and replacement of lost ones. Prospective Voters also inquired about the PVT methodology and why it makes use of estimates rather than actual figures. Reacting to this, Paul reiterate that the PVT focus on quality data and provides accurate  information on the  electoral process from the commencement of polls to the announcement of election results saying PVT only verifies election results announced by the electoral Commission.

 

INEC Officials visited the WTV training of Long Term Observers in Kogi

Bayelsa/Kogi Polls: YIAGA AFRICA Trains, Deploys 48 Long Term Observers

…..To Observe Voter Education, Violent Indicators, Hate Speech, other Pre-election Activities

The Bayelsa and Kogi elections is anticipated to be keenly contested, with a lot of expectations from all election stakeholders and it becomes pertinent to engage the process from the pre-election period. Having Observed the Political party primaries in both Bayelsa and Kogi and States, YIAGA AFRICA’s Watching The Vote (WTV) project has concluded that training and has deployed 48 Long Term Observers (LTO) to observe the pre-election environment. Out of the 48 Long terms observers who all resident of the Local Government they are observing from, 21 are deployed in Bayelsa State 27 are deployed in Kogi State.

The Long Term Observers are also expected to recruit polling unit observers from sampled polling units that will observe the governorship election on November 16th, in both states. The Long Term observes who also double as Local Government Supervisors are deployed to each of the 8 Local Government Areas in the Bayelsa State and the 21 Local government areas in Kogi State to report on events, activities and critical incidents using a specialized checklist and critical incident form. The observation reports from the field are sent in form of coded SMS to the WTV Data Center bi-weekly commencing from September 13th, 2019, while the critical incidents are sent in as they occur and properly escalated after verification.

YIAGA AFRICA’S Watching The Vote Pre-Election observers will observe issues related to the; activities of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) ranging from recruitment and training of ad hoc personnel, identification of polling units, meeting with stakeholders, voter education and information campaigns to the collection and distribution of Permanent Voters Card, activities of political parties like rallies and campaigns, activities relating to security agencies and incidents capable of undermining the electoral process. Pre-election observers will also observe and report Voter information campaigns by National Orientation Agency (NOA) and other Civil Society Organisations.

At YIAGA AFRICA, we believe and promote social justice and inclusiveness thus voter education and campaigns targeted specifically at Youths, Women and Persons With Disabilities (PWDs) will be followed closely and duly reported by Observers during the pre-election period. Even as political parties launch their campaigns across the state, our election observation team are interested in campaigns and rallies associated to various political parties while also observing if youths, women and PWDs are also in anyway canvassing for votes.

Through the Pre-Election observation, YIAGA AFRICA will track early warning signs and any form of incident that can hinder the successful conduct of the elections. In this vein, WTV pre-elections observers will observe and report issues relating to hate speech campaigns, intimidation and harassment of any electoral stakeholder and attacks on media or INEC officials. LTOs will also report government restrictions on political activities or unjustifiable military influx into the state. This will enable YIAGA AFRICA to verify and report this information to relevant authorities for proper action. Pre-elections observation findings will be shared to the public via various channels of communication including social media.

As a civic hub dedicated to the promotion of electoral integrity and credible elections and as an INEC accredited observer group, YIAGA AFRICA will also be deploying citizens’ observers to observe the Election Day activities. YIAGA AFRICA invites the people of Bayelsa and Kogi States, Election Stakeholders and citizens to follow the pre-election observation report and engage using the findings of the reports.

Signed

Samson Itodo

YIAGA Africa, Executive Director

 

WTV HOUR IN KOGI AND BAYELSA

Kogi/Bayelsa Polls: YIAGA AFRICA Engages Citizens on Prime FM, Peoples FM

In a bid to continue to increase citizen participation in the electoral process, YIAGA AFRICA’s WatchingTheVote has  commence a citizen engagement radio program on Prime FM and Peoples FM in Kogi and Bayelsa states respectively. The Radio program tagged “Watching The Vote hour” kicked off on Prime FM 98.1 Kogi state every Thursday by 10am and also on Peoples FM 93.1 Bayelsa.

The programs are aimed to engage citizens and election stakeholders ahead of the upcoming Governorship elections in both Kogi and Bayelsa state. The Radio show will provide platform for citizens in the states to engage election stakeholders while discussing critical issues related to the upcoming elections.

The program became necessary because citizens should participate in the electoral process from an informed position and thus information about the electoral process should be disseminated to the public accordingly. Similarly, WTV hour will provide timely information on both the pre-election environment and the election day activities to counter misinformation and rumours.  Watching The Vote hour sponsored by Technical Partner, National Democratic Institute (NDI) with support from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the British Department for International Development (DFID) will also serve as platform for YIAGA AFRICA to share pre-election environment information to election stakeholders and citizens.

During the WTV Hour, officials from the Independent National Electoral Commission will be invited guest to provide information on how best citizens can engage the electoral process from an informed perspective. Also, the platform will provide avenue for INEC to tell the people of Bayelsa and Kogi their level of preparedness to conduct a credible poll. Citizens will also have the avenue to ask questions relating to the pre-election activities like Permanent Voters Card collection and other election day activities like commencement of polls amongst other information needed by citizens to ensure a participatory process.

Other Stakeholders like the security agency will also have opportunity to share security tips and other information to citizens through radio stations to further arm voters and help contribute to peaceful elections. Issues around Vote buying and selling will also be discussed by experts while proferring recommendations to listeners ahead of the election.