INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner Osun with WTV Team after training of LGA supervisor

Osun Polls: INEC Lauds Collaborative Effort as YIAGA Deploys Pre-election Observers

YIAGA AFRICA Watching The Vote was very excited to receive the Osun State Resident Electoral Commissioner of Independent National Electoral Commissioner (INEC), Mr. Olusegun Agbaje at our Training for Long Term Observers in Osun State.

Ahead of the September 22nd Governorship Elections in Osun State, YIAGA AFRICA has trained 31 Long Term Observers who will be observing the Pre-election Environment in the state. The Pre-election Observation will help YIAGA AFRICA detect early warning signals which may affect the credibility of the process.

During the training in Osogbo, the Honourable REC, Mr. Agbaje expressed appreciation to YIAGA AFRICA for her collaborative role with the commission over the years as part of efforts towards building a true and lasting democracy in Nigeria. The REC said “the collaborative efforts of Civil Society Organisations will in no small measure assist the Commission especially in the areas of knowledge sharing workshops, voter and civic education amongst other effort.

Quoting the REC “I therefore want to use this opportunity to commend the organisers of this very laudable training programme and also urge you to keep the flag the journey towards making INEC one of the best Election Management Bodies in the world that meets aspirations of the Nigerian people”.  The commission according to the REC will leverage on the support of critical stakeholders in ensuring that no stone is left unturned to ensure a credible, violent free, transparent and acceptable Governorship Election in Osun state.

As part of preparation for the September 22nd Governorship elections in Osun, INEC said it has accomplished milestones which includes distribution of 1,114,356 Permanent Voters Card (PVCs) representing 66.79 percent collection rate. The smart card reader has been enhanced which is also good news to curb any malpractice. YIAGA AFRICA is also glad that the commission has received non sensitive materials in time for the elections.

We are excited that INEC has decided to increase its voter education and public enlightenment campaign through critical stakeholders to tackle incidence of vote buying and selling. The Commissioner also told us they have engaged stakeholders in a bid to strengthen relationship with a view to sensitize them on the need to always play their roles effectively and positively.

Having Observed the Political party primaries in Osun State, YIAG AFRICA’s Watching The Vote (WTV) project has also trained and deployed 31 Long Term Observers (LTO) to observe the pre-election environment in Osun State. The Long-Term Observers are also expected to recruit polling unit observers from sampled polling units. The Long Term observes who also double as Local Government Supervisors were deployed to each of the 30 Local Government Areas in the 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 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 Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) ranging from voter education and information campaigns to the collection and distribution of Permanent Voters Card, activities of political parties like the 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 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.

While YIAGA AFRICA will be deploying 561 Observers for the Osun Governorship elections, the REC clarified that observers have the right to observe and collate facts while interpreting the facts against the laws governing elections and basic electoral standard. This according to Mr. Agbaje will enable observers to analyse if the elections met the threshold of credibility as defined by law.

YIAGA AFRICA is also excited that the electoral commission reiterated its commitment to continue to cooperate with us to fulfil its mandate as well as its vision, mission and values. As an organization we will continue to observe the process and give recommendations where necessary.

YIAGA AFRICA #WatchingTheVote (WTV), is a citizen-led election observation initiative aimed at enhancing the integrity of elections using technology and evidence-based research methodology tools for election observation. WTV is designed to promote credible election and boost citizen’s confidence in the electoral process through the provision of citizen’s oversight on elections through the electoral cycle

 

 

Signed

Samson  Itodo

Executive Director

YIAGA AFRICA

National Assembly Clerks after a training on Motion drafting and minute writing organised by YIAGA AFRICA

Legislative Motions Must Meet Aspiration of Nigerians – Expert Tells NASS

Legislative motions to be considered at both the Senate and House of Representatives must meet the yearnings and aspirations of Nigerians, a legislative expert, Barrister Ibrahim Usman has told the National Assembly. Barrister Ibrahim from the National Institute of Legislative and Development studies said this during a technical training organized by YIAGA AFRICA’s Centre of Legislative Engagement on Monday.

According to him, motions are important business that facilitate legislative practice and procedure saying they are often used on matters that do not require bill process. He further said that, motions should be well research and drafted to provide good basis of legislative resolution that may meet the yearnings and aspiration of Nigerians.

As part of its effort to promote democracy and enhance capacity of Committee Staff and Lawmakers of National Assembly to effectively discharge their legislative function in compliance with democratic principles and standards, YIAGA AFRICA’s Centre of Legislative Engagement on Monday conducted technical training on motion drafting and minute writing for the clerks of six committees of the National assembly. The training which was held in Abuja had 12 staff of various committees which includes house committees of youth, house committee on women affairs

Speaking during the training, Senior Program Officer of YIAGA AFRICA’s CLE, Yetunde Bakare said the aim of the training is to build the capacity of staff of the various committees in motion drafting and minute writing to ensure more effective work of the committees and strengthening the institutional memory of the National Assembly especially in documentation. According to Mrs. Bakare, YIAGA AFRICA’s CLE with the Support of the European Union through its EU Support to Democratic Governance in Nigeria (EU-SDGN) project had initially organized an induction workshop, inviting clerks from the six committees to identify their capacity building needs and discuss their priorities.

According to her, every committee identified training in information and communications technology (ICT) as an urgent need. “In-line with the demand driven approach of the project, this workshop was requested by Committees staff who are beneficiaries to address the capacity gap.”, she said.

While discussing the importance of minute writing especially to the National assembly, Dr Habila Amos urged heads of committees at the National assembly to always adopt and sign minute of meetings as it remains the only surviving record of the meeting. He further warned that the level of implementation of training of this nature largely depends on the willingness of leaders of public service to put working for the nation above personal interest.

Appreciating YIAGA AFRICA for the initiative, participants said the training was timely as it will aide better discharge of their responsibilities as National Assembly Clerks. According to the Clerk of Constituency Outreach committee of the House representatives, Lauratu Mohammed Idris, the training will give opportunity to evaluate and improve the operations of the state of National Assembly resolution implementation.

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TRIUMPHING KANO: INEC CAMPUS OUTREACH #YOUTHVOTESCOUNT (KANO)

It was a balmy morning in the city of Kano on the 7th of August 2018; the skies were crystal-blue and puffy with white clouds. But the atmosphere was bubbling with excitement as all roads literally led to Bayero University, where the third instalment of the INEC Campus Outreach #YouthVotesCount was set to take place. Supported by the European Union and also in partnership with ECES, EU-SDGN and YIAGA Africa, the first two outreaches had successfully taken place in the cities of Abuja and Lagos, which technically covered the North Central and Southwest, it was imperative for the Northwest to come next, and Kano ended up being the chosen city. And as the first two, it promised to be anything else but thrilling!

The hall was brimming with students even before the panellists arrive. Students filled the seats, and outside at the registration booth, a crowd stood waiting to be registered for their PVCs. It was indeed, a welcoming scene as it was clear that youths are getting more engaged and interested in the electoral process, eager to be a part of the conversation about elections and governance in Nigeria.  With the 2019 elections evidently close, the need for the re-education and enlightenment of the elections, democracy in Nigeria and how the youths play a very important role in its continuance and development is needed. This is why the INEC Campus Outreach is necessary—to create the conversation, interact with youths, and encourage them to utilize their right and power to vote and make a difference in Nigeria’s governance.

The panellists/ lined up for Kano were the popular award winner artist and songwriter, Korede Bello, Kannywood actress and INEC Ambassador Nafisat Abdullahi and actor Yakub Mohammed El-Yakub. Moderated by Gimba Umar, the award winning Broadcast Journalist of Channels Television, the session began with the welcome addresses from the Vice Chancellor of Bayero University, Kano. This was closely followed by the goodwill messages from the German Ambassador to Nigeria, Ambassador Dr Benard Schlagheck and the Deputy Ambassador of the European Union (EU) Delegation to Nigeria and to ECOWAS etc. Finally, the Keynote Address was given by a representative of the INEC Chairman, Professor Mahmood Yakubu.

But the moment of the day came through—when the panellists took over the stage to interact with the students about the power of the PVC and the electoral process. They began with the reasons why the Permanent Voters Card (PVC) was necessary, and why each youth had to get them to enable them go out and vote in 2019. “Change cannot come to you in your house or while you are on your couches, you must go out and effect that change,” Nafisat Abdullahi said. She went ahead to say that no amount of money is worth anyone’s vote, and encouraged to youths to turn away from vote-selling/buying.

Yakub Mohammed El-Yakub quipped in the imperative need for youths to put all sentiments aside while choosing a candidate to vote for in elections. “Vote for whomever you feel will do the right job, irrespective of his/her political party,” he said to the crowd. He also stressed the need for youths to disengage from all sorts of electoral violence.

Lastly, Korede Bello gave some insightful words about the re-education of youths to know their rights as citizens, and the right they have to vote in a free and fair election for a democratic state. “Even more valid than getting PVCs is the need for young people to know their rights. Young people must be educated on the power of their votes.” He also stated that such right is also a constitutional right. “Getting your PVC goes beyond getting it just to vote. It is a constitutional right; a right to a better life, a better future and a better Nigeria. Next, the student volunteers made the pledge to champion the cause of PVC education in Bayero University, and to get other students involved in the conversations. As the event wound down to its closing remarks, one could glean that indeed, Kano is ready to make #YouthVotesCount!

 

 

Not Too Young To Run leads March to demand Youth Candidacy

Not Too Young to Run Movement Leads National Day of Action to demand Youth Candidacy, Democratic Party Primaries

Yesterday, Wednesday 8th August 2013, The Not Too Young To Run movement along with Young People across 33 states and Federal Capital Territory Marched to major political parties in Nigeria. The March tagged National Day of Action on Youth Candidacy and Democratic Party Primaries saw thousands of Nigerian youths move in their numbers to demand level playing ground which also include reduction of cost of nomination forms.

Speaking at the National Day of Action, Convener of the Not-Too-Young-To-Run Movement, Mr Samson Itodo said any party that seeks the support of the youth in 2019 must do three things. According to him, they must take intentional steps to assist young people and women with disability who are seeking to run.

Samson Itodo addressing the media during the National Day of action on Youth Candidacy

”Political parties party must also reduce the cost for ruining for office and cost for nomination ”And finally, Nigerian youth want democratic and direct primaries,” he said. According to Mr Itodo, direct primaries would enhance the opportunity and the chances for young people and women with disabilities to run for political positions. He further said that there should not be imposition of candidates and automatic tickets to candidates, adding that it limits the chances of young people and women, as well as person’s with disabilities

The All Progressive Congress national treasurer, Adamu Panda, said the party has already met with 75 per cent of the demands of the group.He said the APC is the only political party which has not only given people with disabilities opportunity to contest elections at all levels but has also made their nomination free of charge.

“Nothing says what a sixty year old can do an eighteen year old can not do better. Nigeria belongs to all of us. ”Any nation that discards the youth is doing so at is own peril. ”As the party in power that sought the bill and signed the bill and it has now become a law in this country. Itodo said that the call became imperative because there were challenges hampering youths’ participation in spite of the signing into law of the age reduction bill.

According to him, the bill cannot be a reality if political parties don’t give young people who have the capacity, competence and character the opportunity to pick tickets. He said the movement also wants the parties to reduce the cost of nomination forms and running for primary election.

“This is our time. No ticket to young people, no youth votes. We want to see young people in the state Houses of Assembly, House of Reps, Senate, governors and even the presidency.” Itodo said that the movement consisted of over 50 youth groups in the country and would mobilize 50 million youths to vote against any party that failed to keep to the demands of the group.

Another key  member of the movement and founder of Connected Development, Hamzat Lawal, also highlighted that 2019 is centred around young people.”Presently in Nigeria, we have 68 political parties that do not create any enabling environment for youth in this country. ”The youth would not vote for any party that does not accommodate the young men and women in Nigeria and we would mobilise over 50 million Nigerian youth to not vote for them.”

“The group took time out to lead a procession to the national headquarters of the leading parties to urge them to operationalise the Not –Too- Young -To -Run law for the sake of young people. “The movement is demanding that political parties reserve tickets for young people with character, capacity and competence ahead of the 2019 general elections. “We are also demanding for 298 tickets out of the available 900 tickets for the Houses of Assembly election nationwide and 109 tickets out of the available 360 tickets for the House of Representatives elections nationwide.

“We are asking political parties to prescribe and enforce spending limits for party nomination fees, charges and cost for nomination of young candidates.” Mr Hamzat Lawal, another convener of the Movement, said that the group recognized that high cost of forms undermined youths.

Lawal said that that there was need for political parties to prescribe and enforce spending limits for party nomination fees and charges, adding that the cost of nomination forms should not exceed N2,000,000 for presidential aspirant.

According to him, the movement highlighted intended cost for picking nomination forms which is N2, 000, 000 for presidential aspirant, N1, 000, 000 for governorship aspirant and N600, 000 for senatorial aspirant.

He said that for state house of assembly aspirant, the form should be N200,000 while that of House of Representatives aspirant should be N400, 000.

He said that political parties should adopt transparent, democratic and direct party primaries in the candidate selections process for the 2019 general elections.

Responding on behalf of the All Progressives Congress (APC), National Working Committee (NWC), Mr Adamu Fanda, National Treasurer, said that the party was already acting on two of the demands of the group.

Fanda said that APC was the only party that did not only give persons with disability opportunity to contest but made nomination forms free for women.

He said that it was time to practice an inclusive system in Nigeria because the country belonged to everybody, adding that youths had the highest demography in Nigeria and therefore could not be ignored.

“I will convey your message to the party on the issue of reduction in nomination forms because your other demands have been met by the party except the fees.

“I assure you that youths will be carried along in the party under the leadership of Adams Oshiomhole, who is an activists and a freedom fighter so your demands would be looked into,’’ he said

JOIN THE NATIONAL DAY OF ACTION ON YOUTH CANDIDACY AND DEMOCRATIC PARTY PRIMARIES

Dear

On behalf of the Not Too Young To Run Movement, I write to thank you for supporting the Campaign from inception till now. Following the powerful Not Too Young To Run campaign, the Nigerian constitution was amended to reduce the age for running for elective office in Nigeria. The signing into law of the legislation addresses a major impediment to youth participation in politics. Whilst this is a remarkable feat, the goal of achieving increased youth representation in elective offices will remain a dream if other barriers are not removed.

As you are aware, the proposal for independent candidacy failed at the State Houses of Assembly, leaving young aspirants with no option but to turn to political parties as a vehicle for actualizing their political aspirations. Judging from experience, the candidate selection process in most political parties is undemocratic. This poses a threat to the vision of the Not Too Young To Run campaign. Based on the timetable issued by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), party primaries are expected to commence as from August 18, 2018. To this end, the movement will be engaging political parties to make the following demands;

  1. Open and transparent direct party primaries
  2.     Party tickets to young men and women for all elective offices
  3. Limit fees and charges for party nomination

The movement declared August 8, 2018 as the National Day of Action on Youth Candidacy and Democratic Party Primaries. We will be organizing a march to the National and state offices of political parties to press the demands highlighted above.

The National Day of Action is NOT a protest, but is a peaceful citizen engagement with political parties as they prepare to hold primary elections to select candidates for the 2019 general elections. Security will be provided at the National Day of Action in Abuja and all the states.

 

I, on behalf of millions of citizens and supporters of the Movemment, invite you to join us in Abuja at the City Park, 136 Adetokunbo Ademola Crescent, Wuse II by 8:00am and in across the 36 states as we engage with the leadership of political parties at the national and state level.

 

Visit: http://yiaga.org/nottooyoungtorun/events/ for details of the National Day Action across the states.

 

Kindly contact Ibrahim Faruk on 08086988636/07037879209 or via email on [email protected] for further enquiries.

 

History beckons on us to rise up and defend our democracy. I hope you will answer this call.

 

Yours in struggle,

 

Samson Itodo

Convener – Not Too Young To Run Movement

 

Osun Governorship Election: YIAGA Parleys Media, to deploy 561 Observers

YIAGA AFRICA’s WatchingTheVote on Wednesday hosted a round table discussion with media team in Osun state to discuss its election observation deployment plan for the upcoming September 22nd Governorship Elections in the State.

During the Roundtable discussion held in Osogbo, WTV project director said, YIAGA AFRICA will deploy 500 stationary,  31 mobile citizen observers and 30 collation observers to a representative random sample of 250 polling units across all 30 local government areas (LGAs) of Osun.  According Ms Mbamalu, the comprehensive observation of the September 2018 Osun State Election includes a  systematic observation of voting and counting at a representative random sample of polling using the Parallel Vote Tabulation methodology and employing information and communication technologies (ICTs) to rapidly transmit observer reports.

She said ‘the sample is carefully constructed by a trained statistician to ensure every LGA is included proportionally in the sample. The number of sampled polling units for each LGA is therefore based on the percentage of polling units and registered voters in that LGA’

Also speaking at the Round Table discussion is Training Manager of the WTV Paul James who said, the PVT is an advanced Election Day observation methodology that uses well-established statistical principles and sophisticated information technology.  “PVT provide the most timely and accurate information on the conduct of voting and counting, and is the only observation methodology that can independently verify the accuracy of official Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) election results”, he said

“The PVT allows YIAGA AFRICA #WatchingTheVote to present an accurate and comprehensive assessment of the Election Day processes, such as whether election officials follow proper procedures, the presence and behavior of party agents, secrecy of the vote, and transparency of the counting process”, James explained

According to James, YIAGA AFRICA will be providing  independent information to voters, candidates, political parties, and INEC about whether the official results for the Osun Elections truly reflect the ballots cast at polling units and to.

“If INEC’s official results fall within YIAGA’s estimated range, then the public, political parties and candidates should have confidence that the official results reflect the ballots cast at polling units. If the official results do not reflect the ballots cast, #WatchingTheVote will expose it”, he said.

He however clarified that, #WatchingTheVote is not an exit poll saying no voter is asked for whom he/she voted as the initiative only uses the official results as announced and posted at polling units.

Pre-election Manger Safiya further highlighted that YIAGA AFRICA will also be observing the Pre-election environment to give early warning signals in order to prevent break down of law and order.   According Bichi, this  involve a comprehensive observation of the pre-election period  beginning with voter registration, tracking of early warning signs, activities of INEC, political parties candidate nominations and rallies and other election stakeholders, using advanced observation methodologies.

‘YIAGA AFRICA #WatchingTheVote (WTV), is a citizen-led election observation initiative aimed at enhancing the integrity of elections using technology and evidence-based research methodology tools for election observation. WTV is designed to promote credible election and boost citizen’s confidence in the electoral process through the provision of citizen’s oversight on elections through the electoral cycle’, she concluded

NTYTR STRATEGY TEAM MEMBERS During a Press Conference on Youth Candidacy and Open Political Party Primaries

STATEMENT BY THE NOT TOO YOUNG TO RUN MOVEMENT ON THE NATIONAL DAY OF ACTION ON YOUTH CANDIDACY AND DEMOCRATIC PARTY PRIMARIES

 July 30, 2018

STATEMENT BY THE NOT TOO YOUNG TO RUN MOVEMENT ON THE NATIONAL DAY OF ACTION ON YOUTH CANDIDACY AND DEMOCRATIC PARTY PRIMARIES

Ladies and gentlemen of the press,

On July 27, 2018, the Not Too Young To Run movement celebrated one year of the historic passage of the Bill at the National Assembly. One year later the movement has not only achieved the amended of sections 65, 106 and 131 of the Constitution reducing the age to run for the respective electives offices but has also inspired a new wave of competent young men and women emerging as aspirants for the 2019 elections. The signing into law of the legislation addresses a major impediment to youth participation in politics. Whilst this is a remarkable feat, the goal of achieving increased youth representation in elective offices will remain a dream if other barriers are not removed. As a movement, we believe that the right to political participation is a constitutionally guaranteed right exercised through voting at elections or running for public office and until we have independent candidacy, political parties remain the only platform to exercise this right to political participation.

Political parties are therefore essential to democracy and the participation of young men and women as well as persons with disability and the lack of internal party democracy and high cost of party nomination continually undermines the emergence of youth (men and women) candidates in the 2019 general elections. WE remain resolute in our belief that increased representation of young men and women and persons with disability in political office will enhance the quality of democracy and governance;

Based on the timetable issued by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), party primaries are expected to commence as from August 18, 2018. To this end, the movement will be engaging political parties to make the following demands;

  1. That Political parties reserve party tickets for young men and women with character, capacity and competence disaggregated as follows;
  2. State House of Assembly Election
Geo-political zone Number of State Constituencies Requested No. of party tickets for youth
South West 176 53
South East 129 39
South South 160 48
North West 216 65
North East 156 47
North Central 153 46
TOTAL 990 298

 

  1. House of Representatives Election
Geo-political zone Number of Federal Constituencies Requested No. of party tickets for youths
South West 71 21
South East 43 13
South South 55 17
North West 92 28
North East 48 15
North Central 49 15
TOTAL 360 109

 

  1. That Political parties prescribe and enforce spending limits for party nomination fees and charges. The cost for nomination of candidates should not exceed;

 

  • House of Assembly Aspirant – N200,000
  • House of Representatives Aspirant – N400,000
  • Senatorial Aspirant – N600,000
  • Governorship Aspirant – N1,000,000
  • Presidential Aspirant – N2,000,000

 

  1. That Political parties should adopt open, transparent and direct party primaries in the candidate selection process for the 2019 elections

As part of our strategy, the movement has declared August 8, 2018 as the National Day of Action on Youth Candidacy and Democratic Party Primaries. We will be organizing a march to the National and state offices of political parties to press the demands highlighted above. The National Day of Action is a demands march to political parties as they prepare to hold primary elections to select candidates for the 2019 general elections.

The National Day of Action is scheduled to hold simultaneously in Abuja as well as the 36 states across the country on the same date.

We believe that election remains a mechanism for asserting our sovereignty as a people and we commit to mobilizing 50 million registered young men and women to collect their Permanent Voters Card (PVC) and vote in the 2019 elections.

We will also mobilize registered young voters to vote for parties that accede to our demands and uphold the principles of transparency and accountability in the candidate selection process.

As a movement of citizens committed to democratic development we recognize the value of political legitimacy in representative democracy, we commit to mobilizing citizens against all forms of voter inducement, electoral corruption and electoral violence.

The movement once again appreciates the President, National Assembly and State Assemblies for amending the constitution to reduce the age for running for office of the President to 35, House of Representatives, 25 and State Assemblies, 25.

We thank all the young organizers across the country who have remained resolute and have constantly engaged with their stakeholders to ensure the success of the Not Too Young To Run Movement, we thank the media, civil society, and our partners for the solidarity and support.

We invite you to join us at City Park Wuse 2 by 8:00am on 8 August 2018 in Abuja and at designated points across the 36 states of the country.

One Shared Value, One Shared Goal, #NOTTOOYOUNGTORUN

Our Shared Value, Our Shared Goal, #NOTTOOYOUNGTORUN

Plangret is a Zonal Program Officer with YIAGA AFRICA's WatchingThe Vote

Lessons from Ekiti and Implications for Osun, 2019 General Elections ­- Plangret Dabup

The just concluded Ekiti Governorship Election as expected has taken centre stage in Nigeria’s electoral discourse in recent times. The elections no doubt lived up to its pre-election hype partly due to the shared history between the flag bearers of both parties and the incumbent Governor.

Tensions are running high in the country due to the current political landscape with a lot of plotting and planning among the prominent parties and news of pending coalitions. Therefore, the Ekiti Election was expected to be a test of might be between the two prominent parties in the country.

The Ekiti Elections was a litmus test for the upgraded Smart Card readers to be used by Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) which was an improvement for the 2015 election where the public perceived that there was a lot of disenfranchisement due to the use of the smart card readers.

Prior to the election, there were various allegations and counter allegations of plans for electoral malpractice. Furthermore, there was the issue of the heavy security presence deployed to the state ahead of the elections. While the Federal Government maintained that it was to provide the much-needed security, some camps opined that it was a show of Federal might and misplaced priorities especially because there had been killings and insurgency in some parts of Nigeria and deploying security personnel there was more of a priority.

In the end, the election was held on July 14th 2018 and based on the Verification Statement of YIAGA AFRICA’s Watching the Vote, the conduct of INEC in the election was commendable save a few critical incidences.

The discourse that followed this election seemed more intense than the pre-election environment as there was public outcry concerning blatant and overt voter inducement allegedly carried out by the major political parties in the election.

Despite INEC announcing the results, the citizens believed the rate of vote buying should have invalidated the election because it would have manifestly affected the outcome of the election, though most of the evidence for such allegations has been considered anecdotal by certain observer groups. A coalition of observer groups has also come out to condemn the election based on these allegations.

Sequel to this, the party primary elections for the upcoming Osun Governorship election were recently held and the process was recorded as being peaceful though issues of voter inducement were also reported. While APC and SDP opted for the direct system of Primary Elections (where part members can vote for candidates of their choice), PDP maintained the indirect (delegate) system.

Against this backdrop, there are very salient issues that need to be addressed ahead of the upcoming Osun Governorship elections as well as the 2019 General Elections. There is need to restore the faith of citizens in the Electoral Commission thereby reduce voter apathy ahead of 2019 elections. Irrespective of the various upgrades and improvements made by INEC which were evident in the execution of the election, there are still allegations of collusion between INEC and the ruling party. This has gone ahead to reduce the confidence of the electorate in the Election Management Body (INEC) which is not good for our democracy.

Similarly, there is need to fathom a way to curb the trend of voter inducement in elections. It has become obvious that the upgrades made by INEC have made it difficult for election malpractice, thus financial inducement has become the alternative. However, this cannot be allowed to continue as it makes a mockery of our democracy.

More so, how can voter turnout be encouraged? Recent statistics by YIAGA AFRICA’s Watching The Vote, shows a slight increase on voter turnout from recent elections but there is still room for improvement.

Even though observer groups had a decent outing, there is need to standardize election observation to ensure that reports received from the field do not confuse the public and reflect the truth of what is happening in near real time. Furthermore, such reports should not undermine the powers of INEC to announce election results or preempt the results knowingly or unknowingly. This was a major issue as the picture that was being painted on social media by certain groups and individuals concerning the results being announced at the polling units differed from what was officially announced by INEC.

Plangret is a Zonal Program Officer with YIAGA AFRICA’s Watching The Vote

You reach her via [email protected]

Or @MrsDabzz  on twitter

 

3T3A6044

John Paul Mwirigi: A Story of Perseverance.

Written on the 29th June, 2018

The first aura you would get from John Paul Mwirigi is one of humility; a modesty that you may assume was brought about from shyness. He is young and lanky; average height with slender hands. His suit sits gracefully well on him as he takes his seat on the panel of the #NotToYoungToRun Celebration Conference. However, when he begins to speak, you can tell that even if this is a man of humble beginnings, this is also a man of the future, agile in his presence, shrewd in his words.

His story began from the mountains of Kenya, precisely at the foothills of Igembe South Local Government, where he represents as the MP of his constituency. Coming from a large family of eight, James’ interest in politics were piqued from a dream he had while in secondary school. According to this dream, he was tabling a motion in Parliament. With the spirit of hindsight, he began asking classmates and friends to campaign for him, as he know that one day, he will need their votes. That moment came in 2017, when he won the seat of representing his constituency as the age twenty-three (23), becoming the youngest MP in the history of Kenya and at best, African politics.

Sitting at #NotTooYoungToRun Celebration Conference, John Mwirigi tells his story in an articulated but emotional way. He talks about a strategy that worked for his campaign—engaging with the people on a personal level. He visited homes, walking there on foot until he began getting help from boda boda (the Kenyan word for okada motorcyclists), who would take him to his destinations. He sat on their porches with them, told them he was running for office and gave reasons why they should support and vote for him. This is one tactic of politics that is sometimes overlooked—that extra level of personal engagement with people. It goes beyond meagre providence of money, food or other things. It creates an atmosphere of familiarity with people and the constituencies, and leaves a sense of self with the people. And when you leave sense of yourself with people, they will always remember you.

“Social media as a tool for freedom of expression is key in facilitating young political aspirant’ meaningfully engage in political processes and should not be curtailed.”   

                                                                                    – John Mwirigi 

John Mwirigi’s rise victory is one that must be referred to in the future narrative of young African leaders who took the plunge to create a better future for their people. In such swift time, he showed that being rich or influential are secondary to the fundamentals of true politics, but being popular enough, connecting with the people one intends to represent, the people one promised to be their voice, always matters. And in his quaint voice came his resounding words of experience; “You do not have to be a billionaire to run for an elective office. All you need is potential and courage.”