Samson Itodo

INTERVIEW: 2019: Why we’re bringing 400 young candidates together for ‘The Convergence’ – Samson Itodo

The convener of the ‘Not Too Young To Run’ movement, Samson Itodo, alongside Cynthia Mbamalu, a founding member and project coordinator of the movement, recently visited PREMIUM TIMES ahead of a conference, The Convergence, which the movement is organising.

The conference, the first of its kind in Nigeria, hopes to bring together about 400 young candidates, across parties, for next year’s elections.

In this interview with PREMIUM TIMES’ QueenEsther Iroanusi and Kunle Sanni, Mr Itodo answers questions on the reasons for the conference, which holds between Monday and Wednesday, and what young candidates should expect from The Convergence.

PT: Why this workshop? Why is it important to bring these young candidates together?

The Convergence is about power, capacity and politics. It is the largest gathering of youth candidates who are running for elective offices in the 2019 general election.

The background to this was, first, with the ‘Not Too Young To Run’ and the success that was recorded, a lot of young people were inspired to actually run for offices because the constitution reduced the age for running for office.

Now, amongst the challenges that young people face when it comes to running for office, is the issue around the cost of politics, beyond the legal framework.

The Not Too Young To Run Bill and movement focused on the first major challenge, which was a legal regime that enhances youth participation and we won that struggle but it did not mean that the struggle was over because there were other issues and the first issue that people were confronted with was securing party nomination.

If you look at the party primaries, of course there were signs posted by thuggery, imposition of candidates and violence – people were losing their lives.

A lot of these young people who could not purchase the forms because the cost of forms was very high. It was a deliberate attempt by the ruling political elite who are scared that the young people would retire them in 2019. They pegged those high cost of nomination fees.

For those who even bought the forms, it was very challenging because the party structure itself is very hostile to change. We have got a very conservative ideology around our political parties – all of them, and so, they were not receptive of young people actually getting into politics but we saw that a lot of young people defied all odds.

They got the tickets even when state governors were anti-youth, they had hijacked the machinery of parties at the state and had prevented leadership of parties from selling forms to young people. But some of them did and those who did went through the candidate selection process and some of them got the tickets.

For some who actually did not get the ticket, they are still struggling to get justice, especially in the parties that intentionally imposed candidates on their parties and their party members.

We have instances where young people who won the primaries were substituted by their political parties and all the parties are actually culprits – the two major parties and even the new parties are culprits. So, the young people got the nomination, won the primaries but got substituted. That is the amount of injustice that the young people face.

It is against this background that for these young people who have defied all odds, were very courageous, very resilient and have obtained candidature of their parties, we felt it was important to bring them together.

First, it is to inspire them.

The Convergence is about inspiration – that is why it is called The Convergence, because it is the largest gathering of youth candidates in Nigeria. It is to inspire them as youth candidates.

Then, it is to empower them with the kind of skill sets that they need to navigate this hostile political environment in Nigeria.

Also, equipping them also with resources around how to run effective campaigns, how to use data and technology for campaigns, how to do grassroots mobilisation, and how to even raise funds to actually run their campaigns.

The third is networking. So, it is to inspire, empower and network.

Building a cohort of young people who are actually running for office and then, just to put this in proper prospective, a lot of people thought that the Not Too Young To Run is just about reducing the age for running for office.

No. it was about young people disrupting politics at different levels. It was a long-term goal and vision. Because what we did and every young Nigerian did this year, was to lay a foundation for a revolution and for the first time, we are beginning to see lot of young people getting interested to actually run for office and know by 2023, a revolution is actually going to take place.

And for us, that foundation and building that network between those political leaders with people who are actually running for office is very key for us.

What we also want to use the convergence to do is to begin to disrupt the way young people see politics and governance – that politics is an instrument of driving socio-economic and political development and to change the leadership paradigm and that’s why we have structured the entire section of the conference around the misuse of power, capacity and politics.

If anyone tells you that young people don’t have what it takes to run for office, the Convergence will provide a counter-narrative that indeed we have young people who are running for office.

PT: Do you not think it is unfair to older candidates who are credible and also have what it takes?

Yes. There can be an association of older candidates but, as a generation, there is a generational burden on every young Nigerian and that is to liberate this country and provide excellent leadership.

What we did with Not Too Young To Run was to change our constitution from the streets, with our phones, and building alliance with a generation that cared about inclusive politics.

By hosting The Convergence, we are not eliminating the older generation and the older people who are credible.

Because amongst those who will be speaking at that conference are also people who are of the older generation but because you are dealing with a generation that, for too long, have been excluded, we felt that as a short-term priority, to focus on these youth candidates.

They are the ones who, when it comes to electoral politics, are called inexperienced. They do not have the money to run for office, they are not prepared. But an older person, even if they are not prepared and do not have the money, by virtue of the fact that they are old – and that is the whole thing about this politics of identity, in our own political space.

So, we are not eliminating the older generation, we are just saying for now, it is important that for these very important bulk of our population who have been eliminated from politics, we need to create a space, we need to empower them to get into that space.

PT: How do you intend to empower these candidates? Do you plan to finance them?

As a movement, we are non-partisan and because of the principle of non-partisanship and neutrality, we are unable to give monies to candidates to run for offices.

Our own contribution is to provide technical support and The Convergence is that technical support we are providing. And beyond that, we are also providing media platforms, which is why, partnering with PREMIUM TIMES is very strategic.

PREMIUM TIMES is the best online media platform in Nigeria and is also competing in Africa.

We feel that profiling these young candidates gives them the visibility that they need, which will eventually contribute to their campaigns. We have got TV shows that are coming up and are dedicated to youth candidacy in the next couple of weeks on Channels TV. It is called Ready To Run and it is focused on young candidates.

We have got radio shows – Ready To Run, across the entire 36 states of the country.

This is because, access to the press is a huge challenge for a lot of these candidates. They do not have monies to host programmes or jingles – the advantage that the older generation has and they have understood this game.

The game is about publicity and media access because the media sets the agenda and how do you influence the perception of people? You use the media. So, the media is a powerful tool.

For us, it is -how do we lessen the burden on them. We cannot, by virtue of foundational principles and the nature of our work, give out monies to the candidates but we can teach them how to fish.

We will be giving them the tools and so, part of the people who will be speaking at this conference is Boniface Mwangi from Kenya who ran his campaign in 2016 and mobilised over ten million shows by just SMS.

We also have a Nigerian who developed a 234 Crowd Funding platform and he will be talking to the candidates about the platform and how they can use the platform to raise money. We’ll also have people who have run elections and have won – they will be present to share their experience.

PT: How did you select these 400 candidates? Are they the only ones below 35?

After the Not Too Young To Run, we got the Ready To Run platform, which aggregates data of young people who are running for office.

Besides locating these people, the platform also shows candidates with capacity, integrity, competence and creativity. Basically, those who have what it takes to contest for elective positions.

Also, there is what we call due diligence checks with INEC. Going through their list of certified and registered candidates and drawing our young candidates from there too.

PT: Some young female aspirants have complained that female politicians are not always willing to support them. Are there plans to solicit support from these top female politicians for the young female candidates?

For Not Too Young To Run, we see it as a challenge across border because even the young male aspirants complain of not getting the needed support from top male politicians too.

We are just about getting the young candidates together, whether male or female and having them maximise the same opportunity. We would not want a situation where a female aspirant contesting will be treated differently, just because she is a lady.

So, what we intend to do is create a level playing field and make them (especially the female aspirants) understand that. We also hope to enlighten them and help sustain their engagement.

At the workshop, we would also have female lawmakers present. Those who have actually contested for various positions and won. We would have them talk to the younger ones about their past struggles, the challenges they faced and how to strive and succeed.

PT: If you do not give out money to these candidates, does your platform support crowd sourcing?

No. we would not help you ask for money. Our job is to provide technical support for these candidates and that includes training them on how to raise their own funds and gather support to build your campaigns.

That is where networking comes in. knowing the right things to say to the right people and using the right and available medium to solicit support.

Also crowd sourcing is not just about money. It also involves getting the right resources on elections that voters can work on. And for that, there is also a session which will be about enlightening the young aspirants on how to get the right information about election and how to use this information to get support, in subsequent elections.

sOURCE: Premium Times

bounce corruption logo

#GANDUJEGATE: THE AFTERMATH – EMERGING THREAT TO DEMOCRACY IN NIGERIA – By Tracy Keshi

Corruption is one of the biggest challenges facing the world’s most populous black nation. The debilitating impact of this scourge is visible and can be felt in every sector of the country. Few can disagree that it is perhaps, the single most important cause of Nigeria’s inability to make meaningful developmental strides.

When President Buhari was sworn into office in 2015, he made tackling corruption his administration’s key priority, saying that, “Nigeria must kill corruption before corruption kills Nigeria”. He has since adopted different strategies to achieve this goal but even he admitted recently that the fight against corruption has not achieved desired level.

Nigeria’s corrupt political class has grown more brazen in its ploy to loot the nation dry. They have devised strategies in order to avoid the prowling eyes of the EFCC (Economic and Financial Crimes Commission) operatives and other anti-graft agencies. A recent example is the case of #Gandujegate, where the Executive Governor of Kano State was seen enthusiastically receiving bundles of crisp dollar bills as kickbacks from contractors and stashing in his “babariga” via a secret recording. The video made its way online and elicited a national outcry from citizens calling for investigation into the alleged case of corruption.

Amidst the imminent political pandemonium, a press statement was swiftly released by the Special Adviser to the Governor on Media wherein he claimed the videos were fake and that the Governor was a victim of blackmail from opposition parties.

A 7-man committee was, however, constituted by the Kano State House of Assembly to investigate the bribery allegation leveled against Governor Umar Ganduje and a Kano State High Court sitting in Kano ordered the Kano State House of Assembly to stop the investigation.

This development begets the question:  where does the loyalty of the judiciary and this judge in particular lie? Is it to the state as it should be or the alleged piper? On this my fellow Nigerians, your curious guess is as good as mine.

The police has again played a vital role in this judicial anomaly.  By stopping the National Association of Nigeria Students (NANS) from holding a peaceful rally to ask Ganduje to step aside to allow for an independent investigation into the allegations and to ascertain the authenticity of the video clip, the Nigeria Police is showing that it is not interested in  upholding the rule of law.

In case the Nigerian Police needs reminding, Nigeria operates a democracy and that democracy is meaningless without rule of law, fairness, justice and equity. A nation that does not investigate and punish wrong doing, whether by a poor citizen or a member of the political class cannot make much progress.

By preventing an investigation into #Gandujegate, as well as peaceful protest by NANS, the organs of state charged with ensuring rule of law in the land are encouraging impunity and continued looting of our nation’s treasury by the political elite.

No Nigerian is above the law. No one is more Nigerian than the other. The fight against corruption will continue to yield little or no results as long as we continue to breed this culture of ‘untouchables’. It will continue to be unsuccessful as long as citizens think it is ”Buhari’s”. It is the masses who bear the worst brunt of corruption. Therefore, the fight against corruption must ne citizen-led in order to succeed.  Therefore, every citizen must respond to the fierce urgency of now and take ownership of the anti-corruption fight for the good of our nation.

The good news is that more than half of the people and particularly young people agree that citizens could make a difference.

In commemoration of the International Anti-corruption Day 2018 and in line with its theme “Say No to Corruption, Every NO counts”, we are leveraging on the power of young people and we urge them to take a stand for integrity. The duty of every citizen is to challenge corruption by holding our government accountable. Let Your “NO” count today.

Tracy Keshi is a Program officer with YIAGA Africa and actively involved with #BounceCorruption and #Upright4Nigeria campaign. She can be reached via [email protected] and tweets via @trackykeshi

2019: YIAGA Africa launches Parallel Vote Tabulation mission

“The Official National Launch of YIAGA Africa’s Watching The Vote (WTV) Parallel Vote Tabulation Mission for the 2019 general elections signifies the readiness of WTV deploy the largest citizen observers to enhance state and non-state actors in sustaining democracy via credible elections”. These are the words of WTV Board Chair, Dr Hussein Abdu as he gives his opening remark of at the National Launch of the PVT Misssion for the 2019 general elections.

In its bid to provide real time information on the electoral process and also verify the accuracy of the elections result, the largest citizen movement committed to credible elections has conclude plans to deploy over 3000 observers for the 2019 general elections. This is geared towards monitoring elections through the deployment of technology in the 774 local government areas YIAGA Africa’s Watching The Vote (WTV) Working Group on Friday, December 7, launched the Parallel Vote Tabulation (PVT) Mission ahead of the 2019 general elections.

Speaking at the event, Dr Husseini Abdu, board chairman, YIAGA Africa, said the PVT is an election observation methodology that is typically based on a representative random sampling of polling stations employed for independent verification of election results.

According to him, the launching of the method was a declaration of YIAGA Africa’s readiness to support every stakeholder in the 2019 elections, in order to get the required result needed for a credible election. INEC officials and representatives of development partners at the launch of the Parallel Vote Tabulation mission.

His words: “Our primary commitment in this job is to deepen deepen accountability and enhance the credibility of our electoral process. “It is the beginning of the our democracy. If we don’t get our elections right, we cannot actually claim it is a democracy because that is why the leadership emerge, so, the quality of our leaders is determined by the quality of our elections. “So our call to politicians is that elections are just phases in our democratic-journey, it is not everything; therefore, the sense of desperation needs to be properly managed.

“Politicians are increasingly becoming a major threat to our democracy therefore it is important for us to make this call, that they need to tarry a while and build a better commitment and understanding that will help strengthen our democracy.’’

Leveraging on the support of National Democratic Institute and other international organisations like the UKAID AND USAID, yiaga africa has deployed the PVT IN Ondo, Anambra, Ekiti and Osun Governorship elections. While appreciating the effort of YIAGA AFRICA’s WatchingTheVote, Professor Antonia Okoosi-Simbine, National Commissioner Elections and Political Parties in the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) said, the initiative has helped INEC greatly by adding value to the credibility of its results. “Our results have been very close or not too different from that of YIAGA and this is important to us. “We have an organisation that is doing very systematic and scientific work, if not for them maybe people would really question the results that we bring out particularly when issues like vote buying are around elections,’’ she said

Also speaking, the British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Ms Catriona Laing, described the forthcoming 2019 general elections as ‘crucial.’ She hailed the concept of the PVT, noting that it was used in her last country of assignment, before she was deployed to Nigeria – Zimbabwe.

She called for a level playing field for all political parties ahead of the elections. The USAID Nigeria Mission Director, Mr Stephen Haykin, declared support for YIAGA Africa’s mission to ensuring credible elections in Nigeria. He called on INEC to, “maximise voter privacy at the polls, reduce vote buying and work with security agencies to ensure that voters exercise their franchise in peace.’’

Speaking to the media, Project Coordinator, YIAGA Watching The Vote, Working Group, Cynthia Mbamalu said “we will be deploying 3034 observers so we will have observers in every local government”

She said for the purpose of the election, ” We have recruited 822 long term observers, 48 for the 36 states, with some states having more than one because of their sizes and population”.

“These 822 have started working already and they will also recruit the observers for 2019.

“We have one supervisor per local government and what they do is follow up issues on political parties and their activities in their local governments and send in report, we do violence monitoring to help us feed an early warning system and to also identify what INEC is doing and share reports on INECs preparations to local government s and issues of voters education by INEC, Political parties and CSOs”.

Speaking on the sidelines of #WatchingTheVote National Launch of Parallel Vote Tabulation Mission for the 2019 general elections in Abuja on Friday, she said barely weeks to the election there are lots of planning and as an organisation they have commenced the pre-election observation and have released their first report, while the second report is to be released in the coming week.

The Youth group further called on political parties and candidates to endeavour to adopt issue based campaigns and shun every form of hate speech and inciting comments.

This they said, will go a long way in preventing violence and enhance the quality of the conversations around the elections.

They further called on INEC and other relevant stakeholders to invest more in activities targeted at promoting active and informed participation of women, youth and people with disabilities.

These includes their pre-election messaging, engagements and adhoc employment as well as general planning in order to ensure inclusion and fairness in the process she said.

WatchingTheVote Obswrvers observing INEC Display Claims and Objection

Low Citizens Awareness, Poor Deployment of Officials Wanes INEC’s Display Claims and Objections Exercise

Summary

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had displayed the Preliminary Voter Register (PRV) in its offices and public spaces across the 774 Local Government Areas, Wards/Registration Areas, and polling units nationwide, from November 6th to November 12th, 2018. The exercise was conducted in line with the provisions of Section 19 of the Electoral Act, 2010 (as amended) which mandates INEC to (by notice, appoint a period not less than 5 days and not exceeding 14 days) to display a copy of the (preliminary) Voters’ Register (form EC1A) for each Local Government Area Council or Ward in the Federation for public scrutiny.

Display of the Preliminary Register of Voters (PRV) involves INEC publicly displaying the PRVs to give the public the opportunity to review the PRV. The display exercise provided an opportunity for voters to review the Preliminary Register of Voters (PRV) and bring to the attention of the electoral officials any problems with the register of voters so that they can be corrected, thereby enhancing the quality of the final register. By law, INEC is only required to display the preliminary register of voters at the Local Government, Area Council or ward level. INEC extended the display of the PRVs to the Polling Unit (PU) level.

While INEC is commended for significantly expanding public access to the display process by posting the preliminary register of voters at registration centers and in most instances, the polling unit level, however, there was no INEC officials in sight in some of these locations to provide information on the process to voters.

YIAGA AFRICA’s Watching The Vote (WTV) observers deployed on November 9th and November 12th across the 774 LGAs and the 36 states and the FCT to observe the display claims and objections at the polling units or wards that are close to their place of domicile.

YIAGA AFRICA received 284 reports. 124 reports were received on November 9th and 160 reports were received on November 12th. Based on the reports, WTV found that:

  1. Generally, there was low turnout throughout the exercise;

  1. INEC displayed the PRVs in all the polling units visited;

  1. There was the lack of or no inadequate information about the process as most people were not aware of the process, and some of those who visited the polling units were not aware of where to visit to make their claims or objections;

  1. While the display at the PU level is commendable, most of these centers had no INEC officials to attend to people who were seen cross-checking their information or to provide guidance on the Display Claims and Objection procedures;

  1. In some centers, pages of the PRVs were seen littered around or torn. In PU 001 Ward 6 in PHA LGA of Rivers State, the PRV forms displayed by INEC were torn twice by unknown persons. In NKST Primary School, In Kwande LGA of Benue State, we received reports that the PRV fell off the walls as a result of the rains and were littered all around the vicinity;

  1. INEC officials were seen mostly at the ward level;

  1. Due to the ongoing insurgency in Borno, public display of the PRV was not done in some LGAs. Reports from Guzamala LGA shows that there was no display of the PRV in the LGA. The LGA INEC office is currently operating in Maiduguri;

  1. A village in ward 4 in Emohua LGA of Rivers State was not accessed by INEC Officials due to the demand of N5000 and St. Remy by a man who claimed to be the prince of the village;

  1. There were reports that some people saw names of their dead relatives on the list but they had no idea about how to get names deleted from the preliminary register;

  1. Security personnel did not deploy to all polling units that WTV observers visited;

  1. None-deployment of security in most polling units/centers in Yobe State may have contributed to the low turnout.

  1. Political parties did not deploy their agents to the polling units;

  1. No one was prevented from scrutinizing the PRVs;

  1. No one raised a challenge to have a registration deleted because the person is not a Nigeria, is not up to up to 18, the person is dead, or the person has registered more than once in the polling units/wards observed.

Methodology

YIAGA Africa’s #WatchingTheVote deployed trained observers across all the 774 LGAs and the 36 states and the FCT. WTV observers were trained on how to observe the display claims and objection procedures and on how to report their findings to the WTV National Data Center (NDC).

WTV Observers observed on two selected days. They deployed on November 9th and on November 12th. WTV observers spent a minimum of two (2) hours at each of the centers that they deployed to observe.

Each observer called or sent in their observation findings to WTV National Data Center. WTV received a total of 284 reports, these reports were reviewed, verified and analyzed.

Observations and Findings:

Just like the display claims and objections exercise that took place in March 2018, the exercise held in November 2018 just a few months to the 2019 general elections recorded abysmal participation of citizens which may be attributed to the poor publicity of the exercise on the part of INEC and a not clear communication on the procedures.

We received reports of persons who crossed off names of their dead relatives on the PRVs or wrote Rest in Peace against the names of their dead relatives out of respect for the dead and ignorance of how to go about the process of deleting names of the dead from the registered.

Others were apathetic because according to them, not only is the process of claims and objections ambiguous, it is cumbersome and tedious.

The just-concluded display claims and objections have further exposed the manpower and capacity gaps of INEC as they only deployed staff to the wards and LGA offices and some of these staff lacked the capacity to take the registrants through the processes of completing the forms for claims and objections.

WTV Findings reveals that:

Display of the PRV

  • The preliminary register of voters was displayed conspicuously in all the centers that WTV observers visited;

Turnout of Registrants

  • Generally, registrants were apathetic towards the process as turnout was abysmally low;

Deployment of INEC officials

  • No INEC official was seen in all the polling units that WTV observers visited, however, on the average two (2) INEC officials were seen in some of the wards that WTV observers visited;

Instruction on the Procedures for Display Claims and Objections

  • INEC officials were not seen in most of the polling units visited and reports further revealed that registrants were not informed about the procedures especially on how to make claims and objections.

INEC Essential Forms

  • Reports by some observers who deployed to the wards reveal that essential materials such as the forms for the statement of addition, statement of correction, statement of deletions, statement of corrections or insertion, statement of inclusion, statement of death, statement of returns, statement of actions were available.

Deployment of Party Agents

  • No political party agents were seen in all the centers that WTV Observers visited.

Deployment of Security

  • No security personnel were seen in all the centers that WTV Observers visited.

Deployment of Security

  • No security personnel were seen in all the centers that WTV Observers visited.

Scrutinizing/Confirmation Details on the PRV

  • No one was prevented from confirming their details in all the centers that WTV observers visited.

Challenge to delete a registration because the person is not a Nigerian

  • No challenge was raised to delete a registration because the person is not a Nigerian, in all the centers that WTV observers visited.

Challenge to delete a registration because the person was believed not to be 18 years old

  • Because INEC officials were not in the polling units that WTV visited, no challenge was raised to delete a registration because the person was believed not to be 18 years old, in all the centers that WTV observers visited.

Challenge to delete a registration because the person was believed to be deceased

  • No challenge was raised to delete a registration because the person was believed to be deceased, in all the centers that WTV observers visited. This was largely because registrants were oblivious of how and where to make complaints.

Challenge to delete a registration because the person was to have registered more than once

  • No challenge was raised to delete a registration because the person was believed to be have registered more than once in all the centers that WTV observers visited.

Disruption of the claims and objections process

  • There was no attempt to disrupt the claims and objections process in all the centers that WTV observers visited.

Intimidation and Harassment

  • There was no attempt to intimidate or harass voters, INEC officials or observers during the claims and objections process in all the centers that WTV observers visited.

Conclusions and Recommendations

While reports from WTV Observers revealed that the display claims and objections took place nationwide from November 6th to November 12th, 2018 and that INEC went the extra mile beyond the constitutional provision of conducting the exercise at the LGA level by displaying at wards and polling units, such effort was made futile by the low level of awareness created about the exercise. There is no overemphasizing the need to increase public enlightenment on the exercise in the future. WTV, therefore, makes the following recommendations to help improve the quality of the electoral process:

To INEC:

  1. As noted in our interim report on the PRV process issued on April 09, 2018, there is need to explore all communication channels to keep voters and the general public abreast of the activities of the commission. INEC should make the most of communication tools including traditional and social media for effective communication. Information should be clear and unambiguous about every aspect of the process and the required action to be taken by citizens.

  1. There is a need for increased deployment and monitoring of INEC staff for such important exercise in the future. It is imperative that INEC improves on its arrangements and training of its personnel to assist those who wish to make claims and objections and ensure adequate deployment of personnel to all location where the PRVs are displayed for public scrutiny. It is also important that the commission improves on its monitoring of the exercise at the various levels in order to ensure compliance of its staff to the extant laws and procedures.

  1. The Commission should intensify its collaboration with security agencies to ensure deployment of security personnel to the centers where the PRVs are displayed in order to curb vandalism and tearing of the PRVs.

  1. The Commission should be transparent and share its finding from such exercise with the public. There is a need to also provide accessible mechanisms for the citizens to report cases of disenfranchisement and fraud during the display claims and objections process as well as other pre-election processes.

  1. To encourage more participation, the commission should consider extending the period of the exercise from the traditional 5 days. The Electoral Act, 2010 (as amended) provides for a period not less than 5 days and not exceeding 14 days.

To the Civil Society Organizations

  1. The Civil Society Organizations should increase efforts to create enlightenment concerning electoral processes, most especially at the grassroots level. This will increase the efficiency of such exercises and build citizens confidence.

  1. There is the need for observer groups to deploy observers to observe every aspect of the pre-election processes. This will help in ensuring accountability and providing information about the conduct of the process.

To the Political Parties

  1. It is important that political actors deploy their representatives to observe the pre-election observers to enhance the process.

To the Security Agencies

  1. It is important that political actors deploy their representatives to observe the pre-election observers to enhance the process.

To the Citizens

  1. Security agencies should increase collaboration with other organs of government such as INEC and ensure deployment of their personnel to provide security for every aspect of the electoral process.

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Hussaini Abdu PhD                                                                     Samson Itodo
Chair,                                                                                               Executive Director
YIAGA AFRICA WTV Working Group                                    YIAGA AFRICA

For media inquiries please contact:
Moshood Isah: Tel. +234 (0) 703 666 9339
Email: [email protected] AFRICA.org

Learn more about #WatchingTheVote at www.watchingthevote.org or on social media on Facebook at facebook.com/YIAGA AFRICA.org or on Twitter @YIAGA AFRICA.

About YIAGA AFRICA

YIAGA AFRICA is a non-governmental organization promoting democracy, constitutionalism and youth participation in Africa. YIAGA AFRICA achieves its goal through research, capacity development and policy advocacy. YIAGA AFRICA operates as a citizens’ movement poised with the onerous mandate of enhancing the quality of democratic governance, public accountability and civic participation. YIAGA AFRICA has been involved in election observation since 2007 and it is one of the leading organizations working on elections in Nigeria.

The YIAGA AFRICA Watching The Vote (WTV) is a citizen-led election observation initiative aimed at enhancing the integrity of elections in Nigeria using technological tools like SMS and evidence-based research methodology tools for election observation. The initiative is designed to promote credible elections and boost citizens’ confidence in the electoral process through citizens observation of electoral activities in the electoral cycle. YIAGA AFRICA is enhancing the quality of democracy in Nigeria using Watching The Vote as a platform for promoting cutting-edge electoral policies, credible elections, civic participation and democratic consolidation.

Idris Muhammad at WTV Data centre

2019 Elections: Why Violence Against Women Must Stop- Idris Mohammed

The value of political equality is central to normative theories of democracy. It is argued that women are equal citizens and therefore should share equally with men in public decision-making, otherwise there is a democratic deficit. By contrast, since the return of democracy in Nigeria, women are at the fore-front in growing and developing our electoral process, despite their narrow inclusion but still the percentage that voted in the previous elections was an indication that, women deserve to be included in the democratic governance.

Despite this there has been a lot of identity base violence against women running daily offline and also on our social media platforms. During the recent political party primaries in Nigeria, female aspirants faced challenges from their male counterparts and by extension, the system. For example, a female aspirant posted on her social media handle that she failed to get ticket from her party because of her refusal to sleep with some of the party chieftains. Another also said that they forced her to step down for a male candidate just because of her gender.

This violence often spikes around elections because it is used as a tool for political intimidation, but little is known about how much of and in what ways this violence is directed at women. In 2011 general elections, for example, there were reports that female National Youth Service Corps volunteers experienced sexual harassment, threat and hate speech at polling units across the country. In a nutshell, Women are targeted for violence during elections specifically because they are women and to stop them from exercising their democratic or civic rights.

On September 1st in Abuja, a Non Governmental Organisation, National Democratic Institute designed and launched campaign titled : “Stop Violence Against Women in Election” with the effort of documenting and reporting the incident of violence against women in election to the relevant stake-holders such as election official, security agencies, women group, religious bodies and other organizations that are interested in elections. In spite of this effort, women are still confronting violence on daily basis. Recently some print media reported about 60 cases of violence against women recorded in just concluded Osun Gubernatorial elections.

Violence against women takes different forms and dimension. The violence can be seen as physical, psychological, sexual, threat, cultural and economic violence. For the lack of space, let me cite some examples of violence against women in election. Denying the female aspirant ticket because she refuses sexual advancement from the political parties chieftains, denying them access to financial support, assault, hate languages, and cultural barriers attached to the issue especially in the Northern Nigeria. Moreover, women received threat from opponents, members of their own party and even from their own family members. These forms of violence have become apron-string to wide or inclusive participation of women in our democratic process. The numbers of aspirants released from INEC indicated gender gap or disparity if one compares to other democratic countries of the world

violence against women in elections is a threat to the integrity of the electoral process – it can affect women’s participation as voters, candidates, election officials, activists, and political party leaders, and it undermines the free, fair, and inclusive democratic process. With this, it is has become imperative for the stake-holder to develop new strategies aim at promoting peaceful and violence-free elections, which necessitates full gender inclusivity at every step of the electoral process. Also, women should be encourage to report issue of violence against them to the appropriate authorities.

Idris Mohammed Funtua is a Program Officer with YIAGA AFRICA from Abuja.

Samson Itodo, Ezenwa Nwagwu, Cynthia Mbamalu and Paul James

WATCHING THE VOTE STATEMENT  ON THE OBSERVATION OF THE BYE-ELECTIONS IN BAUCHI, KATSINA AND KWARA STATES

Introduction

On November 17, 2018, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) conducted bye-elections in three federal constituencies namely Toro Federal Constituency in Bauchi state, Irepodun/Isin/Eiti and Oke-Ero Federal Constituency in Kwara state, Kankia/Kusada/Ingawa Federal constituency in Katsina state and one state constituency in Cross River State, Ikom state constituency. The bye-election was conducted to fill vacant seats in the House of Representatives and State Assembly

YIAGA AFRICA Watching The Vote deployed 14 roving observers to each of the Local Government areas within the respective federal constituencies in the three states of Bauchi, Katsina and Kwara. Watching The Vote adopted traditional election observation methodology and did not deploy the Parallel Vote Tabulation (PVT) methodology for the observation of the bye-election. The observers used a specially designed checklist to observe both the process of the voting and counting at the polling units and the collation of result at the LGA result collation centres. The observation reports were sent via coded messages to a central database in Abuja. The observers were deployed to each of the eight (8) LGAs where the bye-elections were conducted and required to visit a minimum of 5 polling units in each LGA.

Observations

  1. Poor management of election logistics: Watching The Vote observers reported poor logistics management in Toro Federal Constituency of Bauchi state. Our observers observed some challenges with the transportation of adhoc officials and election materials from the Registration Area Camps (RACs) to the polling units on election day resulting to late opening of polls in some of the polling units in Toro LGA in Bauchi State. In some cases, NYSC members had to make personal transportation arrangements to convey materials to the polling stations.
  2. Election Security administration: Watching The Vote observed the absence of proper coordination in the management of election security. As reported from Bauchi State, inter agency rivalry resulted in confusion in deployment and payment of allowance to officers deployed for the election.
  3. Poor welfare of INEC adhoc officials: As observed by the Watching The Vote observers, members of the National Youth Corps Service (NYSC) deployed to serve as ad hoc officials for the bye-election were subjected to poor welfare conditions. The RACs were not equipped with adequate facilities to cater to the welfare needs of the youth corp members on the eve of the elections. Poor handling of welfare demotivates the youth corp members and makes them vulnerable to enticement from politicians or individuals with vested interest.
  4. Unnecessary show of force by police officers: While security deployment remains fundamental in protecting lives and properties, it is important for security personnel deployed for elections to respect the right of the people to cast their votes freely and to polling officials administer elections without any form of intimidation, harassment or disruption. WTV observed incidences where security agents intimidated adhoc officials and voters. In some polling stations, security officials show up at polling stations with live ammunitions. This runs contrary to electoral guidelines and global standards for free and fair elections.
  5. Voter turnout: The bye-election recorded an abysmally low turnout of voters. Official data indicates the turnout rate for Bauchi 21.6%, Katsina 38% and Kwara 24.4%. The trend of a minority determining electoral outcomes and political leadership needs to be reversed.
  6. Vote buying and Secrecy of the ballot: WTV observers noted that the secrecy of the ballot was compromised in some polling stations visited. Despite the reconfiguration of the polling units, people could see how voters marked their ballot papers. WTV observers reported incidence of vote buying in polling stations across the three federal constituencies observed.

Watching the Vote Election Day Findings

Accreditation and Voting

  1. By 9:00am, accreditation and voting commenced in most polling units in the Bauchi, Katsina and Kwara state bye-elections.
  2. An average of 5 INEC officials were seen in all polling units that WTV observers visited and, on the average, 2 were women.
  3. APC and PDP party agents were seen in most of the polling units that WTV observers visited in Bauchi.
  4. APC, PDP and PRP party agents were seen in most of the polling units that WTV observers visited in Katsina.
  5. APC, PDP, PPN and UPN party agents were seen in most of the polling units that WTV observers visited in Kwara.
  6. Most of polling units visited in Bauchi, Katsina and Kwara had security agents present. However, WTV observers did not sight security agents at PU 15/1/ Magama Gumau Dada II, Tila Toro LGA, PU 9/2 Kofar Mai Unguwa, Tilden Fulani in Toro LGA and PU 14/1 Magama Gumau Fada II.
  7. Card readers were observed in all polling units visited in Bauchi, Katsina and Kwara States bye elections. All essential materials which includes the: register of voters, indelible ink-marker pen, polling official stamp, voting cubicle, ink pad, Form EC.8A Statement of Results and Form EC.40H Voter Information, were present as at the time WTV observers visited.
  8. The card reader functioned throughout during the time the WTV observers visited the polling units.
  9. No one was accredited to vote who did not have a PVC as at the time of our observation.
  10. In all the polling units visited, each voter’s PVC was checked against the Register of Voters.
  11. No one was accredited to vote who did not have a PVC as at the time of our observation.
  12. In all the polling units visited, every potential voter’s permanent voter card (PVC) and fingerprint was checked by the card reader, as at the time of our observation.
  13. In all polling units observed, Indelible ink was applied to the cuticle of voters within the time WTV observer visited the respective polling units. Voters were also seen to be given a ballot paper that are stamped, signed and dated by INEC polling official.
  14. Most polling units visited in Bauchi State were set up so no one could see how the voters marked their ballot papers. However, polling units 009/02 Kofar Mai Unguwa, Tilden Fulani, Toro LGA, Bauchi state and 06/01 New Post Office, Osi, Ekiti LGA, Kwara state were set up that someone one could see how the voters marked their ballot papers. In addition, many polling units in the LGAs where the bye-elections were conducted in Katsina State were set in such a way that people could see how voters marked their choices. For instance, in five (5) polling units visited in Ingawa LGA, Katsina State, WTV observed that people could see how the voters marked their ballot papers.

Results Collation Centers Findings

  1. An average of 7 INEC collation officials were present at the seven (7) LGA results collation centers that WTV observed, on the average 1 was a woman;
  2. Security personnel were deployed to all the LGA collation centers that WTV observers deployed to;
  3. APC & PDP party agents were seen at the LGA Collation center in Bauchi;
  4. APC, PDP & PRP party agents were seen at the LGA Collation centers in Katsina;
  5. APC & PDP party agents were seen at the LGA Collation centers in Kwara;
  6. In all the collation centers that WTV observed, Form EC 8Bs (Result Sheet) for all the wards were submitted to the collation officer;
  7. In all the LGA results collation centers that WTV observed, INEC officials collated the results by entering the votes in the original form EC 8C in words and figures.
  8. In all the collation centers that WTV observed, INEC official dated and signed the results forms
  9. APC & PDP party agents countersigned the results form at the LGA Collation center in Bauchi;
  10. APC, PDP & PRP party agents countersigned the results form at the LGA Collation centers in Katsina;
  11. APC & PDP party agents countersigned the results form at the LGA Collation centers in Kwara;
  12. INEC collation officials distributed copies of the form EC 8Cs to all party agents and security personnel present, in all the collation centers that WTV observed;
  13. An official completed the notice of result of poll poster EC 60E and displayed in six (6) of the seven (7) LGA results collation centers that WTV Observed. INEC collation officials did not post the copy of the results form for the public to see, in Kusada LGA collation center in Katsina State.
  14. There was no incident of intimidation, harassment or violence against voters, election officials, party agents, observers or security personnel in all the collation centers that WTV observed.
  15. There was no attempt to disrupt the collation process in all the centers that WTV observed.

Critical Incidents

  1. Incidents of Vote buying or bribery were reported in:
  2. Bauchi, Toro LGA in: Tilden Fulani Ward 2, PU Name – Kofar Mai-Unguwa, PU code 009; Katsina, Ingawa LGA, Yandoma Ward 2, Wangari PU, PU cood002;
  3. Katsina, Ingawa LGA in: Dugul Ward, PU – Dukuma TV Viewing Center, PU Code 005;
  4. Kwara, Ekiti LGA in: Osi Ward 01, PU Name – Post Office, PU Code 006; Kwara, Irepodun LGA, Oum-Aran Ward 06, PU Name – St. Paul Omu-Aran, PU Code 010;
  5. Kwara, Oke-Ero LGA in: Ekan-Nla Ward 02, PU Name – Oke Ilegun, PU Code 004.

  1. Threat of Violence:
  2. In 019, Magama Gani Primary school, Toro LGA, a party agent held polling official’s hostage and destroyed ballot papers during counting. The election at the PU was cancelled.

Recommendations

  1. Election Logistics Management: The success of every election depends on the ability of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to properly manage elections operations and logistics as well as ensure that every plan includes a detailed framework to cater to the needs of personnel deployed for elections. YIAGA AFRICA Watching The Vote calls on INEC to ensure adequate planning for election logistics. The commission should thoroughly investigate the reasons for the logistical challenges in the Toro federal constituency election and take appropriate action to avert sabotage of logistic arrangements during the 2019 general elections.
  2. Welfare of Ad-Hoc Officials: INEC needs to demonstrate commitment to the welfare of adhoc officials especially the NYSC members through early planning and adequate funding for welfare. Watching The Vote calls on INEC to institute an efficient mechanism to enforce and monitor the implementation of welfare plan for adhoc officials.
  3. Transparency and accountability in election security management: There’s need for greater coordination and transparency in the management of election security. To facilitate planning, security agencies should share deployment plans with INEC in a timely manner. All security agencies must uphold the principles of patriotism, neutrality, professionalism, accountability and mutual respect in election security operations. Interagency rivalry is a threat to peaceful and credible elections.
  4. Strict compliance with electoral law and guidelines: Watching The Vote calls on INEC to ensure polling officials are adequately trained before deployment. To ensure uniformity in compliance with electoral laws and guidelines during elections, the commission should strengthen its oversight/supervision mechanism on election day.
  5. INEC needs to ensure due diligence in the recruitment of adhoc officials for elections especially Supervisory Presiding Officer (SPOs). Their neutrality and integrity is critical for credibility of electoral outcomes.

Conclusion

YIAGA AFRICA Watching The Vote commends the voters who turn up to vote in the election for their resilience and peaceful conduct throughout the election. The electoral commission is commended for ensuring a successful election. However, YIAGA AFRICA would like to urge the electoral commission to thoroughly investigate the logistic challenges highlighted in this report as a confidence building measure. The stakes are high for the 2019 election; therefore, INEC and other electoral stakeholders must show commitment to free, fair and credible elections.

Democracy thrives when citizens exercise their right to vote in periodic peaceful and fair elections. YIAGA AFRICA urges security agencies especially the Nigeria police, Department of State Services and the Nigeria army to remain impartial and neutral in the management of election security. Security agencies must respect the constitutional right of citizens to cast their vote without any form of intimidation, harassment or threat.

With the commencement of the political campaigns for the general elections, YIAGA AFRICA expects a fully charged political environment. We wish to remind political parties that health and peaceful electoral competition deepens democracy. To this end we urge them to engage citizens in issue-based campaigns and refrain from hate speech and incendiary messages that could destabilize public peace. We call on Nigerians to actively interrogate the manifestoes of candidates and prepare to vote for candidates based on capacity, character and competence.

God Bless Nigeria.

Samson Itodo

Executive Director YIAGA AFRICA

Ezenwa Nwagwu

Member, Watching The Vote Working Group

For media inquiries please contact:

Moshood Isah

Media 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 Aspirants sharing their experience during political party Primaries

Lack of funds, zoning robbed us of our parties’ tickets –Young aspirants

Some young aspirants who vied for tickets of some political parties in the just-concluded primaries of the parties on Friday said they were cheated by leadership of the parties.

A House of Assembly aspirant in Zamfara on All Progressives Congress platform, Ms Amina Iliyasu, stated this on behalf of all affected youths at the Young Aspirants Experience Sharing Workshop in Abuja.

The programme was organised by the Centre of Legislative Engagement of YIAGA AFRICA and it was aimed at highlighting the experiences of young unsuccessful aspirants in the parties’ primaries.

Iliyasu said that the lack of internal democracy in political parties robed the youths of candidacy in forthcoming general polls.

She said that though people from her constituency wanted her to vie for that position, leaders of the party in the states were not happy because they felt she was too young.

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“Even though I won, I was asked to step down because of a zoning formula in the state.

“So, since the present governor is contesting for Senate position, and we are from the same constituency, I had to step down so the other zone could benefit.”

Iliyasu said that many women were marginalised in the primaries and that the women leaders did nothing to rectify the situation.

She called on the National Women Leader of APC, Hajiya Salamatu Umar-Eluma, to stand up and speak for women so they would not be left out in politics.

Another aspirant from Kano, Mr. Abdulhamin Liman, said that there was no APC primaries in the state, adding that aspirants were asked to bring money.

Liman said that as a young person, he was only able to raise N3m, so he lost to another aspirant that gave N20m.

A Peoples’ Democratic Party aspirant from Adamawa State, Ms Mary Frank, said that the primaries limited a lot of women and youths due to lack of funds.

Frank said that the act began with the fees placed on nomination and expression of interest forms in addition to discouraging words and acts.

She said that though some of them managed to pay for the forms, they were weeded out at some point.

Dr Ernest Ereke, Coordinator, YIAGA AFRICA Centre of Legislative Engagement, said that Nigerian youths clamoured for political inclusion hence the Not-Too-Young-To-Run law was enacted to enhance youths’ participation in elections.

Ereke, however, said that though a lot of young people indicated interest to run for offices and bought the very exorbitant forms, some of them were successful but were substituted.

He said that YIAGA AFRICA initiated the Ready-to-Run project in order to keep encouraging youths to participate, adding that it was imperative to organise the event for youths to share their experiences form the primaries.

Ms Yetunde Bakare, Senior Programme Officer, YIAGA AFRICA, commended the aspirants for vying for positions even though they did not succeed, adding that their stories would encourage youths in the future.

Bakare said that the group under the Ready-to-Run project would continue to provide feasibility support to young candidates contesting in the 2019 elections and make their voices heard, especially in the media.

She said that the group would also connect young candidates with organisations willing to support them with funds for the elections.

She said that 1,077 young aspirants registered under Ready-to-Run platform, and that only 297 purchased nomination and expression of interest form “because of the exorbitant rate of the forms’’.

She added that 117 of the aspirants emerged as candidates and urged all other young aspirants to register under the Ready-to-Run platform to create a network where they could support each other and also receive support. (NAN)

Source: The Punch

Young Aspirants sharing their experience during political party Primaries

2019: Our experiences in APC, PDP primaries – Young aspirants

Some young aspirants, who contested in the just-concluded election primaries of the two major parties, on Friday narrated their harsh experiences in their parties.

The aspirants spoke on the high prices of nomination forms, administrative charges, undemocratic party primaries and female stereotyping among other challenges as they shared their experiences and challenges in the course of seeking the parties’ tickets for the 2019 general elections.

They spoke at a programme organised by the Centre of Legislative Engagement of YIAGA AFRICA to highlight the experiences of young unsuccessful aspirants in the parties’ primaries.

The programme was held against the background of the high expectations that accompanied the passage of the Not Too Young To Run Bill by the National Assembly and the assent to it by President Muhammadu Buhari.

The law mainly slashed the minimum ages that qualify candidates for elective offices. But the aspirants found out there are many more hurdles before young people and women aspirants in the political space.

Amina lliyasu who contested for the Zamfara State House of Assembly blamed the All Progressives Congress (APC) women leader, Hajia Salamotu, for not showing much support for women aspirants, but applauded the wife of the president, Aisha Buhari , for her support for women who ran for different offices

“I would like to call out my party women leader for not doing enough to support women’s emergence as candidates in the party primaries,” Mrs Iliyasu said.,

”I would also want to use this opportunity to thank Mrs Buhari for her support, she tweeted on the high cost of the nomination form for the women in the APC,” she said.

Mrs Iliyasu said there was zero participation of women in politics in her state, noting that the nomination forms were too expensive. She said the people of her constituency wanted her to vie for the legislative seat but leaders of the party in the state felt she was too young.

“Even though I won, I was asked to step down because of a zoning formula in the state.

“So, since the present governor is contesting for Senate position, and we are from the same constituency, I had to step down so the other zone could benefit,” Ms Iliyasu said.

Another aspirant from Kaduna under the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atinuke Maria, said she thought her party’s nomination forms were free for women but she later paid N200,000.

”I am a member for PDP and there was this general notion that forms for women were free and at the same time, we were asked to pay for expression of interest which in my own constituency we paid like N200,000.

”Expression of interest was actually N100,000 but they said we were going to pay for administrative. So that was another N100,000 paid, so that made it a total of N200,000,” she said.

For their male counterparts, they said they paid 700,000 for the state House of Assembly nomination form.

Bashir Zuntu, a House of Assembly aspirant under the APC said he paid N850,000, adding that he raised the funds through the assistance of family and friends.

”For APC , for the state Assembly, the cost for nomination form was N850,000. I raised some donations from my dad and friends,” he said.

Rabi Musa, an aspirant for the Kaduna State House of Assembly under the APC, said she paid N10,000 to each delegate in the primary, adding that her husband provided the money.

”For me, the person that supported me was my husband. Well, I actually thought the forms were going to be free for female aspirants because recently, we had the local government elections in my state and female aspirants did not even pay any money, except for the expression of interest and it was just N50,000.

”But in my case I had to use all my life savings, I had to cough out N475,000 at the end of the day for the forms, both the nomination and the expression of interest forms. For female and for male, it was N850,000. Also on the election day I had to give out N10,000 to each delegate for transportation.”

Another aspirant, Mary Frank, who ran for Adamawa State House of Assembly under the PDP, said she had the challenge of stereotyping from people and family, narrating how she sourced money through her savings and friends to participate.

“The males were paying N750,000 from my state and for me, I paid N250,000. The nomination is N100,000 and the administration (charge) for the state is N100,000 and for the local government is N50,000.

”People said to me that they have a female representative from the state House of Assembly and the House of Representatives and they have not done well and why should they also vote for her?’” she said.

Sanusi Shehu, an aspirant for the Katsina State House of Assembly under the APC, said he budgeted one million naira for the primaries and came back with just N7,000, adding that his late father who was a former local government chairman during the late General Sani Abacha era helped him raise the funds.’

”I bought a state House of Assembly ticket for N750,000 for the expression of interest form and N100,000 for the nomination form and also another N100,000 for the Katsina State APC headquarters, which is N950,000; and N30,000 for APC thugs.

Abdullahi Lima, an aspirant for the Kano State House of Assembly under the APC, said, ”Luckily for me in my own case, I was the only person going from my local government area. People thought I would win because it was direct primaries so the money was not difficult to come with.”

The Coordinator, YIAGA AFRICA Centre of Legislative Engagement, Ernest Ereke, asked the aspirants a yes or no question if the elections were free and fair.

Only Ms Atinuke from Kaduna and Mary Frank from Adamawa said ”Yes” while others said ”No”

Source: Premium Times

YIAGA AFRICA Centre for Legislative Engagement During an Performance Evaluation meeting with Cohort of experts

YIAGA AFRICA Commences Performance Evaluation of 8th National Assembly

The YIAGA AFRICA-Centre for Legislative Engagement (YIAGA AFRICA-CLE), in keeping with its mandate of developing a viable legislative institution, is leading several stakeholders from the Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), Academia, Legislature, Media, Enumerators and Data Analysts to evaluate the performance of the National Assembly in the systematic review of the activities of the National Assembly within its constitutionally ascribed responsibilities.

Part of the assessment criteria for the evaluation include: number of bills initiated and passed, number of pending bills, quality and usefulness of the bills, relationship with other arms and levels of government, engagement with Civil Society and openness of the Assembly, among others.

A ten-member technical working group to anchor the evaluation, be drawn from the standing Working Group of the CLE and lead by a Lead Consultant to be appointed by YIAGA-CLE, will carry out the evaluation of the National Assembly.

“The purpose of this evaluation  exercise to determine whether the National Assembly has been able to effectively and efficiently perform its constitutionally assigned responsibilities to Nigerians, determine the impact of the Assembly to the overall improvement of the quality of life of Nigerian citizens, and assess those factors responsible for the success and failure of the Assembly,” Dr Earnest Ereke, coordinator of the YIAGA Centre for Legislative Council, said today in Abuja at a National Working Group technical meeting.

The National Working Group, drawn from the National Assembly, the academia and the CSOs, which today validated legislative engagement tool kit, will also assess  factors responsible for the success and failure of the National Assembly, Earnest added.

Tagged Performance Evaluation of the National Assembly, YIAGA AFRICA, through its Centre for Legislative Engagement and with support from the European Union, will work to assess the efficacy of the internal process leading to the output –measured in terms of the effectiveness, efficiency and impact, Dafe Oputu, Program/Research Officer at YIAGA AFRICA-CLE said.

 

Youth Votes Count Campus Outreach Nsukka

Campus Outreach: 15,000 Varsity Students Pledge to Vote in 2019 Elections

YIAGA AFRICA, INEC, ECES, EU, Collaborate

At least 15,000 Varsity students have committed to participate actively at the upcoming 2019 general elections. The students cutting across six Universities from six Geopolitical zones in Nigeria. Also at least a total of 25,000 students across six Universities were provided opportunity to register at the just concluded Youth Votes Count Campus outreach held across all the six Geopolitical zones in Nigeria.

The Campus Outreach program organized by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in collaboration with YIAGA AFRICA AFRICA and European Centre for Electoral Support with the support of European Union in Nigeria reached out at least 15,000 students with the gospel of Youth participation in the electoral process.

Voter Education Volunteers and Celebrities at University of Nigeria Nsukka

The Voter education campaign which was launched in the University of Abuja has successfully reached out to at least 15,000 Students cutting across University of Lagos, University of Port Harcourt, Bayero University Kano and Modibbo Adama University. With the constant presence of Celebrities like Korede Bello, Bankole Wellington, Innocent Idibia, Uti Nwachukwu, Waje, Bright Okpocha, Chidinma Ekile, Helen Paul, Cobams Asuquo, and Ebuka Ubi-Uchendu the Campus outreach concluded its Voter Education  Campaign trail with another massive turnout by students of University of Nigeria, Nssuka as celebrities all turned up to encourage youths to participate in the electoral process.

Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Professor Mahmood Yakubu, during series of Outreach to the students reiterated the Commission’s commitment to always include young people as part of the commission’s adhoc staff. Prof Yakubu also encouraged young people to register and collect their Permanent Voters Card as he urges them to ensure to come out and vote on elections day.

While urging students to get their PVCs and come out to vote on election day, the INEC Chairman who was represented by Dr Festus Okoye, INEC National Commissioner in-charge of information and Voter Education, said the commission was committed to conducting credible, free and fair election in the 2019 General Elections.

Ambassadors at the Campus Outreach Nsukka

According to him, the country’s democracy to advance, Nigerian youths must be fully involved in politics. He said young people had the capacity, energy and intellect to be involved in the democratic process in order to positively influence and boost the country’s democracy.

“For the country’s democracy to advance, youths must channel their capacity and intellect in all electoral processes that will result in free and fair elections. “Youths are future leaders and the destiny of this country lies in their hands. “Every youth should have his or her Permanent Voters Card (PVC) ready to vote and protect the vote.

Also speaking, Amb. Ketil Karisen, Head of the EU Delegation to Nigeria and ECOWAS, said the aim of the bloc was to sensitise Nigerian youths on the essence of ensuring credible, free and fair elections in 2019.

“We are not supporting any party’s candidate or political party but our concern is to ensure credible, free and fair election.

“Since 1999, EU has spent over 100 million euros in support of elections in Nigeria.

“Nigeria is receiving the highest fund from EU because it is the most populous and biggest economy in Africa.”

The ambassador urged youths to resist any attempt to use them as thugs or accept any inducement for them to sell their votes during elections.

“Youths should resist any attempt to use them to cause violence in the 2019 General Elections.

“Youths should also sensitise people around them on the dangers of vote buying and resist any attempt by some politicians to lure them into any wrong doing,’’ he said.

Mr Emeka Ononamadu, the Resident Electoral Commissioner in Enugu State, appealed to the electorate to ensure that they participated actively in the elections.

Ononamadu said records available to INEC in Enugu showed low turnout of voters in the 2015 General Elections.

“The last election had 1.4 registered voters in Enugu State but only about 500,000 people voted.

“Now for the 2019 General Elections, 1.9 million voters have registered, which is a sign that the people are determined to drive democracy in the state,’’ he said.

Also in a remark, the President of the Students Union Government in UNN, Mr Fortunatus Chimezie, commended the EU and INEC for organising the event in the institution.

Chimezie assured them that the students would vote wisely come 2019 and would not be involved in vote selling or election violence.