Nigeria has conducted five general elections since the return to civil rule; 1999, 2003, 2007, 2011 and 2015. The five elections were noted for the low levels of youth participation as candidates. This situation was in part due to the 1999 Constitution which placed minimum age limits for those wishing to contest the following elective positions and seats; President 40 years, Senate, 35 years, House of Representatives, 30 years, Governors, 35 years and State Houses of Assembly, 30 years. The constitutional age requirements shut the door on Nigerian youth who constitute a majority of the population and registered voters.
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!
Bayero University Kano came alive with unbridled excitement on the 19th of July 2018 as YIAGA Africa took the initiative, YouthAffirmativeAction, to its grounds for the first of its debates. Supported by the Ford Foundation, the initiative had been birthed from April 2018, with the goal to get youths more included into the governmental and development of the country. With youths making up over 60% of the Nigerian population, it is underwhelming to know that such a high number is less represented in governmental issues. This spurred the need for the initiative. Townhall meetings were organized in different geo-political zones, and debates slated in tertiary institutions. We wanted the youths to speak for themselves—are they really prepared and capable of taking their own futures in their hands?
With BUK as the starting point, the debate was crucial. But the students attended in impressive numbers, even before the programme began in full swing. The hall was full, and in time, the programme began with the welcome remarks from Ibrahim Faruk, the Senior Program Officer from YIAGA Africa, who welcomed the audience, giving insights to what is expected of the programme. In time, the Dean of the Faculty of Communications, Professor Umaru Pate made the first special remarks. He congratulated the students for their impressive turnout, highlighting that this shows they are enthusiastic about governance and youth development issues in the country, and how to bring about the much needed change that has to be done to revamp the sector. After all, it is true that if one expects a re-modification of something, he/she must be ready to be fully inducted to it, and moved by the cause to do such.
As the debates were prompted to begin, The Executive Director, Organization for Community Civic Engagement (OCCEN), Dr Abdulrazaq Alkali, made the second special remarks. He advised the audience on the need to stay united, because the debates were initiated for one cause and one cause alone—to create conversations about youth involvement in governance, general politics and overall, participation in leadership roles within Nigeria. “We are all in this together, and we want to make a difference, so even if some of the debaters are from Kaduna State University, which is the opposing team, we should stay united on what the message is about—true governance.”
The hum in the room became excited as the Moderator, Efe Ozugha of YIAGA Africa introduced the debaters to the stage. The teams were sectioned into #TEAMKANO of the host school, Bayero University Kano and #TEAMKADUNA of the visiting school, Kaduna State University. Consisting each of a male and female, it was very noticeable that the gender balance had been effected, and the need for both genders to give insights in respective personalities, acute professionalism, and also with heart. The Judges took their place and the audience waited in anticipation. It was clear that the topic: “Competent Youths are Unavailable for Competitive Politics in Nigeria” was albeit a sensitive one, but also an important opening for discourse and interaction, especially with the 2019 elections close by, and the recent victorious signing of the #NotTooYoungTooRun Bill into Law. After the rules were given, the debates began in full force.
As the speakers from Bayero University stressed their points against the motion, one could not avoid seeing the fire that bristled with their words. The lady especially, took the centre stage, quickly taking over the crowd as they cheered her confidence and eloquence on. She mentioned that youths were not efficiently ready to take over full power, because with power comes responsibility, and if majority of the youths were not yet responsible, how will they effectively change the status quo for good? It was also impressive to see how the male speaker stated same, saying with the recent infamous news coming from the youths in the media, it speaks bad of the cause because it makes it clear that maybe, truly, youths are not ready to run and take responsibility of the governance and true leadership in Nigeria.
But as the speakers of the visiting school of Kaduna State University emerged, they stressed that this was the time for youths to actually take charge of the future. It was necessary now, because the conversation was boiling; youths are being given the chance to make a chance, with the signing of the#NotTooYoungToRun Bill, the uproar of youths being encouraged in developing careers such as politics, high-tech and information, the natural youthful drive for new things, and most especially, the need to make and change Nigeria to be the best and arrive at its full potential. They gave examples of already succeeding young people effecting change and putting Nigeria on the global mark for excellent endeavours, innovation and development. It was clear that the onus lies on the youths to support each other, because, “it takes a village”
After the concluding points were made by both teams, the Judges took time to deliberate the teams to select the winner, while the audience engaged in asking questions and giving personal insights to topic shared. Women in the audience took a major part, giving their views and even projecting solutions! It was a thrilling interaction, and soon the results were ready, and the winning school emerged as Kaduna State University. All the debaters were awarded certificates of participation, and the winners were given a special certificate for their emergence as victors. Kaduna State University will represent the North West Zone in the Final Debates which will hold in Abuja on an upcoming date.
Overall, the debates were exciting and evergreen true of how youths in Nigeria were all united on the same front—creating the awareness for young people to effectively be a part of governance and leadership in Nigeria, and encouraging them to achieve their full potential to fulfill that cause.
KEY FINDINGS FROM REPORTING PERIOD ONE – May 25 – June 7, 2018
YIAGA AFRICA in conducting a comprehensive, long-term pre-election observation of Ekiti 2018 Governorship election under the Watching the Vote (WTV) project deployed 24 long term observers in the 16 Local Government Areas in the State to observe the pre-election environment.
This report is the first in a series of four (4) that would be released by YIAGA AFRICA on its pre-election observation. The report highlights observations from political party primaries and pre-election activities such as voter education, political campaigns.
The report also highlights interventions aimed at facilitating the participation of marginalised groups in the political process such as youth, women and people with disabilities (PWDs) and indicators of violence monitoring. Our findings suggest that preparations for credible elections in the state are on course, however, there are opportunities for improvement. We similarly, highlighted some of the areas that require improvements and offer recommendations.
The findings on the level of campaigns and participation of marginalised groups were that though few women emerged as candidates, women and youth were actively participating in the electoral process. WTV observed both women and youth groups canvassing for votes in about half of the 16 LGAs in the State.
YIAGA therefore recommends that political parties should introduce policies that encourages women, youth and PWDs to emerge as candidates in future elections. WTV also found that political party rallies and activities are ongoing throughout the state, primarily organized by the Action Democratic Party (ADP), All Progressives Congress (APC) and the People’s Democratic Party (PDP).
With few incidents of violence and attacks, YIAGA encourages all candidates and parties to adhere to the electoral framework, discourage violence amongst their supporters, and desist from such illegal practices as buying and selling voters’ cards and any form of voter inducement through money or gift items. Lastly, WTV findings revealed that voter education across the State was not totally generic as WTV observed voter education targeted at women, youth and people with disabilities by INEC and Civil Society Groups (CSOs).
Download Full Report Below
Written by Uzor Darlington
Recently, there have been a lot of claims from the ruling elites in Nigeria that young people are not ready to run for elective political office, allegedly due to lack of experience and capacity. However, there is good news. Born out of the Not Too Young To Run campaign is the Ready To Run; a non-partisan movement dedicated to inspiring young men and women to run for public office. The movement aims to make a statement that young people have immense capacity to address Africa’s governance challenges.
Ready To Run movement is the first of its kind in Africa, practically ready to train, profile and support young aspirants running for different elective offices, compared to other platforms that only encourage youth participation in governance. Ready To Run will locate competent youths, with integrity and character who are interested in running for elective office, inspire them to successfully run for public office and win, support young aspirants with capacity building, promotion and resources, and link aspirants to training opportunities etc.
The independence of African states from colonial rule signaled strong prospects and hope for a better and prosperous continent. However, that hope never stood the true test of time as it seemed to have been dashed by the plagues of bad leadership, corruption and mismanagement. This is not unconnected to the sad fact that, despite abundance of human and natural resources, Africa is still characterized by penury and underdevelopment.
Africa is unarguably one of the most endowed, fertile regions of the world and the richest continent on earth in terms of natural resources. But today, the image of the world’s most resourced rich continent has been damaged by corruption, mismanagement and bad leadership. Using Nigeria as a case study; abject poverty, infrastructural decay, the king of the jungle; high rate of unemployment pervade the land and mostly corruption—these and more developed out of failure in leadership, mismanagement of resources and corruption, and this has kept Africa and Nigeria in perpetual under-development.
Nigeria in particular has suffered from these menaces more than other African countries. According to the African Development Bank (AFDB), about 152 million Nigerians live on less than $2 a day, representing about 80 percent of the country’s estimated 190 million population. According to the AFDB, which stated this in its 2018 Nigeria Economic Outlook, the level of poverty in the country is unacceptably high.
The experiences of many Middle Eastern and North African countries during the 2011/2012 Arab uprisings show both of these dynamics at work. Youths played a central role in overthrowing autocratic rule in Egypt, Libya and Tunisia, sparking protest movements across the Middle East. Young people in the Middle East, especially the growing urban youth population, have been hurt by low wages, unemployment and high food prices that have exacerbated their livelihood.
We must remember that Nigeria is a young nation and was one of those at the forefront for the struggle for African independence. We must also remember that young people have always designed the promise of this country. The heroes of our past, our founding fathers, people like Nnamdi Azikiwe, Tafawa Balewa, Saudauna of Sokoto, Aminu Kano, or Obafemi Awolowo, initiated and realized the most important projects of their lives as young people.
Despite comprising more than half of the Nigerian total population, her youths have been historically marginalized from entering political space be it at the state or federal level. Aspiring to increase youth’s participation in Nigerian politics, the YIAGA Africa launched the #NotTooYoungToRun campaign which is a movement of youths and civil society groups advocating for the reduction of age for running for elective offices to mainstream young men and women in electoral politics.
We can agree that the Not Too Young To Run is Nigeria’s largest and most successful youth movement in recent times. The movement is driven by the compelling need to restructure the country’s political system, to address the deeply entrenched and undemocratic political exclusion, to institute inclusive politics, transformative leadership and electoral competitiveness in the electoral process. The historic Bill which was recently signed into law by President Muhammad Buhari will definitely increase the number of young people running for various elective offices, especially with the help of the Ready To Run campaign. Ready To Run is poised to solve this African Leadership problems by grooming ethnical young leaders with innovative ideas, capacity and character to change the narrative come 2019.
Uzor Darlington is a passionate youth activist and development enthusiast. He is a Program Officer for the (Ready to Run) team at the Youth Department of YIAGA Africa.
Another Victory for Anti-Corruption Fight
The war against corruption in Nigeria recorded another victory as two ex-governors were convicted for misappropriation of public funds. Jolly Nyame was convicted by a high court of the Federal Capital Territory to serve a jail term of fourteen (14) years for diverting N1.64 billion, while Joshua Dariye was also sentenced to fourteen (14) years for misappropriating N1.16 billion ecological funds while he governed the state between 1999-2007. This feat clearly shows that the fight against corruption and impunity is gradually becoming a reality and we hope to see more of this across board.
YIAGA Africa would like to commend the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for this laudable stride in ensuring that justice prevailed despite the length of time involved. Also, YIAGA Africa would like to commend Justice Adebukola Banjoko who deserves some accolades for dispensing justice without fear or favor while calling on other judges of the appellate courts to exhibit boldness in ensuring that justice prevails at all times so as to restore public confidence in the judiciary and ensure that the administration of the Criminal Justice Act 2015 is implemented.
This shows that the fight against corruption can only succeed with the cooperation of the judiciary and sets a precedent for a string of similar pending cases. The convictions of Jolly Nyame and Joshua Dariye are a good step in the right direction and would boost anti-corruption efforts and potentially help to speed up pending cases; it also gives hope to ordinary Nigerians that the long arm of the law will always catch up with corrupt public office holders. With the diligence of the EFCC in prosecuting these cases, we are hopeful the nation will witness more convictions of former corrupt political office holders.
Corruption is a deep rooted problem which has taken its toll on the government, people, infrastructure, business and life of the average Nigerian. The impact of corruption perpetuated by the likes of Joshua Dariye and Jolly Nyame is the reason why we have hindered growth and development in the country. Lack of basic amenities, low level of qualitative education and the fact that millions of Nigerians die due to poor health care system is a direct consequence of corruption. It is against this back drop that YIAGA Africa launched the Bounce Corruption Project to among other things, urge Nigerians to own the anti-corruption fight by holding their leaders to account and blow the whistle where they detect a corrupt act.
YIAGA Africa wishes to implore the government of Nigeria and the EFCC to take the anti-corruption crusade a step further by recovering stolen monies and investing it in public service to benefit the state. YIAGA Africa is a non-profit organization that promotes democratic governance, human rights and youth political participation.
It may have started over two decades ago somewhere in the Philippines when the National Citizen Movement for Free Elections (NAMFREL) decided to deploy observers to polling units, the Parallel Vote Tabulation election is fast becoming in the norm in parts of Africa and Nigeria.. The PVT team which consisted of citizen’s observers successfully revealed how the then President of Phillipines, Ferdinand Marcos had lost the elections which led to the end of his reign and an autocratic regime. This method also ended another unpopular government of Kenneth Kaunda the Zambian former politician who served as the first President of Zambia, from 1964 to 1991.
Election observation reports overtime have become a key denominator in determining the credibility of elections in Nigeria, Africa and other parts of the world. The nature of the conduct of Election Day activities from arrival of electoral officers, materials, accreditation, vote counting and announcement of results goes a long way in determining the credence given to the eventual outcome of the election. There are various ways in which election observer groups try to observe elections focusing on different issues like pre-election environment, electoral violence, vote counting and election results.
The PVT is an advanced Election Day observation methodology that uses well-established statistical principles and sophisticated information technology. PVTs 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. The PVT allows observers 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.
The PVT is an Election Day observation methodology which uses statistical principles and information Communication Technology (ICT) to observe the election. This is done through drawing a random sample of polling units that is representative of all the polling units in a state or country as the case maybe. And through the help of ICT, accurate and timely information on the election process which includes accreditation, voting and counting process. This is also the only methodology that can verify the accuracy of the election result with an aim of strengthening the work of the electoral commission in achieving its mandate of delivering credible, free and fair elections in Nigeria.
The PVT has also been successfully deployed in the 2016 general elections in Zambia Tunisia in 2014, Burkina Faso in 2015, Ivory Coast in 2015, Ghana in 2016 and Nigeria 2011 and 2015. Beyond the general elections, the PVT has also been deployed in off-cycle governorship elections in Nigeria like the recent Governorship election in Ondo State where YIAGA deployed the methodology.
Most recently YIAGA Africa’s WatchingTheVote team observed and verified the Anambra Governorship Elections using the PVT methodology by deploying over 500 observers to 250 sampled polling units. Just after the announcement of official results by INEC, the YIAGA Africa WTV head of board, Dr Hussain Abdu revealed in a press conference that the result released by INEC is consistent with WatchingTheVote untainted official figures reported by polling unit observers as announced by the polling officials. To further justify this, two separate tribunals recently upheld the election of Governor Willie Obiano, the winner of the November 2017 Governorship elections in the state.
Ahead of the Ekiti and Osun elections, YIAGA Africa’s Watching The Vote (WTV) which seem to be the only team deploying the PVT methodology will again be deploying 500 stationary observers to 250 sampled Polling Units across the 16 Local Government Areas in the State with 24 mobile observers and 16 LGA collation observers. The fact that the methodology makes use of citizens from the state gives credence to the process and the fact that, citizens are taking charge of the process for the purpose of transparency.
This is good news for the people of Ekiti and Osun as the stakes are high as major stakeholders are displaying ahead of the Governorship Elections. There is a lot of pressure on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and thus Election observation body provides an avenue to further ease the pressure off the Commission. Election observation no doubt deters fraud and builds citizens confidence in the electoral process while ensuring the citizens take charge of the process.
Communication Expert and Media Officer of YIAGA AFRICA
Ahead of the 2019 General Elections, YIAGA AFRICA’s WatchingTheVote (WTV) has concluded plans to train 48 recruited State Focal Points (SFP) representing the 36 States and the Federal Capital Territory on the Parallel Vote Tabulation (PVT); a special election day observation methodology that deploys statistics and information and communication technology to systematically observe the election. The PVT Academy which is scheduled to hold in Abuja, from June 12 to June 13 2018 present an opportunity for YIAGA AFRICA to build the capacity of the newly recruited State Focal Points (SFP’s) who will be responsible for building a state structure for the project which includes recruiting Local Government Area (LGA) supervisors in the 774 LGA’s in Nigeria while also observing the pre-election environment.
With the 2019 election about 248 days away, the days leading to the election remain the most critical especially as the prospects for electoral integrity remain a leading conversation on the election discourse. Having deployed observers to observe the Continuous voter registration (CVR) exercise, the political party primaries in Ekiti State and currently observing the pre-election environment in Ekiti State, the WTV findings so far indicates an increasing interest by citizens to participate in the process. Findings also indicate an apparent gap in the level of citizen’s confidence in the electoral process while identifying the activities of political parties as possible threats to a credible and peaceful election.
At YIAGA AFRICA, the goal for Watching the Vote is to build a movement of citizens committed to electoral integrity by providing accurate and timely information on the elections and verifying the outcome of the election. As part of the activities towards the comprehensive observation of the 2019 general elections, the PVT Academy will include sessions on; ‘understanding the electoral process’, ‘principles for election observation’, ‘deploying the parallel vote tabulation for data-driven election observation’, effectively observing the pre-election environment and recruiting the LGA supervisors. The Academy will also provide a broad overview of the WTV project, discuss YIAGA’s plan for the observation of the 2019 Presidential election, the role of the SFPs as well as discuss the broad timelines for the WTV project.
For the 2019 presidential election, the YIAGA WTV will conduct a PVT drawing on statistical principles and using information technology to provide systematic data on the quality of Election Day processes and to verify the accuracy of the official results. To achieve this, YIAGA will recruit, train and deploy accredited observers to specific polling units in every LGA in the 36 State to systematically collate and rapidly share their reports via coded SMS (text) messages with the WTV Data Centre where the data is analyzed and findings shared with the public.
For the 2019 election, this initiative involves a comprehensive observation of the pre-election period (beginning with voter registration), tracking of early warning signs, activities of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), political parties (candidate nominations and rallies) and other election stakeholders, using advanced observation methodologies. This is because the 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 INEC election results.
While the stage is being set for 2019, YIAGA’s Watching the Vote remains committed to electoral integrity and will be constantly providing a platform for discourse on the election by providing timely data on the process and advancing evidence based electoral reform advocacy.
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Celebrating People, Power and Democratic Renewal
The celebration conference is hosted by the Not Too Young To Run movement to celebrate effective activism and underscore the inestimable value of citizens-state engagement in enhancing the quality of democratic politics in Nigeria. Leaders from political society, civil society, state institutions, academia, international community and media will converge to shape an agenda for democracy, governance and political representation in the pre and post 2019 era.
Recognizing the roles of both the Executive and Legislative Arms of Government, the movement has invited the Vice President Professor Yemi Osinbajo, Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki and Speaker, House of Representatives, Honourable Yakubu Dogara to be part of the historic event.
Follow the link below to register
By Anthonia Adi
Nigeria needs a better electoral system that will eliminate rigging; electoral fraud, and other irregularities to ensure free, fair, credible and transparent electoral process, and this can be done by the adoption and use of electronic collation and transmission of election result. Electronic collation and Transmission of election results is the use of electronic software to send results directly from the polling Units to the INEC database. This to a reasonable level will help detect election malpractices in our electoral system.
In 2012 and 2016, Ghana deployed strong digital components for their elections. In similar light, Namibia held the continent’s first ever digital election in 2014. Currently, Zimbabwe is mulling the use of biometric voter recognition in 2018 while Botswana is considering conducting fully digital elections in 2019. Sources also reveal that Nigeria is warming up to use electronic collation and transmissions of election result come 2019.
The provisions to allow for Electronic Transmission and Collation of Election Results in the amended Electoral Act as passed by the National Assembly if assented will be to help move the nation forward. It will give room for Free, fair and credible elections, and also will reduce the time between voting activities and results publication to the barest minimum, as manipulation of election is often done between voting and the announcement of the results. Generally, it will enhance the election result management system by ensuring the accurate and transparent management of election results from polling units to the INEC Database. There is a saying which goes thus: “Whoever cast the votes, decide nothing, and those who count the votes decide everything”.
The huge cost associated with the deployment is, however, a factor to be considered. The fact that a technology-based election may run a higher risk of uncertain performance failure and can potentially destabilize the process of an election if the situation is not well managed. Like in 2015 general elections, though not widespread, the Smart Card readers failed to capture fingerprints and verify cards in some polling units which led to the spill of elections to the next day. Also during the 2016 Ghana general elections, the Electoral Commission had to abandon electronic transmission of results and resort to manual collation, with the Commission explaining that its electronic systems may have been compromised. If the risk are well manage it will go a long way to improve and build citizens confidence in the electoral process in the country.
Using Electronic devices for collation and transmission of election results will eliminate results manipulation by reducing manual intervention to the barest minimum, significantly promote transparency and accuracy of election results and make the process verifiable for everyone.
Card reader Image credit: Independent News
Anthonia Adi is a Research Officer for YIAGA AFRICA and Zonal Program Officer for South-East under YIAGA’s Watching the Vote.