Building Community of Experts: YIAGA Africa Trains Staff on Corruption Models

Building Community of Experts: YIAGA Africa Trains Staff on Corruption Models

In line with its commitment in building a community of experts among the organization’s personnel, YIAGA Africa on Thursday 19th April, 2018 held training on models of corruption to build knowledge on the subject and implications to the Nigerian situation.  The Training was facilitated by Project Manager of the Strengthening citizens Resistance Against Prevalence of Corruption (SCRAP- C) project, Mr. Newton Otsemaye.

During the training which had staff from various departments cutting across Accountability and Social Justice, Elections, Youths and Legislative engagement, Mr Otsemaye revealed the models of corruption which includes Principal-Agent and Collective Model Theory.

According to Otsemaye, the Principal- Agent Model of corruption, a principal agent theory problem exist when one party to a relationship (the principal) requires a service of another party (the agent) but the principal lacks the necessary information to monitor the agent performance in an effective way.

“What this theory is saying is that you must monitor every step being taken as corruption occurs when a principal is unable to monitor an agent effectively and the agent betrays   the principal’s interest in the pursuit of his/her own self-interest”, he said

He said, “the Principal-Agent Model, assumes that divergence of interest between the principal and the agent with informational asymmetry to the advantage of the agent. In this vein, he advised the need to follow up track and policies in order to hold government representatives accountable”.

The collective model which seems to be the situation in Nigeria according to him is a situation where, corruption is encouraged by everyone alike as they do not necessarily act in the interest of society in general but is after their own self-interest. He further advised that, if collective action can make that evil happen, collective action can also reverse that evil.

He outlined some roles by which citizens can collectively engage in anti-corruption which includes public exposition tractions (PETS), Mobilization, report card and surveys, campaigns, etc.

Speaking after the training, Senior Program Officer, accountability and social justice department Tracy Keshi said, the training was timely as it was important that everyone irrespective of department understood the social dimensions to corruption. According to Mrs Keshi, the training session further buttressed the fact the YIAGA Africa is on course with its Bounce Corruption project, as it is currently doing a lot of programs that focuses on citizens actively and collectively taking ownership of the anti-corruption fight.

Program Officer at the YIAGA Africa Centre for Legislative Engagement, Dafe Oputu also said, “the training was important because we make certain assumptions when we implement our programs, and we’re not always clear on the theories behind those assumptions. When we don’t know the theory it becomes difficult to understand why a particular program is working or not working, or how we can take action to make it more effective.”

According Mr Oputu, ” We can consider if we’re informing the right people or if we’re providing them with information in ways they can understand. Without a good understanding of the theories all we have is action and result and we can’t begin to guess why a certain action is having a certain result.”

Ekiti CVR: Slow Start, Poor Adherence to Guidelines, Political Parties Apathy Characterizes Process – YIAGA Africa

As part of preparations towards the July 14, 2018 governorship election in Ekiti State, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) stepped down the ongoing Nationwide Continuous Voters Registration (CVR) exercise to the 177 ward registration centers in the State. This is geared towards ensuring that as many citizen that are eligible, are given the opportunity to register in order to exercise their franchise in the forthcoming election.

YIAGA Africa deployed 24 trained and accredited citizen observers to 41% of the 177 ward registration centers spread across the 16 LGAs in Ekiti State to observe the CVR exercise. Employing the rotational observation model, WTV observers deployed over a three (3) day period; April 11th, 14th and 16th and observed through the day in each of the different wards for each of the three (3) days they observed.

Reports by YIAGA Africa’s WatchingTheVote (WTV) observers indicated that the decentralized CVR exercise was conducted in Ekiti and most especially in the 72 registration centers that WTV visited over the three (3) day observation period. Notwithstanding the delayed commencement on the first day of the registration, the exercise provided the people of Ekiti an opportunity to be registered and by all standards was an improvement from the August 2017 Anambra decentralized CVR exercise. This is evidenced in the findings that all the registrations centers visited were accessible to all and the increase in the deployment of security to registration centers although this was not across board. However, just as the national CVR exercise, political parties are generally not deploying their representatives to observe the process. While there was remarkable improvement in the deployment of security, it was not across board.

YIAGA Africa WTV report observed that the first day of the CVR exercise was plagued with officials and materials arriving late across most of the registration centers, this has become a recurring decimal as it was also observed on the first day of the commencement of the National CVR exercise in April 2017 and on the first day of the decentralized CVR in Anambra in August, 2017. INEC should ensure early deployment of personnel and materials in future exercise.

Impressively, the Direct Data Capture (DDC) machines functioned throughout the day in 96% of the registration centers visited by the last day of the exercise which was an improvement from the first day of the exercise where the DDC machines functioned throughout the day in 75% of the centers. The WTV findings also reveal that it took between 2 to 5 minutes to register a voter using the DDC machines. However, in 33% of the registration centers visited, the INEC officials spent more than 5 minutes to register a prospective voter. This indicates an improvement in the process as against the processing time that can extend to 11minutes for registrants by the DDC machines used for the National CVR. To maintain this positive standard, INEC should upgrade its DDC machines deployed for the national CVR and replace weak and obsolete machines.

As indicated in the WTV findings, the percentage of persons whose fingers were not marked with indelible ink but were allowed to go through the registration process is alarming. As indicated in the WTV findings, on the first day of the exercise INEC officials failed to mark the fingers of registrants in 38% of the registration centers visited and by the last day of the exercise, Ekiti South senatorial district had the highest percentage of registration center’s where the officials failed to mark the fingers of the registrants at 43%. INEC should ensure adherence to the Electoral Act and the CVR guidelines by its personnel, failure of which could open room for abuse of the process or avoidable tensions at the registration centers.

Similarly, the requirement for a form of identification before registration as provided in the Electoral Act was not strictly adhered to in 75% of the registration centers visited as indicated in the WTV findings. The requests for identification was only made in some centers were the officials suspected the registrant was below the age for voting and requested for a birth certificate. The requirement for a form of identification functions to restrict both underage persons and non-Nigerians from registering. INEC should as a matter of enforcement ensure that registration officers demand from the registrants a form of identification as required by the Electoral Law to ensure that registrants are within the eligibility age for registering as a voter in Nigeria and are also Nigerians.

INEC should consider adequate deployment of registration materials in subsequent CVR exercise. WTV Observers reported a combine shortage of registration materials in 25% of registration materials across all the three (3) days observed. Failure to address this issue could lead to diminishing confidence in the ability of INEC to conduct future exercise.

The Commission should extend the time for the exercise from 3pm to 6pm on the days allotted for the CVR exercise to provide more people with the opportunity to register and increase the number of registrants registered daily. This should be considered for the National CVR exercise also.

The inclusion of Saturday’s in the decentralized CVR afforded more citizens the opportunity to register especially for the civil servants and corporate workers who do not have the leisure of time during the weekdays to register. This should also be considered in the ongoing national CVR exercise to ensure these classes of people also have the opportunity to register as voters.

The commission should consider extending the number of days for further State decentralized CVR exercise. There was high demand for registration in Ekiti and chances are, not everyone had the opportunity to be registered which could disenfranchise them from voting during the governorship election.

Security Agencies should also ensure the deployment of officials to all registration centers to ensure safety of personnel and materials as well as curb attempts of intimidation and harassment. They should also ensure sanction for electoral offenders, especially in the LGAs of Ido/Osi and Oye where there are reported incidents of underage voting to serve as deterrent for others.

Just as the national CVR exercise, political parties are generally not deploying their representatives to observe the process. Political Parties should engage the electoral cycle (pre, during and post) by deploying party agents to observe all stages of the electoral process to stave off all forms of manipulations. Political parties have no moral right to interrogate or condemn any electoral process that they did not actively participate in.

For the Citizens, there is also need to take with keen interest matters of their civic responsibilities and serve as watchdogs over the process. Citizens also should exercise restraint and not allow themselves to be used as willing tools to achieve inordinate desires of the politicians.

Civil Society Organization (CSOs) should engage every aspect of the electoral process and intensify efforts in civic and voter education to increase participation in the process and in turn reduce voter apathy.

YIAGA AFRICA WatchingTheVote is a citizen’s-led electoral integrity movement dedicated to the promotion of credible elections through systematic and technology driven observation of elections. In pursuit of its goal of enhancing the quality of elections, YIAGA Africa deploys citizens’ observers to observe the conduct of activities within the electoral cycle.

Signed

Samson Itodo

YIAGA Executive Director

YIAGA AFRICA Holds Nationwide Town Hall Meetings on Inclusive Governance

There have been questions on the quality of and the indicators for Nigeria’s democracy since 1999. The quality of democracy can only be enhanced if young people are empowered to participate actively in the political process. The indicators of democratic development in any given society can be measured by the level and quality of citizens’ participation in the democratic process.

The full and equal participation of youths in the political and electoral processes can be one of the litmus tests for youth inclusion in the political and electoral processes. When youths participate in elections – as voters, candidates, electoral administrators, or party supporters – they can express their own needs and interests. Decisions better reflect yearnings of the electorate, Political processes are more inclusive, while Democracy is strengthened and consolidated.

Our country loses the opportunity to advance its development agenda when it excludes its most productive work force from governance and the decision-making process. The energy, skill, innovation, creativity and resilience of youth can drive economic prosperity and political advancement if properly harnessed. Therefore, structures of governance need to be accessible to youth if they are to contribute to the development of their communities. This access is an enforcement of a right and not a privilege. It is also justifiable on the grounds that democracy thrives on the ability of citizens to enforce their rights to participate in decision-making.

YIAGA AFRICA with support from the Ford Foundation under the Promoting Inclusive Governance for Development (PIG-D) Project trained 34 young organizers on campaigns, advocacy and movement building back in November 2017 in Abuja, Nigeria. The organizers have in turn been organizing campaigns, leading advocacy efforts and building movements around issues of youth inclusion putting in practice skills learnt at the training.

The Promoting Inclusive Governance for Development Project (PIG-D) underscores the importance of inclusive governance to democratic development. It is premised on the need to expand the civic space for youth political participation as a vehicle for fostering good governance, social justice and public accountability.

In April 2018, young men and women in 10 states across the various geo-political zones namely Kaduna, Taraba, Nasarawa, Imo, Ekiti, Delta, Borno, Edo, Oyo and Benue states have hosted Town Hall meetings with young men and women including persons with disabilities to stimulate and amplify the discussion on youth inclusion in governance.

At the Town Hall meeting organized in Delta State, the Commissioner for Sports and Youth Development, Mr. Oghenekaro Ilolo emphasized that, political participation revolves around every sphere of life.  The Commissioner who was represented by an assistant director in the ministry admitted that young people have suffered from failure of leadership and need not isolate themselves from politics and governance.

Similarly, a Senior Lecturer at the College of Education, Delta State stressed that the youths of today are the product of faulty foundation while also admonishing the participants not to gravitate in the past error but correct it by showing capacity to follow the lead.

Speaking at the Kaduna State Town Hall Meeting, a chairmanship candidate for Kajuru Local Government Area promised to regularly hold similar meetings if elected into office. While in Kano State one of the speakers stated that; ‘A united Nigerian youth are formidable enough to decide the future of the country’

Meanwhile during the town hall meeting in Kano, a Kano-based politician, Comrade Yahaya Shehu Wudil, urged youths to get involved in active politics. “Nobody can include the youth in governance except themselves; they should start from the grassroots politics and join political parties,” adding that “it will be hard to do away with godfatherism in Nigeria politics.”

Additionally, freelance journalist, Malam Mustapha Muhammad, tasked youths to be more prepared for nation building, by becoming more proactive in politics vis-a-vis governance. He also charged youths to do away with politics of godfatherism.

Also speaking at the Kano State town hall meeting, Barrister Maryam Abubakar advised youths to show more action rather than lamenting on issues affecting the nation. “A united Nigerian youth are formidable enough to decide the future of the country,” she added.

The Kano State coordinator of YIAGA Africa, Comrade Idris Mohammed, who also supervised the meeting, said all points raised at the meeting will be meaningless if youths failed to join political parties of their choice in their respective local governments. To ensure that all resolutions are worked out, participants at the event who were mostly youths set up a committee to be chaired by Abubakar Lele while Barrister Maryam Ahmad was appointed as Secretary. Other members of the committee include Mr Komolafe Ogunaye, Ado Sanusi Sabongida (representing PWDs), Rabiu Shamma, Aisha Tofa and Idris Mohammed.

The Town Hall Meetings have provided a platform for young people to speak about issues relating to democracy and civic participation and a unique avenue to enlighten citizens on promoting inclusive governance for sustainable development in Nigeria. The inter-generational dialogue between youth and older citizens has also elevated the discourse in various states on youth inclusion in democratic processes. The meetings currently is ongoing in 36 states of the federation as young men and women continue to use the knowledge gained at the training for organizing campaigns, leading advocacy and building movements.

 

 

Not Too Young to Run Movement Meets Osinbajo, Press for Assent to Age Reduction Bill

Not less than 30 members of the Not Too Young To Run movement met with the Vice President Professor Yemi Osinbajo at the Presidential Villa in Abuja on Thursday to further press for Presidential assent on the Age Reduction bill. The movement led by the Convener; Samson Itodo and other members of the movement such as Cynthia Mbamalu, Bella Ann Ndubisi, Hamza Lawal as well as the sponsor of the bill at the House of Representatives; Honourable Tony Nwulu alongside members of various youth organizations minced no words in its mission, as it urged the Presidency to write its name in gold by assenting to the Age Reduction Bill.

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo addressing the Not Too Young To Run movement

The Movement reiterated that the Not Too Young To Run movement is one of the most successful youth led campaigns the country has witnessed, as it has seen young Nigerians reactivate their citizenship in order to contribute their quota to the development of Nigeria. The movement is more than just age reduction in running for elective office, but also about inclusion which promotes democracy, reiterating that democracy loses its vitality if you take the concept of inclusion out of it.

Not Too Young To Run is aimed at fostering intergenerational dialogue in a bid to interface between the young and old generation on statecraft. This according to him will increase competitiveness in the political process of the country. The movement from Nigeria has inspired global campaigns for age reduction in running for political office.

Not Too Young To Run Convener, Samson Itodo exchange pleasantries with VP Osinbajo

In his response, the Vice President Professor Yemi Osinbajo congratulated members of the movement and indeed Nigerian youths for a sustained advocacy which he described as very important saying, “there is no doubting the fact that If you are old enough to vote, then you should be old enough to run”.

He further emphasized the need for young people to be competent in their various fields of endeavor especially in politics saying, Nigeria is a developing nation where it cannot afford incompetent people in power.  According to the Vice President, serving in government from a younger age gives the necessary insight on how government works.

According to him, young people in Nigeria have no doubt showed high knowledge, skills and capacity in all spheres of their professional life including Information Technology, Engineering etc. This has always been the case he said.  He further added that, it is a no brainer that age should not be a barrier in determining when to run for political office, saying “I have over 100 young people who work with me in the Presidency”.

While decrying the caliber of people that contest and win elections in Nigeria, Prof. Osinbajo emphasized the need to raise the bar high to ensure more competent people emerge as candidates in political office. He also urged the movement to advance its advocacy towards addressing the major ills of the country which includes massive corruption with impunity.

Not Too Young To Run flanking the VP during an advocacy visit

Also speaking at the engagement, Sponsor of the Age Reduction Bill in the House of Representatives; Honourable Tony Nwulu thanked the Vice President for his warm reception while also assuring that young people have demonstrated the capacity to run for office as he urged the President assent to the bill. According to Honourable Nwulu, the advocacy goes beyond round table discussion to joining political parties and contesting elections saying young people will roll their sleeves in a bid to make a difference.

 

 

 

Not Too Young To Run: Preparation, competence more important than age – Osinbajo

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has said the age of running for public office in Nigeria should not be a major issue in election to public office as much as competence and preparation of the individual.

Mr Osinbajo stated this on Thursday in Abuja when the ‘Not Too Young To Run movement’ paid a courtesy visit to State House to press for presidential assent to the age reduction bill.

According to the vice president, it is not the age of political office holders that matters but their capacity to provide quality leadership for the country.

Mr Osinbajo, however, said young Nigerians should be allowed to run for elective public positions as they have demonstrated capacity and competence in technology, education and other sectors of the economy.

He said the President Muhammadu Buhari administration remained committed to supporting young Nigerians in different areas, including politics.

The vice president urged young Nigerians to develop their capacities and skills in different areas so as to contribute to leadership, governance, national development and the economy.

“I think that whatever age a person chooses to run for office shouldn’t matter at all; that for me is a fundamental principle, it really doesn’t matter, even if you’re much younger or older in age, the more important issue, my worry always is so much the preparedness of young people, the preparedness of anyone, young or old.

“Practically in any field, you are required to show competence. And in our developing economy, there is need for us to set the bar much higher, not in terms of age, but in terms of competence. We need to set the bar because we are a developing economy, because we don’t have the time to waste on mediocrity.”

Mr Osinbajo further urged the group and young Nigerians to lend voice to the administration’s campaign against corruption and for national development, saying they have the required education and capacities for public service.

He lamented that Nigeria is the only country where public resource is taken with impunity, saying corruption shakes the economy of the country and must be tackled.

The convener of the movement, Samson Itodo, said presidential assent to the Not Too Young to Run Bill will give young people opportunity to contribute their quota to the development of the country.

Mr Itodo said democracy loses its vitality if the word “inclusion” is taken out of it, noting that inter-generational dialogue and values are key to the process of democracy

“We are not clamouring for the elders to leave the political sphere for young people. There is need to enhance the political process. Nigeria has inspired a global campaign across the world for youth participation in politics. These youth have the capacity, integrity and competence to hold offices which is why they should be included in the political process,” he said.

Meanwhile the sponsor of the bill, Tony Nwulu, representing Oshodi Isolo federal constituency at the House of Representatives, said beyond passing the bill, aspirants must belong to a political process and start a political process.

“Power is not given, it is taken. The vice president got to his position through the vote of the youth who voted for him and believe him,” he said.

“Are young people ready? Young people are leading in agencies across the nation, we are bridging the education gap through technology, if young people are leading in agencies, why should we say they are not ready for political process,” Bella Ndubuisi, a member of the movement said.

VP with members of the delegates of the ‘Not Too Young To Run’
According to her, a lot of young people have expressed intention for running in the 2019 elections. She askthe president to assent to the bill to enhance their chances.

The National Assembly recently transmitted the Age Reduction Bill and 11 others to President Buhari for assent.

This was sequel to a motion titled, “Passage of Constitution (fourth) Alteration Bills, 2018”, sponsored by the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekwerwmadu, and 49 other senators.

Source: Premium Times

Brace up for political leadership, Osinbajo tells youths

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo on Thursday challenged youths in the country to brace up for political leadership of the country in the years ahead. Osinbajo gave the charge when he received a delegation of Not-Too-Young-To-Run Movement which visited him in Abuja.

He said that youths needed to be ready for political offices they intended to occupy, pointing out that leadership positions were not automatic. “It is true that young people are participating in every sphere of the economy and they are doing well, but they ended up there through one process of training or the other. “Just like you have to train before you can become a pilot, so it is for politics. “I think that whatever age a person chooses to run should not matter; what should matter is the preparedness of the person because elective positions require some skills. “Most times people train to acquire other skills but not politics; that’s the way of democracy.’’

Osinbajo said that there was need for youths to move up the ladder of leadership to prepare themselves for politics. He recalled that he served as a special adviser at the age of 30 and had been involved in pressure group actives before he became an Attorney-General and then, Vice President. He said that it was important for youths to have that kind of experience, adding that Nigeria did not need people who will just muzzle their way into positions. The vice president said that issues of governance needed to be planned deliberately as making women to participate in politics and issues of girl-child needed to be taken seriously and addressed.

According to him, this is because half of the women that should be participating in politics did not have the know-how. He added that there was also supposed to be plans for education to make the young people stand and grow politically. Osinbajo decried the fact that democracy and elective offices in Nigeria were based on people that had the resources “so corrupt people kept coming into office because they have the resources’’. “These are the kind of people we have in elective offices; so, we need to raise the bar so as to get performance and competence.’’ he said. He urged youths to challenge themselves with the big issues bedevilling the nation, and said that one critical issue to address was corruption.

The vice president said that people stole the nation’s money with impunity and short-changed citizens. “Our budget is N7 trillion and if someone steals N1trillion, how do we quantify it? If we don’t have serious advocacy around corruption, we are always going to be short-changed in the nation.’’ He said that in a developing economy like Nigeria, there was need to set the bar about competence and that the onus lay with the Not-Too-Young-To-Run Movement. He urged the youths to join political parties, be involved in politics and pressure groups so that the nation could achieve development through youth’s collaboration.

Osinbajo said “that way, youths will be able to carry the cause and address the bigger issues that affect the country’’. Earlier, leader of the delegation, Mr Samson Itodo, said that the campaign for the youths was a movement led by young people that would like to contribute to national development. Itodo, who is one of the conveners of the Not-Too-Young-To-Run Movement, said that one of the reasons for the movement was inclusion of youths in governance, because democracy lost its vitality without inclusion. He said that there was also need for inter-generational dialogue between the youths and the elders to create a platform where young people could interface with elders.

Itodo called for enhancement of quality of the electoral process so as to increase competition among all strata. “Today we have been able to inspire some young people to run for elective positions; over the world, there is a clamour for young rulers. “What we do is not to clamour for elders to leave but that we have faith in our democracy and it has to be inclusive because youths have the capacity, competence and integrity to hold offices,’’ he said. He called for an open political system that would accommodate young people, adding that it was a good thing that the National Assembly passed the Not-Too-Young-To-Run Bill. Itodo appealed to the vice president to support the bill and expressed optimism that President Mohammadu Buhari would ascent to the bill when transmitted to him. He urged youths to join political parties and be ready for the political process leading to 2019, stressing that “political power is not given, but taken’’.

Source: Vanguard

2019: Sierra Leone electoral commissioner advises Nigeria

Ahead of the 2019 general elections, the head of Sierra Leone’s National Electoral Commission (NEC), Miatta French, has urged Nigerians to vote their preferred candidates despite money and other gifts some candidates may offer them.

The commissioner said this during a #WatchingTheVote discussion on lessons from Sierra Leone election in Abuja. The event was organised by a civic organisation, YIAGA, on Wednesday.

According to her, Sierra Leoneans voted for their conscience in the just concluded election after drinking, partying and collecting money from different political parties in the country.

“If the APC ruling party had been told they will lose the election despite the money they spent, they will never believe it. This depicts that Africans are embracing democracy and they know what they want,” she said.

She said politicians need to be aware that Africans are getting to the point where rigging of elections will be impossible because citizens are vigilant.

She said information must be well managed in order to avoid misinformation on the social media especially during election while noting that social media could be dangerous if it not managed properly.

According to her, there is need to sensitise security personnel on the electoral process if they will be involved in the elections.

“The police in Sierra Leone were too visible and at some point became overzealous. They were arresting electoral officers at some point,” Mrs Miatta said.

She said there are lots of issues with biometric verification in elections.

“We did not use technology for biometric verification. We gave each party names of candidates that registered in a particular polling unit, in which they call the names out. This promotes transparency and there was no issue of missing names or (data),” Mrs Miatta said.

Similarly, Raouf Salami, program officer at the ECOWAS Network of Electoral Commissions, said one of the challenges of the Sierra Leone election is low civic education, which could be avoided.

Mr Salami, who was an observer at the election, said there was no issue at the registration point and there was no complain of missing data.

Meanwhile, Samson Itodo, the executive director, YIAGA, said the extent in which we deploy technology must guarantee transparency and trust of the citizens in the forthcoming election.

According to him, any technology that is not subscribed to the principles of transparency, openess and accountability will be challenged.

The program manager of the civil society organisation, YIAGA, Cynthia Mbamalum, said one of the things Nigerians need to learn from the Sierra Leone election is the level of communication with the people.

According to her, Nigerians need to be sensitised that their vote is powerful and hence, the need for them to come out and vote.

“Sierra Leone had 84 per cent turn out in the first election and 81 per cent in the second round and we were struggling with 22 to 24 per cent turn out in Anambra election,” Ms Mbamalum said.

She said there is a need for intensive voter education especially for people in rural areas.

She urged Nigerians to report cases of over registration, under-age registration or voting, in order to achieve a credible registration and voting process.

“We are bigger than Sierra Leone and in terms of democracy, we should be setting the pace in Africa,” she said.

Source: Premium Times

CVR: YIAGA AFRICA’s #WatchingTheVote Issues Interim Report on INEC’s Display, Claims and Objection Exercise

YIAGA AFRICA #WatchingTheVote (WTV) Interim Report on the Display, Claims and Objection Exercise Conducted by INEC from Monday, March 26 to Saturday, March 31, 2018

YIAGA AFRICA, formerly known as Youth Initiative for Advocacy, Growth & Advancement is a civic organization promoting democracy, governance and development in Africa through advocacy, research and capacity building. Our goal is to build democratic societies anchored on the principles of inclusion, justice, transparency and accountability. Our thematic areas of work include elections; legislative engagement; youth and public accountability. YIAGA AFRICA Watching The Vote is a citizen’s-led electoral integrity movement dedicated to the promotion of credible elections through systematic and technology driven observation of elections. In pursuit of its goal of enhancing the quality of elections, YIAGA Africa deploys citizens’ observers to observe the conduct of activities within the electoral cycle.

Summary

Display claims and objections took place across INEC offices in the 774 LGAs and registration centres nationwide, from March 29 to March 31, 2018. According to Section 19 of the Electoral Act 2010 (As amended 2015), the Independent National Electoral Commission is mandated to [by notice, appoint a period not less than 5 days and not exceeding 14 days to display a copy of the voters’ register for each Local Government. Area Council or ward for public scrutiny. During this period any objection or complaint in relation to the names omitted or included on the voters’ register or in election to any necessary correction is to be raised or filed. The Claims and Objection are to be addressed to the Resident Electoral Commission through the Electoral Officer in charge of the Local Government/ Area and such claim is to be made on the form prescribed by INEC].

Display of the Preliminary Register of Voters (PRV) involves INEC publicly displaying the PRV to give the public the opportunity to review the PRV. The PRV is the initial list of voters who registered during the registration exercise from April 27, 2017 to March 22 2018. Claims and objections involves determining if there are potential problems with the PRV and bringing the attention of INEC to the infractions. The display claims and objection exercise are intended to provide opportunity for voters to review the preliminary register of voters and notify the Commission of any discrepancies, wrong information or fraudulent or illegal registration in the register of voters. Such claims and objections are verified and reviewed by INEC thereby enhancing the quality and credibility of the final register. This also ensures that prospective voters who register are not disenfranchised.

WTV fielded citizen observers in 19 states for the display. The observers were also in all area councils of the FCT.

Overall, reports from WTV Citizens observers show that display, claims and objections happened from March 26 to March 31, 2018. WTV Observers were deployed to observe the process on Thursday, March 29, 2018 and their reports showed that while the preliminary voters register were displayed conspicuously in most of the INEC registration centres, many citizens did not show up to crosscheck their information. In addition, there were no INEC officials in some registration centres to attend to the few people that were seen cross-checking their information. Political party agents were also not present to scrutinize the preliminary voters register.

Methodology

YIAGA Africa’s WTV deployed a total of 21 citizen observers for the display, claims and objections at the INEC offices/registration centres spread across 19 states and the FCT. All observers were thoroughly briefed on the aspect of the exercise to observe and report.

WTV observers were instructed to observe on Thursday, March 29, 2019 at one INEC office or registration centre close to their place of residence. On the day of the observation, WTV observers sent in their reports based on a comprehensive checklist to the WTV Data center located in Abuja.

WTV received a total of 21 reports from its observers during the display claims and objections process.

Observations and Findings

The Display Claims and Objection as important as it is, recorded a very poor participation of citizens in the process. A major challenge that enabled this poor participation was the poor communication and publicity of the exercise informing citizen about the exercise and educating them about the procedures and importance of the exercise to ensure a credible register of voters. Accordingly, citizen participation was abysmally low and INEC officials were not seen in some of the centers that WTV observers visited.

Our findings reveals that:

  1. Display of Preliminary Registration of voters (PRV) was not done in all INEC offices or registration centers. In some registration centers like the Kuje INEC office, the PRV were seen littered around the centre.
  2. There was low turn of registrants to verify and confirm their information.
  3. The display happened only at INEC LGA offices or at registration centers that were operated for up to a period of three (3) months.

Deployment of INEC Officials

  • Average of 3 INEC Officials were seen in the registration centers visited. Although it is not every registration center that WTV observers visited that had INEC officials.

Display of Preliminary Register of Voters

  • The Preliminary Register of Voters were conspicuously displayed in almost all the registration centres that WTV observers visited.

Providing Instruction to People about the procedures for claims and objections

  • INEC officials did not inform people about the process of making claims or objections in 12 of the 21 registration centres that WTV Observers visited.

Average Number of People who visited registration centers to scrutinize the PRV or file a claim or objection

  • Average of 16 people visited the registration centres to either scrutinize the PRV or file a claim or objection.

Scrutinizing the PRV

  • No one was prevented from scrutinizing the PRV in all the 21 registration centre’s that WTV Observers visited.

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

  • In the centre’s visited by the WTV observers, no challenge was raised to delete a registration because it was believed that the person is not a Nigerian.

Challenge to delete a registration because the person is not 18 years old

  • In the centre’s visited by the WTV observers, no challenge was raised to delete a registration because it was believed that the person was not 18 years old.

Challenge to delete a registration because the person is not deceased

  • In the centre’s visited by the WTV observers, no challenge was raised to delete a registration because it was believed that the person was deceased.

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

  • In the centre’s visited by the WTV observers, no challenge was raised to delete a registration because it was believed that the person registered more than once.

Disruption of Claims and Objection Process

  • There was no attempt to disrupt the claims and objection process in all the 21 registration centres that WTV observers visited.

Intimidation and Harassment

  • There was no attempt to intimidate or harass voters, INEC officials or observers in all of the 21 registration centres that WTV observers visited.

Deployment of Political Party Agents

  • No political party agents were seen in 21 of the registration centres visited by WTV Observers.

Conclusions & Recommendations

Overall, reports from WTV Citizens observers show that display, claims and objections happened from March 26 to March 31, 2018. While the PRV were displayed in almost all the registration centres visited, most new registrants did not take advantage of the opportunity to verify and confirm their information and political party agents were not seen in all of the centres visited. WTV therefore, make the following recommendations to help enhance the quality of the electoral process:

To INEC:

  1. There is a need to intensify the Commission’s efforts to inform voters about its electoral activities in order to encourage participation. INEC should deploy diverse communication tools including both traditional and social media for effective communication. Information should be clear about the commencement and end of every phase of the process and the required action to be taken by the citizens.
  2. INEC need to improve on monitoring of every aspect of the electoral process
  3. The commission should be transparent about the issues and complaints raised during the display claims and objections period and make the processes of resolving the claims and/or objections open.  
  4. INEC staff need to take exercise as such very serious as other electoral activities of the commission in order not to disenfranchise voters.
  5. While the Electoral Act provides for a minimum of 5 days for the Display of the Voters register exercise, it is important for INEC consider increasing the number of days for the display claims and objection in subsequent exercise. This will enable more participation.
  6. The commission should also improve the physical state of some of its LGA offices that serve as  Centers

To the Citizens:

  1. Citizens have the responsibility to demand for information from the commission and other stakeholders about every aspect of the electoral process and how they can get involved. Citizens are also encouraged to follow INECs social media platforms for updates on the electoral process. These include: @inecnigeria on twitter and facebook and instagram and visit the Commissions website; www.inecnigeria.org 
  2. There is a moral burden on the citizen to take every aspect of the electoral process serious and to ensure they participate actively and protect their franchise. The process of display, claims and objections is ensures that voters details are correctly captured. The process also enables a credible voter register by  the attention of the commission any infraction to the list of registered voters or any individual who are not eligible to be registered as voters.

To the Political Parties:

  1. Political parties should ensure deployment of their representatives to observe every aspect of the electoral process.

To the Security Agencies:

  1. Security agencies must ensure prosecution of electoral offenders especially those who may have contravened the CVR process as stipulated in the electoral act.
  2. Security agencies should continue to ensure deployment of their personnel to provide security for every aspect of the electoral process.

To other stakeholders:

  1. There is need to improve civic and voter education efforts in order to encourage voters to make the most of the opportunities provided by INEC to participate in the electoral process.

 

For media inquiries please contact:

Cynthia Mbamalu

Project Director

Email: [email protected]

Moshood Isah:

Media Officer

Tel. +234 (0) 703 666 9339

Email: [email protected]

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

Office Address:

No 3, Road 17,  Frantz Fanon Street,  4th Avenue, Gwarinpa, Abuja

www.yiaga.org  | www.watchingthevote.org  | (08169401359) | [email protected] /twitter: @YIAGA

Citizens Call for Creation of More Centers, Intensive Sensitization as INEC ends CVR Q1 2018

 YIAGA AFRICA #WatchingTheVote (WTV) Interim Report on the Continuous Voters Registration (CVR) for the Period January 09 to March 06, 2018 

YIAGA AFRICA, formerly known as Youth Initiative for Advocacy, Growth & Advancement is a civic organization promoting democracy, governance and development in Africa through advocacy, research and capacity building. Our goal is to build democratic societies anchored on the principles of inclusion, justice, transparency and accountability. Our thematic areas of work include elections; legislative engagement; youth and public accountability. YIAGA AFRICA Watching The Vote is a citizen’s-led electoral integrity movement dedicated to the promotion of credible elections through systematic and technology driven observation of elections. In pursuit of its goal of enhancing the quality of elections, YIAGA Africa deploys citizens’ observers to observe the conduct of activities within the electoral cycle.

Summary

In continuation of its efforts to deepen citizen participation ahead of the 2019 general elections, YIAGA AFRICA deployed citizen observers across the 36 states and the FCT since the commencement of the continuous voters registration exercise on Thursday, April 27, 2017.

The Continuous Voters Registration Exercise (CVR) as conducted by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) takes place on weekdays from 9.00am to 3.00pm excluding public holidays in INEC offices at the 774 LGA headquarters and some 10 rotational registration centers that were created by INEC in all of the 36 states and the FCT. The exercise is intended to enable citizens who have turned 18 years of age since the last registration as well as those who did not register during the last voter registration exercise to register as voters. In addition, the exercise provides an opportunity for voters seeking to transfer their registration from one State, LGA or Ward to another to do so as well as distribute uncollected Permanent Voters Cards (PVCs) to voters who registered earlier and are yet to collect their PVC’s.

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

Based on observer reports submitted for the 1st quarter of 2018, the CVR exercise was conducted in all of the registration centers visited by WTV Citizen Observers in the 36 states and the FCT. Notwithstanding the procedural challenges, there were reported incidents of Direct Data Capture (DDC) machines break down in some centers, INEC officials not keeping to the official time of opening and closing and the surge in the number of prospective registrants visiting the centers as early as 5:00am. It is worthy of note that INEC responded to the increasing demand for registration by creating 10 additional centers that were rotated within wards in all of the 36 states and the FCT. WTV observers also reported that security deployment was limited across board and most political parties didn’t deploy their agents.

The findings presented in this report covers the period from January 9th to March 31st 2018 and it is based on the report submitted by 116 observers from across the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory.

Based on reports, YIAGA AFRICA WTV found that:

  • There was increased citizen’s awareness about the registration exercise and the location of the registration centers in the month of March 2018 as compared to the months of January and February 2018. Notably, this increase was observed to have occurred when INEC created 10 additional registration centers in the 36 states and the FCT. Although WTV received complaints about difficulties in locating the CVR centers.
  • INEC created additional 10 registration centers across the 36 states and the FCT to address the increased demand for fresh registration.
  • More people visited the registration centers to request for transfer of registration, when compared to the WTV observation report in 2017. Although the awareness about the procedure for transfer is low.
  • There was a report from Ondo West LGA in Ondo State stating that INEC officials were alleged to have requested for money from registrants to fuel the office generator, and that some officials requested for bribe from party agents before they registered voters.
  • Political parties are not deploying their representative (agents) to observe the exercise.
  • There was minimal deployment of security personnel in most of the registration centers visited.
  • Asides for the delay in processing registrants and the shortage of direct data capturing machines (DDCM), the process was conducted effectively.

 Methodology

YIAGA Africa’s #WatchingTheVote deployed 116 citizen observers to INEC’ registration centers spread across the 36 States and the Federal Capital Territory. These observers were briefed on how to observe the CVR exercise, how to complete the CVR observation checklist and when and how to call the WTV data center to report their observation.

WTV Citizen Observers were deployed from January 09 to March 06, 2018 to observe the political environment within their place of residence. For the CVR exercise, the citizen observers were deployed to specific registration centers on assigned days and reported their observation only on the days they visited the registration centers.

Each observer called or sent in completed CVR observation checklist to WTV data center from where the reports were reviewed, verified and analyzed.

Findings:

Observers permitted to observe

  • WTV observers deployed reported in the affirmative that they were allowed access to most registration centers to exercise this civic responsibility.

Deployment of INEC Personnel

  • On the average 3 registration officials were seen in most of the registration centers visited by WTV observers.

Opening and Closing of registration centers

  • WTV findings reveal that most of the registration centers visited on the day observed opened for registration between the hours of 9:00am and 10:00am and most of these centers remained opened until the closing time of 3:00pm.

Deployment of Materials

  • Registration materials were deployed and in good supply across most of the centers visited.

Functionality of the DDC Machines

  • The DDC Machines were observed to be fairly functional. However, some of the registration centers observed experienced different levels of hitches. Some of these hitches occured because some of the Direct Data Capturing Machines (DDCM) deployed were obsolete and hence, could not function throughout the day for most of the days observed.

Confirming Status of Prospective Registrants:

  • INEC officials did not ask registrants to show any form of identification prior to being registered in most of the registration centers visited. However, WTV observers also reported that in some centers INEC requested for court affidavit before registering voters.

Average time spent per registration

  • WTV Observers reported that it takes on the average between 1 to 11 minutes to register a prospective registrant.

Public Awareness about the location and accessibility of the registration centers

  • Impressively, INEC had improved its communication to the public on the continuous voter registration exercise, however there was the dearth of information about the location of the rotational registration centers created by INEC to enable easy access. Most of the registrants questioned by observers said there were aware of the exercise through the mobilization by INEC, religious leaders and civil society organizations, they however were not informed about rotating the registration centers or location of some of these centers.
  • Most of the registration centers visited by WTV observers were located in areas that are accessible to all. 

Deployment of Party Agents

  • An exercise of this significance and coming ahead of an important election in 2019 should be of interest to political parties and their candidates. However, reports from WTV observers indicate that political parties were poorly represented in most of the registration centers observed. Only few party agents were seen in most of the registration centers visited.

Common challenges encountered by registrants at the registration center

  • Delay in registration occasioned by inadequate DDC Machines
  • Registrants complained about inadequate registration centers
  • Late arrival and early departure of INEC personnel in some centers.

Commendations:

  • YIAGA’s WTV commend INEC for the quick intervention by creating additional 10 registration centers across all the states to address the surge in the demand for registration. We commend INEC staff for the professionalism they exhibited in controlling the crowd at most of the overcrowded registration centers that we visited.
  • We also commend INEC officials in Lame ward of Toro LGA in Bauchi State for not yielding to the pressure to register those below the voting age of 18.
  • We also commend INEC staff for their resilience to educate registrants on the processes of transfer of registration.

Conclusions and Recommendations

Having noted above the various areas where the Commission recorded improvement in implementing the CVR exercise within the centers visited by WTV Observers, we acknowledge that there are still opportunities for more improvement to ensure efficiency in the CVR process. We hereby recommend that;

  1. There is need for INEC to make available more DDC Machines, replace the weak and obsolete machines and deploy more personnel to meet the high demand for registration;
  2. INEC should provide detailed, accurate and timely information on the location of registration centers for public use. This information should be provided on all online and offline platforms for easy and widespread communication.
  3. There is need to ensure adequate security during the continuous voter registration process as INEC embarks on the next phase of the registration exercise.
  4. There is need for extension of the registration closing time so as to encourage more numbers to register especially as there were noticeable larger influx towards the closing hours in the 1st quarter. Registration period should be extended to 6:00pm and Saturdays to enable more people to be registered.
  5. INEC should take seriously, the need to decentralize registration centers as we move closer to the 2019 general elections, to enable more citizens the opportunity to register and to exercise their franchise in the elections.
  6. There is need for awareness campaigns to sensitize the public on the importance of voter registration in election and the location of registration centres;
  7. YIAGA’s #WatchingTheVote is saddened by the very small numbers of party agents deployed to registration units/centres. We hope political parties will give the exercise the seriousness it deserves and that we will see improvement in deployment of personnel in the 2nd quarter.

 

For media inquiries please contact:

Cynthia Mbamalu: Tel. +234 (0) 806 076 3786

Email: [email protected]

Moshood Isah: Tel. +234 (0) 703 666 9339

Email: [email protected]

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

Office Address:

No 3, Road 17, Frantz Fanon Street, 4th Avenue, Gwarinpa, Abuja

www.yiaga.org  | www.watchingthevote.org  | (08169401359) | [email protected] /twitter: @YIAGA

 

2019 Elections: Time to Curb Excessive Campaign Expenditure – Omolola Mamedu

The 2019 General Elections is barely a year to go and avalanche of political campaigns from every medium of communication will start flooding the Nigerian space and beyond as politicians seek votes from prospective voters. Even though, political campaign has not been officially declared open, Nigerian politicians are already declaring their interest to run for various political offices. This in itself may be tagged an electoral offence but it’s a topic for another day.

Recently National Commissioner Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Prof. Anthonia Simbine stated that the rate of money spent in politics is responsible for the kind of governance we have at any given time. According to her, politicians see campaign spending as an investment which they would want to reap from which apparently is the bedrock of the corruption that pervades the political system. The increasing cost of politics is depriving a lot of ordinary and some qualified candidates from participating in politics because they cannot seem to afford the high cost involved in political activities in other to stand for political positions.

It is a fact that the amount of money spent on campaigning and political activities by our politicians is enormous. Reports have it that in 2011, all the opposition parties put together, spent N2.04 billion in visible expenses, while the then ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP) spent N5.01 billion. In 2015, all the opposition parties spent N2.91 billion while PDP spent N8.74 billion. These are even traceable expenses spent on media advertisements, campaign materials among others, to the exclusion of money spent in underhand dealings and the use of state-owned facilities including stadia for campaigns and other political activities.

The 2015 elections no doubt witness massive spending by both incumbent and opposition parties with recent report by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo the sum of N100 billion and $289 million in cash were embezzled by the Jonathan administration to fund campaign expenditure. Unfortunately, amendment of Section 91 of the electoral act which seeks to increase campaign expenditure by candidates in an election to N5 Billion naira for presidential candidates and N1 Billion naira for governorship candidates will also worsen the spending spree by politicians who are not even abiding by initial expenditure stipulated by the Electoral Commission. This overtime has led to poor governance when they get into power as it becomes an opportunity to recover money spent during campaigns.

This revelation is very worrisome as the cost of election in Nigeria is becoming outrageously ridiculous. This is one major boosts to corruption in Nigeria because when politicians spend this kind of money to win elections, the first thing they do is to recover the money spent (as they see it as investments), ones they get into political office and that is why people and development suffer as a result of that.

Similarly, elected officials are becoming more accountable to those who finance their campaigns than to their constituents. Large corporate and single donor funding for parties and candidates dominates political decisions and political corruption which is a general problem. This poses a threat to the Nigerian economic growth, democracy and the stability of the country. Sadly, the peculiar nature of Nigeria’s socioeconomic environment characterized by hunger and literacy make the electorates vulnerable to manipulation by corrupt politicians.

In this vein, there is urgent need by the electoral Commission to look at better ways to regulate the amount of money being spent by politician in any election while Civil Society Organisation who work in these areas should engage in election budget tracking and reporting defaulters to appropriate authority for persecution.  It is of course high time for INEC to live up to the part of their constitutional responsibilities which empowers the commission to direct political parties regarding financial records which includes campaign spending. The electoral commission is also as a matter of exigency conduct periodic (especially after elections) investigations to find out the obvious violations of financial stipulations by political parties.

More so, the recommendation on setting up a commission that would Monitor Political Party Compliance to the Electoral Act, including compliance to expenditure limit, would be a good way to monitor and check the amount of funds spent on elections.  This will open up the space for more and better candidates to participate in elections, which will lead to healthier competition, better candidate and improved governance eventually.

Omolola Mamedu is a Zonal Program Officer of YIAGA Africa’s Watching The Vote Project