I mustered the needed strength to climb up the over-head bridge as I allowed my eyes take in several gazes of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) building. My eyes followed the perspective from the top of the building as I made a right turn into the road leading to the International Women’s Center and was overwhelmed by a magnificent thought. Maybe not because it represented a show of wealth as the CBN building that my eyes just fondly caressed, but maybe because it represented womanhood and symbolizes the liberality of women in every sector especially in governance and democracy.
The thought and feeling was right for the moment as we were there to film what Watching The Vote Parallel Vote Tabulation (PVT) will do for us all in the 2019 general elections. There had been publications and findings of what the methodology had done in previous elections and how the Elections team of YIAGA AFRICA has successfully observed previous elections using the PVT methodology under it’s Watching The Vote (WTV) project.
For almost five hours, the film crew were setting up. It was as if I was at the set of a blockbuster movie. Lighting, stage and cameras mounted at different points by the hands of creators whose minds were filled with ideation. Wires and cables, console for light, tripods, film gears and a massive shooting space. Nine film crew members made up of cinematographers, light and sound technicians, media and communication officers, IT gurus, documentary photographer and the lead cast, who is Cynthia Mbamalu, the Programs Manager of YIAGA AFRICA who had extensive experience in election observation and champions the cause of the inclusion of women in politics in Nigeria.
The lights went off and the space became silent and as Alfred Age Coker the cinematographer hit the record button, the first sounds I heard was that of Cynthia Mbamalu’s footsteps. When she finally stopped and the lights came on, she began with an introduction of herself, followed by the explanation of what the PVT, is and what it will do. She spoke of how trained non-partisan observers send reports via coded SMS to a centralized database. She told us of how the PVT had observed the 2011 and 2015 general elections successfully and seventeen (17) elections in total in Nigeria. She narrated how through sample polling units and by employing statistical tools and ICT, observers uses specialized checklist and a mobile phone to analyze the quality of the election day process and estimate the results thereby verifying the accuracy of the elections.
It was no surprise that Daniel Ukpai the ICT/Program Officer for the National Democratic Institute (NDI); the technical partner for the WTV project was directing the production. They have been the backbone in providing support and building the capacity of YIAGA AFRICA Elections team. Like a salvation story, he and Cynthia Mbamalu took us through the PVT journey. At that point, I was confident and had the peace of mind that the upcoming 2019 general elections will be observed through credible eyes.

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