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15 Nov
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YIAGA AFRICA Releases Pre-election Press Statement, Deploys 548 Observers for Kogi Elections

Pre-election Press Release on the 2019 Kogi Governorship Election

Friday, November 15, 2019

Reverton Hotel, Lokoja

 YIAGA AFRICA today briefed the public on its plans to deploy 500 observers on 16 November 2019 to observe Kogi State governorship elections. YIAGA AFRICA will have mobile and stationary observers in every 21 Local Government Areas (LGAs) in the state. YIAGA AFRICA will also deploy observers to the State Collation Centres in every LGA.

YIAGA AFRICA will conduct a parallel vote tabulation or PVT – the gold standard observation methodology that has been utilized throughout Africa and the world. This deployment will enable YIAGA AFRICA to provide the most timely and accurate information on the opening of polls; the conduct of accreditation and voting; and the counting, announcement and posting of results throughout the country. Based on reports from its observers in 250 sampled polling units ,YIAGA AFRICA will also provide an independent projection of voter turnout and will be able to project the vote shares that each party should receive within a narrow range. If the official results fall within YIAGA AFRICA’s estimated ranges, then the public, political parties and candidates should have confidence in the ballots cast at the polling units. Only INEC, however, has the legal mandate to announce the election results.

During the Press briefing, YIAGA AFRICA raised emerging concerns which include security threats, violent attacks and attempts to limit electoral competition through violence and intimidation and restriction of campaigns to certain locations.  The report also put INEC on the alert regarding logistical concerns especially with locations affected by flood. Drawing from the lessons in the 2019 elections, YIAGA AFRICA is concerned with the trend of arbitrary cancellation of votes by returning, collation and presiding officers during the results collation.

INEC as the electoral umpire should ensure that the poll is transparent and credible. The Commission must ensure that all election day polling unit and collation processes are conducted within its own guidelines to forestall complaints of bias and illegality.

YIAGA AFRICA urges all deployed security personnel to remain neutral throughout the election. They must place priorities on protecting human rights, electoral officers, election materials and candidates during the election. Security agencies should avoid harassing and intimidating voters, election officials, observers and members of the media.

YIAGA AFRICA calls out to the people of Kogi state to come out en mass to exercise their civic responsibility by voting for their preferred governorship candidate on Saturday. An election characterized by low turnout may not produce the desired result hence it is important for all eligible voters to come out to vote. In addition, voters must resist any attempt by politicians to subvert the process through material inducement or cash.

Since WTV is based on official results from a representative random sample of polling units, YIAGA AFRICA will be able to estimate the state-wide results for the governorship election within a narrow range based on well-established statistical principles. If INEC’s official results for the Governorship election fall within YIAGA AFRICA’s estimated range, then the public, political parties and candidates should have confidence that the official results reflect the ballots cast at polling units; if the announced official results do not reflect the ballot cast, YIAGA AFRICA will expose it. As soon as INEC announces the official results, YIAGA AFRICA will follow up with a fourth and final press conference to share its own statement on the accuracy of the election results and will publicize these projections.

On Election Day, YIAGA AFRICA’s WTV Data Centre Kogi will open at 6:00 am and will remain open until the counting has finished at all sampled polling units and all WTV citizen observers have sent in all ten of their observation reports.  YIAGA AFRICA’s data center is always open to the public and media . Throughout Election Day, YIAGA AFRICA will provide – as appropriate – updates on the conduct of the election based on the near real-time reports from its observers. These will be released at the data center and posted on social media at YIAGA AFRICA’s Facebook page (www.facebook.com/yiaga.org) and YIAGA AFRICA’s Twitter page (@YIAGA).

For media inquiries please contact:

Moshood Isah

Communication Officer

YIAGA AFRICA

Tel. +234 (0) 703 666 9339

Email: misah@yiaga.org

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

DOWNLOAD FULL PRE-ELECTION STATEMENT BELOW

WATCHING THE VOTE PRE-ELECTION PRESS STATEMENT FOR KOGI GOVERNORSHIP ELECTIONS

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14 Nov
0

Bayelsa/Kogi: Vote Buying and Auctioning of Nigeria’s Electoral Democracy – Tracy Keshi

In less than 24 hours, citizens of Kogi and Bayelsa States are slated to go to the polls to perform their civic responsibilities as they elect a new leadership of their states. Expectations are high, political parties, candidates and their supporters are gathering momentum, tensions are approaching a crescendo and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has revealed during the two-day seminar on their preparedness for the November 16, 2019 governorship elections in Kogi and Bayelsa States to correct the mistakes in the 2019 elections and set a new standard for future elections.

While the rest of Nigeria and the international community observe the pre-electoral process, some of the questions that dominate our thoughts are: will the elections be free and fair? will it be the case of the highest bidder winning? will INEC fulfil its promises? will a credible and deserving winner emerge?

Elections are a central feature of democracy, and for it to be considered free and fair, it must express the will of the electorates, devoid of vote-buying and other electoral malpractices.

Vote buying and money politics which have taken the centre stage in our electoral process are corrupt elections practice that threatens the conduct of free and credible elections as well as the quality of leadership that hampers the growth of democracy in Nigeria. It perpetuates bad governance and compromises the well-being of everyone regardless of who sold or did not sell their votes for instant gratification. For every traded vote, they are unintended consequences.

According to YIAGA AFRICA’S Watching The Vote project, voter inducement was reported in at least one of every three of the 21 LGA’s in Kogi state and all LGA’s in Bayelsa State and If not properly checked may trigger electoral violence.

In line with the Electoral Act, 2010, Article 130, “A person who – (a) corruptly by himself or by any other person at any time after the date of an election has been announced, directly or indirectly gives or provides or pays money to or for any person for the purpose of corruptly influencing that person or any other person to vote or refrain from voting at such election, or on account of such person or any other person having voted or refrained from voting at such election; or (b) being a voter, corruptly accepts or takes money or any other inducement during any of the period stated in paragraph (a) of this section, commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a fine of N100,000 or 12 months’ imprisonment or both.”

The preparedness of INEC as the electoral umpire as well as security agents in ensuring that electoral offenders are arrested and prosecuted is very pertinent to the success of the gubernatorial elections. As long as perpetrators are not held to account and brought to justice, they will brazenly continue to take advantage of the people and drive the democratic process into a quagmire. All hands must be on deck to stand against any form of vote trading.

YIAGA AFRICA’s Watching The Vote project also reported that 54.24 % registered voters in Bayelsa State are between the ages of 18-35. Young voters account for more than half of the voting population making them a powerful force in the election. This is a great opportunity for these young voters to come out en masse to cast their vote as voter apathy aids election malpractice.

I urge all citizens of Kogi and Bayelsa States to exercise their civic duties come November 16, 2019, and collaborate with INEC to ensure the credibility of votes cast. Remember, do NOT sell your votes! Do NOT stir up violence, Be Patriotic Nigerians.

Tracy Keshi is a Program Officer at YIAGA AFRICA

She is actively involved in the #BounceCorruption and #UpRight4Nigeria Campaign

She tweets @tracykeshi

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14 Nov
0

Bayelsa Election: Emerging Concerns of Logistics, Voter Inducement, Security Threats, as YIAGA AFRICA Releases Pre-election Press Statement

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PRE-ELECTION PRESS STATEMENT FOR KOGI GOVERNORSHIP ELECTIONS

 Introduction 

Ladies and Gentlemen, it gives us great pleasure to welcome you to the YIAGA AFRICA Watching The Vote (WTV) Pre-Election Press Briefing on the 2019 governorship election in Bayelsa State. This press briefing is the first in a series of press conferences to be hosted by YIAGA AFRICA WTV during the 2019 Bayelsa Governorship election.

On November 16, 2019, the people of Bayelsa state will go to the polls to elect a Governor that will lead the state for the next four years. In what promises to be a keenly contested election with forty-five political parties contesting for the governorship election of which three (3) are women. According to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Bayelsa State has a total of 923,182 registered voters, out of which 889,308 Permanent Voters Card (PVC) which is 96.3% have been collected.

In addition, this is one of two off-cycle elections to be conducted by INEC since the 2019 general elections. Those elections failed to meet the expectations of many Nigerians. With the experience of the 2019 elections still fresh in the minds of the people, not only INEC, but also the security agencies and critically, political parties are once again in the limelight to inspire confidence in the electoral process by ensuring the perennial challenges witnessed in the 2019 general elections are addressed and that the process is credible.

As one of Nigeria’s largest non-partisan and independent movements of citizens observers committed to promoting electoral integrity, YIAGA AFRICA’s WTV will be providing systematic, accurate and timely information on the election day process. YIAGA AFRICA will be the only observer group that can independently determine if the official results announced reflects the total votes cast. If the announced results have been manipulated and do not match the results posted at polling units, then YIAGA AFRICA will expose it.

YIAGA AFRICAs Watching the Vote is “Driven by Data – For All Nigerians – Beholden to None!”

Watching the Vote Pre-Election Observation

As part of our efforts to deepen electoral integrity, YIAGA AFRICA commenced its Pre-Election Observation (PREO) from September 2019 with 21 Long-Term Observers (LTOs) deployed across the 8 LGAs. This statement highlights summary findings of the pre-election period, which focused on assessing the level of INECs preparation, political party campaigns, voter education, activities of marginalized groups and early warning signs of electoral violence. The pre-election environment revealed amongst other things commercialization of the political process, violent campaign rhetoric and hate speech, excessive show of force by political parties especially the APC and the PDP and unhealthy electoral competition resulting to deaths, arson and violence. Beyond the electoral campaign, our findings indicate early commencement of election activities by INEC in line with the timetable and schedule of activities issued by the commission. INEC and civil society organizations including religious/faith-based organizations were visibly involved in voter education and citizen mobilization. Consistent trends in the pre-election environment include:

  1. Pre-election violence: Incidents such as violent physical or verbal attacks, vandalism or destruction of properties and candidates’ posters, inflammatory or inciting statements and recruitment of political thugs were recorded across all four reporting periods. With the most recent being, the violent clash between the APC and PDP in Nembe LGA observed on November 13, 2019. In addition, there were reported cases of sporadic shootings in Southern Ijaw and Yenagoa LGAs.
  2. Violation of Electoral Laws: Throughout the reporting period violations like voter inducement through the distribution of money, gift items and its kinds by candidates or their supporters was observed and remained consistent in the four reporting periods. In addition, was the report on buying and selling of PVC and voters’ details. This report was received more from Ogbia, Sagbama, Southern Ijaw and Yenagoa LGAs.
  3. Election Preparatory Activities: Election activities were undertaken by INEC across the state. This includes targeted engagements with critical stakeholders, the distribution of the Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs) in September 2019. Voter education activities by INEC were undertaken in all 8 LGAs as well as election observation kits distribution. YIAGA AFRICAs WTV also confirms the deployment of non-sensitive materials in all of the 8 LGAs.
  4. Political Parties’ Campaigns: Campaign rallies have dominated the political space in the state. By the fourth reporting period, the dominant political parties in the state (Accord, APC, PDP and SDP) have extended their campaign rallies across the state with APC and PDP seeking to hold rallies in all LGAs.
  5. Participation of Special Groups: the reports highlighted that youth and women groups were increasingly engaging the political space by campaigning and canvassing for votes for political parties and candidates.
  6. Violence Against Women: Elections remain a civil process that requires the participation of all sections of society. Reports were received on violence against women in the electoral process with more reports coming in from Ekeremor and Southern Ijaw LGAs.

Emerging Concerns on the 2019 Governorship Election 

  1. High Security threats, Recruitment of Thugs and Arms stockpiling: Bayelsa state has a history of electoral violence engineered by politicians who want to win elections at all costs in the state, especially with the battle for the control of the riverine areas. The recruitment of thugs and militants and the gathering of arms to deploy violence is a major threat to a credible election. More reports on this were received from Southern Ijaw, Brass, Sagbama and Yenagoa. In addition to this, is the threat of community conflicts that may impact on the election especially with the recent incident in Ekeremor LGA where a clash over a community election led to a major crisis with some houses burnt. The recent violence clashes between PDP and APC supporters resulting in the death of 3 citizens in Nembe when PDP attempted to hold a campaign rally in Nembe LGA also posed an additional challenge.
  2. Buying of PVCs and Vote Buying Prevalent: The buying and selling of PVCs was one of the predominant election malpractices recorded in the pre-election environment. The findings from all four observation reports revealed that PVC were purchased for N500. The implication of this includes the possible attempt to undermine the credibility of the process by manipulating the process of accreditation and voting, it can also be a tool to wither down the voting strength of a particular party or region.
  3. Community Collusion: With the identification of certain voting blocs in different communities and the show of intolerance to opposing political views, WTV findings indicate the possibility for some communities to collude in flouting the election guidelines to put the party of their choice at an advantage.
  4. Displacement of Voters Due to Flooding:  The issue of flooded communities remains one of the major challenges in the elections especially considering that there is poor documentation or data showing where voters in flooded communities are located or relocated to. However, the report shows that some polling units in communities within the Kolokuma/Opokuma, Southern Ijaw, Ekeremor, Sagbama, Yenagoa LGAs are affected and demands that INEC provides some alternative for voters from affected communities.
  5. Logistical Concerns:  INEC has consistently had logistical challenges on election day. Election day logistics for the Bayelsa elections will be even more difficult given the likelihood of rain before and on election day as well as the difficult terrain. However, these are not the first elections that INEC has conducted in Bayelsa and voters have the right to expect polling units to open on time.

Summary Recommendations

INEC:

  • INEC should continue to act with utmost professionalism and impartiality. This requires strict compliance with the regulatory framework of the election in all circumstances, no matter the odds or pressures from any quarters.
  • INEC must ensure it has an effective oversight mechanism to guarantee compliance with electoral law and guidelines especially in the administration of the election. This includes ensuring that there is uniformity of practice and that voters’ accreditation process is secured.
  • INEC must show utmost professionalism in the timely, effective and secure deployment of its staff, materials (sensitive and insensitive) and other resources needed for the election will enable early commencement of polls.
  • INEC should ensure that there is proper coordination with security agencies for effectiveness and safety of personnel and materials deployment. This includes ensuring safe delivery of personnel and materials after the election.
  • INEC ad hoc staff must ensure that polling units are located in areas that are accessible to all voters, especially PWDs in order not to disproportionately disenfranchise voters or limit their rights to participation.
  • INEC needs to urgently communicate its plans to conduct elections in communities affected by flooding to ensure that voters are able to vote.

Security:

  • Early warning signs of election violence should be addressed by relevant security agencies to avoid escalation or spillover on election day. These issues should be addressed in a professional and civil manner.
  • Security agencies should ensure protection for vulnerable voters especially women and persons with disability, they must enforce appropriate sanctions to any form of violation of rights to vote.
  • Deployment of personnel and logistics should be all-round and not restricted to certain parts of the state.
  • There should be proper coordination between all the security agencies deployed for the election, proper lines of communication and rules of engagement should be adhered to. The security agencies must remain non-partisan and professional in their conduct and operations.

Political Parties: 

  • Political parties, candidates and their supporters should show commitment to electoral accountability by respecting the rules governing the conduct of the elections and refrain from deploying violence and to win the election at all cost.
  • Political parties, candidates and their supporters must refrain from vote buying and the related practice of compromising the secrecy of the ballot so that the voters of Bayelsa state are free to vote their preference for governor.
  • Political parties, candidates and supporters should show political tolerance and reject community collusion by allowing voters to cast ballots for whichever candidate they prefer.
  • Political parties, candidates and supporters who are required to be mobile on election day should only do so in clearly marked vehicles with numbered license plates.

Citizens:

  • Voters and citizens should be security conscious and report any suspicious movement or threat to violence to the appropriate security agencies.
  • Voters in Bayelsa state should come out in their numbers and cast their votes. Elections will be decided by only those who come out to vote.
  • Voters should reject efforts by political parties to buy their votes, remember that their vote is their secret and regardless they should vote their conscious when in the voting booth.
  • Individuals should reject efforts by political parties to entice them to vote on behalf of another individual with a purchased PVC.
  • Communities should not engage in collusion and should let members of the community vote for whichever candidate they prefer.

CSOs:

  • CSOs should intensify on the get out the vote (GOTV) campaigns to encourage and mobilize eligible voters to participate in the exercise.
  • There is a need for proper coordination and collaboration between observer groups in ensuring that high standards and the global principles of election observation are adhered to.

WTV Election Day Observation

YIAGA AFRICA’s WTV Election Day deployment adopts the Parallel Vote Tabulation (PVT) methodology for election day observation at the polling units and will also be deploying observers to the LGA collation centers. The PVT is a proven and advanced observation methodology that employs well-established statistical principles and utilizes sophisticated information technologies. YIAGA AFRICA’s WTV provides timely and accurate information on the conduct of accreditation, voting, and counting as well as independently verifies the official governorship results as announced by the INEC. PVTs are not exit polls. WTV citizen observers do not ask voters for whom they cast their ballot. Instead, the PVT relies on the official results from polling units for which there have been observers watching the entire process. This tested and proven election observation methodology has been deployed in over 50 countries around the world including Nigeria – most recently by YIAGA AFRICA for the 2019 presidential election. For the November 16 Bayelsa Governorship Election, WTV will deploy 500 stationary observers to a representative statistical sample of 250 polling units and 21 mobile observers located in all 8 LGAs of Bayelsa state. WTV will also deploy 8 collation center observers to each of the LGA Collation Centres. The sampled polling units were determined by established statistical principles to ensure the resulting information is representative of the state and unbiased. The PVT sample of polling units was drawn according to well established statistical principles and is truly representative of all of the polling units because the percentage of sampled polling units for each LGA is similar to the percentage of all polling units for each LGA. For example, Brass LGA has 8.80% of all the polling units in Bayelsa (159 of 1,804) and 8.80% (22 of 250) of the sampled polling units are in Brass LGA. While not identical, the percentages for every LGA are very close, clearly demonstrating that the PVT sample is representative of the entire state (Appendix I demonstrates the representativeness of sampled polling units).

YIAGA AFRICA’s WTV 500 stationary observers, 21 mobile observers and 8 collation center observers were carefully recruited according to established criteria and carefully trained to ensure that they are non-partisan and independent. All YIAGA AFRICA citizen observers had to sign a pledge of neutrality and were given a code of conduct to which they have to adhere when observing. All YIAGA AFRICA citizen observers have been accredited by INEC to observe at polling units or collation centers.

On Election Day, WTV observers will report to their assigned polling units at 7:00 am and remain there throughout setup, accreditation and voting, counting and the announcement and posting of the official results. Throughout the day, every citizen observer at sampled polling units will send in eleven coded text messages to the WTV Data Centre in Bayelsa, located here at Matho Crystal Hotel, Yenagoa. Coded text messages sent by WTV citizen observers will provide detailed information on the conduct of the process as well as the official results for the polling unit as announced by the polling officials. Over the course of Election Day, YIAGA AFRICA’s data center in Bayelsa will receive 5,000 text messages containing approximately 73,500 individual pieces of information about the 2019 Bayelsa governorship election. Once the text messages are received at YIAGA AFRICA’s data center, they will be processed and reviewed to ensure the information is complete, authentic and accurate.

It is important to remember:

  • The PVT is an Election Day observation methodology that provide accurate information on the conduct of voting, accreditation and counting and independently verifies the accuracy of the results. However, elections are more than just election day. To ensure a comprehensive assessment of the entire election process WTV also deployed a separate set of observers to monitor the pre-election environment. YIAGA AFRICA’s overall assessment of the election are based on both pre-election and election day data.
  • Using statistical principles, the PVT only deploys to representative sample of polling units rather than all polling units. As such the PVT results are statistically valid estimates of what happens at all polling stations (even the ones to which YIAGA AFRICA did not deploy citizen observers). However, as in past elections, in order to capture any critical incidents that may affect the election, YIAGA AFRICA has deployed mobile observers who will visit both sampled and unsampled polling stations across the state on election day.
  • As with other citizen observation efforts, PVT observers are deployed inside polling units to observe voting, accreditation and counting. In order to observe what happens outside of polling units, YIAGA AFRICA has, as in past elections, deployed mobile observers who will assess the environment outside of polling units. PVT can provide information on the secrecy of the ballot at polling stations as a sign of vote buying, but no observation effort can provide information on whether individuals chose to vote based on monies paid to them or perceived threats outside the polling unit.

Since WTV is based on official results from a representative random sample of polling units, YIAGA AFRICA will be able to estimate the state-wide results for the governorship election within a narrow range based on well-established statistical principles. If INEC’s official results fall within YIAGA AFRICA’s estimated range, then the public, political parties and candidates should have confidence that the official results reflect the ballots cast at polling units; if the announced official results do not reflect the ballot cast, YIAGA AFRICA will expose it.

On Election Day, YIAGA AFRICA’s WTV Data Centre Bayelsa will open at 6:00 am and will remain open until counting has finished at all sampled polling units and all WTV citizen observers have sent in all ten of their observation reports. YIAGA AFRICA’s data center is open to the public and media at all times.

Throughout Election Day, YIAGA AFRICA will provide – as appropriate – updates on the conduct of the election based on the near real-time reports from its observers. These will be released at the data center and posted on social media at YIAGA AFRICA’s Facebook page (www.facebook.com/yiaga.org) and YIAGA AFRICA’s Twitter page (@YIAGA).

On Saturday, November 16, 2019, at 10 pm, YIAGA AFRICA will release its estimated projections based on its preliminary data. On Sunday, 17 November 2019, at Matho Crystal Hotel, Yenagoa, YIAGA AFRICA will share its preliminary WTV findings on the conduct of set-up, accreditation, voting and counting. Immediately after INEC announces the official results for the gubernatorial election, YIAGA AFRICA will hold its own press conference and issue its election results verification statement. Verification of the election results will be based on the INEC official results as announced by-poll officials at the WTV sampled polling units.

Conclusion

YIAGA AFRICA WTV is fully prepared to observe the Bayelsa 2019 governorship election. To this end, we invite everyone here present to accompany us now on a tour of the Data Center where a live simulation is currently underway to test the functionality of our data management systems and our observers to observe the election.

Currently, all 500 PVT observers are sending in practice reports based on Election Day scenario, which will be duly processed by the data clerks and analysis team. YIAGA AFRICA is ready to observe the elections on behalf of the people of Bayelsa and Nigerians, to ensure to people’s votes are accurately counted.

We call on all people of Bayelsa, the parties and candidates, INEC and the security forces to play their parts to ensure a peaceful, credible and conclusive process.

Thank you and God Bless the people of Bayelsa State.

Dr. Aisha Abdullahi

Chair, YIAGA AFRICA Watching the Vote – Bayelsa Observation Mission

Ezenwa Nwagwu

Co-Chair, YIAGA AFRICA Watching the Vote – Bayelsa Observation Mission

Cynthia Mbamalu

Project Director, YIAGA AFRICA Watching the Vote

For media inquiries please contact:

Moshood Isah

Communication Officer

YIAGA AFRICA

Tel. +234 (0) 703 666 9339

Email: misah@yiaga.org

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

Appendix 1

Distribution of All Polling Units and PVT Sampled Polling Units for the
2019 Bayelsa Gubernatorial Election
S/No LGA Registered Voters Polling Units Percent of Total Polling Units Sampled Polling Units Percent of Total Sampled Polling Units Observers
1 BRASS 67,804 159 8.81% 22 8.80% 44
2 EKEREMOR 125,189 198 10.98% 27 10.80% 54
3 KOLOKUMA/OPOKUMA 52,765 144 7.98% 20 8.00% 40
4 NEMBE 92,717 202 11.20% 28 11.20% 56
5 OGBIA 109,903 259 14.36% 36 14.40% 72
6 SAGBAMA 109,460 198 10.98% 28 11.20% 56
7 SOUTHERN IJAW 165,449 425 23.56% 59 23.60% 118
8 BRASS 199,895 219 12.14% 30 12.00% 60
  Total 923,182 1804 100.00% 250 100.00% 500
Source: YIAGA AFRICA WTV BAYELSA 2019

 

 

 

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11 Nov
0

Will Kogi/Bayelsa Election be Determine by the Highest Bidder?

……YIAGA AFRICA Releases Third Pre-election Observation Report

SUMMARY OF FINDINGS

The latest pre-election report looks at key issues facing the Bayelsa and Kogi 2019 election, including indicators of violence, violation of electoral codes, and activities of INEC and political parties. This reporting phase also captures the plight of voters in some communities flooded and the issue of where they vote on Election Day. In addition, is the issue of the threat of the likelihood for politicians to weaponize the elections. For Bayelsa, it may be a case of those who control the water taking the election.

  1. Political Campaigns and Rallies Trailed by Violence: in this reporting phase, political campaigns and rallies were trailed with insecurity and other election violence in both Kogi and Bayelsa States. WTV LTOs reported: violent physical attack on rallies/meetings or campaign trails in Southern Ijaw (Bayelsa state) and Dekina LGA (Kogi state); verbal violence on rallies/meetings or campaign trails in Brass, Nembe and Southern Ijaw (in Bayelsa) and in Yaba West in Kogi state; and intimidation of candidate/supporters in Yenagoa and Southern Ijaw in Bayelsa state and in Ankpa, Dekina, Idah and Ofu, in Kogi state.
  2. PVC goes to the Highest Bidder and Voter Inducement Continues: Trading of PVCs and voter details, and other forms of voter inducement through distribution of money still prevails. WTV findings specifically disclosed ongoing buying and selling of PVCs in Southern Ijaw and Ogbia in Bayelsa state and Okehi, Ankpa, and Idah in Kogi state and distribution of money or gift items in all the LGAs in Bayelsa except for Kolokuma/Sagbama,Ekeremor. In Kogi State, there were no reports of voter inducement in Okene, Ankpa, Dekina, Igalamela/Odolu, Ofu, Olamaboro, Omala, Ijamu, Mopa Moro and Yagba East LGA.
  3. Sustained Citizens and Voter Engagement: in this reporting phase, the WTV project noted sustained levels of dissemination of key electoral information by INEC and CSOs. The WTV pre-election findings in Bayelsa reveals ongoing voter information dissemination activities by INEC and CSOs in all the LGAs and by NOA in 7 LGAs. In Kogi state, voter information dissemination was carried out by INEC and CSOs in 13 LGAs and by NOA in 8 LGAs.
  4. Political Party Activities: Political parties in Bayelsa state are engaging more in political campaigns than in Kogi state. The findings from Bayelsa state reveals that: APC did not hold any rally in Kolokuma/Opokuma LGA .
  5. Plight of Voters in Flooded Communities: Reports in this reporting phase highlights the challenge of voters in flooded communities that threatens their right to vote. Some possible polling units affected are located in Kolokuma/Opokuma, Southern Ijaw, Ekeremor, Sagbama, Yenagoa LGAs. In Kogi states, polling units affected are located in communities within Ibaji, Kogi Koton Karfe, Lokoja, Ofu, Ajaokuta, Omala and Idah LGAs. Ibaji appears to be the most severely affected LGA. Communities in Onyedega, Unale, Ojila, Odeke, Ejule, Ayah, Analo and Akpanyo ward are specifically affected.

Recommendation

Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

  1. The increase in the purchase of PVC and voter details calls for an immediate action from INEC to develop an oversight mechanism on election day to prevent manipulation of the voter accreditation process. In addition, INEC should in collaboration with the police commence arrest of politicians going about requesting for PVC and voter details.
  2. The need for INEC to intensify its voter education as the election get closer especially with respect to voting procedure and messages on INECs plan to ensure credible election to build citizens’ confidence in the process.
  3. INEC needs to ensure proper coordination with the security agencies to guarantee the security of polling officials and INEC staff especially the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) members to be deployed on election day.
  4. INEC needs to properly communicate its plans to ensure that voters in polling units affected by flood can vote. This should include information on where and how these voters in the affected polling units will vote.

Security Agencies

  1. For a peaceful election, there is an ardent need for better inter-agency collaboration and cooperation between both the security agencies towards the elections especially on election day in hot spots already identified in riverine areas in Bayelsa and LGAs identified in Kogi states.
  2. Security agencies working on the elections should ensure that all personnel deployed are properly trained.

Political Parties

  1. Political parties and candidates should focus on issue-based campaigns rather than the shameful act of purchasing PVCs and voters’ details.
  2. Political parties and candidates have a role to play in ensuring peaceful elections and should desist and refrain from recruiting thugs, militants, cultists, criminals, etc. to deploy violence.
  3. Political parties should promote issues-based campaigns and conduct voter education as part of their role in building our electoral democracy.

Citizens

  1. Citizens should guard their PVC and voter details because the PVC is the only identity card that guarantees their right to vote on election.
  2. Citizens should work with security agencies by report incidents or threats of violence, or perpetrators of violence.

Download Full Report below

KOGI/BAYELSA: PRE-ELECTION OBSERVATION REPORT 3

 

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10 Nov
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YIAGA AFRICA Concludes Training of 1077 Citizen Observers for Bayelsa, Kogi Elections

YIAGA AFRICA under the Watching the Vote (WTV) project has concluded a comprehensive election day observation training for 1077 Citizen Observers in both Kogi and Bayelsa State ahead of the November 16, Governorship elections in both states. Leveraging on the experience of our cohort of 48 Master Trainers who have conducted series of training in previous elections from the Anambra 2017, Ekiti and Osun 2018, and the 2019 General elections, the observers were trained on the essentials of election observation beginning from understating the election day process as provided in the Independent National Electoral Commission’s (INEC) Manuals and Election guidelines, Election day deployment, to the WTV observation methodology, using the observation forms and reporting and then guidelines/principles for election observation in line with the global principles of Global Network for Domestic Election Monitors.

Twenty-two Master Trainers were deployed to 20 Training Centers across 8 Local Government Areas in Bayelsa state, to train all 520 Observers in Bayelsa state. Similarly, a total of 26 Master Trainers successfully trained the 526 citizen observers across all 21 Local Government Areas in Kogi State. In addition, a total of 29 LGA results collation observers were also trained by the WTV team. The training has adequately prepared citizen observers to observe the November 16 Governorship election which includes the Kogi West Senatorial election.

Recognizing the importance of the smart card reader for the accreditation of the voters and in line with previous observation report on the usage and functionality of the Smart Card readers, WTV observers have been trained on how to observe the usage and functionality of the card reader using a tally sheet to track how each voter is processed.  This will enable us to track the adherence to the electoral guidelines which stipulates the use of smart card readers to verify the PVCs and authenticate fingerprints of voters.  Observers will also be observing and reporting critical incidents like delay in the arrival of electoral officials, non-usage of the smart card reader, harassment of electoral officials or voters, assault or any other shocking incident that can negatively impact on the electoral process.

To further ensure the accuracy of election data, we have set up two simulation exercises where the WTV trained observers will respond to various election scenarios by sending their messages to the WTV database before the election. This will enable trained YIAGA AFRICA WTV data clerks to assess the quality of observers and training received and further enable the team to test the technology deployed for the observation ahead of the November 16, election.

WatchingTheVote is a comprehensive observation of the electoral process which includes the observation of the political party primaries, pre-election environment in all Local government areas and the election day observation which deploys the Parallel Vote Tabulation (PVT). The PVT is a systematic observation of the voting and counting process at a representative random sample of polling units using statistical principle and information and communication technologies (ICTs) to rapidly transmit observer reports from the Polling Units to a central database.

Using the PVT, YIAGA AFRICAs WTV will be providing credible and accurate information on the election day process and will be determining if the official results reflect the votes cast at the polling units.

Signed

Samson Itodo

Executive Director

YIAGA AFRICA

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09 Nov
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Zamfara Assembly Seeks Citizens’ Contributions for Legislative Agenda

As part of its effort to develop a citizen-driven Legislative Agenda in the state houses of assembly with the four youngest speakers in Nigeria, YIAGA AFRICA organized a town hall on Saturday, the 9thof November 2019 to provide technical support to the Zamfara State House of Assembly.

The town hall aimed at getting feedbacks from the constituency and giving opportunity to the constituency to contribute to the development of the State Assembly Legislative Agenda.

Hon. Nasiru Bello, Deputy House Leader representing Bugudu constituency, officially opened the town hall with a welcome remark, thanking the Honourable Speaker for the effort to develop a Citizen Driven Legislative Agenda which will be the first time in the history of Zamfara State House of Assembly.

In his good will message, Dr. Ernest Ereke, YIAGA AFRICA Centre for Legislative Engagement coordinator, stated the essence of the town hall and further mentioned that YIAGA AFRICA is pleased to support Zamfara State in making history.

During the interactive session with constituents, representative civil societies, district heads and religious leaders, stated their needs and expectations of the Assembly, which includes the passage of bills on education, security, and health, public input on bills, provision for good education for the girl child, and construction of more primary health care.

The town hall had in attendance: The Speaker, Rt. Hon. Nasiru Magarya, members of the State House of Assembly, CSO representatives, Districts Heads and Religious Leaders.

The town hall followed the deployment of researchers by the assembly to 14 local government areas of the state to gather data from citizens on their needs and expectations from the state assembly.

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07 Nov
0

YIAGA AFRICA Partners Plateau Assembly in Maiden Town Hall Meeting on Citizens Driven Legislative Agenda

Citizens of  Plateau State were provided the opportunity to share their yearnings and aspiration with the state House of Assembly during a town hall meeting in partnership with YIAGA AFRICA in a bid to  develop a Citizen Driven Legislative Agenda. The town hall aimed at getting feedbacks from the constituency and giving opportunity to the constituency to contribute to the development of the 9th State Assembly Legislative Agenda saw members of various constituency in the state coming to share their thought on their expectations from the state assembly.

Addressing participants at the meeting, Speaker, Rt. Hon Abok Ayuba, said, a citizen town hall has never been organized by a State House of Assembly in Plateau State and likewise, a citizen driven Legislative Agenda has never been developed since the inception of the Plateau State House of Assembly. He appreciated YIAGA AFRICA for inspiring the 9th Assembly to develop a Legislative Agenda and promised never to fail. He identified one of the major issues of Plateau State, which is revenue generation.  He explained that a committee has been set up to investigate the issues and explore other options to generate more revenue for the State. He rounded off by assuring the citizens that the assembly would continue to work hard and see that they are of good examples to Nigeria youth.

“The Assembly is largely dominated by young people, and as a young speaker, we will promote issues that will place Plateau on the path of growth and development. As young people, we have a future to protect, and so, we will not do anything that will tarnish the image of the state; rather, we will promote developmental issues. Plateau people gave us the mandate to serve as their representatives; we will do our best to write our names in gold,” he said.

Hon. Philip Dasun appreciated YIAGA AFRICAfor the support given to the 4 States House of Assembly. He further expressed so much happiness in the bold step taken by the 9th Assembly to involve Plateau State citizens in the development of a legislative agenda.

In his good will message, Dr Ernest Ereke, YIAGA AFRICA, gave a brief background of youth inclusion in governance through the campaign of the ‘Not Too Young To Run’ Bill. He further said that, the 9th Assembly will be the first assembly in the history of Plateau State House of Assembly to develop a Citizen Driven Legislative Agenda and this is history made.

During the interactive session with constituents, representatives from different Local Governments expressed their needs and expectation of the 9th Assembly. They stated the challenges faced and asked the assembly for interventions. Some of the major needs of the constituents included rehabilitation of bad roads, completion of abandoned projects and provision of education for the girl child.

 

 

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06 Nov
0

Bayelsa/Kogi: YIAGA AFRICA Releases Second Pre-election Observation Report

….Calls on Security Agencies to Tackle threats to election

SUMMARY OF FINDINGS

With the emerging trends, the election campaigns are becoming more competitive and fiercely contested, WTV observed political party rallies and campaign paraphernalia including billboards and voter education campaigns from different electoral stakeholders. YIAGA AFRICA has also called on security agencies to tackle any impending threat to the upcoming Governorship elections as pre-election observation shows early earning signals of violence.

Below are the summary of the findings based on INEC’s preparedness, political campaigns, voter education, participation of marginalized groups, and early warning signs of electoral violence.

  1. Early Warning Signs and Indicators of Violence:
  • Violent Physical and Verbal Attacks During Political Party Activities: WTV LTOs reported political party supporters having clashed over issues of lecturers been partisan or supporting candidates and competition for access to road network in Ankpa LGA in Kogi state. Other physical and verbal violence were reported from Southern Ijaw, Yenagoa, Brass, Nembe and Sagbama in Bayelsa state and Kabba/Bunu in Kogi state.
  • Recruitment of Political Thugs and Stockpiling of Arms and Weapons: WTV The reports highlights possible threat to the peaceful conduct of the election with the observation of the presence of small arms and weapons in some LGA’s. LTOs identified a community called Okabb in Ankpa LGA, being used for the storage of ammunition and the recruitment of thugs. Though the ammunitions were discovered to have been stored prior to the 2019 General Election. Other reports of recruitment of political thugs were from communities in Yenagoa and Sagbama LGA in Bayelsa state and in Okehi and Idah in Kogi state.
  1. Violation of Electoral Laws and Guidelines
  • Trading of PVCs and voter details: WTV findings reveals that buying and selling of PVCs still exists. WTV LTOs reported political parties moving from house to house in Ankpa LGA, Kogi state, documenting names and polling unit numbers and addresses of citizens with PVCs, while offering advance payments of five hundred naira (N500), ahead of the election. In Bayelsa (Yenagoa LGA) findings also reveals that some citizens in Opolo and Gbarian area were selling their PVCs for five hundred (N500) and one thousand (N1,000) naira.
  • Campaigns based on Inducement not issues: WTV monitored and tracked voter inducement through the distribution of money or gift items. The WTV LTOs found out that political party candidates or their supporters are distributing money and gift items such as vehicles in communities in Yenagoa, Bayelsa state and in Okehi and Ankpa of Kogi state.
  1. Status of Election Administration and Preparations: WTV recognises the role of INEC in election administration and therefore monitored the commission’s activities in the past two weeks. Findings from this monitoring reveals the reasonable compliance of INEC with the elections timetable as indicated in the conduct of preparatory activities such as recruitment and training of adhoc staff, stakeholder engagements and voter education amongst others, in preparations for the November 16 polls in both Bayelsa and Kogi state. These activities were observed in all the LGAs of Bayelsa and Kogi States, except for Ijumu LGA in Kogi state.
  2. Political Party Campaign Activities: Political parties in Bayelsa state are engaging more in political campaigns than in Kogi state.The findings from Bayelsa state reveals that: APC did not hold any rally in Kolokuma/Opokuma LGA; PDP did not hold any rally in Kolokuma/ Opokuma, Southern Ijaw and Ogbia LGA; and SDP as well did not hold campaigns in Kolokuma/Opokuma, Southern Ijaw, Yenagoa, Brass, Nembe, Ogbia, Ekeremor and Sagbama LGA. While for Kogi state: ADC rallies did not hold in any LGA; APC rallies did not hold in Adavi, Ankpa, Brass, Dekina, Idah, Ofu, Ijumu, Mopa Moro, Yagba East, and Yagba West LGA; and PDP rallies in did not hold in Adavi, Ogori Mangogo, Okehi, Ankpa, Bassa, Dekina, Idah, Ofu, Ijumu, Mopa Moro, Yagba East, and Yagba West LGA. While campaigns have commenced earnestly in both states, the conversations are still devoid of in-depth analysis of the issues and political manifesto highlighting clear plans for improving governance and development in both states.
  3. Inclusive and Representative Politics: There are many aspects to promoting inclusive and representative politics to ensure the participation of women, youth and persons with disability as candidates, as voters, as election personnel etc. For the pre-election observation, specific activities were tracked. This includes targeted voter education and marginalised groups participating in each element of the electoral process. As observed in this reporting phase; INEC, NOA and CSO are engaging in targeted campaigns to ensure peaceful participation of youth. Women groups were canvassing for votes in all the 8 LGAs in Bayelsa state and in 15 LGAs in Kogi state. While youth were canvassing for votes in all 8 LGAs in Bayelsa state and 14 LGAs in Kogi state.

RECOMMENDATION

Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

  1. INEC and Political parties should develop an effective communication constructive dialogue to address challenges and requirements for achieving peaceful pre-election engagements, and credible and peaceful elections on November 16.
  2. INEC should step up its engagements with security agencies, to tacking violation of electoral codes (buying and selling of PVC and voter inducement) and electoral violence indicators.

Security Agencies

  1. Security agencies, the police should investigate and manage the report of recruitment of thugs and stockpiling of arms, to avoid an outbreak of violence in the coming election.
  2. Security agencies should investigate and arrest people engaged in buying and selling of PVCs, and any form of voter inducement, to serve as a deterrent to others.
  3. Security agencies should engage in active engagement and communications with citizens on the principles regulating security deployment and its operations ahead of the election.

Political Parties

  1. Political party candidates and supporters should shy away from any form of physical or verbal attacks to ensure credible and peaceful elections.
  2. All political parties, especially in Kogi state should increase their activities of engaging voters with their policy plan while soliciting their support and votes.

Citizens

  1. Voters should get ready to vote with their PVCs and not sell it for short-time gain
  2. Citizens should report any form of electoral malpractice or criminal act to INEC and security agencies, the police, to foster peaceful democratic transition.

Download Full Report Below

Watching The Vote Pre-election Observation Report 2

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02 Nov
0

YIAGA AFRICA Trains Researchers for Citizens-Driven Legislative Agenda Survey

In preparation for the development of a Citizens-Driven Legislative Agenda for the four states with the youngest Speakers in Nigeria—Kwara, Oyo, Plateau and Zamfara—YIAGA AFRICA, on Saturday 2nd November, trained researchers residing in these states to administer research surveys in all the local government areas of the states. The researchers are set to deploy to the field by Tuesday, 5th November.

According to the Senior Program Officer (Youth), Ibrahim Faruk “YIAGA AFRICA is developing a new dimension to developing a legislative agenda. It’s the first of its kind in Nigeria where citizens actually go to the field themselves to help in developing a Legislative Agenda.”

YIAGA AFRICA Coordinator (Centre for Legislative Engagement), Dr. Ernest Ereke, further stated, “the benefits of a citizens-driven legislative agenda will provide the platform for a responsive, innovative and accountable leadership, as it would encompass the needs of the citizens, thereby providing direction for representatives in the discharge of their legislative duties.”

Prof. Sola Omotola, and YIAGA AFRICA Senior Research Officer, Safiya Bichi supervised the training session, and built the capacity of the researchers, telling them to imbibe qualities such as “integrity, confidentiality, and dignity” as they gather data.

Present at the meeting were also honourable members of the State Houses of Assembly who head the Technical Working Committee inaugurated by YIAGA AFRICA for the development of the Legislative agenda. This includes Hon. Jimoh Ali Yusuf, member representing Ilorin East Constituency in the Kwara State House of Assembly, the Deputy Clerk of the Zamfara State House of Assembly, Alh. Mahmud Aliyu, and Hon. Dasun Philip Peter, member of the Plateau State House of Assembly. Representing the Technical Working Committee of the Oyo State House of Assembly was Engr. Adetoye Ogundoyin, a Special Adviser to the Speaker.

YIAGA AFRICA recognizes the legislature as the cardinal institution of democratic governance. Starting in 2015, YIAGA AFRICA started a campaign ‘Not Too Young To Run’ to open up the space to enable young men and women to run for elective offices, the result of which reduced the constitutional age limit for running to 25 years of age in the House of Representatives and State House of Assembly in May 2018.

Since the 2019 elections, more youth have been elected into office and YIAGA AFRICA has continued to support them, as they did with The Convergence, which brought together 300 young legislators across Nigeria in May to train them on legislative practices and procedures. The Civil Society Organization also conducted a two-day strategic partnership retreat for the youngest speakers of the State Houses of Assembly—Rt. Hon. Adebo Ogundoyin, Rt. Hon. Abok Nuhu Ayuba, Rt. Hon. Salihu Danladi and Rt. Hon. Nasiru Magarya—ahead of the development of this legislative agenda.

Check out more pictures from the training session below.

Deputy Clerk of the Zamfara State House of Assembly, Alh. Mahmud Aliyu, (member of the Technical Working Committee for the development of the Legislative Agenda)

Cross Section of Researchers 1

Cross Section of Researchers 2

Hon. Jimoh Ali Yusuf, member representing Ilorin East Constituency in the Kwara State House of Assembly & member of the Technical Working Committee

Prof. Sola Omotola during a session with the researchers

Cross Section of Researchers 3

YIAGA AFRICA Coordinator (Centre for Legislative Engagement), Dr. Ernest Ereke

Hon. Dasun Philip Peter, member of the Plateau State House of Assembly (and member of the Technical Working Group in Plateau State).

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01 Nov
0

Samson Itodo, Other emerging leaders selected for UK’s Prestigious International Leaders Programme

In line with the UK’s vision of promoting civic leadership and building a global community of leaders, the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office hosts an annual International Leaders Programme for emerging leaders who are transforming their societies through social entrepreneurship, political leadership, technology, civic activism, journalism, music, arts, and other fields.  Launched in March 2013, the ILP is designed to create and develop lasting relationships with future leaders who have an impact on the UK’s global interests.

Joining the 2019 cohort is Samson Itodo, Executive Director, YIAGA AFRICA and Convener of the Not Too Young To Run movement. Samson will join 17 other leaders from around the world for the program in London. The programme is shaped according to the broad interests of the group, and will include a range of visits, discussions, and meetings with senior British decision makers and opinion formers. These will include UK leaders in Government (including a visit to No 10 Downing Street, the home of the Prime Minister), Parliament, the media, civil society, education, business and industry. Most of the program is based in London but the team will take a trip to Cambridge as part of the program. In addition to the general program, each participant is offered an option of a bespoke two-day personalised program to facilitate professional development, networking and leadership.

This is the first time a Nigerian will be selected for the program since it’s commencement. This is not surprising as the impact of Samson’s work at YIAGA AFRICA has earned him recognition from international and local organisations. In 2018, he was appointed by the Gates Foundation as a Goal keeper and honoured by the National Democratic Institute (NDI) Washington DC as a Rising Democracy leader in Africa. He is the recipient of The Future Africa Award Young Person of the Year 2018 award and the Leadership Newspaper 2018 Outstanding Young Person of the Year award. Recently, he became a fellow of prestigious Archbishop Desmond Tutu Leadership program and recipient of the Junior Chamber International, Nigeria 2019 Ten Outstanding Young Persons in Nigeria Award for Political, Legal and or Government Affairs.

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