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15 Sep
0

International Day of Democracy: YIAGA AFRICA Releases Song, “Democracy”, Featuring Six African Artistes

In celebration of International Day of Democracy, YIAGA AFRICA, the World Movement for Democracy (WMD) and the African Movement of Democracy (AMD) release the single ‘Democracy’ of the Music as a Messenger for Democracy Project.

The message in the lyrics “Democracy” decries dictatorship and greed, absolute power and corruption, awakens the conscience and serves as a reminder that we deserve democracy and freedom and rights—but also that we must fight to gain and protect them.

Musicians featured on the song include Moonaya (Senegal), Master Soumy (Mali), Awa Bling (Gambia), Killa Ace (Gambia), Cill (Nigeria) and Elom (Togo).

The lyrics are in French, English, Wolof.

#MusicForDemocracy

LISTEN BELOW

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11 Sep
0

The Nigeria We Desire, The Future We Deserve – Youth4Peace Nigeria initiative

The Youth from the 36 states of the Federal Republic of Nigeria working in the areas of governance, peace and security convened in Abuja, from the 4th to 6th September 2019 to deliberate on strategies that could be jointly undertaken to address the diverse threats to peace and security in Nigeria and facilitate meaningful participation of youth in peace and security.

  • Within the framework of the Youth4Peace Nigeria initiative jointly convened by the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sport Development, ECOWAS Commission and African Union with support from the European Union, German Development Agency, WANEP and Baywood Foundation, we reviewed the major causes and manifestations of violent conflicts in Nigeria, existing strategies by the government and relevant stakeholders to address the conflicts, challenges hindering effective youth participation in peace and security and made recommendations to the government, relevant stakeholders and fellow youth to transform the multiplicity of governance and human security challenges confronting the nation.
  • As part of collective efforts to promote and foster national unity, peace and socio-economic transformation, we have crafted three major aspirations of the Nigeria We Desire and the Future We Deserve with the hope that the government will work towards achieving this envisaged Nigeria. We are also demanding the conducive platform to contribute to the promotion of sustainable peace, security and development.
  • The aspirations of the Nigeria We Desire and The Future We Deserve are:
    • An inclusive Nigeria where good governance is underpinned by transparency, accountability, human rights, rule of law and justice;
    • A united, patriotic and peaceful Nigeria that prioritizes equal opportunities especially the welfare of young women and men;
    • An economically viable and progressive Nigeria driven by active youth participation in industrialization and sustainable infrastructural development.

To achieve the aforementioned aspirations; the following recommendations are made to the government and youth:

To the Government:

  • Promote good governance demonstrated by adherence to rule of law, egalitarianism, principles of transparency and accountability;
  • Develop, adopt and implement policies that promote national cohesion, peace, economic viability and industrialization
  • Ensure the inclusivity of young women and men in the development and implementation of governance, peace and security policies and programmes

Youth:

  • Promote and exhibit the spirit of patriotism, putting the interest of Nigeria first and above personal and ethnic or political interests.
  • Actively engage in governance and act as agents of moral social change and peace
  • Equip themselves with political, social economic skills and capacity to facilitate their meaningful and impactful interventions on peace and nation building

We acknowledge the diverse efforts currently implemented by the government to actualize the above aspirations including the adoption of the national youth policy, the operationalization of the youth parliament, the reduction of eligibility criteria to facilitate the election of youth in diverse elective positions; the deployment of security agencies to maintain peace, law and order in conflict areas, poverty eradication programmes, amnesty programmes etc.

To achieve our aforementioned envisaged roles and responsibilities, we hope that the diverse challenges confronting our meaningful participation of youth in peace and nation building across four sectors – governance, democracy and elections; conflict prevention and peacebuilding; preventing and countering violent extremism as well as other socio-economic economic issues will be addressed by the government and relevant stakeholders with complementary roles by us.

Some of these challenges include: limited-funding opportunities, nepotism especially over individuals and organizations that manipulate grants or sub-grant process by awarding grants to preferred organizations rather than qualified; persistent insecurity where youth actors are often victims; weak coordination amongst CSOs; inadequate capacity of youth; limited capacity and structures for Monitoring and Evaluation of interventions; negative perception of youth interventions on peacebuilding; limited capacity for early warning and political will for early response; political interference, increasing number of undocumented IDP hinders effective delivery of aid and relief materials; religious and cultural intolerance.

Our recommendations are two fold:

To the Government:

  • Develop, adopt and implement a national action plan on UNSCR 2250 in tandem with Article 14 of the AU Youth Charter and ECOWAS Youth Policy including creation of special unit on youth, peace and security within the presidency and Ministry of Youth and Sports Development;
  • Institutionalize a youth development fund on governance and peacebuilding;
  • Foster collaboration and partnership with youth led and oriented CSOs especially in designing and implementing programmes;
  • Creation of job opportunities and livelihood opportunities to reduce the vulnerabilities of youth to violent extremism, drug abuse and other social vices
  • Fully operationalize the national early warning and response mechanisms with the objective of adhering and responding to potential triggers of violence;
  • Should step-up all state channels for mass literacy while incorporating/strengthening the teaching of global citizenship
  • Increased private sector support for peace through corporate social responsibility (CSR);
  • Conduct census in Internally Displaced Camps to facilitate effective delivery of food and non-food aid to victims of both man-made and natural disasters and conflicts
  • Ensure massive national re-orientation to dissuade religious, cultural and inter-ethnic tolerance to foster peace, security and national cohesion.
  • An inclusive budgeting process & timely release of funds for programme implementation
  • Review the educational system to incorporate peace education as well as match curricula with diverse vocational skills.

To the Youth:

  • Collaborate with government and relevant stakeholders to eradicate corruption, and advocate to local power holders including security to secure their trust and support throughout the life span of any initiative
  • Conduct strategic communications before and after engagements on conflict prevention and peace building;
  • Exhibit tolerance, perseverance and collectively reject all forms of violence ideologies;
  • Explore crowd-sourcing fund towards peace-building including collaborations between their respective organizations to optimize scarce resources;
  • Participate in the use of automated systems to monitor and report any miscreant ongoing activities and should aid in an automated delivery and distribution of humanitarian relief.
  • Harness their potentials, unite and leverage on capabilities and skills for community engagement and re-orientation while strengthening existing and establish new networks for peace and nation building.

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10 Sep
0

Technical Challenges of 2019 General Elections May Replicate in Kogi, Bayelsa Elections – Moshood Isah

As the Independent National Electoral Commission prepares for its first major election since the 2019 general elections, the issues that plagued the February and March General elections may replicate if not properly addressed. The Bayelsa and Kogi Governorship elections are a little over 2 months away, yet, the signs witnessed before the 2019 elections took place are obvious now again, and may affect the credibility of the November polls.

In a recent report, YIAGA AFRICA said one of the major issues that beleaguered the 2019 elections is undemocratic political party primaries and commercialized candidate nomination process. It is no more news that Political parties deliberately flouted their guidelines, constitutions, and Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) guidelines on party primaries as well as the Electoral Act. The party primaries during the 2019 General elections were marked by financial inducement and horse-trading. There was also reported inducement of delegates with local and foreign currencies during direct and indirect primaries and deliberate substitution of candidates who won in primaries with supposed “anointed choices” of party leaders. The current situation in Bayelsa and Kogi may just be pointing to a similar direction as report has it that delegates were induced in cash and mobile money transfers amidst controversies and unrest that beclouded some party primaries in both states.

Beyond Political party primaries, INEC needs to take actions on critical issues after a lot recommendation by election observers followed the 2019 elections. For instance, YIAGA AFRICA noted some lapses in the design, communication and lack of uniformity in the implementation of the guidelines issued by the electoral commission. One major technical issue that affected the 2019 elections and may be rearing its head again is the fact, there was no clarity on who reserves the authority to cancel ballots and the levels where cancellation will take place. This led to collation officers exercising excessive discretionary powers in cancelling results and declared winners where the total number of registered voters in cancelled polling units had the potential of affecting the margin of lead between candidates in flagrant violation of Section 26 and 53 of the 2010 Electoral Act as amended.

As a result of this arbitral cancellation, there has been increase in the percentage of polling units where elections were cancelled, as political parties seem to have deployed this stratagem against opposition strongholds.  Overall, the percentage of cancelled ballots announced by INEC was 3.3% of all registered voters according to YIAGA AFRICA report. This is four times higher than the rate from 2015 when registered voters in cancelled polling units was less than 1% of all registered votes. As a matter of exigency and even as it plans for the Governorship elections in Bayelsa and Kogi, INEC needs to undertake a public investigation into the cancelation of ballots and to take appropriate legal actions should it be discovered that any INEC staff or collation officer cancelled ballots with intent to affect the election outcome.

Disruption of election process may not be connected to issues relating with lack of adequate security. The seemingly non-existent of security in Nigeria’s election has become a worrisome trend that there is hardly any major election that doesn’t affect the lives of innocent people. Again, this cannot be overemphasized with poor security being the major reason for disruption of the process and consistent voter intimidation and assault against unsuspecting individuals, press and civil society during elections. Thus, in a bid to set a good precedent, security agencies should as a matter of urgency commence investigation and prosecution of electoral offenders especially for the violent disruption of the electoral process which led to the death of some citizens. It can also not be overstated that security agencies must collaborate with the electoral commission and citizen observers to eradicate undue breakdown of law and order.

Ahead of the Bayelsa and Kogi elections, it is expected that the commission is currently conducting a comprehensive post-election review of the 2019 electoral timeline to identify gaps in its preparations and to clearly communicate with the public plans to address the structural issues that have resulted in three successive national elections marred by logistics challenges. Similarly, there is still enough time to review the Legal framework for Elections, which includes further review of the electoral guidelines regulating the cancellation of votes at polling units.

Both Domestic and International observer missions amongst other Civil Society Organisations also have roles to play to stifle electoral offenders. Civil Societies like YIAGA AFRICA have also endorsed sanctions on individuals and institutions that undermine Nigeria’s democracy and instigate electoral violence while urging other foreign missions to adopt this mechanism of accountability and make public the list of individuals placed on ban. Thus ahead of the Bayelsa and Kogi Governorship elections, its apparently time to point accusing fingers to any individual or group that play any role either covertly or overtly in truncating Nigeria’s democratic growth.

Moshood Isah

Media Officer, YIAGA AFRICA.

Tweets @moshoodpm

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09 Sep
0

YIAGA AFRICA Concludes Parallel Vote Tabulation Academy 5 for Bayelsa, Kogi Elections

For YIAGA AFRICA’s Watching the Vote Master Trainers, the journey began in 2017 in preparation for the 2017 Governorship elections in Anambra Elections where they were deployed as trainers to all 21 Local Government Areas in the state to train over 500 citizen observers who successfully observed the election in the state. The team who are now Master Trainers have subsequently trained over 1200 polling unit (PU) election observers, mobile observers and collation observers in Ekiti, Osun and the 3,906 Polling Units and Local Goverment supervisors who served as mobile observers during the 2019 general elections.

Ahead of the November 16 Governorship elections in Bayelsa and Kogi State, YIAGA AFRICA’s under its Watching The Vote project has concluded the training of its Master Trainers tagged the Parallel Vote Tabulation Academy 5, (PVT Academy 5). The training which was held on the 28th and 29th of August, 2019 in Abuja is to prepare the team for the observation of
both the pre-election environment and the election day procedure in both Kogi and Bayelsa state. Leading the training session is the WTV Training Manager, Paul James who emphasized the importance of increased public knowledge of the Parallel Vote Tabulation election observation methodology even as the team plans to deploy for Bayelsa and Kogi state. According to Paul James, WTV Master Trainers have a role to play in ensuring election stakeholders understand the PVT to avoid misinterpretation of the methodology.

The PVT academy 5 according to Paul James is aimed to prepare Master Trainers for pre-election environment and election day observation training across all Local Government Areas in both Kogi and Bayelsa states. He said, YIAGA AFRICA is determined to maintain the highest standard of election observation in Africa and this has necessitated the consistent training of Master Trainers especially ahead of major elections in the country.

He said the training further refresh participants knowledge on importance of Information technology which has aided election observation overtime and provides a platform of making impact positive impact on Nigeria. While timely and accurate information remains the crux of the PVT project, participants were also urged to follow all protocols, rules and procedures governing election observation in Nigeria as instituted by the Independent National Electoral Commission.

Participants also went through practical sessions on how to draw PVT samples. Other calculations include the margin of error which determines the precision of data received by Polling Units observers which is usually based on sample size, response rate and homogeneity of data.

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09 Sep
0

How YIAGA AFRICA Watching The Vote will Observe Bayelsa, Kogi Governorship Elections

YIAGA AFRICA’s Watching The Vote (WTV) is a citizens led election observation initiative aimed at enhancing integrity of elections in Nigeria.  WTV works to ensure that citizens understand what happens in the electoral process and how to engage the process with Information.

For More Information click below to Download WTV Information for the Bayelsa and Kogi Election Observation.

Watching The Vote Information for Bayelsa and Kogi Elections Observation

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09 Sep
0

Watching The Vote Newsletter for August 2019

Inside WatchingTheVote August 2019 Newsletter: 

 

YIAGA AFRICA Presents the Watching the Vote 2019 Election Report, Decries Low Turnout, Poor Election Management, Undemocratic Primaries and Assault on Basic Rights.

Bayelsa/Kogi Polls: YIAGA AFRICA Meets Stakeholders, Advocates for Credible, Peaceful Polls

YIAGA AFRICA Trains, Deploys Observers For Political Parties Primary Elections Observation

YIAGA AFRICA Concludes Parallel Vote Tabulation Academy 5 for Bayelsa, Kogi Election

 

DOWNLOAD NEWSLETTER BELOW

WatchingTheVote Newsletter for August 2019

 

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02 Sep
0

YIAGA AFRICA CHARGES YOUNG SPEAKERS ON QUALITY REPRESENTATION, LEADERSHIP 

Leading Civil Society Organization,YIAGA AFRICA has charged Young speakers of state house of assembly on quality representation and leadership saying their performance will determine the chances of young people in future elections. 

YIAGA AFRICA, hosted a strategic leadership and legislative agenda setting retreat for Nigeria’s four young state houses of assembly speakers in Nigeria, Rt. Hon. Abok Nuhu Ayuba from Plateau state, Rt. Hon. Adebo Ogundoyin (Oyo), Rt. Hon. Nasiru Magarya (Zamfara), and Rt. Hon. Yakubu Danladi Salihu (Kwara) on Saturday the 31st of August 2019 in Abuja. YIAGA AFRICA recently organized The Convergence 1.0 and 2.0, to provide technical support to hundreds of young aspirants and lawmakers nationwide, and it hopes that in a few months, if you seek for models of legislative performance you will turn to Oyo, Kwara, Plateau and Zamfara State Houses of Assembly.

At the retreat, the Executive Director and Not Too Young To Run convener, Samson Itodo, highlighted the importance of the meeting stating that how the speakers perform “will determine how young people will fare when they contest in future elections. People are looking up to you as the mouthpiece of these Houses of Assembly; if you fail, people will fail to give other young people the opportunity to lead”. He further told them to prioritise integrity, accountability, mutual respect and excellence. 

Present at the retreat were also YIAGA AFRICA’s legislative focal persons in the four states, Not Too Young To Run strategy team members and Hon. Luke Onofiok—the pioneer Speaker of Nigeria Youth Parliament, former Speaker of Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly, and a current member of the House of Representatives—who shared his in-depth knowledge of experiences with the new speakers on how to make their leadership count. He urged them to be transparent in all their dealings, not to be biased with the Governor and officials in the house, but rather to ensure that their colleagues and staff of the Assembly such as the clerk, see them as partners. He explained ways the speakers can foster effective-legislature relationship and regularly engage with various segments of the society, including women, youth groups, student groups and even the labourers, bus drivers, conductors and artisans.

The young speakers all shared their leadership journey from pre-election phase to their emergence as Honorable members and later, Speakers; a central factor in their story was challenges arising from their age. Rt. Hon. Adebo Ogundoyin, who was commended for his avid use of social media as a tool for legislative engagement noted that “an injury to one is an injury to all. we have to be more responsible” in the delivery of functions. Rt. Hon. Yakubu Danladi Salihu noted that he had taken an intensive legislative course in accra just before his inauguration into office, and has drafted a tentative legislative agenda for his state, which he would contact YIAGA AFRICA for support where needed. Rt. Hon. Abok Nuhu Ayuba highlighted the challenges of revenue generation and lack of financial autonomy in the state legislature, while Rt. Hon. Nasiru Magarya noted that the House since inauguration has concentrated on legislative support and will be marking their 100th day in office this week. 

YIAGA AFRICA stated its commitment to support the speakers in developing a citizens’ driven legislative agenda, peculiar to each state, and a legislative peer review mechanism to be administered to the four speakers by Dr. Jake Dan Azumi from National Institute for Legislative and Democratic Studies, which would help to improve the functioning of the legislature as well. The retreat also had in attendance: YIAGA AFRICA Board Member, Dr. Aisha Abdullahi, representatives of UKAID, Charles Onyemachi; Political counsellor at the British High Commission, Dominic Williams; and MacArthur foundation’s Deputy Director (Nigeria Office), Oladayo Olaide.

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30 Aug
0

2019 Elections: Opportunity Lost? YIAGA AFRICA Watching The Vote Report on Nigeria 2019 Presidential Elections

Introduction

Ladies and Gentlemen, distinguished guests – welcome to the YIAGA AFRICA Watching The Vote (WTV) public presentation of the 2019 general election report holding today, August 30th, 2019 at the Transcorp Hilton In Abuja.

Nigeria’s 20 years democracy was tested with the conduct of the 2019 general elections. The elections presented an opportunity for Nigeria to consolidate on the gains of the 2015 elections and deepen her democratic transition. Although INEC introduced reforms to deepen electoral integrity and citizens participation, the elections were characterized by many of the same shortcomings that have marred previous national elections in Nigeria. As in past elections, INEC’s logistical challenges and misconduct by political parties undermined the integrity of the elections and the ability of some citizens to vote and undermined public confidence in the process. Clearly, INEC overestimated its own capabilities and/or underrated the challenges with the management of logistics. This was worsened by undue interference with the electoral commission functions by state and non-state actors as well as release of election funds six weeks to the presidential elections despite its secured funding from the Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF). The assault on basic rights and freedoms by state institutions especially security agencies coupled with failure to conclude amendments to the electoral legal framework indicated a lack of commitment to electoral reform and electoral integrity.

For the 2019 presidential elections, the official results announced by INEC were consistent with YIAGA AFRICA’s Parallel Vote Tabulation results estimates. In other words, the results reflect the votes cast at the polling units. Similarly, the INEC official turnout rate and rejected ballots figure were consistent with YIAGA AFRICA estimated turn out rate and rejected ballots based on reports from 1,491 (98.4%) of sampled polling units. However, the YIAGA AFRICA PVT findings revealed certain lapses and reports of malfeasance which impacted on the quality of the process in some polling units and states. The PVT also revealed possible incidents of vote suppression as reflected in the percentage of cancelled ballots in some states like Rivers, Nassarawa, Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Plateau, Kogi, Benue and Kaduna states. It is important to note that YIAGA AFRICA’s PVT estimates are based on the results from polling units before elections were cancelled. Therefore, the PVT estimates would expose whether cancellation of ballots would have impacted the outcome of the presidential election. Although these cancellations did not affect the overall outcome of the election but it led to the disenfranchisement of voters and exposed complicity on the part of election officials. However, unless the misconduct and malfeasance occurred in a statistically significant number of polling units across the states the PVT would have captured them as critical incidents which undermined the outcome. The report contains evidence which make makes it clear that a lot was less than desired, and that the overall outcome (however valid) is not necessarily vindication of the process.

Nigeria missed an opportunity to improve the quality of its elections as compared to the 2015 national elections. The 2019 elections were not the elections Nigerians wanted; they were not the elections Nigerians expected; and, most importantly, they were not the elections Nigerians deserved. Nigeria needs a national conversation on a new electoral design or framework that responds to prevailing socio-political and economic realities. INEC must improve its capacity to deliver credible elections and political parties must play according to the rules. Failure to do so could imperil Nigeria’s 20 years democracy.

Issues in the 2019 General Elections

Election Management

Electoral leadership is essential for successful elections. Elections in Nigeria fail to meet standards or inspire confidence because of poor performance attributed to lack of effective planning. When election officials are not appointed in due time, when procurement processes are delayed, when ad-hoc officials are not recruited and trained early, elections will fail. Until December 7, 2018, INEC had only 50% of its leadership full constituted. 33 states of the federation had no Resident Electoral Commissioners Twenty-three months to the 2019 elections. It took over 1 year and 6 months for President Buhari to fully appoint National commissioners to the electoral commission. The delay in constituting the commission gravely impacted election planning and implementation.

Several reforms and innovations were introduced by INEC to promote electoral integrity and citizens participation. These reforms include a 16-month Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) and PVC collection exercise, simultaneous accreditation and voting, electronic transmission of results, tactile ballots and braille guide for persons with disability, re-configuration of the polling units to guarantee secrecy of the ballot, scenarios and response for the application of the Margin of Lead principle and sustained stakeholder engagement amongst others. The commission undertook robust voter education in partnership with other stakeholders like National Orientation Agency and civil society groups.

Few hours to the commencement of polls on February 16, 2019, INEC announced the postponement of the presidential and national assembly elections to February 23 and governorship and state assembly elections from March 2, 2019 to March 9, 2019 citing challenges with election logistics deployment especially deployment of sensitive election materials (ballot papers and results sheets). YIAGA AFRICA believes the decision to postpone the elections was taken in the interest of Nigeria’s democracy. Clearly, INEC overestimated its own capabilities and/or underrated the challenges with the management of logistics. The Nigerian citizenry deserve commendation for their patriotism and resilience to participate in the elections despite the postponement of elections. YIAGA AFRICA commends INEC for sharing information with stakeholders through the daily briefing by the INEC Chairman. It availed citizens with adequate information on INEC’s preparedness and boosted confidence in electoral stakeholders.

Despite the one-week delay, INEC continued to experience significant logistical challenges on 23 February that resulted in late opening of polling units throughout the country. As at 7:30 am on February 23, YIAGA AFRICA WTV observers reported that INEC Officials had arrived at 31% of polling units. As of 10:00 am, 41% of polling units had opened across the country. By 11:30 am, 74% of polling units had opened nationally. As was the case in 2011 and 2015, polling units in the South East and South-South opened later than in other geopolitical zones. At 11:30 am, YIAGA AFRICA WTV observers reported that 74% of polling units had opened as of 11:30 am.

Once polling units opened, most polling units had essential election materials including a register of voters, indelible ink/ a marker pen, an official stamp, voting cubicle, ink pad, presidential ballot box and polling unit booklet. Smart Card Readers were present in 99% of polling units and were largely used throughout accreditation and voting. However, nearly half of voters may have voted with the Smart Card Reader authenticating only their Permanent Voters Card and not their fingerprints.

  1. Unclear electoral rules, weak oversight

INEC’s issued guidelines to improve the integrity of the electoral process and inspire confidence in electoral stakeholders. For instance, INEC insisted on the use of Smart Card Reader for voter accreditation eliminate multiple voting and voting by proxy. The Commission also insisted on the display of polling unit results using the Form EC 60 E (The People’s Results sheet). YIAGA AFRICA noted some lapses in the design, communication and lack of uniformity in the implementation of the guidelines issued by the electoral commission. There was no clarity on who reserves the authority to cancel ballots and the levels where cancellation will take place. In 97% of sampled polling units in the Presidential elections, no individual was permitted to vote if their names did not appear on the register of voters while in 7% of polling units the Smart Card Readers was not used throughout for the accreditation of voters. Of most concern was the failure to publicly post the presidential election results at the end of counting in 19% of polling units.

  1. Election Results management

Election results management remains the weakest link in Nigeria’s electoral process. This necessitated the introduction of the electronic transmission of results by INEC to reduce incidence of results mutilation and falsification. INEC has been piloting the system with the off-cycle elections to test its efficiency and reliability. For the presidential elections, YIAGA AFRICA WTV findings indicate that INEC Presiding Officers electronically transmitted the Presidential election results using the Smart Card Reader in 65% of polling units. Collation officers exercised excessive discretionary powers in cancelling results and declared winners where the total number of registered voters in cancelled polling units will affect the margin of lead between candidates in flagrant violation of Section 26 and 53 of the 2010 Electoral Act as amended. Overall, the percentage of cancelled ballots announced by INEC was 3.3% of all registered voters. This is four times higher than the rate from 2015 when registered voters in cancelled polling units was less than 1% of all registered votes. INEC to undertake a public investigation into the cancelation of ballots and to take appropriate legal actions should it be discovered that any INEC staff or collation officer cancelled ballots with intent to affect the election outcome.

YIAGA AFRICA a noted discrepancy between registered voters as announced before the election and during Collation.  Prior to 23 February 2019, INEC announced a total a number of 84,004,084 registered voters. During the national collation for the Presidential elections, 82,344,125 registered voters was declared indicating a difference of 1,659,959. YIAGA AFRICA WTV observers reported the number of registered voters at sampled polling units and those were overwhelmingly consistent with the polling unit level registration figures provided by INEC on the register with 84,004,084 registrants. Thus, while INEC should provide an explanation for this discrepancy, PVT data shows that the correct register was used at polling units and hence this difference did not affect the election outcome.

  1. Inadequate strategic communications and poor access to information

INEC still grapples with effective public communication and information sharing. Whilst noting significant improvement in the Commission’s use of traditional and digital media for public outreach, the frequency, timeliness and availability of election information and data has been poor. In voting centers where election did not hold or it was postponed, INEC failed to clearly communicate procedures for a second day of voting.

Undemocratic political party primaries and commercialized candidate nomination process

According to the INEC election timetable, parties were expected to conduct party primaries between 18th August and 7th October 2018 in order to submit the candidates list on the 18th of October for Presidential and National Assembly election and the 2nd of November for the Governorship and State Assembly election 2019. Recognizing the important role of party primaries in our democracy, YIAGA AFRICA Watching the Vote observed the conduct of party primaries to nominate candidates for the Presidential elections. YIAGA AFRICA employed direct observation of the party primaries, interviews and desk review of reports for the observation of party primaries.

Political parties deliberately flouted their guidelines, constitutions, INEC Guidelines on Party Primaries as well as the Electoral Act. The party primaries were signposted by financial inducement and horse-trading. WTV observers reported inducement of delegates with local and foreign currencies during direct and indirect primaries. WTV observed deliberate substitution of candidates who won in primaries with supposed “anointed choices” of party leaders.  This runs contrary to the provisions of the electoral act and recent judicial decisions on nomination of candidates. Most parties failed to submit the list of delegates to INEC prior to the conduct of primary elections. Others conducted parallel primaries in contravention of laid down rules. This led to violence and disruption especially in Benue, Delta, Zamfara and Imo states. YIAGA AFRICA made four projections in the preliminary report on the conduct of party primaries. They include;

  1. An upsurge in pre-election disputes filed in court
  2. Heighten rate of vote buying and selling during elections
  3. Low level of women, youth and PWD candidates for the elections
  4. High incidence of political violence driven by intra and inter party conflicts

As projected in our preliminary report, a total of 809 court cases were filed challenging the conduct of primaries by political parties. This figure is higher than the 766 election petitions cases on the 2019 elections. Women, PWD and youth candidacy was also unimpressive. For the presidential elections, women candidacy stood at 8.3%; Senate 12.3%; House of Representatives 11.6%. Of the 23, 316 candidates fielded by parties for the general elections, only 7,772 were youths (18 – 35). Purchase of Permanent Voter Card and Voter Identification Numbers (VIN) were amongst the new methods devised by politicians for vote buying. Violence also marred the elections in several polling units resulting to votes cancellation and inconclusive elections.

Election Security

In the build-up to the election, YIAGA AFRICA and Nigerians received assurances from security agencies on their non-partisanship and professionalism in the management of election security operations. INEC also informed stakeholders of assurances from security agencies to collaborate and ensure effective deployment for the elections. Despite these assurances, there were reported cases of violence leading to loss of lives and property in pre-election period and election day. In some cases, security agencies especially officers of the Nigeria army disrupted elections in some polling units and restricted the movement of election observers on election day contrary to the provision of Section 29 of the 2015 Electoral Amendment Act which limits the role of the military to the provision of security support for deployment and safety of election materials and personnel. These incidents were mainly reported in Akwa Ibom, Rivers and Bayelsa states. A YIAGA AFRICA WTV observer was also arrested and detained in Kafanchan, Kaduna state during the Presidential elections.

Declining Voter turnout

YIAGA AFRICA’s PVT estimates indicated that turnout for the national presidential election will be less than the voter turnout rate for the 2015 Presidential elections based on official turnout figures collected from the PVT’s representative statistical sample of polling units across the 774 LGAs and 36 states plus the FCT. INEC’s official turnout rate of 35% indicates a decline in voter turnout. This reflects a growing sense of disconnect between the Nigerian people and the political elite. It also raises questions on the credibility of Nigeria’s voter registration figures.

 

Assault on basic rights and freedoms especially press freedom and civil society

YIAGA AFRICA notes a budding trend of voter intimidation and assault against unsuspecting individuals, press and civil society during elections. Voters were intimidated, harassed or assaulted in 9% of polling units during accreditation and voting. INEC polling officials were also intimidated, harassed or assaulted in 7% of polling units during accreditation and voting. In 11% of polling units, political party agents attempted to influence voters or INEC officials. YIAGA AFRICA received verified critical incidents reports of APC and PDP agents or supporters attacking observers, polling staff or voters; snatching ballot boxes; and destroying election materials. These incidents though isolated – are examples of egregious misconduct that undermine the electoral process. If Nigerian democracy is to move forward, party leaders must ensure that they encourage and model peaceful engagement with the electoral process and urge their supporters to act in accordance with the electoral guidelines and the law.

Recommendations

Following the comprehensive observation of the 2019 electoral cycle, YIAGA AFRICA makes the following recommendations;

Election Management

  1. YIAGA AFRICA urges INEC to undertake a comprehensive post-election review of the 2019 electoral timeline to identify gaps in its preparations and to clearly communicate with the public plans to address the structural or other issues that have resulted in three successive national elections marred by logistics challenges. The challenges experienced during the elections calls for a detailed and systematic post-election review which includes an inquiry into the cancellation of ballots, an audit of the voter register and a review of the elections operation management systems.
  1. INEC should imbibe a culture of proactive disclosure of election information in line with standard open election data principles to facilitate public engagement and boost stakeholder confidence in the electoral process. Election results, voter registration data, PVC collection rates electoral guidelines etc. should be easily be made public via traditional and digital platforms.
  2. YIAGA AFRICA also recommends that INEC review its training procedures for ad hoc polling staff in view of failures to consistently adhere to counting procedures such as counting the number of unused ballot papers, counting the number of spoilt presidential ballot papers, counting the number of counterfoils for the presidential ballot papers and sorting the presidential ballot papers into piles with a pile for each party and another pile for rejected ballots.
  1. INEC should review its policy of deploying academics as collation or returning officers. Experience has shown that academics are also susceptible to compromise and the accountability mechanism is weak. To this end, INEC should diversify the composition of collation and returning officers to include individuals and professional organizations with impeccable character and stout mechanisms of accountability.
  1. Investigate and discipline all permanent and ad-hoc staff alleged to have been involved in any malpractice or fraud during and after the elections. INEC should provide regular public updates on the prosecution of its staff involve in electoral malfeasance.

Electoral Legal Framework

  1. The 2019 elections revealed challenges in the electoral process which calls for a review of the Legal framework for Elections which includes further review of the electoral guidelines regulating the cancellation of votes at polling units.
  1. The 9th National Assembly should prioritize constitutional and electoral reform in its legislative agenda. Special attention should be placed on reviewing the timelines for submission of list of candidates and substitution of candidates from 45 days to 60 days; introduce time frame for the appointment of INEC Chairman, National Commissioners and Resident Electoral Commissioners; harmonize timelines for the determination of pre-election matters and duality of jurisdiction and amend Section 68 of the electoral act to regulate the power of polling officials to declare results.
  1. To cut election cost and reduce election logistics hiccups, INEC and the National Assembly should engage with electoral stakeholders to introduce new criteria for access to the ballot vis-a-vis tightening the criteria for registration of new political parties as well as review the sequence of elections to enable INEC conduct elections in one day.

Political parties

  1. YIAGA AFRICA calls on parties to deepen internal party democracy through the organization of more transparent and open primaries and to make active efforts to attract and promote candidates with capacity, competence and character in electoral contests. Candidates should emerge through an open and competitive process rather than an auction to the highest bidder.
  2. Parties should develop protocols for recruitment, training, and deployment of party agents for elections. This will enhance the quality of their engagement during elections.
  3. Political parties should demonstrate commitment to electoral integrity and accountability by sanctioning its members involved in electoral fraud or violence during the 2019 elections.

Security agencies

  1. Security agencies should as a matter of urgency commence investigation and prosecution of electoral offenders especially for the violent disruption of the electoral process which led to the death of some citizens.
  2. YIAGA AFRICA calls on the security agencies to ensure proper coordination especially between the military and police during elections. It is important to note that the Police is the lead security agency responsible for election security, such proper lines of communication and rules of engagement should be adhered to. Security agencies must at all cost remain non-partisan and professional in their conduct and

Civil society and media

  1. CSOs and media should expand the scope of their electoral engagement to the entire spectrum of the electoral process
  2. CSOs should work in a collaborative manner to set the agenda on electoral reform and mobilize citizens to provide oversight on the electoral reform process
  3. CSOs and media should intensify engagement with INEC and other stakeholders to address the shortcomings in the 2019 elections and improve the quality of elections in Nigeria.

 

International Community and development partners

  1. Impose sanctions on individuals and institutions who undermine Nigeria’s democracy and instigate electoral violence. YIAGA AFRICA commends the United States for the imposition of visa ban on persons who undermined the 2019 elections. YIAGA AFRICA calls on the United States government to make public the list of individuals on the visa ban as this will enhance accountability and promote deterrence. Other foreign missions should adopt this mechanism of accountability and make public the list of individuals placed on ban.
  2.  Sustain support for democratic reforms in Nigeria through timely and strategic advocacy and support to civil society.
  3. Hold the Nigerian government accountable to her commitment to international norms and standards like human rights, rule of law and constitutionalism.

 

Thank you and God Bless the people of Nigeria!

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, Twitter @YIAGA.

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28 Aug
0

Bayelsa/Kogi Polls: YIAGA AFRICA Meets Stakeholders, Advocates for Credible, Peaceful Polls

The November 16th Governorship elections in Bayelsa and Kogi states are fast approaching and it is becoming more imperative to advocate for peaceful and credible elections in both states. There is need for election stakeholders to put mechanisms in place to ensure a participatory credible and peaceful elections in the states.

As the largest citizen movement committed to credible elections in Nigeria, YIAGA AFRICA’s Watching The Vote (WTV) has commenced advocacy visits to election stakeholders in both Bayelsa and Kogi states. This is in a bid to share our election observation deployment plan, seek stakeholder buy-in and explore areas of collaboration as well as provide information on the pre-election observation deployment for Bayelsa and Kogi.

The Board and Management of WTV led by Project Director, Cynthia Mbamalu and Board member, Professor Nnamdi Aduba, met with the Independent National Electoral Commission’s (INEC) Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) in Bayelsa State, Pastor Monday Udoh Tom and other officials of the commission in the state. The team is glad that the REC and the elections team are receptive to our plan to deploy Parallel Vote Tabulation (PVT) election observation, which remains the gold standard for election observation across the world. The REC also promised to take stakeholders along while providing information on the commission’s activities ahead of the November 16th Governorship election in the state.

Similarly, there are no credible elections without peace, and this makes our advocacy visit to the Commissioner of Police and the Commandant of National Security and Civil Defence Corps in Bayelsa state very vital at this crucial point in time. The visit to security agency enabled us analyze and share early warning systems against security threats for immediate response ahead of the elections.

While informed citizen participation is vital to a credible election, we believe that not only the electoral commission has a role to play in educating voters; other stakeholders including religious and traditional leaders can play huge roles as influencers to their followers in preaching the credible and peaceful polls. In this vein, the team successfully engaged head of Traditional Rulers Council, Pa Alfred Papapreye Diette-Spiff who expressed his delight, while urging the team to swing into action, report any wrong doings to the appropriate authority and help achieve a credible process.

The team also met with the Ijaw Elders Forum who declared readiness to work for credible election as it has already commenced sensitization of the citizens to ensure violence-free elections. In their words, “ we will monitor negative utterances and actions of political actors and follow-up to ensure they are prosecuted. Thus we will be glad to receive credible information from your violence monitoring system, so that we can hold culprits accountable”.

Finally, we met with representatives of major political parties in Bayelsa state including Chairman and members of the Inter-Party Advisory Committee (IPAC). During the meeting with the political parties, we discussed the importance of conducting transparent and democratic political party primaries. YIAGA AFRICA also shared its plan to observe political party primaries in a bid to provide recommendations.

#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). These will be adopted for the observation of the 2019 Bayelsa State Governorship Election.

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27 Aug
0

NOT TOO YOUNG TO RUN MOVEMENT STATEMENT ON YOUTH INCLUSION IN RIVERS STATE EXECUTIVE CABINET

On behalf of the Leadership of the Not Too Young to Run Campaign in Rivers State, we congratulate you on your victory at the 2019 Rivers State Governorship Election and your subsequent swearing in as Executive Governor of Rivers State for a second term.

We believe your re-election will afford you the opportunity to continue to implement your blue print to develop our dear state. We have resorted to write openly to ensure that our message gets to you due to the urgency of the subject matter.  For the first time in Nigeria’s return to democracy in 1999, young people between the ages of 25-30 are legally empowered to contest for the seats in the House of Representatives and State House of Assembly as a result of the Not Too Young  To Run (age reduction) law.

As the foremost group advocating the inclusion and active participation of capable youths in government, we acknowledge and appreciate your efforts during your first tenure in positioning some young persons into strategic appointive and elective positions across the state. We are also glad that a number of them discharged their duties excellently.

We however, believe that this partnership with youths can and should get better this second term. This is why we are appealing that you consider an even increased allocation of viable positions for youths, if anything from among your teeming youth supporters. We believe our appeal is coming at the appropriate time as you are yet to forward the names of Commissioner Nominees to the legislature.

We acknowledge with all humility that it you reserve the discretion to appoint anyone into your cabinet as a commissioner, notwithstanding we are quite convinced that an improved youth presence would guarantee the much needed energy and speed to drive the NEW agenda in Rivers State.

Considering the political climate we operate in this part of the globe, we are tempted to define clearly the age bracket we REFER to as YOUTHS in this open letter.

Whilst the United Nations defines ‘YOUTHS’, as persons between the ages of 15 and 24 years, we are constrained by environmental and economic realities of the nation, to restrict our definition to the Nigerian National Youth Policy which defines youth as anyone between the age of 15 and 29. We believe this is a more realistic and acceptable definition within the Nigerian context.

There is a growing global acceptance and consensus that young people can perform if they are allowed to; we have also noticed local acceptance of this global proposition that young people can truly make the difference in governance as key active players if given the opportunity. From time immemorial, the position and role of the Nigerian youth in the socio-economic and political development of our country has been that of a prime mover.

This has been so because, youths constitute the crust of the future generation and are perceived as vital instrument in repositioning the nation’s economy.  Even though the patriotic commitment of nation building is the responsibility of all citizens, the youths who are more energetic and purpose –driven always stand at the center stage.  If properly channeled and fully exploited, the innate potentials of the youths can be transformed as a means of development for our dear state.

In Nigeria, Youths have been playing prominent roles in nation building from time immemorial. In the 60s and up to the 70s, the youth were at the very center of governance in the country. At age 19, late Ambassador M.T. Mbu was Nigeria’s High Commissioner to UK and he was Minister of Navy at 20 plus. At his early 30s, late Chief Obafemi Awolowo was already in his bloom in the Western Region and he was leader of Government in the West before 40: ditto the late Nnamdi Azikiwe and Ladoke Akintola. The likes of Gowon, Murtala Muhammed, Olusegun Obasanjo, were Heads of State in their 30s. Their likes populated the civil service as super permanent secretaries while the Military Governors were in their 20s and early 30s.

At 24, Alfred Diete Spiff was appointed Military Administrator of our dear Rivers State (former Rivers and Bayelsa States), where he led the state to unmatched prosperity and unrivaled infrastructure development. The deduction from the foregoing is that the importance of the youth in nation building cannot be overempha­sized as a state.

Interestingly, some states within the federation have resorted back to drawing from the pool of untapped youth resources in their various states. Worthy of mention is the recent nomination of a 27 years old Mr. Seun Fakorede by HE. Gov. Oluseyi Abiodun Makinde ( Executive Governor of Oyo State) as a Commissioner Designate in that State. Youths have emerged Speakers and principal officers in some other states.

This is a laudable feat and particularly one that is worthy of emulation in our dear Rivers State considering the volume of sound intellectual youthful technocrats we have in abundance. The appointment of youths into your Executive Cabinet as Commissioners will create an avenue for young minds and [fresh] ideas to be explored as they are vibrant, energetic and full of innovative ideas. It will also serve as a remarkable model and lesson for misguided youths to denounce violence and pursue more creative ventures that could earn them recognition and a place in governance someday.

We are hopeful that you did consider this humble appeal for inclusion of youths in your Executive Cabinet as Commissioners. We wish you a much more fruitful second tenure.

 

Thank you.

Sign

Chiefson Nwaiwu

Rivers State Coordinator,  #NotTooYoungToRun   on behalf of the Movement.

 

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