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24 Aug
0

Investing in the Nigerian Youth: Disaster or Dividend? By Ibrahim Faruk

Since independence in 1960, successive Nigerian governments have initiated programmes and projects aimed at the youth. The government of President Olusegun Obasanjo (1999-2007) launched the National Program for the Eradication of Poverty (NAPEP), which aimed to reduce poverty. The Federal Government of Nigeria under President Goodluck Jonathan also launched the Subsidy Reinvestment and Empowerment Programme (SURE-P), which targeted the youth, women and cooperative groups and the N-Power/National Social Investment Program (NSIP) under President Muhammadu Buhari which seeks to harness Nigeria’s young demography through appropriate skill development efforts provides an opportunity to achieve inclusion and productivity within the country.

More recently, the Federal Executive Council on Wednesday, July 22, 2020 approved the establishment of the Nigerian Youth Investment Fund, (NYIF). The Youth Fund is dedicated to investing in the innovative ideas, skills, talents and enterprise of the Nigerian Youth and aimed at turning them into Entrepreneurs, Wealth Creators and Employers of labor contributing to national development. The NYIF is an indication that President Buhari led Federal Government to consider Nigerian youth as a resource to be harnessed and not a problem, hence the approval of the Fund.

Data from the National Bureau of Statistics reveals Nigeria’s unemployment rate as at the second quarter of 2020 is 27.1% indicating that about 21,764,614 (21.7 million) Nigerians remain unemployed. Nigeria’s unemployment and underemployment rate (28.6%) is a combined 55.7%. This means the total number of Nigerians who are unemployed or underemployed as of 2020 Q2. The data also reveals the worst-hit are Nigerian youths with over 13.9 million currently unemployed.  In Q3 2018, the last time the report was released there were about 13.1 million Nigerian youths unemployed. Youth between the ages 15-24 have about 6.8 million Nigerians out of jobs and another 7.1 million also unemployed.

Recent public policies aimed at investing in youth and directed at addressing youth development and unemployment face a further challenge of lack of a proper monitoring and evaluation framework. Resources that have been allocated towards youth investments and development have left a lot to be desired in terms of assessing the impact on youth development and unemployment (especially considering the data from the National Bureau of Statistics).

However, policy formulation and its implementation appear to be mutually exclusive in the Nigerian context as efforts by successive governments to invest in youth and tackle youth unemployment has ended with little to show in terms of impact, largely due to poor implementation of the said programmes.

As part of efforts to ensure the Nigerian Youth Investment Fund is not a disaster, the Honorable Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Mr. Sunday Dare constituted a Focal Group which is tasked to, among other things, “Coordinate the engagement of the NYIF with youth groups and other stakeholders across the country for a proper feedback process to strengthen the Fund”. The 23-member focal group is led by Oladipo Adebiyi with Samson Itodo, Executive Director of Yiaga Africa as the deputy team lead.

The constitution of the Focal Group (made up largely of Nigerian youth with experience in various sectors) and the Technical Committee is a sharp departure from previous youth investment programs where youth inputs were not considered in the design and implementation of the program. This is an important step towards ensuring the program delivers dividends to the youth constituency which it was set up to serve.

It is also important to add that this is the first time such a programme is domiciled in the Ministry of Youth and Sports Development, unlike previous programmes where the Ministry which should play a coordinating role has been relegated to being a bystander in the design and implementation of the programmes. Notwithstanding, the Technical Committee and the Focal Group of the NYIF must interrogate the weaknesses and achievements of past programmes in order to avoid or overcome the challenges they faced as well as build on the successes they made.

The Generation 2030 Africa 2.0 2017 Report by UNICEF notes that Africa can reap a demographic dividend that will see per capita incomes increase by up to four-fold by 2050 if policies that promote job growth are made alongside international and domestic investment in Africa’s human capital.

Conversely, if investments do not occur in Africa’s youth and children, the once-in-a-generation opportunity of a demographic dividend may be replaced by a demographic disaster, characterized by unemployment and instability.

Ibrahim Faruk is a Program Manager with Yiaga Africa’s Governance and Development Program and is a member of the Leadership and Strategy Team of the Not Too Young To Run Movement. He can be reached via fibrahim@yiaga.org, and tweets @IbrhmFaruk

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24 Aug
0

Edo/Ondo Polls: Citizens, Must Takeover Agenda for Credible, Peaceful Polls – Ezenwa

The Executive Director Peering Advocacy and Advancement Center in Africa (PAACA), Ezenwa Nwagwu has urged citizens to take over the political agenda for the upcoming Edo and Ondo governorship elections.  He said citizens and civic groups should not allow politicians to decide the agenda for the elections saying democracy has given the citizens power to make informed electoral decisions and demand good governance.

According to him, the current fear-mongering in Edo state ahead of the Governorship elections is deliberate to prevent citizens from coming out to vote. Nwagwu, a Yiaga Africa board said this during Watching The Vote (WTV) Hour, a radio program dedicated to citizens engagement for the upcoming Governorship elections in Edo and Ondo state.

“the current political environment in Edo state underscores the need for citizens’ group to inspire confidence in the Citizens by ensuring all stakeholders play their roles to prevent violation of electoral laws”, he said. He called on citizens and important stakeholders like traditional and religious leaders to move attention away from the current distractions from politicians to important issues that will benefit the citizens ahead of the election.

He said citizens of Edo must not allow politicians to set the agenda for this election saying Citizens must shout-down the narrative and perception of violence in Edo. He said, stakeholder especially security must be reenergized to play their role to ensure peaceful polls.

He also reminded that elections are determined by people who vote but the consequences of government are suffered or enjoyed by every citizen thus it becomes more important to come out and vote right.

He said the security agencies should work together to enforce order and act as a deterrent to any form of violence or corruption during elections saying people who engage in anything that threatens the free and fair nature of the election should be detained.

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20 Aug
0

FixElectionsNG: Nigeria Labour Congress Joins Call for Electoral Reform

Yiaga Africa team members and NLC Excos after a roundtable on electoral reform

Electoral reform has remained at a front-burner of political discussions as stakeholders across the country continue to intensify efforts to stimulate the passage of a reviewed electoral law before the end of 2020. Thus, as part of its consistent endeavour to mobilize stakeholders towards ensuring quick passage of the electoral act, the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) partnered with Yiaga Africa to build a consensus on electoral reforms in Nigeria. This is part of the ongoing nationwide #FixElectionsNG Campaign aimed at inspiring citizens’ participation in the electoral process.

As a very important stakeholder, the NLC has also thrown its weight on the call for passage of an electoral law that will enable the use of technology, improve the management of the process and ensure political inclusion. During the roundtable held on Wednesday 19 August 2020 in Abuja, President of the NLC Comrade, Ayuba Wabba reiterated the need for critical reforms and the quick passage of an improved electoral law for Nigeria.

NLC President Ayuba Wabba speaking during a roundtable on electoral reform

According to Wabba, “We have seen that there still a lot of rooms for improvement, in our electoral process, be it on the aspect of the law, be it on the aspect of how to choose candidates, be it on the aspect of inclusion particularly gender and youth, those are areas that we need critical reforms.”

He said “Having participated in the process of election from 1999 to date, we have seen that there are still a lot of rooms for improvement in our electoral process, be it on the aspect of the law, be it on the aspect of how to choose candidate, be it in the aspect of inclusion, particularly gender and youths.”

“Those are areas that we need critical reforms and therefore we don’t want reforms that will come at the eve of the election. We want these reforms to come a bit earlier before the election so that people get used to those reforms or amendments to the acts and I think this is the right time to try to canvass for that.”

“And we have gotten the commitment of the National Assembly to say that they are willing and ready to make sure that reforms processes are driven much earlier. They gave a commitment to the effect that by December, all set and done we should be discussing the new electoral act.”

Similarly, Executive Director of Yiaga Africa, Samson Itodo urged the Federal Government to strengthen the financial capacity of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) by providing legal timelines for the release of funds to the commission. The financial timelines among other critical issues were some of the reforms needed to ensure the holding of credible elections in the country, according to Itodo.

He said “If you look at our 2019 election report, we have it on good record that a large chunk of funding for the 2019 election was not provided to INEC until about a few weeks to the election. And it was clear that the government intentionally delayed funding for INEC to perform and deliver on the 2019 elections. That is very problematic for the integrity of our electoral process.

Samson Itodo speaking to journalists after the NLC roundtable on electoral reform

“And so it’s important to have legal stipulations on clear timelines of when funds should be released to INEC for the conduct of elections and this needs to be addressed immediately.”

He also decried the security challenges of elections saying, “the 2015 amendment to the act confers some powers to the INEC to request and inform deployment for election security the operation, but that is not the case, what we still see is that our security agencies undermine the process in some cases and not give INEC the required cooperation that they need.”

 “As we go for the Edo and Ondo elections, it is very important that our security agencies ensure they uphold the principles of professionalism, patriotism, transparency, and accountability in the management of the election security operation,” Samson said in tasking the security agencies.

While reiterating the importance of sticking to the December 2020 timeline, he said the National Assembly needs to accelerate the process to avoid what happened in the 8th assembly. “We don’t want to see postponement in our elections anymore; we don’t want to see these challenges and uncertainties towards electoral laws. If the National Assembly is truly committed, it should be able to pass the Amendment Bill by December 2020” he said.

“The National Assembly and the executives have an opportunity to write their names in gold and live a lasting legacy, as the president has said, so as to fast track this process and ensure that the electoral amendment process is concluded by December so that INEC and political parties can prepare ahead of elections,” he added.

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17 Aug
0

Yiaga Africa Charges NASS on Legislative Transparency, Citizens Engagement

The shift to E-parliament, legislative capacity and transparency in legislative responsibility dominated the discussion when Yiaga Africa paid a congratulatory visit to the new acting Clerk of the National Assembly, Arc. Olatunde Amos Ojo. On Friday 14th August 2020, Yiaga Africa Centre for Legislative Engagement during a congratulatory visit to the clerk of the National Assembly raised critical issues, key among them is the huge opportunity that avails to the clerk of the National Assembly to protect openness at the National Assembly.

In this vein, Mr Olatunde Amos Ojo, has assured that the federal legislative body will soon be upgraded to operate e-parliament in line with global best practices saying the National Assembly’s management under his leadership will work to ensure that anybody that comes to the National Assembly to seek information can get it at the click of a button. He said, “It is very important and there are diverse ways this can happen. With the COVID-19 pandemic, technology provides a huge opportunity and so e-parliament should be a top agenda.

According to him, “The National Assembly is one institution that is most misunderstood by Nigerians and likely so because the communications and public engagement with citizens has not been as desired and as a Clerk, there is a lot of expectations that given your experience and also your disposition, that you will bring that to bare in this leadership role in providing citizens access to the National Assembly as well as citizens participation.

While acknowledging the environmental challenges that negatively impact on the work ethics and professional standard of the National Assembly bureaucracy, Arc Ojo assures that the National Assembly under his leadership will be done with utmost transparency, making sure that at all times everyone is involved.
“Our capacity development therefore will be a continuous process, making sure that the knowledge gaps we have in the various parts of the National Assembly are filled up so that from any part of the National Assembly if you pick a staff, he speaks and acts as a legislative bureaucrat.

“That is what we want to make sure we achieve and we are trusting that by the time we set this house properly definitely since it is our objective, God helping us we are going to attain it’, he added.
Speaking during the visit, Executive Director of Yiaga Africa remind the clerk of the high expectations on openness and inclusiveness expected of the National Assembly clerk. He said, “The National Assembly is one institution that is most misunderstood by Nigerians and likely so because the communications and public engagement with citizens have not been as desired and as a Clerk, there is a lot of expectations that given your experience and also your disposition, that you will bring that to bare in this leadership role in providing citizens access to the National Assembly as well as citizens participation.
“It is very important and there are diverse ways this can happen. With the COVID-19 pandemic, technology provides a huge opportunity and so e-parliament should be a top agenda”, Itodo said.

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12 Aug
0

Ondo Police Assures Peaceful Polls as Yiaga Africa Pays Advocacy Visit

Ondo State Police Command has said its men will remain apolitical, impartial, and discharge their duties professionally during and after the October 10 governorship election.

Police Commissioner Salami Bolaji gave the assurance when he received a delegation of Yiaga Africa Initiative, who visited him to ascertain the level of police preparedness for the election and seek collaborative effort for peaceful Governorship elections come October 10, 2020.

Yiaga Africa team during an advocacy visit to Commissioner of Police in Ondo state

The advocacy visit to the Police became necessary according to Yiaga Africa’s Director of Programs, Cynthia Mbamalu to enable the team to discuss the critical role of police and how to partner to ensure a violence-free governorship election.

According to Cynthia, Yiaga Africa’s violence monitoring will provide timely and accurate information and early warning signals to enable immediate response from the security. Said she, “Yiaga Africa’s role as an observer group, among other functions, is to see that the police maintain an impartial stance with stakeholders, to achieve a hitch-free, fair and credible governorship election in October.”

In his response, CP Bolaji said, “the command is ready to work with the relevant bodies to ensure the success of the election. We are ready to provide security for the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) officials and their materials, to ensure nothing untoward happens during and after the election.’’

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12 Aug
0

Yiaga Africa Watching The Vote Report on Nasarawa Central State Constituency Bye-Election

Yiaga Africa Watching The Vote Report on Nasarawa Central State Constituency Bye-Election: Nassarawa bye-election underscores the complexity of safeguarding public health and electoral integrity

Introduction
As a precursor to the upcoming 2020 governorship elections in Edo and Ondo states, the  Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) conducted a bye-election on Saturday, August 8, 2020, in the Nasarawa Central State Constituency to fill the vacancy created by the death of Hon. Adamu Suleiman Ibrahim. The bye-election was conducted in 44 polling units across seven wards in Nasarawa local government area (LGA) with a total of 71,919
registered voters. The bye-election was strategically important for three reasons. First, it is the first election to be conducted by INEC amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. It provided a litmus test for INEC’s Policy on Conducting Elections in the Context of the COVID-19 Pandemic and the new Voters Code of Conduct for Elections. Second, the people of Nasarawa Central Constituency voted for a new representative after months without representation in the State House of Assembly. Lastly, INEC introduced INEC Results Viewing (IReV), a new election result viewing portal to provide public access to results from polling units in near real-time. Accordingly, INEC deployed electronic tablets to the polling units to recapture and re-authenticate voter identification information, especially facial identification and the transmission of election results.

Yiaga Africa Watching The Vote (WTV) did not deploy the Parallel Vote Tabulation (PVT) methodology for the bye-election but instead deployed stationary and roving citizen observers to observe the election in 22 out of the 44 polling units where the bye-election held. The citizen observers monitored the voting and counting process, compliance with health safety guidelines, and efficacy of the electronic tablets used for results transmission and voter accreditation.
Despite low voter turnout, technological challenges, and non-compliance with some public health guidelines, the election was peaceful with no incidences of violence. The security agencies maintained professional conduct throughout the election. The voters in Nasarawa LGA deserve commendation for their resilience to participate in the election despite the logistical hiccups that resulted in the late commencement of voting in several polling units and the risks associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. While INEC took some measures to follow COVID-19 health guidelines including providing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) like face masks, hand gloves, thermometer for temperature checks and hand sanitizers at all observed polling units and sanitizing all voters’ fingers before reading their fingerprints with the Smart Card Reader, INEC experienced challenges maintaining physical distance
between voters and ensuring that all voters wore face masks/coverings while at the polls. In addition to massive vote-buying, political parties provided facemasks and handwashing equipment at the polling units to lure voters to cast their votes. It is evident that INEC and other health institutions will need to take measures based on lessons learned from this election to guarantee the enforcement of health safety guidelines during subsequent elections amidst COVID-19, particularly for the upcoming off-cycle governorship elections in Edo and Ondo. Electoral technology can enhance electoral transparency as observed with the IReV platform; however, it has the potential to undermine the credibility of elections and decrease voter participation if the tools and systems are not tested, verified and deployed in line with Open Election Data principles coupled with adequate public sensitization on their functionality and efficiency. Electoral technology such as the Smart Card Readers and electronic tablets may also disenfranchise voters and trigger violence if they do not function properly or polling officials aren’t adequately trained on how to operate them.

DOWNLOAD REPORT 

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12 Aug
0

Edo/Ondo Polls: Yiaga Africa Kicks off WatchingTheVote Radio Hour

Ahead of the Edo and Ondo governorship elections, Yiaga Africa through its Watching The Vote (WTV) project has kicked off, a citizens engagement program to provide a platform for stakeholders to chart pathways to credible and peaceful polls in both states. The Radio program tagged ‘Watching The Vote hour’ according to Director of programs Cynthia Mbamalu also provides the opportunity to engage citizens of Edo and Ondo on the need to participate actively in the electoral process.

WTV Hour at Rhythm FM Edo

Watching The Vote hour was flagged off on Rhythm FM 93.7 Benin, Edo state and Adaba FM 88.9, Akure, Ondo state on 29th July 2020 and 6th August 2020 respectively, by Director Programs Cynthia Mbamalu and Head of Elections, Paul James as both called on citizens’ participation in the upcoming Governorship elections in the state.

Speaking during the maiden edition of the program in Edo, Director of Programs, Cynthia Mbamalu said Watching The Vote Hour became necessary because citizens should participate in the electoral process from an informed position and thus information about the electoral process should be disseminated to the public accordingly. She further said the project is out to provide timely information on both the pre-election environment and the Election Day activities in order to counter misinformation and rumors.

She said ‘we have just concluded the training of 24 Long Term Observers in Edo. They will be observing activities of political parties, activities of election management bodies, and violence monitoring. The information gathered during this period will be released to election stakeholders for an immediate response on issues that could impact on the electoral process”.

Also speaking during the show is Head of Elections Paul James who revealed that Yiaga Africa will be deploying 500 polling unit observers for the Edo Governorship elections using the Parallel Vote Tabulation methodology. He said the PVT is a proven Election Day observation methodology that enables non-partisan citizen observers to observe and report the Election Day process. He said Yiaga Africa will be providing accurate and timely information on the election process.

Wtv Hour on Rhythm FM Benin

For the Edo Governorship elections, Watching The Vote Hour is aired every Wednesday on Rhythm FM 93.7 from 8.30am to 9.30am. Similarly, for the Ondo polls, WTV hour is aired on Thursdays between 5-6pm on Adaba FM 88.9FM

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12 Aug
0

Press Statement : Nasarawa bye-election underscores the complexity of safeguarding public health and electoral integrity

Yiaga Africa Press Statement on Nasarawa Central State Constituency Bye-Election :

Nassarawa bye-election underscores the complexity of safeguarding public health and electoral integrity

As a precursor to the upcoming 2020 governorship elections in Edo and Ondo states, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) conducted a bye-election on Saturday, August 8, 2020, in the Nasarawa Central State Constituency to fill the vacancy created by the death of Hon. Adamu Suleiman Ibrahim. The bye-election was conducted in 44 polling units across seven wards in Nasarawa local government area (LGA) with a total of 71,919 registered voters. Yiaga Africa Watching The Vote (WTV) did not deploy the Parallel Vote Tabulation (PVT) methodology for the bye-election but instead deployed stationary and roving citizen observers to observe the election in 22 out of the 44 polling units where the bye-election held.

Despite low voter turnout, technological challenges, and non-compliance with some public health guidelines, the election was peaceful with no incidences of violence. The security agencies maintained professional conduct throughout the election. The voters in Nasarawa LGA deserve commendation for their resilience to participate in the election despite the logistical hiccups that resulted in the late commencement of voting in several polling units and the risks associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. While INEC took some measures to follow COVID-19 health guidelines including providing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) like face masks, hand gloves, thermometer for temperature checks and hand sanitizers at all observed polling units and sanitizing all voters’ fingers before reading their fingerprints with the Smart Card Reader, INEC experienced challenges maintaining physical distance between voters and ensuring that all voters wore face masks/coverings while at the polls. In addition to massive vote buying, political parties provided facemasks and handwashing equipment at the polling units to lure voters to cast their votes. It is evident that INEC and other health institutions will need to take measures based on lessons learned from this election to guarantee the enforcement of health safety guidelines during subsequent elections amidst COVID-19, particularly for the upcoming off-cycle governorship elections in Edo and Ondo. Electoral technology can enhance electoral transparency as observed with the IReV platform; however, it has the potential to undermine the credibility of elections and decrease voter participation if the tools and systems are not tested, verified and deployed in line with Open Election Data principles coupled with adequate public sensitization on their functionality and efficiency. Electoral technology such the Smart Card Readers and electronic tablets may also disenfranchise voters and trigger violence if they do not function properly or polling officials aren’t adequately trained on how to operate them.

Major Findings

  1. Transparency of election results management process: Public access to polling units’ results improved with the introduction of the INEC Results Viewing (IReV) platform. This innovation enhanced the transparency of the process as polling officials uploaded images of polling unit level results onto the portal. As of 4 pm on election day, results from two polling units were uploaded for public viewing. By 10:20 pm, results from all of the 44 polling units were uploaded onto the platform. All of the uploaded images of the result sheet (Form EC 8 A) were duly signed and stamped except the result sheet from Polling Unit 004 Oshikpe in Ara 1 Ward. The uploaded results sheet from five polling units had blurred images, while seven other results sheets had corrections. Based on the guidelines and process flow, polling officials were required to take photos of the result sheet and upload directly on the portal at the polling unit. Yiaga Africa observed some polling officials breached this guideline and uploaded the images at the ward collation center. Most of the polling officials interviewed during the bye-election alluded to inadequate training on Android tablet usage.
  1. Technological Challenges with Voter Authentication: Yiaga Africa citizen observers reported delays in the commencement of accreditation and voting in several polling units due to the failure of the newly introduced tablets to recapture voters’ facial identity. Accordingly, while there was early deployment of personnel and materials by INEC, accreditation, and voting commenced late in several polling units. The average time for commencement of accreditation and voting in observed polling units was 9:30 am. In some polling units, accreditation and voting started at 11:00 am. The Smart Card Readers were used throughout the process in the majority of polling units visited. The electronic tablets were also deployed across all of the polling units for uploading polling unit level results.
  1. With the closure of schools due to the COVID-19 pandemic, polling officials encountered difficulty in securing tables and chairs for polling unit set up. This resulted in delays in the polling unit set up despite the early arrival of polling officials.

 

  1. Vote-buying: Political parties, candidates, and politicians still engaged in and abetted vote-buying in the full glare of the public and security personnel. The secrecy of the ballot was severely compromised by party agents who interfered with the voting process and engaged in vote-buying and voting by proxy. Votes traded between N500 and N1,000 across polling units observed, especially in PU 004, UNG Mallam, PU 005, and PU 006 Angwan Dutse.

 

  1. Non-compliance with COVID-19 Election Guidelines: Yiaga Africa WTV observers reported noncompliance with health safety guidelines by polling officials and voters. Voters were allowed into the inner queue without facemasks and physical distancing in all polling units.

 

  1. Low voter mobilization: According to INEC, the turnout of voters for the election is 17.2% indicating abysmal turnout. Yiaga Africa observers observed a high turnout of women voters compared to male voters in the polling units visited.

Recommendations

For INEC

  1. INEC should collaborate with security agencies to enforce all health safety guidelines particularly those regarding wearing of facemasks/covering and maintaining physical distance between voters
  2. INEC should ensure technological tools and devices are configured, tested, and fully charged before deployment on election day. Polling officials should be adequately trained on new technological tools ahead of election day to ensure effective management of elections
  3. INEC should scale the INEC Results Viewing (IReV) portal to all subsequent elections. In doing so, the Commission should ensure election results conform to open election data principles such as timeliness, granularity, analysable, accessible etc.
  4. Maintain regular engagement with stakeholders and share adequate information on new policies and guidelines ahead of election day.
  1. INEC should continue to review its voting processes to allow voters to cast ballots without interference and intimidation
  2. INEC should liaise with state governments and school authorities to ensure access to tables and chairs in schools to facilitate polling unit set up during elections

For National Assembly

  1. Accelerate the consideration of electoral amendment bills and ensure their quick passage. This will confer legality on laudable innovations introduced by INEC and upscale the electoral results viewing to an election results collation and transmission portal.

For Security agencies

  1. Support INEC in enforcing COVID-19 safety guidelines during elections as well as arrest individuals involved in vote trading and disruptive behavior during elections
  2. Maintain professionalism and impartiality in managing election security

Conclusion

Yiaga Africa commends the voters in Nassarawa LGA for their peaceful conduct, resilience, and patience on election day. INEC deserves commendation for introducing the results viewing platform. It signals a leap in our quest to ensuring transparency of election results management. Yiaga Africa is concerned with the challenges of conducting a governorship election while adhering to the COVID-19 guidelines. INEC provided thermometers for temperature checks and hand sanitizers for sanitizing each voter’s finger before their fingerprints were read by the Smart Card Reader; however, Yiaga Africa observers reported significant challenges in maintaining physical distancing and ensuring voters wore masks/face coverings to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Clearly, the Nassarawa bye-election underscores the complexity of conducting elections amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. INEC must ensure effective enforcement of all COVID-19 guidelines ahead of and during the upcoming off-cycle governorship elections in Edo and Ondo. Achieving this will require the support and collaboration of all stakeholders, especially the voters, political parties, and their supporters.

Signed

Samson Itodo

Executive Director, Yiaga Africa

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12 Aug
0

YouthDay: Nigerian Project of building next generation of civic actors – Ovinuchi Ejiohuo

Of the many problems facing the sustainability of Nigeria’s democracy, lack of youth inclusion at an early age stands in the forefront especially at the formative years when young people begin to take control of not just their body but also their mind; being responsible for their actions.

Despite the feeling of hopelessness and inadequacies that one might think exists for youth civic and political action, Yiaga Africa’s innovative program; Democracy Camp sponsored by National Endowment for Democracy (NED) is engaging young people in secondary schools in Nigeria who in turn are engaging with themselves, their institutions, and democratic processes. Their participation and actions are not only influencing the outcomes of political issues but is achieving the global goals for sustainable development.

Watch the Democracy Camp 2020 documentary ‘The Grassroots’  to find out about the innovative solutions and inspiring stories from young changemakers:

In a span of 7 years, the program has impacted over 2000 students across over 200 secondary schools in Nigeria.

However, this is in only about 2 of the 6 geopolitical regions of the country but provides an opportunity for the program to scale and impact even more youths in every part of the nation and even the African continent.

According to previous participants of the program; who are mainly students, the approach and practical teaching style of the initiative is fun and different from conventional classroom experiences. This makes the understanding of the concept much easier.

As the world celebrates the International Youth Day 2020 with the theme: Youth Engagement for Global Action, here are some ways in which youths can engage and take actions in their community;

Get involved and participate actively in community/school activities – clubs, using writing and other art forms, student government, volunteer. Also, know your fundamental human rights as guaranteed by the constitution.

It is also imperative to engage with lawmakers, community leaders, and relevant institutions – write them issue-based letters and articles, call or text, engage them on social media, organize or join peer visits, take part in town-hall events.

Avoid and discourage violence and dispel/discourage fake news and false information especially on social media while keeping responsible friends and relationships.

Most importantly, Stay healthy – eat right, stay fit, practice clean hygiene while following safety and health guidelines.

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09 Aug
0

INEC Hails Yiaga Africa’s Role in Election Observation encourages balance report

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has hailed the contribution of Yiaga Africa to credible elections in Nigeria, saying it has observed beyond a reasonable doubt the organization’s role to see improvement in credible elections and citizens’ participation. This was contained in a speech delivered by the Ondo State Resident Electoral Commissioner, Ambassador, Dr. Rufus Olohuntoyin Akeju, during his appearance at the training of Yiaga Africa’s Watching The Vote Long Term Observers on Thursday, August 04, 2020, in Akure, Ondo state.

According to him, the activities of Yiaga Africa, a civil society organization in election observation has been noted in the Governorship elections of Kogi and Bayelsa. He said “the organization is seen to be playing this role effectively as partners to the commission in the onerous task of the consolidation of Nigerian democracy. “It is our hope that Yiaga Africa will partner with the commission for a well-conducted gubernatorial election in Ondo state on 10th October 2020”.

Dr Akeju reiterated that Yiaga Africa’s role as election observers is important because they help to point out areas that need immediate improvement in the electoral process. During his speech, he provided electoral data about the state which includes information about polling units and voting points, saying the state has Three Thousand and nine (3009) polling units. According to him, the 18 Local Government Areas in the state will host 203 Registration Area Centres

He also said the commission will be using the same voter register from during the 2019 elections as the COVID-19 pandemic has hindered any form of Continuous Voters’ Registration (CVR) process. “We have a total of one million, eight hundred and twenty-two thousand, three hundred, and forty-six (1,822,346) registered voters. Of this figure, a total of one million, four hundred and seventy-eight thousand, four hundred and eighty-six (1,478,486) voters have collected their Permanent Voters Card (PVC) to vote, leaving a total of Three hundred and seventy-two thousand, eight hundred and eighty-eight (372,888) PVCs yet to be collected by their owners”, he revealed.

He however said, the commission at the state is monitoring all pre-election activities to ensure they are done according to enabling laws, political parties’ constitution and in accordance with the COVID-19 prevention protocols of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and Presidential Task Force. He further shared information on the readjustment of the timeline on the commencement of polls and other safety precautions to mitigate the effects of the pandemic.

He concluded his speech by urging Yiaga Africa to remain balanced in its report saying, “election observers are expected to emphasize on resolving electoral problems rather than apportioning blames”.  In his words, “let your assessment be placed in the proper context and written with care to avoid any misinterpretation. I wish to encourage you to make your statement verifiable and give much adherence to ethics to guarantee your impartiality”.

Meanwhile, as part of its pre-election engagement and collaborative effort for a credible election, the Management of Yiaga Africa‘s  Watching The Vote project had on Wednesday, August  7th, 2020, paid an advocacy visit to the Resident Electoral Commissioner of Ondo state, Amb. Dr. Rufus Akeju.

The visit according to the Director of Programs, Cynthia Mbamalu was aimed to build a strong partnership with the electoral commission while sharing Yiaga Africa’s election observation deployment plan for the elections. She said, as an accredited observer for the Ondo Governorship elections, it is pertinent to build a good relationship with the commission to promote citizens’ participation and ensure credible elections.

“After observing the political party primaries, we are currently training 27 Long Term Observers who will be deployed across all Local Government Areas in the state to observe and report the pre-election environment”, she said.

For Election Day, she said “Yiaga Africa will deploy 600 observers using a special election observation methodology called the Parallel Vote Tabulation. The goal is to provide timely and precise information on the process and build citizens confidence in the electoral process”,  she said the project will also be deploying to all LGA collation centers to observe the process.

According to Cynthia, “Yiaga Africa will be conducting a lot of voter education via various platforms including a weekly radio program which will provide platforms for citizens and stakeholders to engage”. “Yiaga Africa through its Local Government Supervisors is ready to provide support to the commission in conducting voter education at the local government level”, she concluded.

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