28 Jan

2019: YIAGA AFRICA Hosts Watching The Vote Media RoundTable, Charges on Data-Driven Journalism 

The Executive Director YIAGA AFRICA, Samson Itodo yesterday charged journalists across electronic, print and online media to invest time and energy in data-driven journalism ahead of the 2019 general elections saying that quality of elections is best analyzed using credible and accurate data. Mr Itodo said this on Saturday during YIAGA AFRICA’s Watching The Vote (WTV) media roundtable for the 2019 general elections and the Parallel Vote Tabulation (PVT) for the 2019 Presidential elections.

He said, the 2019 election is a crucial election in the history of Nigeria and to ensure that the result reflect the voting realities, Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and the media need to revolt against any attempt to manipulate the election. According to him, YIAGA AFRICA’s WTV, the largest citizen movement committed to credible elections will be deploying citizen observers across all 774 Local Government Areas in Nigeria. He said, YIAGA Africa is sounding a note of warning that it will expose any attempt to manipulate the 2019 general elections. He also urged journalists to adopt the use of accurate data in reporting elections, stressing that the PVT method of the organisation, provides empirical data to enable accurate analysis of the election.

According to him, as it is now there is crisis of confidence in the electoral process from different stakeholders. “We are concern that at different levels, people will not accept the results because they will think that the process has been compromised. He said, “What YIAGA is doing now is to say there is a methodology that has the capacity to verify any result declared by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), particularly the presidential election.

“So there will be no need to take to violence or cause any form of instability because there is a methodology that can provide evidence,” he said. Itodo expressed optimism that the deployment of the PVT for the election would help to boost citizen confidence in the electoral process.

He advised Nigeria journalists to embrace the global trend of data driven elections reportage as they covered activities related to the forthcoming general elections.

He said that data reporting and investigative journalism on the forthcoming elections were important as there are already a lot of misinformation and fake news in the public.

He said that the only way to counter fake news and misinformation is by using data and evidence, saying gone are those days when people focus more on non-data reporting of an election.

During the roundtable which saw about 40 journalists from electronic, print and online media, YIAGA AFRICA’s Watching The Vote management team shared plans on its election observation deployment plan for the 2019 Presidential elections. According to the WTV project director, Cynthia Mbamalu, “what is important for us is that before the elections, we put all our plans as an institution that will deploy observers and ensure we have better partnership with election stakeholders.” She stated that as part of YIAGA AFRICA WTV initiative, 882 observers were deployed to all 774 local government areas to observe pre-election proceedings, while 3,034 polling unit observers will be deployed across the 1,515 of the 120,000 polling units across the country.

There were sessions on the WTV PVT methodology, WTV pre-election observation, WTV deployment for the 2019 election and media reportage of PVT findings for the 2019 elections. While conducting the session on PVT, training Manager, Paul James emphasized that YIAGA AFRICA’s WTV randomly selected polling units to deploy non-partisan observers in order to provide accurate election data fresh from polling units. According to James, having observed the process in Anambra, Ekiti and Osun Governorship elections, PVT has consistently provided data on quality of elections and how it can be improved.

Also speaking is Advisor, Election at the National Democratic Institute, Richard Klein who explained various countries where the PVT has been used to detect fraud in the electoral process. According to Klein, the PVT was first used in the Philippines to protect the votes of citizens from a dictator saying Zambia is the first African country to successfully deploy the PVT which helped eliminated fraud in the 1991 Presidential elections. NDI are providing technical support to YIAGA AFRICA for credible elections in Nigeria.

The roundtable with reporters is the first set of engagement with journalists as the team will further engage editors both in Lagos and Abuja.

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21 Jan

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17 Jan

Celebrating the Not Too Young to Run Movement Strategy Team Members and State Coordinators

The Not Too Young To Run movement is a movement of youth and civil society groups advocating for the reduction of age for running for elective offices to mainstream young men and women in electoral politics. Not Too Young To Run is Nigeria’s largest and most successful youth movement in recent times. The movement is driven by the compelling need to restructure the country’s political system to address the deeply entrenched system of political exclusion and institute inclusive politics, transformative leadership and electoral competitiveness in the electoral process.

Members of the Leadership and Strategy Team of the Not Too Young To Run Movement are responsible for the leadership of the Movement and have represented the Movement at the United Nations, the African Union (AU) and Economic Community of West African State (ECOWAS) meetings among many others.

The Members of the Movement have sacrificed their time, effort and resources, without them the vision for a reduction in the age for political participation would have remained a pipe dream.

The names of the young men and women who have written their names in gold are:

1          Samson Itodo – Convener

2.         Cynthia Mbamalu

3.         Bella Anne Ndubuisi

4.         Laz Ude Eze

5.         Hamzat Lawal

6.         Nana Nwachukwu

7.         Runcie Chidebe

8.         Kenneth Okoineme

9.         Mark Amaza

10.       Chioma Agwuegbo

11.       Maryam Laushi

12.       Frederick Adetiba

13.       Yetunde Bakare

14.       Safiya Bichi

15.       Fatu Ogwuche

16.       Adeshola Komolafe

17.       Jennifer Amadi

18.       Khadija Ba

19.       Efemena Ozugha

20.       Ukachi Chukwu

21.       Moshood Isah

22.       Ibrahim Faruk

Similarly, the State Coordinators who led state level engagements with their Teams to ensure their State House of Assemblies voted YES to the Not Too Young To Run (age reduction bill).

The names of the State Coordinators and the states they represent are:

            Name                                                 State

1.         Ikenna Ogudimkpa                         Abia

2.         Charles Christopher                        Adamawa

3.         Unyime Abasi Essien                       Akwa Ibom

4.         Nonso Orakwe                                  Anambra

5.         Nasir Umar Launi                            Bauchi

6.         Amanama Tare Maureen                Bayelsa

7.         Marcus Akor                                     Benue

8.         Ahmed Bolori                                   Borno

9.         Efanga Etim Effiong                        Cross River   

10.       Andrew Oyere                                   Delta

11.       Ajah Chime Oliver                           Ebonyi

12.       Prince Israel Orekha                        Edo    

13.       Lawrence Olowolayemo                 Ekiti

14.       Nebo Collins                                     Enugu

15.       Bachama Yusuf                                Gombe

16.       Prince Chimezie Okoro                   Imo

17.       Abdulganiyu Rufai Yakubu           Jigawa

18        Zigwai Ayuba                                    Kaduna

19.       Maryam G. Usman                           Kano

20.       Ismail Bello                                       Katsina

21.       Sadiq Sa’adu Abubakar                    Kebbi

22.       Umar Dan’Assabe Muhammed     Kogi

23.       Olasupo Abideen                              Kwara

24.       Olumide Kola-Lawal                       Lagos

25.       Moses Danjuma                               Nasarawa

26.       Ibrahim Abubakar Tanko               Niger

27.       Lekan Sodipo                                    Ogun

28.       Obatola Jonathan                             Ondo

29.       Bukola Idowu                                   Osun

30.       Gboyega Tokunbo                           Oyo

31.       Chris Iyama                                      Plateau

32.       Chiefson Nwaiwu                             Rivers

33.       Yakubu Abubakar                            Sokoto

34.       Mu’Azu Mohammed Danburan     Taraba

35.       Dauda Mohammed Gombe            Yobe

36.       Anas Gusau                                       Zamfara

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16 Jan

2019: YIAGA AFRICA Commences Nationwide Stakeholder Advocacy for Credible, Peaceful Polls

The 2019 General Elections is fast approaching with campaigns in full gear, it is important that election stakeholders put everything in place to ensure a peaceful and credible elections come February 16 and March 2nd 2019. Recently, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) released the list of registered voters while also following up with the procedure of voting on election day.

As the largest citizen movement committed to credible elections in Nigeria, YIAGA AFRICA’s Watching The Vote has commenced a nationwide advocacy visit to election stakeholders in Nigeria. This is in a bid to share the promises of the WTV Project, discuss the deployment plans for the 2019 elections, seek stakeholder buy-in and explore areas of collaboration as well as to provide information on the ongoing pre-election observation across Nigeria. The Pre-election observation being observed by our 822 Long Term Observers across Nigeria has revealed salient information on level of Voter Education and what role stakeholders need to play to ensure improved citizen participation in the electoral process.

Using our National structure of one or more State Focal Point in each of the 36 states and one Local Government Area Supervisor in each of the 774 LGAs, we have commenced our advocacy visits to some major election stakeholders in Nigeria to enable us to discuss our reports and recommendations from the pre-election environment and share our plans for the observation of the 2019 general elections. The Advocacy visit wouldn’t have come at a better time as it enables YIAGA AFRICA’s Watching The Vote project reach out to elections stakeholders which include, INEC, the Nigerian Police Force, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corp (NSCDC), National Orientation Agency, Nigerian Union of Journalists, other Civil Society Organisations, Traditional and Religious Leaders as well as Faith Based Organizations (FBOs.

While informed citizen participation is vital to a credible election, we believe that not only the electoral commission have 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 electoral message. Similarly, there is no credible elections without peace, and this makes our advocacy visit to Police and the NSCDC very vital at this crucial point in time. The visit to security agency nationwide will enable us analyse the early warning systems we have built to ensure security threats are nipped in the bud.

As an organization, we believe the mass media are key to information dissemination especially at this election period. This is why our Watching The Vote team are also paying advocacy visits to the Nigerian Union of Journalists offices across Nigeria as this will ensure that information on the electoral process will be amplified as wide as possible.

In the coming days, WTV working group will also carry out advocacy visits to critical election stakeholders at the national level to inform them about the WTV plans for the observation of the elections to introduce them to the WTV methodology. Just as the ongoing engagements at by the State Focal Points at the State level, the visits by the working group aim to instill confidence in the electorates that the electoral process will be systematically observed, and its results independently verified. The working group will also host a media and CSO round table to explore areas of collaboration and to intimate them about the plans WTV on the electoral processes.


Cynthia Mbamalu

Project Director

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11 Jan


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

Watch Video Below

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10 Jan


In the drive to promote inclusion, transparency, human rights, and social progress, civil society organizations must take full advantage of innovative technology solutions to increase their impact. With technologies like Short Message Service (SMS), tracking, data analytics, and social media, Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) can effect more change and strengthen their advocacy. The use of such technologies enables CSOs to collect large data, which in turn provides an advantage to work with governments and other organizations in directing programmatic changes.

For instance, YIAGA AFRICA has been building citizens confidence in the electoral system through its Watching The Vote project, using technological tools like SMS and evidence-based research methodological tools like Parallel Vote Tabulation (PVT) for election observation. As many more individuals and organizations that aim to influence decisions within political, economic and social systems emerge, technology has become a key factor for them to meet their mission.

The popularity of Social Media as a reliable technological tool for mass advocacy cannot be overstated. This is especially because it is an interactive mode of communication; CSOs use it as their primary communication platform to inform and mobilize their target audience to act on an issue. Through this medium, the target audience is also capable of giving them immediate feedback.

According to the 2018 Global NGO Technology Report,” 93% of NGOs have their own Facebook page and 77% use their Twitter Profile effectively. “#SurvivingRkelly”, “#BlackLivesMatter”, “#MeToo”, “#NotTooYoungToRun”,  are some of the hash tags that have trended on Twitter and Facebook, and are still trending worldwide on the basis of social media immediacy for feedback —its capacity to include personal focus and multiple cues (visual or auditory) during communication.  Apart from these, there are many other remarkable benefits of using technology to achieve advocacy for a cause. Some of these benefits and model organizations include Credibility; for instance, the WatchingTheVote initiative of YIAGA AFRICA is designed to promote credible elections by providing citizens with an oversight on elections throughout the electoral cycle. #WatchingTheVote relies heavily on the use of SMS technology to provide real time election updates that validate the credibility of election results as well as elicit real time response from election stakeholders before, during and after elections.

Accountability is another area where technology has been very useful; for example, Budgit has been able to use technology to track the implementation of government projects by creating a platform that enable citizens to report and share updates about ongoing projects in their community. Layered on Open Data and integrated with existing social media tools, this has enabled people to share comments, photos, videos, and documents on existing projects.

Youth Inclusion has become a general issue of national discourse with movement like #NotTooYoungToRun andReadyToRun dedicated to inspiring young people to run for elected office, it serves as a resource database for young men and women aspiring to run for office by providing training opportunities and mobilizing support and resources for young candidates.

Many self-organized grassroots networks have sprouted up to provide resources and rapport for their target audiences, they can make use of technology as some of these organizations have done powerfully and effectively. In other words, many more civil society organizations should take this as a cue to make use of tools that will assist them in increasing the effectiveness of their campaign and projects. This will ultimately help them to reach more people and gather more meaningful data for impact and growth.

Samuel is the Information Technology Officer of YIAGA AFRICA  Twitter @folomic

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10 Jan

2019 Elections: YIAGA AFRICA Commences Election Radio Show

Ahead of the 2019 General elections, YIAGA AFRICA through its Watching The Vote (WTV) project on Wednesday, a radio program to engage Nigerians on the need to participate actively in the electoral process. The Radio program tagged “Watching The Vote half hour” was flagged off on Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN) in Abuja and aired on other FRCN stations across Nigeria.

Speaking during maiden edition of the program, Project Director Cynthia Mbamalu said the program 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 rumours.

According to Mbamalu, Watching the Vote is the largest citizen movement committed to credible elections in Nigeria and they are committed ensuring that Nigerian’s votes count. She said, “We are deploying the largest number of observers for the 2019 general elections. For us, it is more than just watching the electoral process, it’s about ensuring that our observation will help reduce violence. That way we can build early systems against electoral violence.”

Electoral violence has historically been a major factor hindering valid statistics during elections in Nigeria. It is also a factor that causes widespread apathy among citizens. “For example, when observers signal an electoral threat across the nation, our Long Term Observers across Nigeria will report and we will be escalate it to necessary authorities in other to nip it in the bud,” she explains.

During the 30 minutes show, Mbamalu highlighted that the Watching The Vote team will deploy 3034 Polling Unit Observers for the 2019 Presidential elections while also deploying 822 roving observers to report critical incidents. Polling Unit observers according to her will report election day activities like arrival and set-up, accreditation and voting, sorting, counting and announcement of result. This according to her will be reported to a special database and will enable Watching The Vote verify the accuracy of results announced by electoral commission.

She also highlighted the advanced methodology that will be used for sample polling units to be observed on election day is called the Parallel Vote Tabulation (PVT).

“The PVT uses statistics and draws a sample of polling units which determines which polling unit observers will observe from on election day. The beauty of the PVT is that we cover every local government area. So for the elections, all those areas will be covered; we are not just going to focus on the cities,” she said.

“While we remain a non-partisan organisation we partner with all election stakeholders in a bid to disseminate information and recommendation and we look forward to providing a platform for Nigerians to engage other stakeholders in the electoral process,” she concluded. 

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07 Jan

Ready To Run: YIAGA AFRICA launches TV show to promote young candidates

The Youth Initiative for Advocacy, Growth and Advancement (YIAGA) in partnership with NotTooYoungToRun movement, Channels Television and PREMIUM TIMES have launched a television program designed to support youth candidates seeking elective offices in the 2019 general elections.

The TV show, supported by the European Union, tagged ‘Ready To Run’ will henceforth be aired on Channels Television every Sunday between 6:15pm – 7:00pm.

It is designed to address the challenge of limited access to the media or low media coverage by young candidates.

The 45 minutes show provides a unique opportunity for youth candidates to showcase their competence, capacity and commitment to excellent public leadership.

Every week, youth candidates aspiring for various political offices will engage voters on their manifestos and agenda.

On its first episode, the show had four segments which the host, Samson Itodo highlighted as ready to run lab, get out the vote, ready to run lounge and meet the youth.

The ready to run lab is focused on equipping candidates with skills and tactics for running effective electoral campaigns.

It focused mainly on the process of substitution of candidates, educating them on the various processes.

The get out the vote segment featured informative, credible and up-to-date voter education messages produced by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and civil society groups.

Another segment of the program featured two candidates running for House of Representatives: Rinsola Abiola and Najibullah Tafida.

While Ms. Abiola is seeking to represent Abeokuta North/Odeda/Obafemi Owode federal constituency in Ogun state under the platform of the Action Democratic Party (ADP), Mr Tafida is the candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) for Argungu/Auguie federal constituency of Kebbi State.

Other candidates, who were not on the live program were also profiled at a different segment.

All candidates invited to the show will be made to sign a pledge of transparency and accountability, organisers say.

The live programme also served as an avenue to solicit for campaign funds on behalf of the candidates.

Source: Premium Times

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03 Jan


Abuja, Nigeria — YIAGA AFRICA and its partners are pleased to announce the launch of Nigeria’s first-ever independent television program designed to provide strategic media support and visibility to youth (women and men) candidates seeking elective offices in the 2019 general elections. The show tagged Ready To Run will be aired on Channels Television every Sunday between 6:15pm – 7:00pm. The show starts airing on Sunday, January 6, 2019.

Most youth candidates running in the 2019 elections are faced with the challenge of limited access to the media or low media coverage. This is further exacerbated by the high cost of engaging media during electoral campaign. The TV show is designed to address this challenge by providing a unique opportunity for youth candidates to showcase their competence, capacity and commitment to excellent public leadership. Every week, youth candidates running for legislative and executive positions will be featured to engage voters on their manifestos and agenda. An upsurge in public demand for qualitative and accountable public leadership is expected through the show hence the integration of a public engagement segment with youth candidates through tweets, Facebook posts and SMS based interactive platform.

To complement existing capacity building initiatives for youth candidates, Ready To Run TV show will feature an exciting political organizing lab to equip candidates with skills and tactics for running effective electoral campaigns. In line with the objective of increasing the turnout of voters in the forthcoming elections, the Get Out The Vote segment will feature informative, credible and up-to-date voter education messages produced by the Independent National Electoral Commission and civil society groups.

The Ready To Run TV show is a joint partnership between YIAGA AFRICA, #NotTooYoungToRun movement, Channels Television, Premium Times and supported by the European Union.


Samson Itodo

Executive Director, YIAGA AFRICA

Media contact: Ruth Olurounbi,, +2348116954637

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28 Dec

LEADERSHIP Outstanding Young Person of the Year 2018: Samson Itodo

For driving the advocacy and process that brought into reality the “Not too young to run” legislation that has led to the successful reduction of age limits for public office seekers, Samson Itodo is LEADERSHIP Outstanding Young Person of the Year 2018.

Samson Itodo, a native of Olamaboro local government area of Kogi State, was born in Bauchi State. He is the first of five children. Young Itodo began his leadership journey from a very young age as a class prefect in Our Lady’s Primary School, school prefect in Immaculate Conception Secondary School, Bauchi, class representative at the Faculty of Law, University of Jos, and chairman of the Students Representative Council at the Nigerian Law School, Abuja.

Young Itodo’s interests span constitution building, elections, legislative studies, youth and international development. With a Master’s degree in Law from the University of Jos, he stated that the foundation for his interest in civic activism and democracy promotion was laid during his under-graduate days.

Samson is a highly motivated, innovative and purpose -driven individual with the ability to creatively develop ideas into projects and drive social transformation. He has over 10 years’ experience and expertise in legal research and analysis, legislative advocacy, constitution building, elections, grant seeking, volunteerism and youth development. Just like his leadership traits, recognition for his work and contribution to democracy began quite early.

In 2012, he won a prize as the best student in Government; he was second overall best graduating student in Arts class in secondary school. In 2006, he received an award of excellence for human rights protection from the Rotaract Club of Jos. Recently, he was appointed as one of 100 most influential young Africans by the Africa Youth Awards. He was also named one of the 10 most powerful names in advocacy in Nigeria.

In 2018, he was appointed by the Gates Foundation as a goalkeeper and honoured by the National Democratic Institute (NDI), Washington DC, as a rising political leader in Africa. He is also a recipient of the prestigious True Nigerian Award. Samson heads the leading community of change makers and pro-democracy activists, YIAGA Africa, a civic organization focused on building sustainable democracies in Africa anchored on the principles of inclusion, justice, rule of law and constitutionalism. He led the formation of the Youth Alliance on Constitution & Electoral Reform (YACORE), the first ever youth coalition on constitution and electoral reform in Nigeria.

Itodo is a champion for quality youth representation in national parliaments across Africa. He was instrumental in the establishment of the Young Parliamentarians Forum in Nigeria, Sierra Leone and Ghana. He currently leads efforts to establish the forum across West Africa.

He also leads the Watching the Vote, a citizens observation initiative designed to promote electoral integrity using data and technology. YIAGA Africa’s Watching the Vote is Nigeria’s largest citizen movement on electoral integrity. He has led election observation missions to Ghana, United States of America, South Africa, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

The young activist is a founding member of the African Movement for Democracy (AMD), a network of activists and youth leaders dedicated to deepening democracy in Africa.

Itodo is constantly called upon to provide analysis on burning issues on democratic principles. He has appeared on local and international media stations such as AIT, Channels, NTA, BBC, Nigeria Info, Wazobia FM and RFI. He is also a co-founder of Amplified Online Radio, a pan-African youth talk and music radio station.

He is an avid reader and writer and has published several articles and papers in local and international journals.

He is a fellow of the Nelson Mandela School of Public Governance at the University of Cape Town, International Visitors Leadership Programme of the US Department of State, and the Swedish Visitors Leadership Programme.

As a researcher, he has consulted for local and international organisations like United States Institute for Peace (USIP), Westminster Foundation for Democracy, International IDEA, International Republican Institute and United Nations Development Programme.

Source: Leadership

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