04 Aug

WatchingTheVote Statements for Ekiti 2018 Governorship Elections



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02 Aug

Osun Governorship Election: YIAGA Parleys Media, to deploy 561 Observers

YIAGA AFRICA’s WatchingTheVote on Wednesday hosted a round table discussion with media team in Osun state to discuss its election observation deployment plan for the upcoming September 22nd Governorship Elections in the State.

During the Roundtable discussion held in Osogbo, WTV project director said, YIAGA AFRICA will deploy 500 stationary,  31 mobile citizen observers and 30 collation observers to a representative random sample of 250 polling units across all 30 local government areas (LGAs) of Osun.  According Ms Mbamalu, the comprehensive observation of the September 2018 Osun State Election includes a  systematic observation of voting and counting at a representative random sample of polling using the Parallel Vote Tabulation methodology and employing information and communication technologies (ICTs) to rapidly transmit observer reports.

She said ‘the sample is carefully constructed by a trained statistician to ensure every LGA is included proportionally in the sample. The number of sampled polling units for each LGA is therefore based on the percentage of polling units and registered voters in that LGA’

Also speaking at the Round Table discussion is Training Manager of the WTV Paul James who said, the PVT is an advanced Election Day observation methodology that uses well-established statistical principles and sophisticated information technology.  “PVT provide the most timely and accurate information on the conduct of voting and counting, and is the only observation methodology that can independently verify the accuracy of official Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) election results”, he said

“The PVT allows YIAGA AFRICA #WatchingTheVote to present an accurate and comprehensive assessment of the Election Day processes, such as whether election officials follow proper procedures, the presence and behavior of party agents, secrecy of the vote, and transparency of the counting process”, James explained

According to James, YIAGA AFRICA will be providing  independent information to voters, candidates, political parties, and INEC about whether the official results for the Osun Elections truly reflect the ballots cast at polling units and to.

“If INEC’s official results fall within YIAGA’s estimated range, then the public, political parties and candidates should have confidence that the official results reflect the ballots cast at polling units. If the official results do not reflect the ballots cast, #WatchingTheVote will expose it”, he said.

He however clarified that, #WatchingTheVote is not an exit poll saying no voter is asked for whom he/she voted as the initiative only uses the official results as announced and posted at polling units.

Pre-election Manger Safiya further highlighted that YIAGA AFRICA will also be observing the Pre-election environment to give early warning signals in order to prevent break down of law and order.   According Bichi, this  involve a comprehensive observation of the pre-election period  beginning with voter registration, tracking of early warning signs, activities of INEC, political parties candidate nominations and rallies and other election stakeholders, using advanced observation methodologies.

‘YIAGA AFRICA #WatchingTheVote (WTV), is a citizen-led election observation initiative aimed at enhancing the integrity of elections using technology and evidence-based research methodology tools for election observation. WTV is designed to promote credible election and boost citizen’s confidence in the electoral process through the provision of citizen’s oversight on elections through the electoral cycle’, she concluded

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30 Jul


 July 30, 2018


Ladies and gentlemen of the press,

On July 27, 2018, the Not Too Young To Run movement celebrated one year of the historic passage of the Bill at the National Assembly. One year later the movement has not only achieved the amended of sections 65, 106 and 131 of the Constitution reducing the age to run for the respective electives offices but has also inspired a new wave of competent young men and women emerging as aspirants for the 2019 elections. The signing into law of the legislation addresses a major impediment to youth participation in politics. Whilst this is a remarkable feat, the goal of achieving increased youth representation in elective offices will remain a dream if other barriers are not removed. As a movement, we believe that the right to political participation is a constitutionally guaranteed right exercised through voting at elections or running for public office and until we have independent candidacy, political parties remain the only platform to exercise this right to political participation.

Political parties are therefore essential to democracy and the participation of young men and women as well as persons with disability and the lack of internal party democracy and high cost of party nomination continually undermines the emergence of youth (men and women) candidates in the 2019 general elections. WE remain resolute in our belief that increased representation of young men and women and persons with disability in political office will enhance the quality of democracy and governance;

Based on the timetable issued by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), party primaries are expected to commence as from August 18, 2018. To this end, the movement will be engaging political parties to make the following demands;

  1. That Political parties reserve party tickets for young men and women with character, capacity and competence disaggregated as follows;
  2. State House of Assembly Election
Geo-political zone Number of State Constituencies Requested No. of party tickets for youth
South West 176 53
South East 129 39
South South 160 48
North West 216 65
North East 156 47
North Central 153 46
TOTAL 990 298


  1. House of Representatives Election
Geo-political zone Number of Federal Constituencies Requested No. of party tickets for youths
South West 71 21
South East 43 13
South South 55 17
North West 92 28
North East 48 15
North Central 49 15
TOTAL 360 109


  1. That Political parties prescribe and enforce spending limits for party nomination fees and charges. The cost for nomination of candidates should not exceed;


  • House of Assembly Aspirant – N200,000
  • House of Representatives Aspirant – N400,000
  • Senatorial Aspirant – N600,000
  • Governorship Aspirant – N1,000,000
  • Presidential Aspirant – N2,000,000


  1. That Political parties should adopt open, transparent and direct party primaries in the candidate selection process for the 2019 elections

As part of our strategy, the movement has declared August 8, 2018 as the National Day of Action on Youth Candidacy and Democratic Party Primaries. We will be organizing a march to the National and state offices of political parties to press the demands highlighted above. The National Day of Action is a demands march to political parties as they prepare to hold primary elections to select candidates for the 2019 general elections.

The National Day of Action is scheduled to hold simultaneously in Abuja as well as the 36 states across the country on the same date.

We believe that election remains a mechanism for asserting our sovereignty as a people and we commit to mobilizing 50 million registered young men and women to collect their Permanent Voters Card (PVC) and vote in the 2019 elections.

We will also mobilize registered young voters to vote for parties that accede to our demands and uphold the principles of transparency and accountability in the candidate selection process.

As a movement of citizens committed to democratic development we recognize the value of political legitimacy in representative democracy, we commit to mobilizing citizens against all forms of voter inducement, electoral corruption and electoral violence.

The movement once again appreciates the President, National Assembly and State Assemblies for amending the constitution to reduce the age for running for office of the President to 35, House of Representatives, 25 and State Assemblies, 25.

We thank all the young organizers across the country who have remained resolute and have constantly engaged with their stakeholders to ensure the success of the Not Too Young To Run Movement, we thank the media, civil society, and our partners for the solidarity and support.

We invite you to join us at City Park Wuse 2 by 8:00am on 8 August 2018 in Abuja and at designated points across the 36 states of the country.

One Shared Value, One Shared Goal, #NOTTOOYOUNGTORUN

Our Shared Value, Our Shared Goal, #NOTTOOYOUNGTORUN

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26 Jul

Lessons from Ekiti and Implications for Osun, 2019 General Elections ­- Plangret Dabup

The just concluded Ekiti Governorship Election as expected has taken centre stage in Nigeria’s electoral discourse in recent times. The elections no doubt lived up to its pre-election hype partly due to the shared history between the flag bearers of both parties and the incumbent Governor.

Tensions are running high in the country due to the current political landscape with a lot of plotting and planning among the prominent parties and news of pending coalitions. Therefore, the Ekiti Election was expected to be a test of might be between the two prominent parties in the country.

The Ekiti Elections was a litmus test for the upgraded Smart Card readers to be used by Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) which was an improvement for the 2015 election where the public perceived that there was a lot of disenfranchisement due to the use of the smart card readers.

Prior to the election, there were various allegations and counter allegations of plans for electoral malpractice. Furthermore, there was the issue of the heavy security presence deployed to the state ahead of the elections. While the Federal Government maintained that it was to provide the much-needed security, some camps opined that it was a show of Federal might and misplaced priorities especially because there had been killings and insurgency in some parts of Nigeria and deploying security personnel there was more of a priority.

In the end, the election was held on July 14th 2018 and based on the Verification Statement of YIAGA AFRICA’s Watching the Vote, the conduct of INEC in the election was commendable save a few critical incidences.

The discourse that followed this election seemed more intense than the pre-election environment as there was public outcry concerning blatant and overt voter inducement allegedly carried out by the major political parties in the election.

Despite INEC announcing the results, the citizens believed the rate of vote buying should have invalidated the election because it would have manifestly affected the outcome of the election, though most of the evidence for such allegations has been considered anecdotal by certain observer groups. A coalition of observer groups has also come out to condemn the election based on these allegations.

Sequel to this, the party primary elections for the upcoming Osun Governorship election were recently held and the process was recorded as being peaceful though issues of voter inducement were also reported. While APC and SDP opted for the direct system of Primary Elections (where part members can vote for candidates of their choice), PDP maintained the indirect (delegate) system.

Against this backdrop, there are very salient issues that need to be addressed ahead of the upcoming Osun Governorship elections as well as the 2019 General Elections. There is need to restore the faith of citizens in the Electoral Commission thereby reduce voter apathy ahead of 2019 elections. Irrespective of the various upgrades and improvements made by INEC which were evident in the execution of the election, there are still allegations of collusion between INEC and the ruling party. This has gone ahead to reduce the confidence of the electorate in the Election Management Body (INEC) which is not good for our democracy.

Similarly, there is need to fathom a way to curb the trend of voter inducement in elections. It has become obvious that the upgrades made by INEC have made it difficult for election malpractice, thus financial inducement has become the alternative. However, this cannot be allowed to continue as it makes a mockery of our democracy.

More so, how can voter turnout be encouraged? Recent statistics by YIAGA AFRICA’s Watching The Vote, shows a slight increase on voter turnout from recent elections but there is still room for improvement.

Even though observer groups had a decent outing, there is need to standardize election observation to ensure that reports received from the field do not confuse the public and reflect the truth of what is happening in near real time. Furthermore, such reports should not undermine the powers of INEC to announce election results or preempt the results knowingly or unknowingly. This was a major issue as the picture that was being painted on social media by certain groups and individuals concerning the results being announced at the polling units differed from what was officially announced by INEC.

Plangret is a Zonal Program Officer with YIAGA AFRICA’s Watching The Vote

You reach her via

Or @MrsDabzz  on twitter


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25 Jul

John Paul Mwirigi: A Story of Perseverance.

Written on the 29th June, 2018

The first aura you would get from John Paul Mwirigi is one of humility; a modesty that you may assume was brought about from shyness. He is young and lanky; average height with slender hands. His suit sits gracefully well on him as he takes his seat on the panel of the #NotToYoungToRun Celebration Conference. However, when he begins to speak, you can tell that even if this is a man of humble beginnings, this is also a man of the future, agile in his presence, shrewd in his words.

His story began from the mountains of Kenya, precisely at the foothills of Igembe South Local Government, where he represents as the MP of his constituency. Coming from a large family of eight, James’ interest in politics were piqued from a dream he had while in secondary school. According to this dream, he was tabling a motion in Parliament. With the spirit of hindsight, he began asking classmates and friends to campaign for him, as he know that one day, he will need their votes. That moment came in 2017, when he won the seat of representing his constituency as the age twenty-three (23), becoming the youngest MP in the history of Kenya and at best, African politics.

Sitting at #NotTooYoungToRun Celebration Conference, John Mwirigi tells his story in an articulated but emotional way. He talks about a strategy that worked for his campaign—engaging with the people on a personal level. He visited homes, walking there on foot until he began getting help from boda boda (the Kenyan word for okada motorcyclists), who would take him to his destinations. He sat on their porches with them, told them he was running for office and gave reasons why they should support and vote for him. This is one tactic of politics that is sometimes overlooked—that extra level of personal engagement with people. It goes beyond meagre providence of money, food or other things. It creates an atmosphere of familiarity with people and the constituencies, and leaves a sense of self with the people. And when you leave sense of yourself with people, they will always remember you.

“Social media as a tool for freedom of expression is key in facilitating young political aspirant’ meaningfully engage in political processes and should not be curtailed.”   

                                                                                    – John Mwirigi 

John Mwirigi’s rise victory is one that must be referred to in the future narrative of young African leaders who took the plunge to create a better future for their people. In such swift time, he showed that being rich or influential are secondary to the fundamentals of true politics, but being popular enough, connecting with the people one intends to represent, the people one promised to be their voice, always matters. And in his quaint voice came his resounding words of experience; “You do not have to be a billionaire to run for an elective office. All you need is potential and courage.”


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25 Jul

Stakeholders Condemn Vote Buying as YIAGA AFRICA hosts INEC, CSOs, Media to Reflect on Ekiti Governorship Elections

Ekiti election may have come and gone but there is a lot to reflect upon ahead of future elections. This was why YIAGA Africa hosted a high-level round table discussion on the just concluded Ekiti Governorship Elections.

YIAGA AFRICA’s Watching The Vote on Tuesday hosted National Commissioners of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Civil Society Organisations, Security agencies and media to highlight the prospect and challenges of the just concluded Governorship Elections in Ekiti.

As expected, the issue of Vote buying took centre stage as various stakeholders took time out to condemn reported voter inducement during the just concluded Governorship Elections in Ekiti State. Speaking during the round table held in Abuja, National Commissioner of INEC in charge of South-west, Prince Adedeji Soyebi condemned the issue of vote buying which he described as a monster which should not continue.

According to Prince Soyebi, tracking Vote buying is becoming difficult for the commission as over 80% of vote buying takes place after citizens cast their votes.  He said, “we need to come to a level of criminalizing both Vote buying and selling”.

Soyebi said that though INEC did a good job in conducting credible election in the Ekiti state, the only thing people remembered about the election was the issue of vote-buying.

The national electoral commissioner said that the menace had eaten deep into the political system of the country and needed to be stopped.

“It makes it very difficult for the commission to really have a say because the moment the person casts his or her vote, he or she goes somewhere to collect his or her money.’’

He said that the commission had been talking about vote-buying since the Anambra election and would continue to do so through increased sensitisation of voters, through voter education for them to shun the act.

Soyebi said that when it became impossible for politicians to snatch ballot boxes, they resorted to buying votes.

During the discussion, Commissioner in charge of Operations Hajiya Amina Zakari lauded YIAGA AFRICA for successful deployment of the Parallel Vote Tabulation (PVT) methodology in the Ekiti elections and other elections in recent times. Hajiya Zakari said, early deployment of INEC Personnel and materials was due to proper planning which has become a norm in the commission saying it took recommendations from CSOs like YIAGA AFRICA.

Hajia  Zakari, said that INEC did not rig the election in any way because the same template it used in Ekiti state was what it had been using since the Kogi governorship election.

“Deployment of technology has improved the quality of our elections but has also increased the cost of elections”, she said. “After every election, we debrief and identify challenges and factors corrections into the next elections”, Hajiya Zakari said.

She further commended deployment of security which according to her has reduced ballot box snatching and stuffing to the barest minimum. The only issue according to the National Commissioner, is Vote buying which she condemns strongly. According to her vote buying not only undermine the legitimacy of the elected but also affects quality of governance saying we need to continue to speak against the monster while urging security to rise to the challenge of arresting and prosecuting offenders.

While appreciating the contribution of major election stakeholders towards advancing our democracy, Executive Director, YIAGA AFRICA, Samson Itodo said, though the election went well, there was need for INEC to address voter inducement, a development he noted had reached “astronomic and very embarrassing heights “and undermining the country political legitimacy.

He described the act as a mockery of Nigeria democratic process which needed to be addressed with critical input of everyone in the country.  Mr Itodo also said that the results declared by INEC during Ekiti state governorship election reflected the votes counted.


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23 Jul


Written on 26th June 2018

On 25th June 2018, even though the rains have come to stay, it was a bright sunny day in the city of Lagos, Nigeria. The J.F Ade Ajayi Auditorium was filled to the brim; the stage alit with bright lights and an impressive panel. All was set for the second INEC Campus Outreach, collaborated with the European Union, YIAGA Africa, EU-SDGN and ECES.

With a successful completion of the first Campus Outreach in Abuja headlined by prominent celebrities such as musicians TuFace “TuBaba” Idibia, Cobhams and comedienne Helen Paul, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) decided to take the second phase of #YouthsVoteCount to the University of Lagos. This time, the celebrity line-up was made up of Omotola Jakade-Ekeinde, Ayo “AY” Mayokun, BasketMouth and Helen Paul. As expected, the hall was filled with students who were fans of these celebrities, and the best way to get today’s youth is by imbibing their interest with things they love and appreciate, like the talented four seated at the stage before them. All in all, it was expected to be a rapturous and successful event, and it was!

Samson Itodo, Executive Director of YIAGA AFRICA


The Executive Director of YIAGA Africa, Samson Itodo, alongside the Communications Manager of the European Union, Mrs Laolu took the stage to welcome the students, and to also indulge everyone on how necessary it was for Nigeria at this moment, to be conversant with the initiative of #YouthsVoteCount. With the incoming 2019 elections gearing closer with each passing day, the importance of getting one’s Permanent Voters Card cannot be over-emphasized. Also, in light of the recent signing of the #NotTooYoungToRun Bill into Law, the need for youths to be fully and passionately engaged in governmental matters is immensely necessary, and this was why INEC was making the push for to engage youths from across different tertiary institutions across the country to be fully a part of the movement of #YouthsVoteCount.

The INEC Chairman Professor Yakubu Mahmood, made the welcome address to the students, encouraging them for showing interest in governance and the need to take the electoral process to heart. The panellist answered decisive questions from the audience, who mainly had questions that bridged on the collection of PVCs, the bureaucracy and difficulty that allegedly surrounded it.

Also in attendance was the Ambassador, Delegation of the European Union to Nigeria and ECOWAS, Mr Ketil Karlsen, who gave his thanks to the crowd of students, appreciating their eagerness and efforts of being a part of the movement, and their enthusiasm to know everything they can about collection of PVCs, and the electoral process in general. The celebrities also gave their insights on how the students and youths can get more engaged in the process—by starting up the bare necessity of getting their PVCs. With that hurdle crossed, there will be an assurance of getting and being a part of the 2019 Elections, and hopefully, making their votes count!


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23 Jul

The way and manner people sold their votes in Ekiti was demeaning – Nwagwu, election observer

An election observer in the recently conducted governorship election in Ekiti State, Mr. Ezenwa Nwagwu, who is also the Chairman, Partners for Electoral Reform and member, Working Group of Watching The Vote, YIAGA Africa, in this interview with TUNDE AJAJA speaks on his findings during the election and what can be done to improve on the process

As an observer in the Ekiti governorship election, what is your assessment of the election?

Let’s start from establishing the fact that observers are process watchers, and it’s fair to assess the election first from the administration by the electoral body itself, the Independent National Electoral Commission. First was the distribution of electoral materials, opening of polls, accreditation and voting and the process of announcing the results. The electoral materials were distributed on time and the innovation in Ekiti was that we saw the tracking of electoral materials, unlike in the past when the challenge was that politicians would connive with electoral officers to divert these materials, like the ballot papers and you would hear that people were thumb printing ballot papers somewhere. But in this election, there was no such complaint and there was no complaint about shortage of Form EC8. Looking at the opening of polls, we (observers) had 250 sample polling units with two observers attached to each of the polling units across the state. The result was that INEC overcame the challenge of delay in early voting, which characterised previous elections like Anambra and Ondo, because in Ekiti, 78 per cent of the polling units were ready by 7.30am and by 9am, 98 per cent of the polling units were up and running. It’s a huge improvement. Then, talking about accreditation and voting, we had very minimal issue about that. Less than three per cent of smart card failure was recorded, which is also a very huge leap and even where those challenges occurred, they were immediately rectified. For the first time, INEC introduced a form called E60A, which is an enlarged result sheet that it mandated its officials to paste in every polling unit. So, party agents and polling officials had the results from polling units. There were complaints about not allowing observers to enter local government collation centres, but at the polling unit, nobody was prevented from having those results. In terms of accreditation, opening of polls, INEC did an excellent job in Ekiti.

Beyond the conduct of INEC, the conduct of politicians was also of interest. What did you observe as regards vote buying, which characterised the election?

I think we are not looking at vote buying holistically. I would prefer to start from party primaries, where we have consistently seen the huge display of money. If we do not pay attention to how much people pay to become a candidate of the dominant political parties, we may not get it right. When you get to party primaries, the mouths of the delegates are wide open to be induced and we all know that it’s the highest bidder that eventually wins.

If the issue has always been there, why is the issue of vote buying suddenly this loud?

If you look at it from that point I just told you, the reason why we are hearing a lot about vote buying in this election is that INEC did very well. If logistics had failed and collation and verification didn’t go properly, that is what people would be talking about. We naturally don’t pay attention to this inducement, and vote buying has always been there. Politicians used to go to the house of voters to induce them and sometimes they even ask them to swear. But now, the difference is that there were willing voters who wanted to sell their votes; that is the one they call ‘see and buy’ and it is happening on election day around the polling unit areas, where party agents position themselves in strategic areas and voters who want to sell are paid, they go to vote and show evidence.

Where did the Nigerian electorate get it wrong?

The worry is that we are not doing a holistic engagement on the issue of election financing and its consequences for our country. With vote buying, it means the legitimacy of even the winner is in question and then the respect that he has to show to the voters will not be there because it is a transactional relationship. That is why you see the level of arrogance from people in power, because they no longer hold it to the people and they believe that they bought the victory. Do an approximation of, say N5,000 to about 400,000 voters, that’s about N2bn. So, even if they didn’t buy all of them, they could end up spending about N1bn, which is a lot of money. Thus, the winner of that election will not have any serious regard for the voters.

But there are at least five policemen and at least one civil defence personnel in each polling unit, why were they not able to prevent this, because vote buying is a criminal offence?

I saw that question coming. They are between a rock and a hard surface in dealing with that challenge, and the reason is simple. Just close your eyes and imagine that a policeman goes to arrest a party agent who is involved in vote buying, what will be the reaction of those who sent him to do it? They would say the security agents are harassing their supporters. Those politicians will not tell the world that it is because of vote buying.

Should the security agents then abdicate their responsibilities because of sentiment?

The issue is that there is a delicate balance between the two, because if in the course of arresting them you create chaos, you have affected the polling in that area. What I’m saying is that inasmuch as we want the security agents to ‘do their work’ in that regard, the attitude of the politicians and the narrative that they put out, which many people don’t even interrogate, could make it worse. For example, 20 minutes crisis around Fajuyi in front of the government house, some newspapers cast headlines that ‘Ekiti boils’. Ekiti has 16 local governments, but 20 minutes action around that one spot created anxiety everywhere. Election is a competitive enterprise and politicians throw in everything they have. The moment the security agents make an arrest in that regard, instead of telling people that their people were buying votes, they would tell the world that they were being intimidated.

So, what is the solution, or is it something everyone has to live with, especially knowing that it will likely get worse?

The solution is advocacy. The media needs to come strong on the politicians. The stringent advocacy we did on INEC was what improved it to the point that we are now commending it. If we kept quiet when in the past a former INEC chairman would announce results when people had barely reached the polling unit, I don’t think we will be here commending INEC. If we pay the same level of attention to the current malfeasance, we’ll see improvement. The dynamics of elections keep changing; you solve one problem, you find yourself in another. My thought is that this one would live out its own time, but if we continue to push, it will get better. By the time I started the campaign against vote buying after Edo governorship election, people didn’t take me seriously. Even my colleagues felt I was wasting my time. But now, the impunity that followed the elections from Edo to Anambra, Ondo and now Ekiti is why we are getting panicky. But for me, it’s a consistent advocacy by all stakeholders, if we are committed and we do not have vested interest, especially the media and observers, because people come into the election with vested interest, which blocks their eyes from learning for future elections. As civil society, you see some of our colleagues telling you that they reject results. What is your interest to be rejecting result?

The Osun governorship election is just few months away, is it not likely that there would be advanced vote buying?

I am confident that if we continue to shout about it, things would change. Some people say you need to talk to traditional rulers when doing advocacy but traditional rulers position themselves during election. Their own vote buying takes place before election day. This is their harvest time. In Osun, every aspirant will go and pay homage and receive blessings from them. When they go there, they don’t go empty handed. Churches would start building projects and launching and they would be calling politicians to come for launching. It is part of vote buying. People know these things, but we keep quiet and pretend like we don’t know. There are people supporting these candidates because they want to get contracts and appointments and theirs is delayed gratification. So, to have the purity and conscience to elect the leaders that would serve the interest of the people, we need to sit down and have a stakeholders’ conversation around vote buying and its implication for us. In Nigeria, we follow fad, and that is why everyone is talking about vote buying now, but we will not do any conversation around how to deal with it in a holistic manner. My point is that if the people of Osun and Nigeria want a good election, they would be the one to desire it and maintain it. In Anambra State, the impunity was glaring but the way and manner it came in Ekiti to the point where people were talking about taking money for a pot of soup is demeaning. It diminishes the quality of citizenship of that state and even those who would participate in it in the future. Look at the morality of vote buying; there is a moral stigma. Even though you may legally survive it, in the consciousness of self-respecting people, you will not earn their respect. If you were in Ekiti and you saw how money exchanged hands and the winner comes to you and says he’s the winner, it comes to your mind that we know how you got it. Moral legitimacy is very important for leadership.

The two parties had been engaged in buck passing over the issue of vote buying, with both of them denying it, even though it was common knowledge that they both did it. As an observer, what did you observe?

The dominant political parties are completely complicit in vote buying. People knew that the state government sent N3,000 to people; what was that for? Go and check electoral law and see what vote buying is. And apart from that N3,000, they still shared money physically. In the places where I was, I saw two friends coordinating for the two parties. In Ikere-Ekiti, I saw that happen, because I understand Yoruba and they were talking about it. So, the two dominant political parties were involved. Even some who were not even dominant were sharing other things, like phones and plasma television. So, contextually, there were people who spent money and there were others who didn’t.

The PDP has alleged that there was rigging, and some others are saying there was no rigging. Did you observe rigging in that election?

There was no rigging. You see, the political parties are very lazy. Like I said, polling unit result was handed over to party agents and there were no disruptions. The only disruption was in one or two polling units. In the remaining 2,000 plus polling units, they already had their results. Any political party can compute polling unit by polling unit, but their laziness is such that even after the election, they may not have the patience to collect the results from their agents at the polling units. When you say rigging, it’s not about grandstanding. We were on ground, and there was no polling unit where the party agents did not receive results and signed for them. So, it is simple; collect the results per polling unit from all your party agents and put the figures on excel to compute. Politicians want to attack the credibility of INEC and the media should not allow themselves to be used. The truth is that, as observers, we testify to the fact that INEC has improved. If you cast your mind back, what we probably would be having now is that materials were diverted to the house of someone where the thumb printing was done. But there was nothing like that in this case. So, given the announcement of results per polling unit, which your agents have, where did the rigging take place? If the election failed, you would not hear of vote buying; rather, the bashing of INEC would be so much. Just because politicians can’t have anything on INEC, all of us have to be shouting about something that had been going on before but we were not talking about. So, in terms of rigging, forget it. There was no rigging because results were pasted at each polling unit. INEC even instructed its ad hoc staff to snap and send the pasted results to a WhatsApp group. If politicians were not lazy, that computation is a simple thing to do. On the election day, as the results were coming in, the campaign manager should be in a place getting the results, maybe through WhatsApp, from the party agents on the field, so they could compute them, but did you see that happen? They don’t have that patience; their arrogance is even nauseating.

PDP says it is going to court, but given the narrative that there was no rigging and that it was also involved in buying votes, would there be sufficient ground to take that step?

Going to court is part of the electoral process. It’s a good thing and I don’t have a problem with it. It’s better than option AK47. So, we should not trivialise that option. They should test their case in court.

Observers like you would have collated your observations and recommendations, how does that impact on the outcome of the election and what does your observation translate to, especially with the brazen manner people sold their votes?

We are process watchers and why do we observe elections, because people don’t ask that question? It is first to deter people from doing what is wrong, because in some places, when people want to do something bad, they caution themselves because of the presence of observers. So, we are some kind of watchdog over the process. We don’t interfere with the process because we are not election monitors, but some people don’t understand the difference. We observe, take note and report to improve the process in future and observation impacts on the credibility of the election. That is why any observer who goes to a place and interferes with the election process does not know his job. All the credible election observation groups addressed a press conference in Ado-Ekiti that day and that is why none of the credible ones talked about the result.

Looking at the forthcoming elections, what should be done, beyond advocacy, to prevent this narrative from festering?

Let us have a stakeholder engagement on elections generally, and being the institution that sits at the topmost pyramid of elections, INEC should lead the way for stakeholder engagement and not just voter education. When you hear INEC say voter education, they buy airtime on television and radio and they talk about how to vote. But people know how to vote; that is not the problem. The problem is that we are not engaging ourselves. Before Osun election, we should engage traditional rulers and say people are watching them when they bless candidates. The voter engagement should break these things down. Some of our guys in the media need election training, to know what to look out for. The final thing I want to say is that we should not go to Osun and be talking about the height of the candidates; we should situate our conversation around issues. If you hear that they are not paying salaries in Osun, the question should be what will you do to ensure that people are paid their salary as and when due? In Ekiti, there were no issues around that conversation at all. Everything we discussed before the election was the use of tear gas on Governor Ayodele Fayose and his neck pain. That was what was discussed. People didn’t pay attention to the position of Ekiti State on the chart in the last WASSCE and NECO. In some other countries, those would have been the issues. So, let us go to Osun with a correct narrative.

Whilst we blame the media for its shortcomings, do you also blame them that a debate was organised and the two major candidates didn’t show up, without apologies, yet people voted en masse for the two. Should the electorate not be blamed for that?

No, I don’t think we should blame the victims. The first thing is that the arrogance of the dominant political parties doesn’t start at the debate, it starts at attending meetings. Go to any INEC stakeholder meeting with political parties, those dominant political parties usually send low-ranking staff to those meetings. So, that arrogance is there. Then, the whole idea of media ownership also has something to do with the debate. Some would tell you TVC organised it and that it is owned by someone with political interest and people know that not all media organisations are neutral. Also, in the 16 local governments in Ekiti State, many of the communities stay days without power. So, you organised a television programme and large number of the people you want to talk to are not watching. The second is that you assume that since it is called the fountain of knowledge, then the people are all literate. Some people may not be able to connect. We need to have a broader conversation about media ownership and how they play up their vested interest, which could discourage some people from engaging on those platforms. If NTA organises a debate in 2019, they will say it’s a Federal Government platform and the opposition people will say no, likewise some other stations. My view is that we talk too much to INEC and we are afraid of talking to politicians because in one way or the other, we all have one thing we want to benefit from them. Let’s talk to the politicians because they are the problem of our democracy. Their hate speech, irresponsible languages and some things they throw into the election make it difficult for people to stay on issues. Let us make our elections issues-based and not allow the politicians to distract us.

SOURCE: The Punch

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20 Jul


Bayero University Kano came alive with unbridled excitement on the 19th of July 2018 as YIAGA Africa took the initiative, YouthAffirmativeAction, to its grounds for the first of its debates. Supported by the Ford Foundation, the initiative had been birthed from April 2018, with the goal to get youths more included into the governmental and development of the country. With youths making up over 60% of the Nigerian population, it is underwhelming to know that such a high number is less represented in governmental issues. This spurred the need for the initiative. Townhall meetings were organized in different geo-political zones, and debates slated in tertiary institutions. We wanted the youths to speak for themselves—are they really prepared and capable of taking their own futures in their hands?

With BUK as the starting point, the debate was crucial. But the students attended in impressive numbers, even before the programme began in full swing. The hall was full, and in time, the programme began with the welcome remarks from Ibrahim Faruk, the Senior Program Officer from YIAGA Africa, who welcomed the audience, giving insights to what is expected of the programme. In time, the Dean of the Faculty of Communications, Professor Umaru Pate made the first special remarks. He congratulated the students for their impressive turnout, highlighting that this shows they are enthusiastic about governance and youth development issues in the country, and how to bring about the much needed change that has to be done to revamp the sector. After all, it is true that if one expects a re-modification of something, he/she must be ready to be fully inducted to it, and moved by the cause to do such.

The Audience wait in anticipation

As the debates were prompted to begin, The Executive Director, Organization for Community Civic Engagement (OCCEN), Dr Abdulrazaq Alkali, made the second special remarks. He advised the audience on the need to stay united, because the debates were initiated for one cause and one cause alone—to create conversations about youth involvement in governance, general politics and overall, participation in leadership roles within Nigeria. “We are all in this together, and we want to make a difference, so even if some of the debaters are from Kaduna State University, which is the opposing team, we should stay united on what the message is about—true governance.”

The hum in the room became excited as the Moderator, Efe Ozugha of YIAGA Africa introduced the debaters to the stage. The teams were sectioned into #TEAMKANO of the host school, Bayero University Kano  and #TEAMKADUNA of the visiting school, Kaduna State University. Consisting each of a male and female, it was very noticeable that the gender balance had been effected, and the need for both genders to give insights in respective personalities, acute professionalism, and also with heart. The Judges took  their place and the audience waited in anticipation. It was clear that the topic: “Competent Youths are Unavailable for Competitive Politics in Nigeria” was albeit a sensitive one, but also an important opening for discourse and interaction, especially with the 2019 elections close by, and the recent victorious signing of the #NotTooYoungTooRun Bill into Law. After the rules were given, the debates began in full force.



As the speakers from Bayero University stressed their points against the motion, one could not avoid seeing the fire that bristled with their words. The lady especially, took the centre stage, quickly taking over the crowd as they cheered her confidence and eloquence on. She mentioned that youths were not efficiently ready to take over full power, because with power comes responsibility, and if majority of the youths were not yet responsible, how will they effectively change the status quo for good? It was also impressive to see how the male speaker stated same, saying with the recent infamous news coming from the youths in the media, it speaks bad of the cause because it makes it clear that maybe, truly, youths are not ready to run and take responsibility of the governance and true leadership in Nigeria.

But as the speakers of the visiting school of Kaduna State University emerged, they stressed that this was the time for youths to actually take charge of the future. It was necessary now, because the conversation was boiling; youths are being given the chance to make a chance, with the signing of the#NotTooYoungToRun Bill, the uproar of youths being encouraged in developing careers such as politics, high-tech and information, the natural youthful drive for new things, and most especially, the need to make and change Nigeria to be the best and arrive at its full potential. They gave examples of already succeeding young people effecting change and putting Nigeria on the global mark for excellent endeavours, innovation and development. It was clear that the onus lies on the youths to support each other, because, “it takes a village”



After the concluding points were made by both teams, the Judges took time to deliberate the teams to select the winner, while the audience engaged in asking questions and giving personal insights to topic shared. Women in the audience took a major part, giving their views and even projecting solutions! It was a thrilling interaction, and soon the results were ready, and the winning school emerged as Kaduna State University. All the debaters were awarded certificates of participation, and the winners were given a special certificate for their emergence as victors. Kaduna State University will represent the North West Zone in the Final Debates which will hold in Abuja on an upcoming date.

Overall, the debates were exciting and evergreen true of how youths in Nigeria were all united on the same front—creating the awareness for young people to effectively be a part of governance and leadership in Nigeria, and encouraging them to achieve their full potential to fulfill that cause.

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18 Jul

Coalition of United Political Party (CUPP), Direct Primaries and Implication on Youth Candidacy – by Ibrahim Faruk

As preparations for the 2019 general elections kick off, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) on 9 July 2018 formed a coalition with 38 other political parties in the country named the Coalition of United Political Party (CUPP). The Coalition was sealed with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) by the leaders of the parties, in a bid to work together towards winning the 2019 Presidential elections. The Coalition also agreed to mobilize support for consensus candidates at the centre, states, and the legislative arm of government.

While the emergence of the Coalition of Political Party (CUPP) provides an opportunity to support young candidates in the 2019 elections it should not present a potential threat to the gains that have been achieved with the passage of the age reduction/Not Too Young To Run law.

Following the signing of the Not Too Young To Run bill into law, the National Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan urged Nigerian youths to immediately take advantage of the new law and commended the Not Too Young To Run Movement for their resilience towards ensuring younger Nigerians can actively participate in elective positions in governance at all levels.

Similarly, Young men and women in political parties now have the responsibility to hold the leadership of their parties accountable to the public commitments made by members of the CUPP towards ensuring youth inclusion and match words with actions as the 2019 elections present an opportunity for young people to assert their power not only as voters or campaign merchants but also as qualified electoral candidates.

In even a more cheering news, the National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress, Adams Oshiomole recently stated that the party will adopt the process of direct primary to choose its governorship candidate for the Osun governorship election. The adoption of the direct primary, according to Oshiomole is to, ‘ensure popular participation and deepen democracy’.  This is laudable and as a matter of fact, the gains achieved with the passage of the Not Too Young To Run law would be consolidated with the adoption of direct primary by all 68 currently registered political parties to inclusion of all interests within the party.

The youth vote remains the most critical bloc in the 2019 elections and political parties seeking to win elections in the spirit of inclusion, participation and deepening democracy must reserve party tickets for youth aspirants; uphold internal party democracy to safeguard the emergence of more youth candidates and most importantly commit to non-violent elections.

The Not Too Young To Run Movement which remains a non-partisan and citizen-led movement of citizens dedicated to the defense of democracy and nation building and will not be transiting into a political party, is however committed to inspiring and supporting more youth candidates with content and character to run for office through its Ready To Run initiative and other interventions aimed at promoting youth candidacy in the 2019 elections.

Ibrahim Faruk is a Senior Program Officer with YIAGA AFRICA and a member of the Not Too Young To Run Movement, based in Abuja. He can be reached via He tweets via @IbrhmFaruk

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