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
July 30, 2018
STATEMENT BY THE NOT TOO YOUNG TO RUN MOVEMENT ON THE NATIONAL DAY OF ACTION ON YOUTH CANDIDACY AND DEMOCRATIC PARTY PRIMARIES
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;
- That Political parties reserve party tickets for young men and women with character, capacity and competence disaggregated as follows;
- State House of Assembly Election
|Geo-political zone||Number of State Constituencies||Requested No. of party tickets for youth|
- House of Representatives Election
|Geo-political zone||Number of Federal Constituencies||Requested No. of party tickets for youths|
- 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
- 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
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 Plangretdabup@yahoo.com
Or @MrsDabzz on twitter
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.”
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.
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!
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!
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.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. He tweets via @IbrhmFaruk