- YIAGA AFRICA Watching The Vote (WTV)’s has given its thoughts on the conduct of the Saturday, March 9 governorship election
- YIAGA AFRICA deployed 682 observers to observe the governorship election in polling units
- The group also deployed observers in local government areas and state result collation centers in the 642 local government areas and 29 states
YIAGA AFRICA Watching The Vote (WTV)’s has given its thoughts on the conduct of the Saturday, March 9 governorship election
The independent citizens’ observation group deployed 682 observers to observe the governorship election in polling units, local government areas and state result collation centers in the 642 local government areas and 29 states.
These include 642 stationary observers, 40 roving observers and an additional 8 working group members.
YIAGA AFRICA also deployed a robust election observation methodology that includes observation of election day process (from opening and setup of the polling units, accreditation, voting, announcement and posting of the official results) at the polling units and the result collation process at the 642 local government areas and 29 state collation centres.
This enables YIAGA AFRICA access the conduct of election at both the polling units and collation centre.
The group noted six major issues and concerns from the governorship polls below:
1. Destruction of democratic institutions
YIAGA AFRICA is concerned with efforts by the political class to undermine democratic institutions like INEC and Nigeria police. This do-or-die attitude of the political class where agencies of state like the Nigerian army are deployed to interfere with the electoral process despite legal limits to their involvement in the elections is unacceptable.
This could imperil Nigeria’s democracy if not addressed. YIAGA AFRICA condemns the destruction and vandalization of INEC offices all in bid to prevent the electoral commission from conducting elections. The common good should be the ultimate goal of public leadership but it appears, politicians are determined to subvert the electoral process for their personal gains.
2. Declining integrity of the electoral process
The reports on non-compliance with electoral guidelines and procedures lapses in our electoral process could potentially undermine the integrity of elections. YIAGA AFRICA is concerned with the flagrant abuse of electoral guidelines on collation of results. In some cases, INEC officials instructed security agents to deny accredited observers access to results collation centres. This occurred in Ado local government area in Benue state, Osru local government area in Imo state, Rimi local government area in Katsina state and Yabo LGA in Sokoto state.
3. Threat to press freedom and civil society
The attack on journalists and civil society actors during the 2019 elections is condemnable. During the March 9 elections, journalists and observers were intimidated, abducted and assaulted. For instance, a journalist with Premium Times was intimidated and abducted by thugs and party loyalists while on election duty for exposing underage voting in a polling unit in Plateau state. Watching The Vote observers were also intimidated and threatened while observing the elections.
4. Poor voter turnout
Although, results collation is ongoing and a definite figure on turnout can only be determined after the election, YIAGA AFRICA notes the poor level of voter turnout for the elections. YIAGA AFRICA preliminary conclusion suggests that the poor turnout was occasioned by the loss of confidence in the electoral process, failure of political leadership to deliver on campaign promises, low voter mobilization, threat of violence and heavy security deployment. Low voter turnout has implications for political legitimacy and citizenship. A post-election audit will unravel the factors responsible for low voter turnout in the 2019 elections.
5. Vote buying and selling
As noted in previous WTV observation reports, the March 9 elections was characterized with high level of vote buying and selling. In some centers, the election was determined by the highest bidder. What is most astonishing is the poor number of arrests despite reported cases of vote buying in the elections.
6. Violence and extrajudicial killings
YIAGA AFRICA notes with great concern the level of violence resulting to loss of lives and destruction of properties. It is unacceptable that Nigeria continues to witness or*y of violence during elections. These incidences signal a decline in Nigeria’s democratic credentials.
Before the elections, YIAGA AFRICA had trained over 1,000 political party agents ahead of the polls as part of its support to youth candidates through the Not Too Young To Run movement.
The organisation provided strategic support to young men and women running for various position in the elections and to equip them with necessary tools for running effective political campaigns and building communities/networks for political solidarity and advocacy.
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