Pre-Election Briefing on the 2016 Ondo Governorship Election
Thursday ,November 24, 2016

Delivered at the Royal Birds Hotel, Akure

Introduction

Ladies and gentlemen of the press, on behalf of the #WatchingTheVote Working Group of the Youth Initiative for Advocacy, Growth and Advancement (YIAGA), it is our pleasure to welcome you to this press briefing coming on the heels of the Ondo Governorship Election scheduled to hold on 26th November, 2016.

YIAGA #WatchingTheVote will deploy 363 citizen observers for the 2016 Ondo off-cycle gubernatorial election. YIAGA will have 23 mobile and 340 stationary observers in all 18 Local Government Areas (LGAs), from Akoko North to Ese-Odo in the riverine areas.

YIAGA’s #WatchingTheVote is based on the Parallel Vote Tabulation (PVT) methodology – the gold standard for citizen observation. The PVT is an advanced observation methodology that employs wellestablished statistical principles and utilizes sophisticated information technologies. YIAGA’s #WatchingTheVote provides the most timely and accurate information on the conduct of voting and counting and is the only observation methodology that can independently verify the official gubernatorial results as announced by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

YIAGA’s #WatchingTheVote for Ondo’s 2016 off-cycle gubernatorial election will involve deploying 340 carefully selected, trained and accredited stationary citizen observers to a representative random sample of 300 polling units located in all 18 LGAs. These citizen observers will witness the entire Election Day process from setup of the polling unit through the announcement and posting of the official results. Throughout the course of the day, YIAGA’s citizen observers will send in reports in near real-time via coded text message using their mobile phones to a computer database for analysis at our State Information Centre (SIC) located in Akure.

About YIAGA

Youth Initiative for Advocacy, Growth & Advancement (YIAGA) aka Youth Action Initiative Africa is a civil society organization that promotes democratic governance, human rights and youth political participation. YIAGA focuses on in-depth research, capacity development and public policy advocacy. Since inception, the organization has carved a niche for itself as one of Nigeria’s frontline youth civil society organization promoting participatory democracy, human rights and active civic participation. Registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission, YIAGA seeks to launch itself as an innovative “youth think and do” tank poised with the onerous mandate of enhancing the quality of democratic governance, human rights enforcement and youth political participation in Nigeria and Africa.

To this end, YIAGA focuses on in-depth research, providing critical analysis of key democratic and governance issues, crafting practical solutions, training and situating youth leaders in strategic point of engagements within their community. Using this approach, we implement several innovative programs aimed at stimulating active citizenship, protecting human rights and deepening democratic governance.

#WatchingTheVote

YIAGA’s #WatchingTheVote citizen observers were carefully recruited according to established criteria to ensure that they are non-partisan. All YIAGA citizen observers had to sign a pledge of neutrality and were given a code of conduct to which they have to adhere to when observing. Every YIAGA citizen observer attended an initial training and subsequently participated in Election Day simulation exercises. The trainings covered INEC Election Day procedures, how to observe the process and how to submit observer reports via coded text message.

On Election Day, #WatchingTheVote citizen observers will report to their assigned polling unit at 7:00am and remain there throughout setup, accreditation and voting, counting and finally announcement of the official results. Throughout the day, every citizen observer at sampled polling units will send in seven coded text messages to YIAGA’s SIC located at Royal Birds Hotel, Akure, Ondo.

Coded text messages sent by #WatchingTheVote citizen observers will provide detailed information on the conduct of the process as well as the official results for the polling unit as announced by the poll officials. Over the course of Election Day, YIAGA’s SIC will receive over 2,300 text messages containing over 245,000 individual pieces of information about the 2016 Ondo gubernatorial election. This will provide YIAGA a comprehensive and representative understanding of the quality of the electoral process on Election Day.

Once the text messages are received at YIAGA’s SIC, they will be processed and reviewed. Two shifts of over 14 data clerks plus additional support staff will scrutinize all reports to ensure the information is complete, authentic and accurate. On Election Day, YIAGA’s SIC will open at 6:30 am and will remain open until counting has finished at all sampled polling stations and all #WatchingTheVote citizen observers have sent all seven of their observation reports. YIAGA’s SIC is open to the public and media at all times.

Throughout Election Day, YIAGA will provide as appropriate updates on the conduct of the election based on the nearreal-time reports from its observers. These will be released at the SIC and posted on social media at YIAGA’s Facebook page [www.facebook.com/yiaga.org] and YIAGA’s Twitter page (@YIAGA). On Sunday, November 27, 2016 at 10am at Royal Birds Hotel, Akure, YIAGA will share its preliminary #WatchingTheVote findings on the conduct of accreditation, voting and counting. This preliminary statement will contain detailed information on every facet of the Election Day process.

Immediately after INEC announces the official results for the gubernatorial election, YIAGA will hold its own press conference and issue its election results verification statement. Verification of the gubernatorial election results will be based on the INEC official results as announced by poll officials at the 300 sampled polling stations. #WatchingTheVote is NOT an exit poll. No voter is asked for whom he/she voted.

Since #WatchingTheVote is based on official results from a representative random sample of polling units, YIAGA will be able to estimate the state-wide results for the gubernatorial election within a narrow range based on well-established statistical principles. 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 announced official results do not reflect the ballot cast, #WatchingTheVote will expose it.

Conclusion

YIAGA is ready to observe the 2016 Ondo gubernatorial elections.  As a final preparation, YIAGA is conducting another full simulation exercise on Friday November 25, involving 340 #WatchingTheVote citizen observers sending in practice coded text messages to YIAGA’s SIC computer database. This will test every aspect of #WatchingTheVote to ensure that all citizen observers are prepared and that all reporting systems function properly on Election Day.

YIAGA calls on Ondo voters to go to the polls confident that their votes will count. #WatchingTheVote will provide independent verification of the gubernatorial election results as announced by INEC. If the official results reflect the ballots cast at polling units, YIAGA will confirm it. If the official results do not reflect the ballots cast at polling units, YIAGA will expose it.

YIAGA’s #WatchingTheVote appeals to all Ondo people to work together to ensure that the election reflects the will of the people. Election Day is expected to be long for voters who will spend hours at the polling unit queuing for accreditation and voting. It is likely to be hot and tempers may rise. We urge the electorate to remain calm even in the face of challenges that may arise even as every Ondo voter has the right to participate irrespective of party affiliation.In the interest of transparency and accountability, we recommend that INEC to make publicly available polling unit results. This would enhance the confidence of political parties, contestants and the public in the accuracy of the official results.

YIAGA #WatchingTheVote wish to encourage all registered, PVC-holding voters of Ondo to go out on Saturday, 26th November, 2016to vote their choice in the Governorship election.

Long live Ondo state, long live Nigeria.

 

Thank you.

Dr. Chris Kwaja 
Working Group Member

Cynthia Mbamalu 
Project Director

For media inquiries please contact:

Cynthia Mbamalu: Tel. +234 (0) 806 076 3786
Email: cmbamalu@yiaga.org

David Oluwaseun: Tel. +234 (0) 803 694 3120
Email:pheemy_david@yahoo.com

Learn more about #WatchingTheVote at www.watchingthevote.org or on social media on Facebook at facebook.com/yiaga.org or on Twitter @YIAGA.

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