The Youth Initiative for Advocacy, Growth and Advancement (YIAGA) recently concluded its 3-day Academy on the Parallel Vote Tabulation (PVT) methodology for its #WatchingTheVote (WTV) project team billed to observe the upcoming Gubernatorial elections in Anambra state and beyond. The academy which had in attendance the Board of YIAGA and the WTV project team had the overall objective of building the capacity of the project team for the effective deployment of the PVT methodology in promoting credibility and integrity in the electoral process.
The training academy which kicked off on Wednesday, 2nd August 2017, with both theoretical and practical sessions relating to elections observation ended on Friday, 4th August 2017. Participants went home with a wealth of knowledge on PVT methodology and its importance towards deterring electoral fraud, providing information on the electoral process and possibly increasing participation during elections by building citizens confidence in the electoral process in Nigeria.
The 3-day training organized by the Youth Initiative for Advocacy, Growth and Advancement (YIAGA with technical support from National Democratic Institute (NDI) and financial support from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Department for International Development (DFID) highlighted the importance of credible, free and fair elections in a democracy and the need to have a peaceful transition of power from one government to another.
Richard Klein, a senior advisor, from NDI election who led the training explained that the PVT is Election Day observation methodology which uses statistical principles and information Communication Technology (ICT) to observe the election. This is done through drawing a random sample of polling units that is representative of all the polling units in a state or country as the case maybe. And through the help of ICT, accurate and timely information on the election process which includes accreditation, voting and counting process. This is also the only methodology that can verify the accuracy of the election result with an aim of strengthening the work of the electoral commission in achieving its mandate of delivering credible, free and fair elections in Nigeria.
According to Richard, the PVT was first developed in 1986 by a group called NAMFREL in the Philippines to verify the highly suspicious continuous reelection of the then President Ferdinand Emmanuel Edralin Marcos. The PVT team which consisted of citizen’s observers successfully revealed how President had lost the elections which led to the end of his reign and an autocratic regime. The PVT has also been successfully deployed in the 2016 general elections in Zambia Tunisia in 2014, Burkina Faso in 2015, Ivory Coast in 2015, Ghana in 2016 and Nigeria 2011 and 2015. Beyond the general elections, the PVT has also been deployed in off-cycle governorship elections in Nigeria like the recent Governorship election in Ondo State where YIAGA deployed the methodology.
Participants also enjoyed several practical sessions on determining sampling sizes of observers and also stratification of observers to various Polling Units for observation while also breaking using the data from Zambia 2016 elections to draw samples. Other calculations include the margin of error which determines the precision of data received by Polling Units observers which is usually based on sample size and homogeneity of data.
The WTV team are bound by a code of conduct which promotes principles of non-partisanship, neutrality and integrity while remaining truthful, honest and dedicated to the course and the goal of the project. This was also followed by a pledge of neutrality by all working on the project and a resolution to strictly abide by the code of conduct. While timely and accurate information remains the crux of the PVT project, participants were also urged to abide by the principles, rule and guidelines governing election observation in Nigeria as instituted by the Independent National Electoral Commission and International best practices.
Speaking after the training, the Project Director, Cynthia Mbamalu thanked the International Partners for their efforts and support while urging the project team to make the best of the opportunity and remain committed in working to build the electoral process in Nigeria. Members of the project team like Mosope Adediran, acknowledged that the training was very expository particularly especially the session on effectively deploying information technology for data-driven election observation. Moses Oluwaseun, one of the Zonal Program Officers on the project expressed his excitement on working on the project because to him, the project provides him with a platform to make positive impact on the electoral process in Nigeria. Victoria Manya, a project team member expressed her commitment in ensuring that the project team gives its best in recruiting observers that will promote the principles of the project and speak truth to power by promoting credible election observation report.