As part of its pre-election advocacy for credible governorship elections in Anambra state, Yiaga Africa held a roundtable discussion with a cohort of journalists to review the political and security atmosphere in the state while exploring areas of collaboration to increase citizens’ participation. The roundtable discussion which was held on Wednesday 25th July was led by Watching The Vote Working Group members, Mr Ezenwa Nwagwu and Professor Nnamdi Aduba, and had representatives from broadcast, print and online media in the state in attendance.
Speaking during the media roundtable, Mr Ezenwa Nwagwu said the team is in Anambra to have a series of engagements with important election stakeholders, which is crucial considering how voter apathy has become a major threat to recent elections in the country and especially in Anambra.
He said, “in the last couple of days, we have engaged the Commissioner of Police and the Commandant of the National Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC). We also met with the Secretary of the Nigerian Union of Journalists”.
In her contributions to the discussion, Yiaga Africa’s Head of Knowledge Management and Learning, Safiya Bichi noted that Yiaga Africa has trained and deployed 25 Local Government Supervisors to observe the pre-election activities in all the LGAs of the state. “These pre-election activities consist of observing activities of security agents, political parties’ campaigns, violence monitoring amongst others. We will be observing every election activity in all the 21 Local Government Areas in the state, ” she said.
Yiaga Africa’s Head of Elections Program Paul James further highlighted the organization’s Election Day observation plan saying the Watching the Vote project will deploy the Parallel Vote Tabulation (PVT) election observation methodology, which will provide timely and accurate information on the process while detecting and deterring electoral fraud. He added that the PVT methodology will also be used to determine the accuracy of the results of the November 6th election results.
He said, “the PVT allows Yiaga Africa’s WTV to present an accurate and comprehensive assessment of the election day processes, such as whether election officials comply to the guidelines for the conduct of elections, the presence of security agents, the presence and behaviour of party agents, the secrecy of the ballot and transparency of the counting process.”, According to Paul, PVT It is the only observation methodology that can independently verify the accuracy of election day results as released by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) which is the body legally mandated to do so.
In their feedback, the journalists lauded Yiaga Africa’s efforts in ensuring credible elections and in engaging the media since 2017 when they became a part of its media cohort. Speaking after the event, Dave Eke of ThisDay Newspapers said, “I have always seen Yiaga Africa coming out with innovations that will help change citizens’ mind-set towards elections, which I am sure if we adhere to will be good for all”.
Similarly, Vin Ujumadu of Vanguard Newspapers encouraged the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and political parties to make use of Yiaga Africa’s observation report. Another veteran journalist, Tony Okafor encouraged the passage of legislation that allows election observation reports to be admissible in court.
For the 2021 Anambra State governorship election, #WatchingTheVote will deploy observers in pairs to a representative random sample of 250 polling units in every local government in Anambra. A total number of 500 WTV Polling Unit Observers will be deployed to observe the accreditation, voting and counting processes on election day. WTV will also have 27 mobile (roving) observers present in all the 21 Local Government Areas (LGAs).
Yiaga Africa has been involved in election observation since 2007 and it is one of the leading organizations working on elections in Nigeria. Yiaga Africa Watching the Vote is a non-partisan, independent and Nigeria’s largest citizen-led movement dedicated to promoting electoral integrity in Nigeria and Africa.