Yiaga Africa Watching The Vote (WTV) started its Pre-Election observation (PREO) in April 2022. Three reports on the state of preparedness, political campaigns, and security threats in the 2022 Osun governorship elections have been released since the commencement of the PREO. Yiaga Africa notes that the July 16 Governorship election provides an opportunity for election stakeholders to build on the marked improvement and relative success of the Ekiti Governorship elections on June 18th, 2022. However, with a different political and security terrain, the Osun governorship election will test the resolve of election stakeholders, especially the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and security agencies to conduct credible, transparent, inclusive, peaceful and conclusive elections amidst a tense atmosphere.
Being the last major election before the 2023 general elections, the July 16 polls is an opportunity for INEC to build citizens’ confidence and gain the trust of Nigerians ahead of the 2023 general elections. Thus, it is crucial that the logistics of the election and the technology employed by INEC function optimally. While INEC has expressed confidence in the state of its preparedness, Yiaga Africa urges the commission not to overestimate its capacity nor underestimate potential challenges that could undermine the election. The voters in Osun and Yiaga Africa expect that INEC and security agencies will deliver credible, peaceful and conclusive elections bereft of challenges of election logistics, technological failures, inconsistent application of electoral laws and guidelines, electoral violence and vote-buying.
Fifteen (15) out of the eighteen (18) registered political parties in Nigeria are on the ballot, having fulfilled all conditions for candidates’ nomination, with notably no female Governorship candidate in the contest. This election will be determined by 1,955,657 registered voters. This is a significant increase of over three hundred thousand (300,000) additional registered voters from the 2018 elections. According to INEC, 1,479,595 representing 76% of Permanent Voters’ Cards have been collected as of 10th July 2022.
Summary of Key Findings from the Yiaga Africa’s Pre-Election Observation
- Voter Education: As observed by Yiaga Africa’s Watching The Vote (WTV) Long Term Observers (LTOs), there was consistency in the conduct of voter education campaigns by stakeholders across the reporting periods. WTV findings show that INEC, National Orientation Agency (NOA) and Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) have expanded voter education to more LGAs in the week of the election. Voter education activities by these stakeholders were conducted via physical citizens’ engagement, television, radio and social media platforms. Yiaga Africa recognises the role of key actors in raising awareness on the value of voter participation. Yiaga Africa urges these actors to continue to provide credible and accurate information about the election as election day approaches.
- Electoral Campaigns: WTV observers witnessed intense campaigns conducted by the Accord party, All Progressives Congress (APC), Labour Party, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Social Democratic Party (SDP) and Young Progressive Party (YPP). In 28 or 93% of LGAs, Yiaga Africa observed the conduct of PDP and APC rallies. While in 19 or 63% of LGAs, an Accord Party (A) rally was observed. For the Young Progressive Party (YPP), its rally was observed in 13 or 43% of LGAs.
- Voter inducement: Voter inducement remains a recurring feature throughout Yiaga Africa’s WTV pre-election observation reporting from April to July 2022. In our 5th pre-election reporting period, voter inducement was reported by the Long-Term Observers in Egbedore, Iwo, Orolu, Ifedayo, Irepodun and Ede North LGAs. Specifically, food items and livestock were distributed to people as a campaign strategy employed by political parties. Yiaga Africa is concerned that voter inducement may undermine the legitimacy of electoral outcomes and create an unequal playing field for candidates and parties.
- Heightened activities of Cult Groups and physical violence during political campaigns: Yiaga Africa tracked violence attributed to the heightened activities of cult groups in the five pre-election reporting periods. Between July 6 and July 13, Yiaga Africa observers reported intra-cult clashes precipitated by power tussle in various cult groups alleged to be affiliated with the PDP in Gbemu Area/Isale Osun in Osogbo LGA. Furthermore, Yiaga Africa received reports of cult groups assembling small arms and light weapons ahead of the election. In Ilesa East and Ilesa West LGAs, the cult group known as Afiri Enibaa Boys were reported to be demanding pay-outs from the APC & PDP and threatening to disrupt the conduct of the elections in these LGAs. Yiaga Africa received a report from the Ojo-Oba area in Ifelodun of a clash after the Labour Party candidate gave his supporters money at campaign activity. As a result of the fracas, some people sustained severe injuries due to attacks using machetes. As reported by Yiaga Africa WTV LTO, cases of vandalization and destruction of posters and billboards of APC & PDP candidates occurred in Ogo-Oluwa Areaand the Olaiya Axis in Osogbo LGA. Yiaga Africa also received a report of an attack by unknown persons on the Labour Party candidate at his home in Ilobu in Irepodun LGA.
Yiaga Africa received a report from the Ojo-Oba area in Ifelodun of a clash after the Labour Party candidate gave his supporters money at campaign activity. As a result of the fracas, some people sustained severe injuries due to attacks using machetes. As reported by Yiaga Africa WTV LTO, cases of vandalization and destruction of posters and billboards of APC & PDP candidates occurred in Ogo-Oluwa Areaand the Olaiya Axis in Osogbo LGA. Yiaga Africa also received a report of an attack by unknown persons on the Labour Party candidate at his home in Ilobu in Irepodun LGA.
Matters Arising on the 2022 Osun Governorship Election
- Inadequate information on allocation and imbalance in the distribution of voters to polling units: Yiaga Africa commends INEC’s effort to relocate polling units from palaces, private residents and other controversial locations. However, there are two major issues of concern for stakeholders. First, is the inadequate information in the public domain about the relocation of some voters’ to new polling units. Yiaga Africa believes this can potentially disenfranchise voters who may encounter difficulty in locating their polling unit on election day. In a recent governorship election in Ekiti, Yiaga Africa reported cases where some voters’ names were not found on the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) despite turning up at polling units stated on their Permanent Voters Card (PVC).
Secondly, the imbalance in the distribution of voters to polling units. Despite the creation of additional polling units, there are oversized units with registered voters above the threshold of 750 per polling unit. Osun State has 246 polling units with over 1000 registered voters, Eight (8) polling units with over 2000 registered voters and One (1) polling unit with over 3,000 Registered voters. Oversized polling units may pose a logistical challenge on election day. It is imperative for INEC to revisit the expansion of voter access to polling units in order to achieve the desired outcome of the creation of new polling units.
- Election security and potential election day violence: In the daysleading to the Osun Governorship elections, the atmosphere remained tense with reports, accusations and counter-accusations of physical attacks targeted at candidates and their supporters. Also, the increasing activities of political thugs and cultists in the state are no doubt capable of threatening the safety of personnel, materials, and citizens on election day. While we commend the civility and professionalism of security agencies in Ekiti and the critical role traditional rulers played in promoting peaceful elections; proactive measures must be taken to prevent the escalation of violence on election day. Also, the security agencies need to deploy for the election with the utmost respect for neutrality, transparency, professionalism, competence, and accountability. Upholding these principles will prevent incidents of violence on Election Day and secure lives and properties. In this election, Yiaga Africa expects that the state’s local security outfit, Amotekun will have no role since its not a member of the Inter-Agency Committee on Election Security (ICCES). It is necessary for the Nigerian Police as the lead agency in election security to ensure the Amotekum are not recruited or engaged in any aspect of the election.
- Deployment of new technology to promote electoral integrity: Yiaga Africa commends the improvement in the deployment of the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) in the Ekiti election, which contributed to the quality and transparency of the elections. The Osun Governorship election presents a different context with a larger number of polling units and registered voters. While the mock exercise conducted by INEC in a few polling units to test the functionality of the BVAS is commendable, the publicity for the exercise was visibly low. Yiaga Africa hopes that the commission will build on the success in Ekiti by addressing shortfalls, capacity gaps and technology challenges encountered in Ekiti and during the Osun mock exercise.
- 4. Data for the collection rate of Permanent Voters Cards in determining the margin of lead in the election: As enshrined in the INEC guidelines and reiterated by the Chairman of INEC, the data on Permanent Voters Card collected will be playing a crucial role in determining the conclusiveness of the Osun Governorship election as a guide to the application of the margin of lead principle. While INEC has revealed that 76% of PVCs have been collected in Osun State, It is imperative that INEC publishes the final disaggregated data of the number of PVCs collected per polling unit on the eve of the election. Yiaga Africa urges INEC to fulfil its promise to make available these disaggregated figures of PVCs collected by polling units on its social media platforms and website.
- Vote trading and diminishing legitimacy of political mandate: With elections seemingly determined by the highest bidder, the legitimacy of the political mandate is steadily declining due to the menace of vote trading during elections. Thus, the social contract between citizens and government is becoming transactional rather than a relationship based on trust, accountability, and demand for good governance. Vote buying in no small way reduces the quality of leadership and, by extension, affects citizens’ participation in the electoral process due to little or no dividends of democracy.
- 6. Weak state action against vote buying mercenaries: Recent experience in Ekiti state reveals that despite rampant vote trading during the election, the Nigerian Police have continuously shied away from arresting political party agents that engaged in vote buying on election day. In cases where arrests are effected, there is limited information on consequential actions taken by the Police to prosecute these offenders. This seeming laxity by the Nigerian Police may embolden party agents to engage in brazen violation of electoral laws regarding voter inducement or vote buying on election day.
- Logistics deployment: Yiaga Africa notes the marked improvement in the deployment of electoral materials and personnel in the Ekiti election which led to the relatively early commencement of polls. Osun state, with a substantially larger number of registered voters and polling units, might pose a bigger challenge to INEC if the logistics for the election are not managed properly. Yiaga Africa commends the efforts by INEC and other critical stakeholders in engaging with the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW). Yiaga Africa expects that these engagements will ensure a hitch-free deployment of personnel and electoral materials, and early commencement of polls.
Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC)
- Should ensure more consistent and harmonious coordination within the Inter-Agency Consultative Committee on Election Security (ICCES) to ensure proper security of polling officials deployed in the Registration Area Centers ahead of the Election Day deployment.
- Should ensure proper coordination with the security agencies to forestall incidences of violence and ensure the safety of voters and poll officials on election day.
- Should ensure proper and consistent communication with the transport union and companies providing logistics support for Election Day deployment. This also includes the need for contingency plans in situations where respective transport unions /companies withdraw from the contract or fail to deploy.
- INEC should fulfil its promise of publishing disaggregated data of PVC collected by Polling Units, on its social media platforms and website before election day.
- Yiaga Africa calls on security agencies deployed for the election to respect the rights of citizens, media, and observers, including the right to freedom of movement on Election Day for duly accredited observers and media practitioners.
- Security agencies should ensure protection for vulnerable voters, especially women and persons with disabilities.
- Security personnel should enforce appropriate sanctions for any form of violation of the Electoral Act on Election Day, especially ensuring the arrest of anyone posing a threat to the right of others to vote.
- Yiaga Africa calls for better coordination with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) in making arrests of political party leaders, agents and anyone attempting to buy or buy votes before the election and on election day.
- Security agencies should deploy monitoring mechanisms to checkmate and curtail personnel excesses on Election Day.
- Yiaga Africa calls on Political parties and candidates to commit to the terms of the Peace accord and ensure peaceful engagement ahead of the election and on election day. This also includes calling their supporters to remain peaceful.
- Political parties, candidates, and their supporters must refrain from vote-buying and the related practice of compromising the ballot’s secrecy and undermining the value of the vote so that the voters of Osun state are free to vote their preference for governor.
- CSOs should continually engage the electoral process to inspire citizens’ confidence in the election and encourage voters to turn out in their numbers and vote on election day.
- Citizens should get involved in getting out the vote campaigns as Election Day approaches in order to increase participation and voter turnout.
- Yiaga Africa urges voters to resist efforts to purchase their votes and to vote according to their preferences on July 16th.
Yiaga Africa Election Day Observation Methodology and Deployment Plan
Yiaga Africa is deploying its Parallel Vote Tabulation (PVT) methodology for Saturday’s election. The PVT is an advanced election observation methodology that employs well-established statistical principles and sophisticated information technologies in providing timely and accurate information on the conduct of accreditation, voting, and counting; it independently verifies if the official governorship results as announced by the INEC reflect the votes cast across the polling units.
Yiaga Africa will deploy 500 stationary observers to a representative statistical sample of 250 polling units and 32 mobile observers located in all 30 LGAs of Osun state. Yiaga Africa will also deploy 30 collation centre observers to each of the LGA Collation Centers. The sampled polling units were determined by established statistical principles to ensure the resulting information is representative of the state and unbiased. The PVT sample of polling units was drawn according to well-established statistical principles and is truly representative of all of the polling units because the percentage of sampled polling units for each LGA is similar to the percentage of all polling units for each LGA. Over the course of Election Day, Yiaga Africa’s data centre in Osun will receive 4,500 text messages containing approximately 54,500 individual pieces of information about the 2022 Osun governorship election. Once the text messages are received at Yiaga Africa’s data centre, they will be processed and reviewed to ensure the information is complete, authentic and accurate.
Since Yiaga Africa’s PVT is based on official results from a representative random sample of polling units, Yiaga Africa will be able to estimate the state-wide results for the governorship election within a narrow range based on well-established statistical principles. If INEC’s official results fall within Yiaga Africa’s estimated range, then the public, political parties and candidates should have confidence that the official results reflect the ballots cast at polling units; however, if the announced results have been manipulated and do not match the polling units’ results, Yiaga Africa will expose it. The PVT is a component of Yiaga Africa’s comprehensive election observation methodology spanning the electoral cycle. Therefore, in assessing whether the 2022 Osun governorship satisfies the electoral integrity test, Yiaga Africa will consider a range of issues such as shortcomings in the pre-election period, the quality of Election Day processes, and the scale and scope of critical incidents.
Yiaga Africa appeals to INEC’s permanent and ad hoc staff, all security agents, political party candidates and their supporters as well as all Osun people to work together to ensure that the Osun governorship election is credible and peaceful. We wish to encourage all registered, PVC-holding voters of Osun to go out on Saturday, July 16, 2022, to vote for their choice in the Governorship election.
Thank you and God Bless the people of Osun State.
Yiaga Africa’s Watching the Vote is “Driven by Data – For All Nigerians – Beholden to None!”
Samson Itodo Ezenwa Nwagwu
Executive Director Board Member
Yiaga Africa Yiaga Africa
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|Distribution of All Polling Units and PVT Sampled Polling Units for the|
2022 Osun Gubernatorial Election
|S/No||LGA||Registered Voters||Polling Units||Percent of Total Polling Units||Sampled Polling Units||Percent of Total Sampled Polling Units||Observers|
|Source: Yiaga Africa WTV Osun 2022|