For the Saturday, July 24 2021 Lagos State quadrennial local council elections, Yiaga Africa is deploying duly-trained and accredited non-partisan roving observers to observe and report on the process across the 20 local government areas (LGAs) in Lagos. The elections will be held in 13,323 polling units spread across the 20 LGAs and the 37 Local Council Development Areas. A total of six million five hundred and seventy thousand, two hundred and ninety-one (6,570,291) voters are registered to vote in the polls. Yiaga Africa’s Watching the Vote (WTV) roving observers are expected to visit a minimum of 3 polling units each and report on the conduct of the election. The WTV observers will observe the entire election day process from the polling units’ setup, accreditation, voting, announcement, and posting of the official results and will send in periodic reports to the WTV Data Centre where they will be processed, analyzed, and shared with the public. Yiaga Africa is also deploying observers to all the 20 LGA results collation centres. Yiaga Africa is not deploying the Parallel Votes Tabulation (PVT) Methodology for the Lagos LGA elections.
The absence of periodic, genuine and transparent elections at the local government areas in Nigeria remains a major threat to Nigeria’s democracy. Twenty-two years after democracy, local government areas in Nigeria struggle with poor governance, the absence of periodic, credible elections, and almost non-existent governance structures that promote citizen engagement and accountability. The worst fate of local government areas in Nigeria remains the overbearing control by state governors and a select few (power brokers) who have perfected a system that both impoverishes the people and denies the people a voice when the elections are rigged. While democratic governance is almost non-existence, the conduct of elections still provides an opportunity for engagement especially in empowering the people to choose their leaders. The Lagos LGA election is significant in time, especially as more citizens join the call for a constitutional amendment to guarantee local government autonomy. The constitutional amendment will provide a long-term solution to the challenge of poor local governance, however, the LGA elections provide a major entry point for citizens and election stakeholders to jointly support credible elections in the State.
Yiaga Africa recently conducted a feasibility study on the challenges and prospects of Local Government elections in Nigeria taking Oyo and Lagos states as case studies. Despite the challenges, the study revealed, there are opportunities for election stakeholders to improve on the process to guarantee the sanctity of ballots and increase citizens’ participation in the process. Thus, the LGA and council elections slated for July 24, 2021 is another opportunity for election stakeholders especially the election management bodies, the security and indeed the citizens to change the negative narrative that has obscured these elections in recent times.