Ahead of the November 6th Governorship elections, Yiaga Africa has reiterated the role of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) to improve citizens’ participation and bridge the gap between citizens and government. This was revealed during the Parallel Vote Tabulation Academy (PVT) held in Awka, Anambra state to educate CSO leaders on data-driven election observation methodology.
Speaking during the academy, Yiaga Africa’s Program Manager, Elections, Paul James said, the training aims to expose CSO leaders to the overview of the PVT methodology, theoretical and practical insights on how the PVT Sample is drawn. The training according to him also discusses the Watching The Votes Methodology for observing the Anambra Election. Participants were also exposed to the PVT observation forms, how PVT Statements are generated and communicated to the general public.
Mr James also introduced the CSO leaders to the science of the PVT, as well as its success stories from the 2019 elections, to the most recent Ondo and Edo elections which Yiaga Africa observed. He said, “just like in previous elections, Yiaga Africa has trained and will be deploying 548 non-partisan citizens across 250 polling units in Anambra state during the November 6 elections”. He guided the CSO leaders through the recruitment criteria and procedure for choosing observers, saying, ‘to prevent lapses in reporting, Yiaga Africa invests heavily in recruitment and training of observers, as accurate data is the goal.’
Speaking on efficiency in the procedure, Safiya Bichi, Head of Knowledge Management and Learning emphasized the importance of quality over quantity and the need for consistency of data. Regarding the role of Yiaga Africa in elections, Safiya reiterated that Yiaga Africa does not announce the results of elections. ‘The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is the only body that has the power and designation to announce election results. Yiaga Africa can only confirm or fault the results released by INEC.’
The entirety of CSO leaders expressed delight in Yiaga Africa’s deployment and observation endeavors. They urged Yiaga Africa to partner with state-based CSOs such as they, to enable these CSOs to leverage Yiaga Africa’s experience and network to achieve better things in the state.
Nonso Orakwe, leader of CatchThemYoung Foundation, and convener of the VoteNotFight campaign in Anambra state advised his colleagues to see election observation as their duties because when the right processes are followed and the best leaders are put in power, it is for the collective good. In his words, ‘make yourself available and collaborate with fellow CSOs in the state, to achieve maximum impact.’
CSOs present included Justice, Development & Peace Commission (JDPC) Ekwulobia, SucaSpeaks, Creative Minds, Women Action Committee, Joint National Association of Persons with Disabilities (JONAPID), Hope Givers Initiative (HOG-I), Gender Perspective and Social Development Centre among others.