YIAGA AFRICA has conducted an extensive reflection sessions with its State Focal Points in charge of election observation deployment in various states in Nigeria to assess the quality of its deployment for the 2019 elections. It can be recalled that YIAGA AFRICA through its Watching The Vote (WTV) project deployed 3906 observers across all Local Government areas in Nigeria for the 2019 Presidential elections using the Parallel Vote Tabulation methodology and has taken steps to assess the process in a bid to improve on it ahead of the Bayelsa and Kogi Governorship elections coming up November 2019.
Before the elections, YIAGA AFRICA built a structure of 48 State Focal Points (SFPs) across all 36 States and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) with states like Kano, Lagos, Rivers, Anambra, Borno, Katsina and Kaduna State having more than one SFP due to its geography and population. WTV recruited SFPs were in charge of project in the state as they recruited Local Government Areas Supervisors in every LGA in Nigeria while also representing the project in election observation related activities in their states. The LGA Supervisors on the other hand recruited polling unit observers from sampled polling units with the support and coordination of the State Focal Points in the state. Thus the SFPs are in a position to assess the quality of PVT deployment in the state ranging from quality of observers and whether they have been recruited from the right polling units.
During the post-election debrief session across all Geopolitical zones in Nigeria; SFPs revealed that the WTV project helped to build the capacity of citizens and provided an opportunity for them to participate in the process of entrenching free, fair and credible elections in Nigeria. This is evident as some observers voluntarily observed subsequent elections as citizens’ observers without support from the WTV project. The PVT deployment for the 2019 general elections also improved gender mainstreaming and women participation in the electoral process as SFPs revealed that in most cases over 40percent of Polling Unit and roving observers are female.
Another major success recorded by the largest movement committed to credible elections during the 2019 elections is the fact that despite the threat to violence in some areas, WTV observers successfully deployed to sampled polling units without major hitches. Similarly, WTV observers were mostly seen as ambassadors of credible elections in their communities. Also the project built on its credibility as election stakeholders, like electoral commission, Nigerian Police other security agencies, traditional and religious leaders and other election stakeholders further reaffirmed their confidence in the WTV election observation project.
For instance, The Resident Electoral Commissioner for Oyo State, Barrister Mutiu Agboke opined that “WTV will always gain recognition because they have integrity, call me for any of your activity and my team I will attend”. Similarly, Dr John Oyedokun Adewoye of the National Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) in Oyo State said YIAGA AFRICA WTV project is a well-recognized institution in electoral matters and assured the support of the NSCDC throughout Oyo State. Likewise, the Resident Electoral Commissioner for Ondo State endorsed the WTV project saying, “honestly WTV project is doing wonderful by using data and technology to enhance integrity of election, I wish INEC will adopt the system”.
While the WTV successfully deployed observers to sampled polling units, getting quality non-partisan citizens was a herculean task especially riverine communities, clustered localities and settings with low literacy level. Despite these challenges, coupled with insurgency in the North East the team leveraged on existing relationship with members of community and opinion leaders to make sure deployment was 100% on Election Day.
As YIAGA AFRICA’s Watching The Vote prepares for the Bayelsa and Kogi Governorship elections, we remain committed to building confidence of citizens in the electoral process as we continue to build a nationwide movement of citizens committed to credible elections.
We hereby appreciate the support of election stakeholders like the Independent National Electoral Commission, Nigerian Police, NSCDC, Traditional and religious leaders, the Nigerian Union of journalists and most importantly our observers for a successful deployment of the PVT during the 2019 elections.