The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) says it will take #WatchingTheVote reports and recommendations very seriously during and after the Ondo State Gubernatorial elections.

INEC National Commissioner, Amina Zakari gave the assurance during a tour of YIAGA’s State Information Center, in Akure.  Commissioner Amina Zakari commended YIAGA for deploying the Parallel Vote Tabulation (PVT) methodology through #WatchingTheVote for Ondo Gubernatorial election. Ms. Zakari stated that the methodology helped INEC in verifying election results in 2011 and 2015 respectively.

“I am very happy to see that YIAGA is deploying the #WatchingTheVote methodology. The methodology will assist INEC in verifying the final results that will be declared. If there are any adverse results from the field, it should be able to assist INEC tackle these problems as they arise.

“Since the PVT methodology was introduced in 2011, we have not seen any adverse effect on the electoral process. Therefore, INEC will take very seriously the comments and recommendations that will be made after the results are analyzed”.

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Speaking on the issue of deployment of sensitive materials ahead of the elections, Amina Zakari said the commission is ‘confident and calm’.

‘We are all relaxed. We are well prepared and also sent finances to the state early enough.  But human factors of course always come into play. So come Saturday, we may still see issues of vehicles and transportation because it isn’t just INEC that needs transportation on that day.  Observers, politicians and our staff do. However, the commission is prepared to tackle these challenges. We are set for the election”.

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Similarly, INEC Commissioner Prof. Antonia Taiye Okoosi-Simbine, said the commission is impressed by the #WatchingTheVote methodology which the Youth Initiative for Advocacy Growth and Advancement (YIAGA) will be deploying for the November 26th governorship election in 2016.

Addressing members of the press after a tour of YIAGA’s State Information Center, Prof. Simbine stated that observer groups like YIAGA have greatly improved Nigeria’s electoral process.

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“YIAGA is doing a lot of work here and I am impressed. Perhaps the most important aspect of YIAGA’s election observation work is that they will be receiving first hand information in real time. As the observers deployed by YIAGA send in their reports via text messages, YIAGA is able to know how the Election Day processes are going on. I think that is a useful exercise.

Observer groups like YIAGA have greatly improved the electoral process in Nigeria. That is why we developed a reporting guide. It is our hope that all observer groups will follow that guide.  That way, we will continue to use those reports to improve our processes”.

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When asked to comment on whether the reports from 340 observers deployed by YIAGA can be relied upon by the election management body, Prof. Simbine said:

‘In any research exercise, you cannot cover the entire population. I am quite impressed by the way sampling has been done by YIAGA. I have seen the figures and way YIAGA selected the polling units where their observers will be deployed. YIAGA has used certain criteria to select Polling Units and I am very impressed’.

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Asked to comment on how soon electronic voting can become a reality in Nigeria considering that the #WatchingTheVote methodology is driven by communication technology, Prof. Simbine stated that INEC doesn’t have a say over that as the electoral laws determine the introduction of electronic voting into Nigeria’s electoral system.

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‘For us at INEC, we are doing our best to make our processes responsive to the needs of the electorate. If that will mean going electronic, it will be a very useful exercise.

YIAGA’s #WatchingTheVote is based on the Parallel Vote Tabulation (PVT) methodology – the gold standard for citizen observation. The PVT is an advanced observation methodology that employs well established statistical principles and utilizes sophisticated information technologies. YIAGA’s #WatchingTheVote provides the most timely and accurate information on the conduct of voting and counting and is the only observation methodology that can independently verify the official gubernatorial results as announced by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

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