On Tuesday 27th September 2016, Youth Initiative for Advocacy, Growth & Advancement (YIAGA one of the duly accredited observers for EDO governorship election scheduled to hold o 28th September, 2016,through its #WatchingTheVote initiative deployed 40 observers to observe the deployment of election sensitive materials. The observers were monitored the distribution of sensitive materials from the INEC local government office to the Registration Area Camps (RACs).
The #WatchingTheVote methodology adopts the use of research methodology for election observation. YIAGA deployed 40 Field observers visited INEC local government offices and randomly selected Registration Area Centers in 7 Local governments namely; Egor, Akoko-Edo, Esan West, Ikpoba-Okha, Oredo, Owan East and Owan West. The observers sent real-time field reports using mobile phones in line with a specified pre-election observation checklist. The reports were aggregated and analyzed at the Central Analysis Centre (CAC) in Benin City using the #WatchingTheVote tech platform.
#WatchingTheVote is a citizen led election observation initiative aimed at enhancing the integrity of elections in Nigeria using technological tools like SMS and evidence-based research methodology tools for election observation. The initiative is designed to promote credible elections and boost citizens confidence in the electoral process through the provision of citizens’ oversight on elections throughout the electoral cycle. #WatchingTheVote relies heavily on the use of SMS to provide real time election updates that validate the credibility of election results as well as elicit real time response from election stakeholders before, during and after elections.
This report focuses on the deployment of election materials, activation of the RACs and welfare of the Adhoc staff in the reviewed local government.
1 OBSERVATION ON ELECTION LOGISTICS: DEPLOYMENT OF SENSITIVE MATERIALS
TIMELY ARRIVAL AND DEPLOYMENT OF SENSITIVE MATERIALS
- We observed the early deployment of sensitive materials from the Central Bank to the 18 INEC local government offices with an overall average departure time of 4:30pm on Monday September 26, 2016.
- 90% of visited RACs recorded late activation, as sensitive materials were not timely deployed. This delay in activating the RACs was occasioned by the counting and verification of sensitive materials at the INEC Local government offices. In Egor LGA, party agents insisted that all sensitive materials must be counted and verified before deployment to the RACs. Such that as at 7:00pm no RAC recorded deployment of sensitive materials. The rainfall delayed the transportation of sensitive materials from INEC LG office in Egor to a RAC in Adaike Primary School, Uselu II Ward 08.
OPENNESS AND TRANSPARENCY
- Duly accredited observers and party agents were allowed to access the INEC LG offices and the RACs to observe the distribution of sensitive materials.
- We observed the open a distribution of all sensitive materials. The distribution exercise was conducted in an open and transparent manner in the full glare of party agents, observers and security officials. This was the trend in 90% of RACs observed.
COMPLIANCE WITH ELECTORAL GUIDELINES
- 80% of field reports indicate substantial compliance with the distribution procedure as enshrined in the electoral guidelines. Distribution officers completed specialized checklist and dispatch forms accordingly.
- There were no shortages in the sensitive and non-sensitive materials distributed at the observed INEC Local government.
- The INEC Local government offices were heavily secured with security agents, predominantly mobile police officers. However, the RACs had low security presence as the time of compiling this report. This may be partly attributable to the late arrival of sensitive materials from the INEC LG office to the RACs.
2 WELFARE OF ADHOC OFFICIALS
- Field reports indicate late deployment of welfare materials at the RACs. 60% of centers recorded late arrival of matrasses and toiletries for the adhoc officials.
- Observers reported a largely unhygienic state of most of RACs, where adhoc officials are expected to pass the night.
- It was also observed that some centers do not have power supply thus leaving the centers darkness.
- The election may be disrupted by rainfall, thus it is important for INEC to make alternative arrangements for voting in the event of rainfall. Such arrangements should be timely and properly communicated to the Presiding Officers.
- It is important to strengthen the security deployment in the RACs particularly as some of these RACs do not have properly lighting systems. If not adequately tackled this may expose election officials and materials to threats or danger;
- We enjoin all security agencies on election duty to remain patriotic and provide adequate security for election officials, observers, journalists, voters and election materials;