2019: YIAGA Africa launches Parallel Vote Tabulation mission

2019: YIAGA Africa launches Parallel Vote Tabulation mission

“The Official National Launch of YIAGA Africa’s Watching The Vote (WTV) Parallel Vote Tabulation Mission for the 2019 general elections signifies the readiness of WTV deploy the largest citizen observers to enhance state and non-state actors in sustaining democracy via credible elections”. These are the words of WTV Board Chair, Dr Hussein Abdu as he gives his opening remark of at the National Launch of the PVT Misssion for the 2019 general elections.

In its bid to provide real time information on the electoral process and also verify the accuracy of the elections result, the largest citizen movement committed to credible elections has conclude plans to deploy over 3000 observers for the 2019 general elections. This is geared towards monitoring elections through the deployment of technology in the 774 local government areas YIAGA Africa’s Watching The Vote (WTV) Working Group on Friday, December 7, launched the Parallel Vote Tabulation (PVT) Mission ahead of the 2019 general elections.

Speaking at the event, Dr Husseini Abdu, board chairman, YIAGA Africa, said the PVT is an election observation methodology that is typically based on a representative random sampling of polling stations employed for independent verification of election results.

According to him, the launching of the method was a declaration of YIAGA Africa’s readiness to support every stakeholder in the 2019 elections, in order to get the required result needed for a credible election. INEC officials and representatives of development partners at the launch of the Parallel Vote Tabulation mission.

His words: “Our primary commitment in this job is to deepen deepen accountability and enhance the credibility of our electoral process. “It is the beginning of the our democracy. If we don’t get our elections right, we cannot actually claim it is a democracy because that is why the leadership emerge, so, the quality of our leaders is determined by the quality of our elections. “So our call to politicians is that elections are just phases in our democratic-journey, it is not everything; therefore, the sense of desperation needs to be properly managed.

“Politicians are increasingly becoming a major threat to our democracy therefore it is important for us to make this call, that they need to tarry a while and build a better commitment and understanding that will help strengthen our democracy.’’

Leveraging on the support of National Democratic Institute and other international organisations like the UKAID AND USAID, yiaga africa has deployed the PVT IN Ondo, Anambra, Ekiti and Osun Governorship elections. While appreciating the effort of YIAGA AFRICA’s WatchingTheVote, Professor Antonia Okoosi-Simbine, National Commissioner Elections and Political Parties in the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) said, the initiative has helped INEC greatly by adding value to the credibility of its results. “Our results have been very close or not too different from that of YIAGA and this is important to us. “We have an organisation that is doing very systematic and scientific work, if not for them maybe people would really question the results that we bring out particularly when issues like vote buying are around elections,’’ she said

Also speaking, the British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Ms Catriona Laing, described the forthcoming 2019 general elections as ‘crucial.’ She hailed the concept of the PVT, noting that it was used in her last country of assignment, before she was deployed to Nigeria – Zimbabwe.

She called for a level playing field for all political parties ahead of the elections. The USAID Nigeria Mission Director, Mr Stephen Haykin, declared support for YIAGA Africa’s mission to ensuring credible elections in Nigeria. He called on INEC to, “maximise voter privacy at the polls, reduce vote buying and work with security agencies to ensure that voters exercise their franchise in peace.’’

Speaking to the media, Project Coordinator, YIAGA Watching The Vote, Working Group, Cynthia Mbamalu said “we will be deploying 3034 observers so we will have observers in every local government”

She said for the purpose of the election, ” We have recruited 822 long term observers, 48 for the 36 states, with some states having more than one because of their sizes and population”.

“These 822 have started working already and they will also recruit the observers for 2019.

“We have one supervisor per local government and what they do is follow up issues on political parties and their activities in their local governments and send in report, we do violence monitoring to help us feed an early warning system and to also identify what INEC is doing and share reports on INECs preparations to local government s and issues of voters education by INEC, Political parties and CSOs”.

Speaking on the sidelines of #WatchingTheVote National Launch of Parallel Vote Tabulation Mission for the 2019 general elections in Abuja on Friday, she said barely weeks to the election there are lots of planning and as an organisation they have commenced the pre-election observation and have released their first report, while the second report is to be released in the coming week.

The Youth group further called on political parties and candidates to endeavour to adopt issue based campaigns and shun every form of hate speech and inciting comments.

This they said, will go a long way in preventing violence and enhance the quality of the conversations around the elections.

They further called on INEC and other relevant stakeholders to invest more in activities targeted at promoting active and informed participation of women, youth and people with disabilities.

These includes their pre-election messaging, engagements and adhoc employment as well as general planning in order to ensure inclusion and fairness in the process she said.

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#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.

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