YIAGA AFRICA Watching The Vote was very excited to receive the Osun State Resident Electoral Commissioner of Independent National Electoral Commissioner (INEC), Mr. Olusegun Agbaje at our Training for Long Term Observers in Osun State.
Ahead of the September 22nd Governorship Elections in Osun State, YIAGA AFRICA has trained 31 Long Term Observers who will be observing the Pre-election Environment in the state. The Pre-election Observation will help YIAGA AFRICA detect early warning signals which may affect the credibility of the process.
During the training in Osogbo, the Honourable REC, Mr. Agbaje expressed appreciation to YIAGA AFRICA for her collaborative role with the commission over the years as part of efforts towards building a true and lasting democracy in Nigeria. The REC said “the collaborative efforts of Civil Society Organisations will in no small measure assist the Commission especially in the areas of knowledge sharing workshops, voter and civic education amongst other effort.
Quoting the REC “I therefore want to use this opportunity to commend the organisers of this very laudable training programme and also urge you to keep the flag the journey towards making INEC one of the best Election Management Bodies in the world that meets aspirations of the Nigerian people”. The commission according to the REC will leverage on the support of critical stakeholders in ensuring that no stone is left unturned to ensure a credible, violent free, transparent and acceptable Governorship Election in Osun state.
As part of preparation for the September 22nd Governorship elections in Osun, INEC said it has accomplished milestones which includes distribution of 1,114,356 Permanent Voters Card (PVCs) representing 66.79 percent collection rate. The smart card reader has been enhanced which is also good news to curb any malpractice. YIAGA AFRICA is also glad that the commission has received non sensitive materials in time for the elections.
We are excited that INEC has decided to increase its voter education and public enlightenment campaign through critical stakeholders to tackle incidence of vote buying and selling. The Commissioner also told us they have engaged stakeholders in a bid to strengthen relationship with a view to sensitize them on the need to always play their roles effectively and positively.
Having Observed the Political party primaries in Osun State, YIAG AFRICA’s Watching The Vote (WTV) project has also trained and deployed 31 Long Term Observers (LTO) to observe the pre-election environment in Osun State. The Long-Term Observers are also expected to recruit polling unit observers from sampled polling units. The Long Term observes who also double as Local Government Supervisors were deployed to each of the 30 Local Government Areas in the State to report on events, activities and critical incidents using a specialized checklist and critical incident form. The observation reports from the field are sent in form of coded SMS to the WTV Data Center bi-weekly while the critical incidents are sent in as they occur and properly escalated after verification.
YIAGA Africa’s Watching The Vote Pre-Election observers will observe issues related to the; activities of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) ranging from voter education and information campaigns to the collection and distribution of Permanent Voters Card, activities of political parties like the rallies and campaigns, activities relating to security agencies and incidents capable of undermining the electoral process. Pre-election observers will also observe and report Voter information campaigns by National Orientation Agency (NOA) and other Civil Society Organisations.
At YIAGA Africa, we believe and promote social justice and inclusiveness thus voter education and campaigns targeted specifically at Youths, Women and Persons With Disabilities (PWDs) will be followed closely and duly reported by Observers during the pre-election period. Even as political parties launch their campaigns across the state, our election observation team are interested in campaigns and rallies associated to various political parties while also observing if youths, women and PWDs are also in anyway canvassing for votes.
Through the Pre-Election observation, YIAGA Africa will track early warning signs and any form of incident that can hinder the successful conduct of the elections. In this vein, WTV pre-elections observers will observe and report issues relating to hate speech campaigns, intimidation and harassment of any electoral stakeholder and attacks on media or INEC officials. LTOs will also report government restrictions on political activities or unjustifiable military influx into the state. This will enable YIAGA to verify and report this information to relevant authorities for proper action. Pre-elections observation findings will be shared to the public via various channels of communication including social media.
While YIAGA AFRICA will be deploying 561 Observers for the Osun Governorship elections, the REC clarified that observers have the right to observe and collate facts while interpreting the facts against the laws governing elections and basic electoral standard. This according to Mr. Agbaje will enable observers to analyse if the elections met the threshold of credibility as defined by law.
YIAGA AFRICA is also excited that the electoral commission reiterated its commitment to continue to cooperate with us to fulfil its mandate as well as its vision, mission and values. As an organization we will continue to observe the process and give recommendations where necessary.
YIAGA AFRICA #WatchingTheVote (WTV), is a citizen-led election observation initiative aimed at enhancing the integrity of elections using technology and evidence-based research methodology tools for election observation. WTV is designed to promote credible election and boost citizen’s confidence in the electoral process through the provision of citizen’s oversight on elections through the electoral cycle