This statement on the conduct of the elections is based on WTV observation of the processes of accreditation, voting, and the counting and posting of results. This statement represents a culmination of our findings from the pre-election environment through election day and highlights critical incidents observed that have the potential of undermining the credibility of the election.
YIAGA AFRICA’s WTV is “Driven by Data – For All Nigerians – Beholden to None!”. Employing the PVT methodology – the gold standard for citizen observation – WTV deployed 500 stationary observers in pairs to a representative statistical sample of 250 polling units, and 21 mobile observers located in all 8 local government areas (LGAs) of Bayelsa state. WTV also deployed 8 collation centre observers to each of the LGA collation centers.
YIAGA AFRICA implemented its WTV observation to provide citizens, candidates, political parties and INEC with independent, accurate and timely information that reflects the ballots cast at polling units for the Bayelsa gubernatorial election.
YIAGA AFRICA once again commends voters in Bayelsa state who came out to vote despite the challenges with the opening of polls and the rain.
Summary of Pre-Election Observation Trends
YIAGA AFRICA Watching the Vote in the pre-election statement highlighted major findings that remained consistent in the pre-election environment and shared emerging trends that had the potential to impact on the credibility of the process. Amongst these were:
- Security threats, Recruitment of Thugs and Arms stockpiling: Reports in the pre-election phase indicated active recruitment of thugs and militants and stockpiling of arms with more reports on this received from Southern Ijaw, Sagbama, Brass and Yenagoa. The stockpiling and easy access to arms and recruitment of thugs was also indicated by reports of sporadic shootings in some of these LGA’s.
- Threats of Violence: The pre-election environment revealed a consistent and worrying trend of violence trailing the political campaigns. Observers’ reports indicated verbal and physical attacks during the campaigns and rallies. This continued into the election week resulting in the death of 3 citizens in Nembe LGA indicating a possible threat of intimidation and political intolerance.
- Money Politics and Abuse of Electoral Laws: The pre-election findings indicated a trend of voter inducement, purchase of the permanent voter’s card and voters details which was deployed as a campaign strategy by the political parties. The campaigns were a contest between the highest bidder and spender and the trend projected a possible overbearing influence of money in the election to be reflected in the level of vote-buying, community collusion and electoral thugs bargaining.
- Logistics Challenge: While the pre-election report indicated the early commencement of activities by INEC, questions around early and effective deployment of materials and personnel were a concern in the pre-election phase. The pre-election report, for instance, indicated that while non-sensitive materials were deployed in all the 8 LGAs early, the deployment of sensitive materials by INEC from Yenagoa to the LGA was delayed to Friday, 15th November 2019 due to the uncertainty created by conflicting court decisions. As such WTV confirmed the last set of materials were only deployed by 4:30 pm on the eve of the election to the LGAs
Last Minute Court Decisions: YIAGA AFRICA is concerned with the trend of last-minute judgments issued by courts on pre-election matters without recourse to its implication for election management, public safety and citizens participation. More worrisome is the conflicting nature of these judgments delivered by courts of coordinate jurisdiction. Nigeria needs to retool her legal framework to address the duality of the jurisdiction of courts and timeline for the determination of pre-election cases.