The November 16th Governorship elections in Bayelsa and Kogi states are fast approaching and it is becoming more imperative to advocate for peaceful and credible elections in both states. There is need for election stakeholders to put mechanisms in place to ensure a participatory credible and peaceful elections in the states.
As the largest citizen movement committed to credible elections in Nigeria, YIAGA AFRICA’s Watching The Vote (WTV) has commenced advocacy visits to election stakeholders in both Bayelsa and Kogi states. This is in a bid to share our election observation deployment plan, seek stakeholder buy-in and explore areas of collaboration as well as provide information on the pre-election observation deployment for Bayelsa and Kogi.
The Board and Management of WTV led by Project Director, Cynthia Mbamalu and Board member, Professor Nnamdi Aduba, met with the Independent National Electoral Commission’s (INEC) Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) in Bayelsa State, Pastor Monday Udoh Tom and other officials of the commission in the state. The team is glad that the REC and the elections team are receptive to our plan to deploy Parallel Vote Tabulation (PVT) election observation, which remains the gold standard for election observation across the world. The REC also promised to take stakeholders along while providing information on the commission’s activities ahead of the November 16th Governorship election in the state.
Similarly, there are no credible elections without peace, and this makes our advocacy visit to the Commissioner of Police and the Commandant of National Security and Civil Defence Corps in Bayelsa state very vital at this crucial point in time. The visit to security agency enabled us analyze and share early warning systems against security threats for immediate response ahead of the elections.
While informed citizen participation is vital to a credible election, we believe that not only the electoral commission has a role to play in educating voters; other stakeholders including religious and traditional leaders can play huge roles as influencers to their followers in preaching the credible and peaceful polls. In this vein, the team successfully engaged head of Traditional Rulers Council, Pa Alfred Papapreye Diette-Spiff who expressed his delight, while urging the team to swing into action, report any wrong doings to the appropriate authority and help achieve a credible process.
The team also met with the Ijaw Elders Forum who declared readiness to work for credible election as it has already commenced sensitization of the citizens to ensure violence-free elections. In their words, “ we will monitor negative utterances and actions of political actors and follow-up to ensure they are prosecuted. Thus we will be glad to receive credible information from your violence monitoring system, so that we can hold culprits accountable”.
Finally, we met with representatives of major political parties in Bayelsa state including Chairman and members of the Inter-Party Advisory Committee (IPAC). During the meeting with the political parties, we discussed the importance of conducting transparent and democratic political party primaries. YIAGA AFRICA also shared its plan to observe political party primaries in a bid to provide recommendations.
#WatchingTheVote is a comprehensive observation of the electoral process, which includes the observation of the political party primaries, pre-election environment in all Local government areas and the election day observation which deploys the Parallel Vote Tabulation (PVT). These will be adopted for the observation of the 2019 Bayelsa State Governorship Election.
Executive Director, YIAGA AFRICA