As part of activities marking the pre-election engagement, Yiaga Africa’s Watching The Vote (WTV) project interacted with the media cohort in Edo state, building collaboration on amplifying accurate and timely information before, during and after the Edo Governorship election. The media roundtable held in Benin, Edo state capital, saw the full representatives of broadcast and print media with the Chairman of the state chapter of the Nigerian Union of Journalist (NUJ) committing to partnering Yiaga Africa in sensitizing, educating, and enlightening the citizens of the state on the need for a credible and peaceful election.
During the discussion, Director of Programmes, Cynthia Mbamalu, said Yiaga Africa’s election team is a citizen’s movement committed to the credible election in a bid to increase citizens’ participation in the process. She also solicited support from journalists in sensitizing and enlightening members of the public on the need for a violence-free election in the Edo State governorship election. She said media partnership would provide accurate information to the electorate in a bid to achieve credible election in the state.
On his part, Programme Manager, Elections, Paul James, said it’s Parallel Vote Tabulation (PVT); which is a proven election day observation methodology will help detect and deter fraud while providing timely information on the election process. According to him, the PVT will enable Yiaga Africa to verify the accuracy of the election results released by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
Mr. Paul James also revealed that, Yiaga Africa has trained 24 Long Term Observers from across all 18 Local Government Areas in Edo state who will be observing and reporting the pre-election environment to enable dissemination of accurate information to election stakeholders before the election. According to him, the team will also train 500 personnel to be sent to sample the various polling units on Election Day.
James said, “For the Edo State governorship election, #WatchingTheVote will deploy observers in pairs to a representative random sample of 250 polling units in every LGA. A total number of 500 WTV polling unit observers will be deployed to observe the accreditation, voting and counting processes on Election Day.” He said they will use their mobile phones to send coded text message of observation reports to Yiaga Africa’s WTV Data Centre in Benin
In his response, Chairman of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Edo State chapter, Roland Osakue, pledged to collaborate with Yiaga Africa, in curbing election violence and encouraging citizens to protect their votes.
He said, “If elections must be free and fair the rules must be adhered to. The umpire must not be biased and the players must play by the rules are not compromised, the election will be violent free”
According to him, “election is not a do or die affair, the supporters of these politicians have taken it to a point that they must get it at all times and most of the people they use are youths. Youths have become tools especially when they are induced financially.”