As part of its pre-election activities and advocacy for a credible, peaceful and citizens’ driven governorship elections in Ekiti State, Yiaga Africa has called on leadership of the Nigerian Union of Journalists and media cohort in the state to ensure fair, accurate and objective reportage of the upcoming Governorship election. This was revealed during a one-day media roundtable held in Ado-Ekiti on Thursday, 24th of June, to build collaboration with the media on accurate and data-driven reportage of the entire electoral process.
The meeting led by Yiaga Africa’s Watching The Vote Board Member, Ezenwa Nwagwu saw journalists from across the state converging to chart pathways to build citizens’ confidence by providing credible information about the electoral process. According to Nwagwu, there is a need to consolidate democracy, and that cannot be attained in isolation of the media whose watchdog role in society remains fundamental. He urged journalists to report accurately, objectively and fairly, the electoral process no matter whose ox is gored.
He said having built a movement of citizens committed to credible elections, Yiaga Africa wants to build a cohort of journalists that will report the election with utmost integrity.
“Yiaga Africa in the execution of its mandate does not sweep any electoral infraction under the carpet. We are to detect fraud and other malpractices in the electoral process. We don’t cover such things, rather we tell the whole world,” he said.
Nwagwu further explained that in a bid to achieve this, Yiaga Africa is partnering with key electoral stakeholders such as INEC, media, civil society organisations, political parties, security agencies among others to prepare them for the forthcoming Ekiti governorship election scheduled for June 18, 2022.
“Our task as a reputable election observer group is to ensure that we build confidence in the citizens and let them be rest assured that their votes will count. However, Nigerian democracy is making progress and our role as stakeholders is to continue to inspire confidence in the citizens and let them know that the best form of government is democracy, despite all the challenges,” he said.
Also speaking during the roundtable, Yiaga Africa’s Head of Knowledge Management and Learning, Safiya Bichi said Yiaga Africa’s observation of the pre-election period environment will involve the deployment of 24 Long-Term Observers across all the 16 LGAs in the states. According to her, the Long-Term Observers will track and report on governments’ response to the COVID-19 pandemic, activities of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), National Orientation Agency (NOA), Political Parties, Security Agencies and the involvement of Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) in the electoral process as well as tracking and reporting early warning signs for electoral violence.
She said, “information from the pre-election environment will enable Yiaga Africa to build early warning systems to prevent issues that will impact negatively on the election.”
In his own remark, Head of Elections, Paul James said that for the Election Day observation, Yiaga Africa’s Watching the Vote will be using an advanced election day observation methodology called the Parallel Vote Tabulation (PVT). He added that the PVT is an election day observation methodology that leverages statistics and technology for the observation of the process of voting and counting and tallying of results.
According to him, Citizen observers will be deployed to randomly sampled polling units to collect data on the conduct of elections and official polling unit level results.
“With the results assembled from the sampled polling units, a citizen observer group can release projected estimates and verify the accuracy of results declared by the election management body. Using this methodology, observer reports are sent via SMS to a central database which enables WTV to analyse and share timely findings on the conduct of the election in near real-time”, he said.
Chairman of the Nigerian Union of Journalists Rotimi Ojomoyela commended Yiaga Africa’s effort saying the intervention is timely. He revealed that the Union is putting everything in place to fight fake news in the state. He urged Yiaga Africa to extend the media training to discuss the new electoral laws in order to educate journalists ahead of the polls.
Similarly, Chairperson of National Association of Women Journalists (NAWOJ) in the state, Fatima Bello encouraged further education against vote buying and selling in the state.