The Ekiti Governorship election may have been won and lost but Yiaga Africa has charged residents of the state to lead a drive towards solution activism rather than lament over challenges of democracy. This charge was made on Monday by Board member of Yiaga Africa, Ezenwa Nwagwu during a post-election debrief meeting with the leadership of the Civil Society Organisation and the media in Ado-Ekiti.
Speaking during the meeting, Ezenwa said that the post-election engagement with election stakeholders is not a meeting of lamentation but an opportunity to reflect on the successes, challenges and lessons learnt from the Ekiti election and explore pathways to providing solutions to tackle the challenges experienced during the election. According to him, the meeting will further assess impressions from the Ekiti elections in relation to citizens participation and perception on electoral integrity, elections security and conduct of INEC.
He added that the Ekiti Governorship election has posed a new challenge to CSOs and with the quality of minds in the sector, new ways to tackle emerging challenges of vote buying in our elections must be devised.
“What Yiaga Africa is doing is what we call, political socio-reverse engineering to reflect on what we can to tackle vote buying both from moral and legal grounds,” he said.
He commended the effort of CSO and media in educating citizens and campaigning against voter inducement while also commending the technological interventions Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) which has returned the power of the vote to the people.
He concluded by cautioning CSOs to never excuse electoral crime no matter how subtle, saying poverty should never be a justification for vote buying and selling. He further advised that CSOs should lead post-election engagements around budget tracking and demanding accountability.
The meeting had in attendance the Chairman of the Coalition of Ekiti Civil Society Organisation, (COESCO) Prof Christopher Oluwadare; Chairman of the Nigerian Union of Journalist (NUJ) Ekiti State chapter, Rotimi Ojomoyel and the Chairperson of National Association of Women Journalists (NAWOJ) Fatima Bello amongst other CSO representatives who reflected on their partnership in the election and identify opportunities for sustainable electoral reforms.
In his reaction, the Chairman of COESCO, Professor Oluwadare revealed that the coalition is set to commence an online post-election survey to enable citizens access the quality of the just concluded election while proffering recommendations to improve citizens participation in the process. He also said in a bid to further educate citizens on the electoral process, CSOs in the state will commence the mainstreaming of electoral education starting with analysis of the 2022 Electoral Act. He added CSOs in the state will intensify its engagement with INEC and security agencies in a bid to ensure their recommendations were implemented, especially ensuring inclusion and participation of People With Disability.
The State Chairperson of NAWOJ, Fatima Bello commended Yiaga Africa for providing the platform for election discussion. She urged the CSO community to continue to engage in constructive discussion on electoral reform in order to increase citizens participation in the process.
In his contributions, the NUJ State Chairman, Rotimi Ojomoyela said that the media has a fundamental role to play in boosting citizens participation in elections. While lamenting the role poverty played in voter inducement, he said if the media and CSOs make a concerted effort in demanding good governance and ensuring dividends of democracy, this according to him will reduce poverty and encourage informed citizens participation.
He also revealed that the NUJ in Ekiti state have developed an initiative called “manifesto to commitment”, saying the initiative is aimed to remind Governors and other leaders of their electoral promises and make sure they fulfill it.