In a bid to document the lessons, successes and challenges experienced during the Anambra governorship election, Yiaga Africa’s Elections Team conducted a post-election debrief with its observers to chart pathways for an improved electoral process. The debrief which was held in Awka, the Anambra state capital, provided an opportunity for its Watching The Vote State Focal Points and Local Government Supervisors to share their feedback on the elections.
In her remark, Yiaga Africa’s Head of Research, Knowledge Management and Learning, Safiya Bichi said that the purpose of the post-election debrief is to identify the team’s experiences, successes, challenges and chart pathways to ensure an improved election observation and by extension, better elections in Anambra State. She said the essence is also to strengthen partnership between the organization and citizen observers, as the organization continues to build the largest citizens’ movement committed to credible elections.
The engagement also provided an opportunity for the team to assess the entire electoral process, while recommending ways to improve the process in the future. She said lessons learnt from Anambra will enable better plans, adding that Yiaga Africa is open to recommendation from citizen observers for more improved election observation.
Also speaking during the post-election debrief, Yiaga Africa’s Board Member, Ezenwa Nwagwu commended the effort and sacrifice of the Local Government Supervisors who recruited and ensured deployment of 500 citizen observers for the Anambra Governorship elections. Ezenwa challenged the supervisors who also observed the pre-election environment and served as mobile observers on election day to transition from election observation to monitoring governance of Anambra state, in order to ensure the government of the state fulfill their promises.
According to him, Yiaga Africa through its Watching The Vote Project has built the leadership capacity of citizen observers and it is thus time for them to exhibit leadership qualities by building movements within their communities.
“The Anambra election experience will mean nothing if citizens do not transition to watching governance”, he said.
He concluded by urging observers to reflect on themselves and their role in ensuring a better Anambra state, saying “leadership is the ability to provide solutions rather than complaining”.
Some of the LGA supervisors who spoke raised challenges of insecurity and uncertainties around the elections which to them may have contributed to the low turnout of the process. Some observers also decried the malfunctioning of the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) which may have disenfranchised voters during the elections. According to the LGA Supervisor of Orumba South, there was just one INEC official in many polling units in the LGA. This made it almost impossible to manage the process as prospective voters got frustrated and left due to the slow pace of the process.
In her contribution, the LGA Supervisor for Ihiala narrated her near-death experience with unknown gunmen suspected to be members of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) a few days before the governorship elections. She also revealed how two polling unit observers were abducted after attending Yiaga Africa’s election day observation training.
Other team members shared their success stories, challenges and lessons learnt during the process. They lauded the efforts of Yiaga Africa in scaling the engagement process to include security threat analysis which helped observers in identifying hotspots and taking precautionary measures before, during and after elections. The team also recommended all round voter education, improved security and better logistics management to further boost citizens confidence to participate in the process.