Yiaga Africa has charged the leadership of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and the media in Anambra State to address the poor political culture which led to the abysmally low turnout in the just concluded November 6th Governorship elections in the State.
The charge was given by Ezenwa Nwagwu, a member of the board of Yiaga Africa’s Watching The Vote; a citizens movement committed to credible elections on Tuesday during the post-election reflection meeting with CSOs and media in Awka. Nwagwu, while lamenting the poor attitude of citizens towards elections and governance, said that CSOs and media must take responsibility for bridging the disconnect between the government and citizens in the state.
Nwagwu added that the ugly trend of low voter turnout was not necessarily occasioned by insecurity that had always heralded elections in the past, but the growing disconnect between the government and the masses.
“Election is over, now we have to watch governance and the only way to do that is to clearly design pathways through which we can hold the government accountable. One of the ways is for the citizens to engage the government with the budget process, which is how the government estimates what it uses the people’s resources to do for them every year”, he said.
In her remark, Yiaga Africa’s Head of Knowledge Management and Learning, Safiya Bichi said that the post-election reflection meeting provides an opportunity for an external audit of the electoral process in the state. She added that CSOs and the media play a critical role in the electoral process and this engagement will help chart pathways and recommendations for a better electoral process in Nigeria.
Speaking about their efforts before the election, a representative of Joint National Association of Persons With Disability (JONAPWD) said the group supported the voter registration of its members, deploying representatives to every Local Government office. He said the group trained their members on how to use braille ballot for visually-impaired persons; however, he lamented that braille ballots were not deployed to many polling units during the election in Anambra state.
Also, the Social and Integral Development Center (SIDEC) which is supported by the Cleen Foundation revealed how the organization conducted Security Threat Assessments before the Anambra Governorship. The group identified flashpoints while conducting social media campaigns to douse fears of citizens to come out and vote on election day.
The Secretary of the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ),Anambra state chapter, Emma Udeagha shared the effort of the media in disseminating information on early warning signals, voter education and other efforts geared towards a credible election. He said NUJ was proactive in articulating programs that can change behavior peculiar i.e poor political culture. “The effort media played during the election helped to shape the overall outcome of the election”, he said.
Other organisations represented at the post-election engagement include Catch Them Young initiative; the conveners of Vote Not Fight in the state, Stop Violence Against Women in Politics, Anambra, Justice Development and Peace Commission (JDPC) amongst others.