Press Release – YIAGA AFRICA on 24 February 2019 presented its preliminary findings on the conduct of the 23 February presidential election to the Nigerian public and assembled media.
According to YIAGA AFRICA , the 23 February presidential election was characterized by many of the same shortcomings that have marred previous national elections in Nigeria. As in past elections, INEC’s logistical challenges resulted in late opening in 59% of polling units that, together with instances of misconduct by political parties in some polling units, compromised the ability of some citizens to vote and undermined public confidence in the process. These issues do not necessarily undermine the overall credibility of the process, according to YIAGA AFRICA, but Nigeria missed an opportunity to improve the quality of its elections.
“These were not the elections Nigerians wanted; they were not the elections Nigerians expected; and, most importantly, they were not the elections Nigerians deserved. Our election commission must improve its capacity to deliver credible elections and our political parties must play according to the rules. Failure to do so could fundamentally threaten our democracy,” said Chair of the WTV Working Group Dr. Hussaini Abdu.
Despite the one week delay, YIAGA AFRICA noted that INEC continued to experience significant logistical challenges on 23 February that resulted in late opening of polling units. YIAGA AFRICA’s Watching the Vote findings showed that polling units opened late throughout the country with only 41% of polling units open as at 10:30 am and with polling units in the South South and South East opening later than polling units in other geopolitical zones. Once polling units opened, most polling units had essential election materials. Smart Card Readers were present in 99% of polling units and were largely used throughout accreditation and voting. However, YIAGA AFRICA is concerned by tally sheet data gathered from its observers indicating that nearly half of voters may have voted with the Smart Card Reader authenticating only their Permanent Voters Card and not their fingerprints. YIAGA AFRICA also notes that counting procedures were not rigorously adhered to in all polling units, and registers with particular concern that results were not publicly posted at the polling unit in 19% of polling units. Finally, YIAGA AFRICA noted that its preliminary estimates for voter turnout indicate that turnout will be lower than in 2015.
YIAGA AFRICA employed the parallel vote tabulation (PVT) methodology – the gold standard for citizen observation. On 23 February WTV deployed 3,030 observers to a representative statistical sample of 1,515 polling units, 46 observers to 23 voting points, and 822 mobile observers located in all 774 LGAs. This strategy enables YIAGA AFRICA to provide timely and accurate information on accreditation, voting, and counting as well as to independently verify the official results of the presidential election as announced by INEC. Immediately after INEC announces the official results for the presidential election, YIAGA AFRICA will hold its own press conference and issue its statement publicizing its independent estimates of the election results. If the announced results reflect the ballots cast at polling units, then we will confirm the outcome. If the announced results have been manipulated and do not match the results posted at polling units, then YIAGA AFRICA will expose this.
YIAGA AFRICA is a non-profit civic hub of changemakers building democratic societies in Africa anchored on the principles of inclusion, justice, rule of law and accountability. The Watching The Vote project is “Driven by Data – For All Nigerians – Beholden to None!”
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