Yiaga Africa to deploy 1188 Observers for Ondo, Edo polls

Yiaga Africa to deploy 1188 Observers for Ondo, Edo polls

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Yiaga Africa, Civil Society Organisation is set to deploy no fewer than 1188 Observers to monitor the forthcoming Governorship elections in Edo and Ondo States.

The Organization revealed during a virtual (online) meeting with media personnel in both States on Saturday.

A breakdown of how the Organization will Observe the exercise on election Day, Yiaga Africa’s Head of election project, Paul James, said that they will be using an advanced election day observation methodology called the Parallel Vote Tabulation (PVT).

He stated that 500 observers will be assigned to 250 polling units on addition to 24 Long Term Observers, and 18 Local Government Areas collation observers and the State Focal Point in Edo State.

For Ondo State, Mr Paul said, we will deploy 600 polling unit observers, 27 Long Term Observers, 18 LGA collation observers, and the State Focal Point.

Director of Programmes Cynthia Mbamalu, said in addition, Yiaga Africa will be observing the pre-election environment starting from the political party primaries and government response to COVID-19.

She listed physical observation, interviews and desk reviews will be adopted to provide information on the conduct of political party primaries while Long Term Observers will be assigned to all Local Government Areas in the State to observe and report pre-election activities like activities of INEC, voter education government response to COVID-19 and other pre-election activities.

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The pre-election observation according to her, will also focus on activities of Women, Youth and People with Disability (PWD) while extensive violence monitoring using violent indicators and reporting to security agencies to checkmate possible electoral violence, will receive attention.

Mbamalu, stated that the team will constantly engage critical stakeholders like the Nigerian Police, Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps, Traditional Leaders and other Civil society organisations. This amongst others will contribute to the organisation’s effort to minimize electoral violence.

During the meeting led by Executive Director, Samson Itodo, Director of Programmes, Cynthia Mbamalu and Head of Election Paul James, the organisation revealed that, it’s Watching The Vote (WTV) election project is a comprehensive observation of the electoral process which includes the observation of the political party primaries, pre-election environment in all Local government areas and the election day observation.

Samson Itodo said, WTV aims to provide timely and accurate information about the election process to voters and stakeholders.

The measure will ensure that Citizens’ votes count by deterring fraud and manipulation during the conduct of elections and collation of results, thereby building Citizens confidence in the process.

Itodo also revealed that the WTV election project is a movement of Citizens committed to credible elections saying the movement will continue to use credible data to counter misinformation while also improving quality of election reporting.

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He said the recruitment process for governance is subject to credible elections which will lead to process.

According to him, engaging the media is strategic to build partnership and collaborations in order to disseminate credible information.

“Yiaga Africa is also engaging the Independent National Electoral Commission’s policies for the conduct of elections amidst COVID-19 to ensure the election is inclusive and meets the test of integrity”, he said.

The experiences of its observation of previous elections in Kogi, Bayelsa and the 2019 elections, according to him, will serve as a lesson to improve on the quality of the September and October governorship elections in Edo and Ondo States.

He said: “As an organization that promotes inclusivity, we will be very much be inclusive when it comes to involving people with disability and advocate for their rights especially during these elections.

“The oversight we provide on the electoral process is what account for the minimal level of integrity in the electoral process. We have been involved in fashioning out electoral guidelines and policies. We will continue to advocate that stakeholders should contribute to this process to ensure the process is not manipulated due to COVID-19 realities.”

The media team from Edo and Ondo States lauded the initiative saying it was a timely meeting which will enhance media reportage of elections.

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The engagement with journalists from different media organizations on Yiaga Africa’s election project; Watching The Vote (WTV) and its plans for the upcoming elections as Citizens vote amidst COVID-19, dovetailed into vital issues bothering on money politics, vote buying, party primaries, electoral violence amongst other issues that could hinder credible elections.

Other issues raised have to do with INEC policy on voting amidst COVID-19 and ensuring that citizens including people living with disability do not get disenfranchised during this period.

They tasked members of the organization to match words with action as they look forward to a healthy collaboration ahead of the upcoming polls.

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