By Vincent Ujumadu
THE Youth Initiative for Advocacy, Growth and Advancement (YIAGA), an election monitoring group, has deployed 27 long-term observers under its WatchingTheVote (WTV) project in all the 21 local government areas of Anambra State, to observe the pre-election environment ahead of the November 18 poll.
The programme director of YIAGA, Mrs. Cynthia Mbamalu said in a statement in Awka, yesterday, that the observers would use a checklist that was carefully designed to cover all aspects of the pre-election phase.
According to her, the observers would carry out the monitoring exercise until the Election Day, adding that they would be reporting on election activities of the Independent National Electoral Commission, (INEC), voter education activities by National Orientation Agency (NOA) and other Civil Society Organizations, CSOs.
She said the observers would also monitor campaign activities by the various political parties and possible violence, explaining that they would report their findings via coded text messaging to WTV database using their mobile phones.
Mbamalu said: “At YIAGA, we believe and promote social justice and inclusiveness, thus campaigns targeted specifically at youths, women, and people with disabilities (PWDs) will be followed closely and duly reported by observers during the pre-election period. Even as political parties launch their campaigns across the state, our election observers are interested in their campaigns and rallies, while also observing if youths, women, and PWDs are also in anyway canvassing for votes.”
She said that while getting ready to deploy observers for the elections proper, YIAGA would track early warning signals and any form of incident that could hinder the successful conduct of the elections. Other things the group would look out for, she added, include hate speech campaigns, intimidation and harassment of any electoral stakeholder, as well as attacks on media and INEC officials.
They would also report government restrictions on political activities or military influx into the state, adding that this would enable YIAGA to verify and report to relevant authorities for proper action.