…opens 500, 000 data receiving centre for 2019 general elections
By Gabriel Ewepu
ABUJA- WITH 24 hours to the general elections an election observer and non-partisan organization, YIAGA AFRICA Watching The Vote (WTV), has commended the signing of the second peace pact by presidential candidates of the various political parties and also called for strict compliance with the signing.
This was stated by the Executive Director, YIAGA AFRICA, Samson Itodo, at the official launch of the 500, 000 Data receiving Centre for the 2019 general elections at the Transcorp Hilton in Abuja.
Itodo said the most important part of the peace pact is for presidential candidates and political parties to ensure violence-free elections before, during and after, and if they doubt the results they should simply go to court.
He said: “YIAGA AFRICA welcomes the signing of the peace pact. We are very excited that to see that the main stakeholders actually signed the peace pact which goes to show that they are committed to peaceful and credible elections.
“But there is one thing to sign the peace pact but there is another to achieve the goals to ensure that there is no violence. The candidates need to go beyond the peace pact; demonstrating they hold peaceful elections by calling on their supporters to refrain from every form of violence in the forthcoming elections.
“They themselves should refrain from violence in this forthcoming elections, hate speech and incisive statements. They must also resort to civil and legal means of election dispute resolution in the event they have any reason to doubt the outcome of this election.
“If you don’t accept the outcome of the election please go to the court but do not go to the streets heating the polity and taking to violence because it will lead to our own underdevelopment as a our country.”
Speaking on YIAGA AFRICA’s position on the elections he said, “Our stand is citizens should go out and cast their votes, vote and wait at the polling stations to protect their vote, and when we say protect your vote we are saying stand there and make sure the votes are counted and after they are counted follow the results to the collation centre because the only anti-rigging and effective rigging mechanism we have in this election is citizens, and so protect your vote but do not take arms against the state.
However he also added that, “And when we say make your vote count or mandate protection we are not saying your vote, supporter or candidate must win. We are not saying your vote counts do not mean your candidate or party actually won.
“Votes can count and your candidate can lose, but what is important is the process free and fair, and when you know you have lost please accept the outcome and if you have any reasons to doubt the outcome go to the court.”
Meanwhile, he expressed concern over the outbreak of fire at the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, facilities, where materials for elections are burnt.
“YIAGA Watching the Votes, we have raised our concerns on this trend of fire outbreak and we are glad to see that the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, taking bold steps to ensure that this election is not disrupted or postponed in a way.
“We will continue to encourage that and continue to support the INEC but we hope that this does not happen again. So the security agencies should beef up security on the INEC’s assets and making sure that materials and personnel are protected”, he stated.
Speaking on the essence of the YIAGA AFRICA Watching the Votes Data Centre ahead of the 2019 general elections, WTV Project Director, Cynthia Mbamalu, explained that over 500, 000 unique information will be received at the data centre from their observers already deployed to the field.
“For Watching The Votes, WTV, this is the data centre we will be receiving over 500, 000 unique information coming from the field, and why I said 500, 000 is because we have currently 3, 906 observers deployed across board. The breakdown of this number shows that for our polling units stationary observers we have 3, 020 in our sample we have 1, 515 units across every local government areas in Nigeria.
“We are also doing a pilot observation where have 23 points in Abuja, and 46 observers deployed there. So we have 3,076 stationary observers that will be there from morning to the end of close of polls and posting of results at the polling units.
“We have mobile observers who would be rovering round each state, and 822 across the states and eight special working group members here in Abuja. What the observers are doing on Election Day, from the beginning of the polls, arrival and movement of polling units they start sending in messages, and they have check list they have being retrained on how to use that sending in messages to this data base here. The analyses are done here. We have our data clerks who are 94 in number who will be reaching our observers on the field.
“We will be using the Parallel Vote Tabulation, PVT, and we have assured Nigerians that if we observe any flaw, malpractice or fraud we will expose that because our responsibility is to the Nigerian people. There will be update on the election process and conduct of INEC officials and security personnel.
“We assure that Nigerians will have access to the information from the data centre because we will use our social media platform and hold media briefing, infograghics, and our reports. We have also invited political parties to come to our data centre to see what we do. We appeal to security personnel to protect observers and facilitate their work”, Mbamalu said.
She also appealed to security agencies to provide adequate protection for observers that would help facilitate their assignment.