By Gabriel Ewepu – Abuja
A Civil Society Organisation, CSO, YIAGA AFRICA, on Monday, received the commendation of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, over credible election observer role and balanced reportage.
This was made known in a statement signed by the YIAGA AFRICA, which formed part of an address delivered by the Ondo State Resident Electoral Commissioner, Ambassador, Dr. Rufus Olohuntoyin Akeju, during training by YIAGA AFRICA’s Watching The Vote Long Term Observers held in Akure, Ondo State.
According to Akeju the involvement and role played by YIAGA AFRICA despite being a civil society organization in election observation has been acknowledged, which was seen most recently during the governorship elections conducted in Kogi and Bayelsa States.
“The organization is seen to be playing this role effectively as partners to the commission in the onerous task of the consolidation of Nigerian democracy.
“It is our hope that YIAGA AFRICA will partner with the commission for a well-conducted gubernatorial election in Ondo state on 10th October 2020”, he said.
However, he called on YIAGA AFRICA to help as election observers in areas that need immediate improvement in the electoral process, which he provided electoral data about the State, including information about polling units and voting points.
According to him, the state has 3009 polling units, while the 18 Local Government Areas in the state will host 203 Registration Area Centres, and the commission will use the same voter register from during the 2019 elections and pointed that COVID-19 pandemic has hindered Continuous Voters’ Registration (CVR) process.
“We have a total of one million, eight hundred and twenty-two thousand, three hundred, and forty-six (1,822,346) registered voters. Of this figure, a total of one million, four hundred and seventy-eight thousand, four hundred and eighty-six (1,478,486) voters have collected their Permanent Voters Card (PVC) to vote, leaving a total of Three hundred and seventy-two thousand, eight hundred and eighty-eight (372,888) PVCs yet to be collected by their owners,” he disclosed.
But he assured that the Commission currently monitors all pre-election activities by actors and non-actors in the electoral process ahead of the governorship election.
Also to ensure activities are done according to enabling laws, political parties’ constitution, and in accordance with the COVID-19 prevention protocols of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and Presidential Task Force.
He also made it known that there is a readjustment of the timeline on the commencement of polls and other safety precautions to mitigate the effects of the pandemic.
However, he urged YIAGA AFRICA to remain balanced in its report, “Election observers are expected to emphasize on resolving electoral problems rather than apportioning blames”.
“Let your assessment be placed in the proper context and written with care to avoid any misinterpretation. I wish to encourage you to make your statement verifiable and give much adherence to ethics to guarantee your impartiality”, he said.
Earlier speaking the Director of Programmes, YIAGA AFRICA, Cynthia Mbamalu, explained that it was necessary to build a strong partnership with INEC in Ondo State while sharing YIAGA AFRICA’s election observation deployment plan for the elections.
According to Mbamalu YIAGA AFRICA being an accredited observer for the Ondo Governorship election, it is pertinent to build a good relationship with the Commission to promote citizens’ participation and ensure credible elections.
“After observing the political party primaries, we are currently training 27 Long Term Observers who will be deployed across all Local Government Areas in the state to observe and report the pre-election environment”, she said.
For Election Day, she said “Yiaga Africa will deploy 600 observers using a special election observation methodology called the Parallel Vote Tabulation. The goal is to provide timely and precise information on the process and build citizen’s confidence in the electoral process.”
She said the project will also be deploying to all LGA collation centers to observe the process.
“YIAGA AFRICA will be conducting a lot of voter education via various platforms including a weekly radio program which will provide platforms for citizens and stakeholders to engage”.
“YIAGA AFRICA through its Local Government Supervisors is ready to provide support to the commission in conducting voter education at the local government level”, she added.
Meanwhile, as part of its pre-election engagement and collaborative effort for a credible election, the Management of YIAGA AFRICA‘s Watching The Vote project had on Wednesday, August 7th, 2020, paid an advocacy visit to the Resident Electoral Commissioner of Ondo state, Amb. Dr. Rufus Akeju.