Nigeria Decides2023: YIAGA Africa Deploys  3,836 Obervers, Worries Over Possible Vote Trading 



Yiaga Africa has hinted that it would deploy a total of 3,836 observers for the Saturday, February 25,202 Presidential election.

YIAGA expressed concern that the  current Naira redesign policy aimed at eliminating vote buying on election has resulted in a shortage of cash making it difficult for citizens to meet basic domestic needs. Yiaga Africa is concerned the negative impact of the policy may encourage voters to sell their votes in exchange for the scarce Naira notes.
Yiaga Africa WTV observed ongoing activities by INEC across the local government areas in the state. The long-term observers reported the deployment of nonsensitive materials across the LGAs observed and  the training of election officials. In addition, the observers reported the commencement of the sorting and deployment of sensitive materials from Central Bank of Nigeria offices in the State capitals to the LGAs in respective states.
” As of 22 February 2023, Yiaga Africa received reports from; Ondo, Oyo, Ekiti, Yobe, Enugu, Ekiti and Zamfara states where the deployment of sensitive materials from CBN to the LGAs had commenced. Compared to previous general, this is a marked improvement. Reports from other states indicate the deployment of sensitive materials to the LGAs will commence on the 23rd February 2023.” the statement  reads  in part
The international election monitoring group  also  restated  its commitment to the objective, non-partisan and credible observation of the election.
In the pre-election report signed by Dr Hussaini Abdu,                                  Chair, Watching The Vote Working Group and Samson Itodo ,the Executive Director, Yiaga Africa,the group said the figure                                          comprised of 3,014 stationary Parallel Vote Tabulation (PVT) observers deployed to a random representative statistical sample of 1,507 polling units; 822 roving observers across the 774 LGAs and 36 states.
“This deployment will enable Yiaga Africa to provide the most timely and accurate information on the election process. Based on reports from its observers in the sampled polling units Yiaga Africa will also provide an independent projection of voter turnout and will be able to project the vote shares that each party should receive within a narrow estimated range.
” If the official results fall within Yiaga Africa’s estimated ranges, then the public, political parties and candidates should have confidence in the ballots cast at the polling units. Only INEC, however, has the legal mandate to announce the election results.
“As soon as INEC announces the official results, Yiaga Africa will follow up with a result verification press conference to share its own statement on the accuracy of the election results and will publicize these projections.

“Utilizing information communications technology and statistical principles, PVT is the gold standard for citizen election observation and has been utilized throughout Africa and the world. Yiaga Africa has also deployed this methodology in the 2019 presidential election and in eleven (11) off-cycle gubernatorial elections in Nigeria.

It added  that  eight  Working Group members who run real-time election analysis. Yiaga Africa will also deploy observers to the LGA and State Results Collation Centres in every state. Our observers will observe the entire election day process from set-up of the polling units through the announcement, posting of the official results and uploading of the polling units to the INEC Result Viewing Portal. The observers will send in periodic reports to the Watching the Vote National Data Centre located in the Transcorp Hilton in Abuja where they will be processed and analysed.
It had deployed 822 Long Term Observers (LTOs) in all 774 Local Government Areas (LGA) of Nigeria from November 2022 to February 2023 who monitored political developments and preparations for the general elections. A detailed report from the  observation periods is available on Yiaga Africa’s website
“The pre-election observation revealed marked improvement in the logistics planning as it relates to the production and deployment of election materials by INEC amidst perennial challenges like insecurity and emerging threats like the scarcity of the Naira notes. Notably, INEC’s decision to produce election materials in-country is commendable. A summary of the highlights of the findings from that observation includes;

PVC Collection Challenges and Data for Polling Unit level Collection rate : Yiaga Africa notes that the litany of complaints about uncollected PVCs largely due to the unavailability of the cards are worrisome. Yiaga Africa is concerned that a good number of eligible voters may be disenfranchised for no fault of theirs. In addition, the delay in releasing the final figure of collected PVCs is per polling unit nationwide. The data on PVCs collected per polling unit is important in determining the conclusiveness of the election as INEC expects to use the data in the application of the margin of lead principle.

It also worried that the relocation of Voters to New Polling Units May lead to posible disenfranchisement:

The mock accreditation revealed that, in an attempt by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to decongest some of its oversized polling units, the commission relocated voters to new polling units. However, voters approached their polling units for mock accreditation before realizing they have been relocated to new polling units. While we commend the commission’s recent efforts by providing information on how voters can identify their polling units, we are concerned that some affected voters may not identify their voting locations on or before election day. Yiaga Africa  will constitute panic, agitations and potential disenfranchisement on election day.

.Economic Hardship May Impact on Citizens’ Participation: Barely 48 hours to the Presidential elections, Nigerians are experiencing untold economic hardship caused by the recent scarcity of new naira notes and unending fuel scarcity. This has led to a series of protests in different parts of the country.  This growing discontent amongst citizens may lead to voter apathy in the form of “protest” which will eventually lead to low voter turnouts. We are also worried that citizens facing these forms of adversities going into the election may be unable to make informed choices at the polls.

Although turnout for the process was low, we commend the Independent National Electoral Commission for conducting a mock accreditation to test the functionality of the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS). The commission should urgently address the challenges witnessed during the mock accreditation to ensure the BVAS device functions optimally across the country on election day.

Security Concerns and Threats to the Conduct of Election: All through the pre-election period, security challenges persisted across several locations. Beyond insurgency, banditry and kidnapping, the prevailing security situation leading to the 2023 Presidential election has been exacerbated  by the tense political atmosphere.

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