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Kogi/Bayelsa polls: CSOs doing more voter education than INEC and NOA - YIAGA AFRICA

Dakarai

Oct. 17, 2019

- Electoral activities by all stakeholders are building momentum in Kogi and Bayelsa states
- Both states are preparing for governorship elections on Saturday, November 16
- YIAGA AFRICA’s Watching The Vote is at the forefront of voter education campaigns in both states
YIAGA AFRICA’s Watching The Vote long term observers in Kogi and Bayelsa have started sending in their reports of the pre-election environment in both states.
The reports are based on INEC’s preparedness, political campaigns, voter education and participation of marginalized groups, distribution of permanent voter cards, political parties campaigns, and early warning signs of electoral violence.
The observers specifically reported cases of voter inducement in at least 1 in every 3 local government areas of the 21 LGAs in Kogi state, and in all the LGAs in Bayelsa states.
The observers say they witnessed or heard of cases of voter inducement in Kolokuma/Opokuma, Southern Ijaw, Yenagoa, Brass, Ogbia, Nembe and Sagbama LGA in Bayelsa state and in Adavi, Ogori Mangogo, Okehi, Okene, Bassa, Ibaji, Idah, Kabba/Bunu and Kogi K.K LGA in Kogi state.
Below are their recommendations to address the issues:
1. Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC)
a. INEC should ensure inclusion, especially of all marginalized groups, there is a need for a more proactive and targeted communication using different channels of communication on the electoral process.
b. The gubernatorial elections will be having a large number of political parties contesting (23 in Kogi and 45 in Bayelsa), this may increase pressure on INEC and more importantly on polling officials on election day. INEC should, therefore, beef up its oversight and monitoring mechanisms that will further strengthen and ensure compliance to the electoral laws and guidelines, while avoiding unnecessary postponements of polls.
c. INEC should come up with a robust mechanism and collaborate with both state and non-state actors to curb the menace of buying and selling of PVCs and other forms of voter inducement.
Security Agencies
a. Security agencies should be more intentional in addressing early signs of violence (hate speech, physical attacks, communal crises, voter inducements) and other criminal activities ongoing in the pre-election environment.
b. Security agencies should engage in active engagement and communications with citizens on the principles regulating security deployment and its operations ahead of the election.
Political Parties
a. Political party candidates and supporters should ensure they promote unity and peaceful election by refraining from any form of physical or verbal attacks on opponents or their supporters.
b. Political parties should invest in getting out votes and mobilizing voters to turn out peacefully to vote and not delve into undemocratic ways (buying of PVCs and inducing voters) of winning elections.
c. All political parties, especially in Kogi state should increase their activities of engaging voters with their policy plan while soliciting their support and votes.
Citizens
a. The election is about Nigerians, every Nigerian has a role to play to promote peaceful elections.
b. Voters should get ready to vote with their PVCs and not sell it for short-time gain.
The APC chieftain specifically accused the governor of the state, Seriake Dickson of being behind the plot.
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