Metro Nigeria Decides 2019

Election observer, YIAGA, decries drop in voter turnout

Election observer group, Youth Initiative for Advocacy, Growth and Advancement (YIAGA), in its analysis of Saturday’s election, made a comparison with the 2015 general election.

YIAGA revealed that the percentage of voters that headed to the polls on Saturday was less than the percentage that voted in 2015.

In its preliminary report signed by its Communications Officer, Moshood Isah, which was released in Abuja on Sunday, the group said this reflects a growing sense of disconnect between the political class and the masses.

YIAGA said it deployed 3,906 observers throughout the country including 3,030 parallel vote tabulation observers who were deployed early in the morning in pairs to a random, representative statistical sample of 1,515 polling units where they remained throughout the day.

The report reads in part, “YIAGA AFRICA notes that turnout for the 2019 elections falls below the bar set in 2015. This reflects the growing sense of disconnect between the Nigerian people and the political elite.

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“YIAGA AFRICA calls on all major political parties, regardless of the outcome of the polls, to review their platforms and communication strategies to better align their policies and actions with the interests of their constituency: the Nigerian public.

“YIAGA AFRICA also encourages parties to deepen their internal party democracy through the organization of more transparent and open primaries and to make active efforts to attract and promote candidates who better reflect Nigeria’s diverse population, including youth, women and PWD candidates. Candidates should emerge as through an open competition between ideas and policies rather than through an auction to the highest bidder.”

Speaking on the performance of the Independent National Electoral Commission, the group termed it as lower than previous years.

It said when the commission postponed elections by a week, most Nigerians expected that INEC would be more prepared but Saturday’s elections was characterised by late arrival of electoral officials, materials and subsequently late voting.

YIAGA added, “The February 23 Presidential election was characterised by many of the same shortcomings that have marred previous national elections in Nigeria. As in past elections, INEC’s logistical challenges and misconduct by political parties undermined the integrity of elections and the ability of some citizens to vote.

“These issues do not necessarily undermine the overall credibility of the process, but Nigeria missed an opportunity to improve the quality of its elections as compared to 2015 national elections. These were not the elections Nigerians wanted; they were not the elections Nigerians expected; and, most importantly, they were not the elections Nigerians deserved.

“Our election commission must improve its capacity to deliver credible elections and our political parties must play according to the rules. Failure to do so could fundamentally threaten our democracy.”

While speaking on its observations in South-East and the South-South geopolitical zones, YIAGA noticed a repeat of same mistakes as in 2015, where voting did not start on time.

It said, “As of 7.30 am, YIAGA AFRICA WTV observers reported that INEC officials had arrived at 31 per cent of polling units. As of 10:00 am, 41 per cent of polling units had opened across the country.

“By 11.30 am, 74 per cent of polling units had opened nationally. As was the case in 2011 and 2015, polling units in the South-East and South-South opened later than in other geopolitical zones. At 11.30 am, YIAGA AFRICA WTV observers reported that 74 per cent of polling units had opened as of 11.30 am.”

By Precious Akpadaka…

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