Kogi/Bayelsa Polls: Voter Inducement on the Prowl – YIAGA Pre-election Report Reveals
Electoral activities by all stakeholders, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), political parties, Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and political associations are now building momentum. Recall that YIAGA AFRICA’s Watching The Vote deployed Long Term Observers to all Local Government Ares in both Kogi and Bayelsa State to observe the pre-election environment. Below is the summary of the findings, based on INEC’s preparedness, political campaigns, voter education and participation of marginalized groups, and early warning signs of electoral violence.
1. INEC Preparatory Activities: The WTV LTOs have monitored the pre-election environment relating to the activities of INEC from 9th November 2018 to the last week of the pre-election observation from 9th September to October 3rd, 2019. The activities of INEC in the first preelection observation was directly witnessed and heard across the 21 LGAs in Kogi state and 8 LGAs in Bayelsa state.
2. Distribution of Permanent Voter Cards: As part of the preparatory activities for elections, the Electoral Commission stated that the distribution of Permanent Voters Cards (PVCs) will commence on 2nd September 2019, in both Bayelsa and Kogi state. In addition, the PVCs would be available for collection at the registration areas or wards of all the Local Government Areas (LGAs) in the states. WTV findings for this reporting period show that PVCs distribution is currently ongoing in all the LGAs in both Bayelsa and Bayelsa state.
3. Voter Education and Information: WTV findings show that voter education activities were conducted by INEC, National Orientation Agency (NOA) and Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) across the state. The findings from Bayelsa state reveals that voter education activities were conducted by INEC, NOA and CSO in 50% ,80% and 85% LGAs respectively, and in Kogi state, voter education activities were conducted by INEC in %58 of LGAs, by NOA in %29 of LGAs and by CSO in %81 LGAs Most notably, voter education messages are targeted at marginalized groups like women and People Living with Disabilities (PWDs) was poor across the states, however, this was measurable for youth (50% by INEC and 60% by CSOs in Bayelsa state).
4. Political Party Campaign Activities: Political party activities especially campaign rallies are minimal in Kogi state, as none of the popular political parties in the state (ADC, APC, PDP, SDP) seem not to be engaging voters. WTV Kogi report shows that only 38 %, 1% and 23%, of LTOs either witnessed or heard of rallies conducted by ADC, APC and PDP, respectively. And in Bayelsa state, 65% , 65% ,5%, and 5% of LTOs either witnessed or heard of rallies conducted by the same ADC, APC and PDP, as well as SDP.
5. Voter Inducement: Generally, voter inducement was reported in at least 1 in every 3 LGAs of the 21 LGAs in Kogi state, and in all the LGAs in Bayelsa states. WTV LTOs 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.
Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
– 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.
– 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.
– 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 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.
– 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 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.
– 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.
– All political parties, especially in Kogi state should increase their activities of engaging voters with their policy plan while soliciting their support and votes.
– The election is about Nigerians, every Nigerian has a role to play to promote peaceful elections.
– Voters should get ready to vote with their PVCs and not sell it for short-time gain.
Media Officer | YIAGA AFRICA