Inspite of the numerous concerns identified ahead of tomorrow’s governorship election in Bayelsa State, a non-governmental organisation (NGO), YIAGA Africa, has urged the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), security agencies, political parties and citizens to play their part in ensuring a peaceful, credible and conclusive process.
YIAGA gave this advice during the presentation of its Watch the Vote (WTC) pre-election statement on the 2019 Bayelsa governorship election yesterday in Yenogoa, the state capital.
The group said it had deployed 500 Parallel Vote Tabulation (PVT) observers in the eight local government areas, 21 mobile observers and eight collation centre observers to provide a comprehensive and accurate assessment of tomorrow’s exercise.
The statement by the Chairman of its Bayelsa Observer Mission, Dr. Aisha Abdullahi; co-Chair, Ezenwa Nwagwu and Project Director, Cynthia Mbamalu, said the group would be able to estimate the statewide result of the election, based on official results from a representative sampling of polling units that it would expose any anomaly noticed after the announcement of official results by INEC.
It said: “If INEC’s official results fall within YIAGA Africa’s estimated range, then the public, political parties and candidates should have confidence that the official results reflect the ballots cast at the polling units. If the announced official results do not reflect the ballot cast, YIAGA Africa will expose it.”
The NGO said, as part of its efforts to deepen electoral integrity, it commenced its pre-election observation from September with 21 long-term observers deployed across the eight local councils.
It said some of the emerging concerns noticed ahead of tomorrow’s exercise include: high security threats, recruitment of thugs and arms stockpiling, buying of Permanent Voters Cards (PVCs) and vote buying, community collusion, displacement of voters due to flooding and logistical concerns.
The group urged INEC to continue to act with utmost professionalism and impartiality.
It also enjoined security agencies to address early warning signs of violence in a professional and civil manner, to avoid escalation or spillover on election day.
YIAGA Africa also warned political parties, candidates and their supporters to show commitment to electoral accountability, by respecting the rules governing the conduct of the exercise and refrain from deploying violence and to win the election at all costs.
The group said its WTV observers were carefully recruited according to established criteria and carefully trained to ensure non-partisanship and independence.