By Tom Chiahemen (ABUJA) –
Popular civil society group, Yiaga Africa, has commended the people of Osun State in South-West Nigeria for their resilience and commitment to a non-violent election, encouraging the voters to sustain their participation in the electoral process beyond the elections by holding political parties and candidates accountable for their campaign promises.
In its Process and Results Verification Statement on the just concluded 2022 Osun Gubernatorial Election, Yiaga Africa, a non-profit civic hub of change makers committed to the promotion of democratic governance, human rights and civic engagement, also called on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), to audit the newly created polling units and ensure equitable distribution of voters to the polling units.
“In cases where voters have been allotted to new polling units, INEC should update the voter records on its website and communicate the changes to prevent voter disenfranchisement,” Yiaaga Africa urged in its statement jointly signed by Hussain Abdu (Board Chair) and Samson Itodo (Executive Director) and made available to FRONTVIEW AFRICA on Monday.
While thanking the many Nigerians across the state who volunteered to serve as non-partisan WTV citizen observers on behalf of all the people of Osun, Yiaga Africa commended the dedication of the permanent INEC staff in Abuja and Osun state who organized the election and the commitment of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) members who served as poll officials.
It further thanked other sister election observer groups and the international community for their solidarity and support, expressing its commitment, through the WTV initiative, to promoting more credible elections by providing independent information on the conduct of elections and independently verifying the accuracy of election results.
For the Saturday, July 16 governorship election in Osun state, already won by Senator Ademola Adeleke of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Yiaga Africa said it employed the Parallel Vote Tabulation (PVT) methodology and deployed 500 observers in pairs to a representative random sample of 250 polling units, 32 mobile observers in all 30 local government areas (LGAs) and 30 LGA results collation observers.
“This deployment strategy enabled Yiaga Africa to provide timely and accurate information on the election day process commencing from the set-up, voter accreditation, voting, and counting and to independently verify the official results for the Osun gubernatorial election as announced by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC),” said Adbu and Itodo.
They said the process and results verification statement was based on reports from 247 to 250 (98%) sampled polling units in Osun State.
While commending INEC for the significant improvement in logistics management for the Osun 2022 governorship election, it noted that the personnel and essential materials, such as the Voter Register, BVAS, voting cubicles and ballot boxes, were deployed early in most of the polling units.
The group however condemned the cases of violence and disruption of the voting and results collation process by thugs and hoodlums, especially the violence targeted at NYSC members and INEC staff. Although these cases are isolated, they undermine Nigeria’s electoral reform project.
Yiaga Africa extended its wishes to polling officials who suffered severe injuries due to attacks and violence against polling officials, calling for a thorough investigation into these cases of attack and intimidation against polling officials.
The group had noted in its pre-election observation statements that the Osun Governorship election will be keenly contested and largely determined by swing LGAs and a small margin in the difference of votes between the top contesting parties.
“Yiaga Africa commends the people of Osun for largely conducting themselves peacefully through the election day voting and counting process (and also) commends INEC and the security agencies for ensuring the voters in Osun exercised their franchise in a transparent and secure environment.”
Below is the rest of the statement by Yiaga Africa:
Key Findings on Election Day Process
Yiaga Africa’s WTV observers monitored accreditation, voting and counting at polling units in all 30 LGAs. Yiaga Africa received and confirmed 29 critical incidents. The following are key observations on election day processes.
Set up and opening of polling units
- Early Opening of Polls: Yiaga Africa WTV observed the early arrival of polling officials and materials at polling units across the State. As of 7:30 am, Yiaga Africa WTV observers reported that INEC officials had arrived at 78% of polling units. By 8:30 am, 41% of polling units had commenced accreditation and voting. By 9:00 am 89% of polling units had commenced accreditation and voting. This, however, increased to 96% by 9:30 am. This is consistent with Yiaga Africa’s observation findings in the 2018 elections, where 91% of polling units opened by 9:00 am.
Deployment of the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS)
- The Functionality of the BVAS: Yiaga Africa observed the deployment of the BVAS across the polling units visited. At 23% of polling units, Yiaga Africa observed the deployment of 2 BVAS devices per polling unit. Most of these polling units where 2 BVAS were present had more than 750 registered voters. In 92% of polling units, the BVAS functioned properly. However, in 7% of polling units, the BVAS malfunctioned, and it was fixed and in 1% of the polling units, it malfunctioned and was replaced.
Deployment of INEC Officials, Security Agents and Party Agents
- Deployment of polling officials and women representation: 93% of polling units had more than three polling officials present, and 61% of polling units had at least two female polling officials present while 45% of the presiding officers were women.
- Deployment of Party Agents: The Party agents of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) were seen at 99% of polling units.
- Deployment of security personnel: Security forces were observed at 98% of polling units. In 97% of the polling units, they were professional and non-partisan.
Access to Polling Units, Secrecy of the Ballots and Results Transmission
- Access to polling units: In 28% of polling units, individuals had to climb steps to access polling units, which made it difficult for persons with disability.
- Upholding the Secrecy of Ballots and Attempts to Influence Polling Officials. 93% of polling units were set up so no one could see how the voters marked their ballot papers. Nevertheless, in 7% of polling units, it was possible to see how a voter’s ballot paper was marked when it was put in the ballot box at some point throughout the day. Voters crowded the polling officials in 21% of polling units. In 37% of polling units, party agents were seen within two meters of the voting cubicle of the ballot box. In 19% of polling units, party agents attempted to influence voters and polling officials.
- Polling Units Level Results Transmission : In 83% of polling units, the presiding officer used the BVAS to scan/take a snapshot of the results sheet (Form EC 8A). In 71% of polling units, the presiding officer attempted to transmit/send the result image to the INEC’s online database (IReV)
Critical Incidents Reports
Yiaga Africa received and confirmed 29 critical incident reports from its WTV observers. The incident reports capture instances of infractions that could undermine the electoral process.
- Voter Inducement/Bribery: Yiaga Africa received reports of acts of vote buying perpetrated by agents of the APC and PDP in some polling units. For instance, PU 009, Akinlalu Commercial Grammar School, Ward 01 in Ife North. The party agents strategically positioned themselves by the voting cubicle to see how voters marked their ballots. In PU 003 Opp. At Olomu Mosque in Osogbo, PDP party agents were seen handing out between N2000 and N5000 to induce voters. Also, in Disu Polling Unit 003, ward 7 in Orolu LGA, APC agents were seen distributing N4000 to voters who voted for the party while PDP party agents were seen distributing N2000 to induce voters.
- Secrecy of the Ballots compromised: In Ward 11, Unit 3, Palace Town Hall (old post office Iree) in Boripe, Yiaga Africa observed voters showing how they mark their ballot papers to APC party agents before dropping them in the ballot box.
- BVAS Malfunctioned: In Ife North LGA, PU 001 at St. Raphael Primary School Toro, the BVAS malfunctioned at about 11 am. A request was made for a replacement which came at 3:30pm.
- Voter Intimidation: At Open Space-Under Tree, Ojude Oke, PU 010, Iragbiji Ward 4, Boripe LGA, Thugs associated with the APC threatened to stab any voter who did not vote for the APC. The voters however insisted on casting their votes for the candidate of their choice. Yiaga Africa also received a report from Ogbagba Village, Ward 11, Pu 013 of a thug/cultist affiliated with the PDP coming to disrupt the process. Also, in Alagbede Comp. beside Baptist Pry. School, Ward 05, Unit 007, part agents from APC & PDP were seen intimidating the elderly who were at the polling units to cast their vote.
- Interference by Party Agent: At Afaake Town Hall. PU 003 during voting an APC party agent was seen close to the ballot box folding the ballot papers of some voters after they were done thumbprinting their choice.
Turnout and the Results Projection
Yiaga Africa’s preliminary estimates indicated that turnout for the Osun gubernatorial election will be between 40.0% and 43.0% based on official turnout figures collected from the PVT’s representative statistical sample of polling units across the 30 LGAs in the state. As such, Yiaga Africa can verify that INEC’s official turnout of 42.09% falls within WTV’s estimated range and accurately reflects the turnout of voters.
Based on reports from 98% (247 of 250) of sampled polling units, Yiaga Africa’s statistical analysis shows that the All Progressives Congress (APC) should receive between 45.0% and 49.0% of the vote, People’s Democratic Party (PDP) should receive between 47.8% and 51.8% of the vote, while no other political party should receive more than 1.3% of the vote. The PVT statistical analysis is based on the number of registered voters and not on the number of PVCs collected. Yiaga Africa estimates rejected ballots are between 1.7% and 2.3% while INEC’s official rejected ballot is 2.2%.
|Table 1: Comparison of INEC Official Results for the 30 LGAs with Yiaga Africa WTV PVT Estimates for Select Political Parties for the 2022 Osun Gubernatorial Election|
|Party||INEC||Yiaga Africa WTV PVT estimates||Consistent|
|Official Result||Estimate||Margin of Error||Estimated Range|
|Lower Limit||Upper Limit|
|Note: No other party received more than 1.3% of the vote share Source Yiaga Africa WTV Osun 2022|
INEC’s official announcement on the votes cast for the 2022 Osun state gubernatorial election is overall consistent with the Yiaga Africa WTV estimated range (specifically, it falls within the Yiaga Africa’s WTV estimated range). Had the official results been changed at the ward, LGA or state collation centres, the official results would not have fallen within the Yiaga Africa WTV estimated ranges. Because the official results fall within the estimated ranges, candidates, parties, and voters should have confidence the official results for the Osun 2022 gubernatorial election reflect the ballots cast at polling units on Saturday, July 16, 2022.
It is important to highlight that the counting process at polling units was transparent and included representatives from the four political parties that received the most votes.
- At 100% of polling units observed, an APC party agent signed the EC.8A results form, at 99% of polling units a PDP party agent signed the EC.8A results form.
- At 99% of polling units, APC and PDP party agents were given a copy of the EC.8A results form.
- At 96% of polling units, the polling official posted the official polling unit results for the public to see.