Ahead of governorship elections in Bayelsa and Kogi states, YIAGA Africa has trained and deployed 48 Long Term Observers (LTO) to observe the pre-election environment in the two states.
The Executive Director , YIAGA Africa, Mr. Samson Itodo who disclosed this in a statement he made available to newsmen in Lokoja Monday, said out of the 48 Long terms observers 21 are deployed in Bayelsa state while 27 are deployed in Kogi State, noting that the observers are resident of the Local Government they are observing from.
He said the Long Term Observers are also expected to recruit polling unit observers from sampled polling units that will observe the governorship election on November 16th, in both states.
According to him, the Long Term observes who also double as Local Government Supervisors are deployed to each of the 8 Local Government Areas in the Bayelsa state and the 21 local government areas in Kogi state to report on events, activities and critical incidents using a specialized checklist and critical incident form.
He added that the observation reports from the field are sent in form of coded SMS to the WTV Data Center bi-weekly while the critical incidents are sent in as they occur and properly escalated after verification.
“YIAGA AFRICA’S watching the Vote Pre-Election observers will observe issues related to the; activities of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) ranging from recruitment and training of ad hoc personnel, identification of polling units, meeting with stakeholders, voter education and information campaigns to the collection and distribution of Permanent Voters Card, activities of political parties like rallies and campaigns, activities relating to security agencies and incidents capable of undermining the electoral process. Pre-election observers will also observe and report Voter information campaigns by National Orientation Agency (NOA) and other Civil Society Organisations.
“At YIAGA AFRICA, we believe and promote social justice and inclusiveness thus voter education and campaigns targeted specifically at Youths, Women and Persons With Disabilities (PWDs) will be followed closely and duly reported by Observers during the pre-election period. Even as political parties launch their campaigns across the state, our election observation team are interested in campaigns and rallies associated to various political parties while also observing if youths, women and PWDs are also in anyway canvassing for votes.
“Through the Pre-Election observation, YIAGA AFRICA will track early warning signs and any form of incident that can hinder the successful conduct of the elections. In this vein, WTV pre-elections observers will observe and report issues relating to hate speech campaigns, intimidation and harassment of any electoral stakeholder and attacks on media or INEC officials.
“LTOs will also report government restrictions on political activities or unjustifiable military influx into the state. This will enable YIAGA AFRICA to verify and report this information to relevant authorities for proper action. Pre-elections observation findings will be shared to the public via various channels of communication including social media.
“As a civic hub dedicated to the promotion of electoral integrity and credible elections and as an INEC accredited observer group, YIAGA AFRICA will also be deploying citizens’ observers to observe the Election Day activities” he said