Ahead of the 2019 General elections, YIAGA AFRICA through its Watching The Vote (WTV) project on Wednesday, a radio program to engage Nigerians on the need to pan the electoral process. The Radio program tagged “Watching The Vote half hour” was flagged off on Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN) in Abuja and aired on other FRCN stations across Nigeria.
Speaking during maiden edition of the program, Project Director Cynthia Mbamalu said the program became necessary because citizens should participate in the electoral process from an informed position and thus information about the electoral process should be disseminated to the public accordingly. She further said, the project is out to provide timely information on both the pre-election environment and the election day activities in order to counter misinformation and rumours.
According to Mbamalu, Watching the Vote is the largest citizen movement committed to credible elections in Nigeria and they are committed ensuring that Nigerian’s votes count. She said, “We are deploying the largest number of observers for the 2019 general elections. For us, it is more than just watching the electoral process, it’s about ensuring that our observation will help reduce violence. That way we can build early systems against electoral violence.”
Electoral violence has historically been a major factor hindering valid statistics during elections in Nigeria. It is also a factor that causes widespread apathy among citizens. “For example, when observers signal an electoral threat across the nation, our Long Term Observers across Nigeria will report and we will be escalate it to necessary authorities in other to nip it in the bud,” she explains.
During the 30 minutes show, Mbamalu highlighted that the Watching The Vote team will deploy 3034 Polling Unit Observers for the 2019 Presidential elections while also deploying 822 roving observers to report critical incidents. Polling Unit observers according to her will report election day activities like arrival and set-up, accreditation and voting, sorting, counting and announcement of result. This according to her will be reported to a special database and will enable Watching The Vote verify the accuracy of results announced by electoral commission.
She also highlighted the advanced methodology that will be used for sample polling units to be observed on election day is called the Parallel Vote Tabulation (PVT).
“The PVT uses statistics and draws a sample of polling units which determines which polling unit observers will observe from on election day. The beauty of the PVT is that we cover every local government area. So for the elections, all those areas will be covered; we are not just going to focus on the cities,” she said.
“While we remain a non-partisan organisation we partner with all election stakeholders in a bid to disseminate information and recommendation and we look forward to providing a platform for Nigerians to engage other stakeholders in the electoral process,” she concluded.