Ahead of the November 16 Governorship elections in Bayelsa and Kogi State, YIAGA AFRICA’s project has commenced a critical assessment of the political and security situation in the states as part of its plan for election observation. Speaking during an assessment visit to Kogi state’s Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) office earlier this week, Programs Manager Cynthia Mbamalu said, as YIAGA AFRICA’s Watching The Vote (WTV) project commences plan for pre-election observation in the state, the assessment visit is aimed to engage stakeholders in a bid to understand the political and security dynamics in the state.
According to Cynthia, WTV will be observing the pre-election observation environment starting from the political party primary elections saying the team will also be deploying Long-term observers to observe the pre-election environment in each of the 21 LGAs in the state.
She explained that the objective of the WTV is to provide timely and accurate information about the election process to voters and stakeholders, to ensure that citizens votes count by deterring fraud and manipulation during the conduct of elections and collation of result and as well build citizens’ confidence in the elections.
She said that YIAGA AFRICA would be collaborating with INEC, security agencies, the media and other stakeholders to mitigate electoral misconduct, which allegedly characterized previous elections, and ensure it is reduced to the barest minimum.
“We shall be monitoring the build up to the election across the state. Identify flash points and work with all stakeholders to ensure that violence during the November governorship election in Kogi state is reduced to the barest minimum,” she said.
The team, according to her, will be carrying out more advocacy visit to stakeholders to create the desired awareness towards a more participatory election in the state.
Reacting to this during the meeting, INEC Head of Voter Education and Publicity in Kogi state, Ahmed Biambo expressed delight with YIAGA AFRICA’s early assessment and preparation ahead of the November polls. He reiterated the imperativeness of voter education saying election stakeholders and Civil Society Organizations have a role to play in reaching out to citizens with voter education messages.
According to him, “the success of every election is a collective responsibility of all stakeholders and the commission is ready to collaborate especially in the area of voter education and publicity”.