In a bid to strengthen Nigeria’s democratic process, the Transition Monitoring Group (TMG) has undertaken a comprehensive observation effort for the off-season gubernatorial elections in Bayelsa, Imo, and Kogi.
TMG said the elections held on Saturday, November 11, 2023, mark significant milestones in Nigeria’s electoral calendar.
The group in the statement issued by Chairman, Transitional Monitoring Group, Auwal Musa, said that as part of its mandate, TMG established the Election Situation Analysis Centre (ESAC), utilizing advanced information and communication technologies (ICTs) to receive, process, and analyze citizen observer reports from the affected states.
The ESAC’s primary goal was to ensure accurate, real-time reporting to shape the public’s perception of the election conduct and provide valuable insights to the Independent National Election Commission (INEC) and media organizations.
ESAC served as a hub for election experts who, in collaboration with data clerks and citizen observers, reviewed field reports and assessed the election day proceedings.
Moreover, other observer missions and delegations, as well as the media and stakeholders, visited the ESAC to gain a comprehensive understanding of the election day.
The ESAC included dedicated desks for data clerks and social media, which played pivotal roles in receiving, verifying, and disseminating reports throughout the election day.
Observers communicated their findings via text messages and dedicated WhatsApp platforms established for the affected states.
Opening of the Poll: Observers reported a slow start to polling unit openings in Bayelsa, Imo, and Kogi, with most units commencing operations between 8:30 and 9:00 am. Notably, in one instance, an INEC polling unit in Amaimo ward, Umukpe Umuri, opened at 9:30 am.
Accreditation and Voting: Accreditation and voting began smoothly across the states, commencing at around 9:00 am in most polling units.
Deployment of Materials and Staff: Materials and INEC officials arrived at most polling units between 8:00 am and 8:30 am, ensuring a timely setup.
BVAS Functionality: The Bi-modal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) functioned well, allowing for the identification and accreditation of voters through fingerprints and facial recognition.
Security Official Neutrality: Security personnel conducted themselves professionally, with members of various security agencies present at polling units. Military personnel were also observed nearby.
PWDs Compliance: There was a low turnout of Persons with Disabilities (PWDs), but assistive materials, such as magnifying lenses, were available. However, many polling units lacked ramps for ease of access for the physically challenged.
Voter Turnout: Kogi and Imo states reported higher voter turnout, while Bayelsa witnessed lower turnout due to adverse weather, difficult terrain, logistics issues, and voter apathy in certain areas.
Party Agents Presence: Major political party agents were present at most polling units, representing parties such as APC, PDP, Labour Party, and SDP. Some units reported the absence of party agents.
Incidence of Violence: Isolated incidents of violence were reported in a few polling units, including instances where political thugs were reportedly killed by the military.
Incidence of Vote Trading: Despite legal prohibitions on vote trading, desperate politicians were observed attempting to induce voters with cash gifts, food items, and clothing materials in some polling units.
In conclusion, based on these preliminary findings, TMG commends INEC, security agencies, and the people of Bayelsa, Imo, and Kogi for their efforts in facilitating the successful conduct of the elections.
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