YIAGA Initial Report on Commencement & Accreditation for the Presidential & National Assembly Elections
Saturday, March 28th 2015
As part of its mandate to facilitate regular analysis and documentation of emerging trends and dynamics of youth political participation in Nigeria, YIAGA deployed over 1600 youth observers in sixteen (16) states of the Federation to observe the participation of young people in the 2015 elections. The YIAGA Observatory Tracking Centre opened this morning by 7am to collate reports from the field observers. Observers sent in real time field reports using a specific checklist for tracking compliance with electoral guidelines, youth participation and electoral impunity. This preliminary report focuses on the commencement of the accreditation exercise, the functionality of the card reader machines and voter turnout with particular focus on youth participation.
1. Opening and Commencement
Field reports recorded early arrival of INEC officials in 22% of polling units observed. However, 63.4 % recorded late opening of the polling station. At PU 029, Amuwo Odofin LGA, the polling officials arrived the polling unit by 10:17am, over two (2) hours behind the scheduled start for the accreditation exercise. Most polling units in the following states recorded late arrival of polling officials; FCT, Lagos, Plateau, Enugu, Cross River and Kano states respectively.
Our field reports indicate that 22.0 % of Polling Units commenced accreditation at about 8am. There were cases of late commencement of accreditation in 58.2 % of polling units covered by our observers. It should be noted that accreditation is yet to commence in some polling units as at 1:00pm which is the actual closing time for accreditation.
2. Election logistics;
Field observations indicate poor management of election logistics and deployment. Reports from the Registration Area Centres (RACs) reveal that polling officials waited for hours for vehicles to convey them to their respective polling units. This development raises concerns over the effectiveness of the Memorandum of Understanding between the electoral commission and the National Union of Road Transport Workers where both parties resolved to deploy election materials promptly.
Majority of the polling officials across the polling units experienced technical challenges with the use of the card readers. Some polling units completely abandoned the card readers and instead checked off voters names on the voter register. This was the case in PUs 018 - 023, Babangij ward Tarauni LG, Kano State.
Most polling units also recorded the non-deployment of the Incidence Report Form. Consequently, the polling officials reverted to manual accreditation without taking records of fingerprint non-authentication. Manual accreditation was very rampant in Kano state.
3. Compliance with election guidelines
Whilst we note that some officials complied with the guidelines for election, most PUs report non-compliance with the INEC approved guidelines for elections. It is important to note that in most polling units, the polling officials resorted to manual accreditation the moment the card reader machine declined finger print authentication. This violates the approved guidelines for the elections.
The inconsistencies in the application of the electoral guideline were visibly expressed in the use of indelible ink to mark accredited voters. While the polling official in In PU 020, Babangi ward, Kano was accrediting voters with last names J-Z using the indelible ink, the adhoc staff accrediting voters with last names A-I only issued accreditation tags to the accredited voters without inking their fingers. We also recorded instances where the Adhoc staff handed the voter register to the party agents to assist in locating the names of registered voters.
1. INEC should as a matter of urgency issue an express directive on the closing time for accreditation particularly in polling stations where accreditation commenced as late as 10am and 11am;
2. INEC should deploy more supervisors to provide oversight and ensure compliance with electoral guidelines. Polling officials reported to have violated the guidelines should be properly investigated and prosecuted;
3. INEC should consider the option of the rescheduling some elections where it becomes practically impossible to hold election today. We underscore the need for INEC to communicate such a decision promptly via every available communication channel;
4. Adequate preparations should be made ahead of the commencement of the counting of ballots as voting and result collation may go into the night. We encourage citizens to support the polling officials with generators, torch-lights or lanterns where no provision is made by the electoral commission.