A political advocacy group, the YIAGA Africa has deployed 48 Long Term Observers (LTO) to monitor the forthcoming governorship elections in Bayelsa and Kogi states. Both elections come up on the same day on November 16.
Revealing this in a statement made available to the press, the Executive Director, YIAGA Africa, Samson Itodo, said the observers, who are deployed to each of the eight Local Government Areas in Bayelsa State and the 21 Local Government Areas in Kogi State, will observe activities and other critical incidents using a specialised checklist and critical incident form.
He said: “The vote pre-election observers will monitor 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 (PWD) 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 team is 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.”
He said through the pre-election observation, the advocacy group will track early warning signs and any form of incident that can hinder the successful conduct of the elections, adding that 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.
Meanwhile, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has cleared 23 political parties to contest the governorship election in Kogi State. The commission also cleared 45 parties to contest the governorship election in Bayelsa State. INEC also said, on Friday, that it had rejected 14 invalidly submitted nominations by political parties for the elections.