TEXT OF A PRE-ELECTION MEDIA BRIEFING ON THE NOVEMBER 16TH, 2013 ANAMBRA GUBERNATORIAL ELECTION ADDRESSED BY THE TRANSITION MONITORING GROUP (TMG) AT SEAGATE HOTELS & SUITES, AWKA ON 14TH NOVEMBER 2013

Anambra State Gubernatorial Election –
A Call for All to Play by the Rules

TEXT OF A PRE-ELECTION MEDIA BRIEFING ON THE NOVEMBER 16TH, 2013 ANAMBRA GUBERNATORIAL ELECTION ADDRESSED BY THE TRANSITION MONITORING GROUP (TMG) AT SEAGATE HOTELS & SUITES, AWKA ON 14TH NOVEMBER 2013

Distinguished invited guests, our respected partners, Stakeholders, Ladies and Gentlemen of the media

We are delighted to welcome you to this pre-election media briefing on the November 16, 2013 Anambra State Governorship election.

The Transition Monitoring Group (TMG), a network of over 400 civic organisations, is the foremost independent civil society election observation organization in Nigeria. TMG will deploy a total of 633 trained accredited non-partisan observers for the Anambra Gubernatorial election fixed for November 16th, 2013. Six hundred (600) of these observers will deployed in pairs to a representative random sample of 300 polling stations according to the PVT/Quick Count methodology and in accordance with the “Declaration of Global Principles for Nonpartisan Election Observation and Monitoring by Citizen Organizations” launched at the United Nations in 2010.

Throughout Election Day, TMG’s observers will closely watch the process and record answers to 36 questions on the conduct of the election (setup of polling units, accreditation of voters, voting itself and counting of ballots). At six designated times during Election Day, TMG observers will send in their reports via text message using mobile phones to a National Information Centre (NIC) in Abuja. This will allow TMG to share with the country a truly representative and detailed picture of the conduct of the Anambra Gubernatorial Election – what has gone well as well as any shortcomings. Based on these reports, TMG will also be able to verify the accuracy of the official results as announced by the Independent National Election commission (INEC) to ensure that the results are not tampered with between the polling unit and the collation centers.

The Anambra Gubernatorial election is being conducted out of General Election season.  Anambra State was the first state in Nigeria where the governorship election was nullified by the judiciary.  Apart from nullifying the election, the Supreme Court in the subsequent case of Peter Obi v INEC held that the tenure of an elected governor begins to count from the date he actually took the oath of office and not the date he ought to have taken the oath of office.  In the circumstance, governorship elections in Anambra State are not conducted during the general elections.

Elections are about more than just Election Day and as such TMG has been observing the pre-election period. Today, we share our findings related to: the role of the judiciary in the elections; INEC’s preparations for the elections; the political environment in which the elections will occur; allegations of purchase of voters cards; and the expected role of the security agencies. TMG will also use a new observation methodology PVT or Quick Count and we will use today’s briefing to introduce Nigeria to our methodology.

THE JUDICIARY AND THE ELECTION

TMG commends the speed with which the Supreme Court determined the appeal filed before it on the disputed PDP primary election.  This has finally settled the question of who is the PDP candidate for the election.  In the circumstance, there is no more room for two or multiple candidates campaigning as PDP candidates for the election or participating as candidates in the election. INEC and law enforcement agencies should take necessary steps to ensure that the Supreme Court decision is complied with.

We observe that other suits are still pending in respect of the primaries of some other political parties. The spate of litigations on party primary elections is a matter of concern.  TMG urges political parties to practice internal democracy in order to stem the current judicialization of Nigerian politics. Party candidates should also adopt the spirit of sportsmanship where they have failed to win elections provided that the elections are conducted in a transparent and credible manner.

INEC PREPARATIONS FOR THE ELECTION

The result of the last governorship election conducted in Anambra State shows that only about 10 percent of the registered voters voted in the election.  The situation was blamed partly on voter apathy and partly on the inability of INEC to produce a reliable and credible voters’ register for the election.  The result was that a good number of voters were unable to locate the appropriate polling units where their names appeared in the voters’ register.  Though the Courts upheld the election as conducted in substantial compliance with the provisions of the Electoral Act, such election cannot be a model of democratic elections.  There cannot be participatory democracy in a situation where only a small percentage of the registered voters determine the outcome of an election.

TMG notes that INEC has released electronic copies of the voters’ registers to the political parties.  This is an improvement when compared with previous elections in the state when voters’ registers were hoarded.  Such a situation aided electoral malpractices in the past. Political parties have a duty to educate the electorates on where they can go to cast their votes on the Election Day.

INEC has also assured Nigerians that they have adopted a new system for the distribution of election materials which will ensure that the elections commence at the stipulated periods.  The test of the pudding, they say, is in the eating.  It will be a commendable achievement if this is accomplished.

TMG expects that INEC will publish the results of the election at the polling units and the various collation centres as prescribed by the Electoral Act. We urge INEC to make available to the political parties and candidates, on demand after the elections, copies of all the documents used in the election as required by law.

THE POLITICAL ENVIRONMENT

TMG has observed that the major political parties are vigorously campaigning for votes.  On the other hand, while there are 23 candidates registered to contest the election, the majority of the candidates appear not to be engaged in serious campaigning.  Whether such candidates are in the race to win the election or for some other reasons is a matter of conjecture. Multiplicity of candidates gives rise to logistic challenges during elections. TMG advises Nigerians not to put up their names as candidates for election for the sake of it. While all eligible Nigerians have the right to contest elections, the process should not be trivialized or used for improper purposes.

Generally the political environment has been peaceful. Apart from few incidents of campaign violence and destruction of bill-boards of some candidates in certain parts of the state, the atmosphere in the state has generally been peaceful.

It is interesting that debates have been organized for candidates. This is an attempt to make the election issue-based. It is equally interesting that contrary to what obtains in many states, there is no dominance of any political party in Anambra state.  There are at least more than four political parties that have fair chances of winning the election.

ALLEGATION OF PURCHASE OF VOTERS’ CARDS

There is widespread allegation that politicians are buying up voters’ cards in Anambra State. This amounts to attempting to enslave the people.  The voters’ card is a means of exercise of the people’s sovereignty.  When people sell their votes, they become slaves to those who bought it. They will surrender their power and strength as citizens.  We urge the people of Anambra State to resist any attempt to enslave them through the commoditization of their votes.  We urge Anambra electorates to use their vote to ensure good governance which will result in improvement of their life and ensure that there is future for their children.

EXPECTED ROLE OF SECURITY AGENCIES

Security agencies should be impartial and neutral in the discharge of their duties during the election. They have a duty to ensure that the election is conducted according to law, and that INEC officials, election observers, and other persons involved in the election as well as voters are protected from electoral violence.  In any case, on no account should security personnel take over or participate in the conduct of the elections. We call on the Police Service Commission to put in place appropriate mechanism for monitoring the roles of security agencies during the election.

TMG’S QUICK COUNT METHODOLOGY FOR OBSERVING THE ELECTION

TMG will employ a new and innovative approach to observe the Anambra election – PVT/Quick Count methodology.

WHAT IS PVT/QUICK COUNT?

Quick Count is an advanced citizen observation methodology in which specially selected, highly trained non-partisan observers are deployed to representative randomly sampled polling units to collect information on the conduct of the election as well as to record the official vote count as announced by INEC polling officials. These reports are rapidly transmitted to a TMG National Information Centre (NIC) in Abuja by specially coded text messages and directly entered into a computer database for analysis. Quick Count is a universally proven methodology that allows nonpartisan citizen observers to systematically assess the quality of Election Day processes and to verify the accuracy of the official results as announced by the election officials. The terms Parallel Vote Tabulation sometimes called a PVT and Quick Count are interchangeable.

THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT TMG-QUICK COUNT

TMG’s Quick Count will not announce official results. INEC is the only organization in Nigeria that announces official election results. Quick counts accurately and independently verify the official national election results based on a sample of polling units.

TMG’s quick count is a sophisticated methodology that is based on statistics for systematically evaluating the process of the election and providing an independent estimate of the Anambra State election results.

TMG’s quick counts use direct observations by highly trained observers and do not ask voters for their opinions, unlike exit polls.

Quick counts, properly done by citizen groups, remove uncertainty by independently verifying the official election results. Thus, quick counts can increase public confidence in a well-run election and reduce potentials for political violence.

Where quick counts expose fraud or identify shortcomings in the process, they provide an objective basis for making improvements and seeking peaceful resolution of complaints.

Quick counts examine the integrity of the voting and counting processes. Without an understanding of this data, the adding of results could be based on phony votes, such as stuffed ballot boxes or dishonest recording of votes.

The PVT/Quick Count methodology has been used repeatedly around the world to help improve electoral integrity and reduce post-election tensions and violence. It was first employed in the Philippines in 1986, and has been used successfully in Africa – in Kenya, Ghana, Madagascar, Malawi, Sierra Leone, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe. We are confident that the methodology will help to build the confidence and trust of the Anambra people and by extension, the nation in the outcome of the governorship election.

The TMG Quick Count methodology will provide Anambra voters, political candidates and electoral authorities with an accurate real time picture of the conduct of the accreditation of voters, voting and counting.

ON SAMPLING, STATISTICS AND TMG’S DEPLOYMENT

  • The core of the quick count rests on deploying observers to a representative, random sample of polling units. This will allow TMG to use proven statistical principles to report on the conduct of all polling stations in Anambra based on sub-set.
  • For the Anambra Gubernatorial Election, TMG will deploy to a representative random sample of 300 polling stations selected by a trained statistician.
  • To ensure that the sample is truly representative of all of Anambra it has been stratified by local government area (LGA). This means that the number of sampled polling stations in each LGA is the same proportion as the total number of polling stations in the LGA. For example, according to INEC Idemili North LGA has 4.3% (200 of 4,608) of all the polling units in Anambra and therefore 4.3% (20 of 300) of the polling stations in TMG sample are in Idemili North.
  • 600 stationary observers will be deployed in pairs to 300 polling units to ensure that data is collected from all sampled polling units. TMG will also deploy 33 roving observers who will be available to observe any critical incidents that arise on Election Day.
  • Based on this methodology, TMG will also be able to provide an estimate of the process of the election based on information collected from quick count observers throughout Election Day.
  • The Quick count will also be able to produce statistically valid independent estimates of the official election results based on publicly posted information available at polling units.
  • From the official results collected from the representative random sample of 300 polling stations TMG using the PVT/Quick Count methodology will be able to estimate the results for all 4,608 polling stations within a margin of error.
  • If the INEC results fall within the margin of error of the TMG estimates then there was no manipulation during the collation of results and the official results as announced by INEC accurately reflect the ballots cast at polling units.

CONCLUSION

We call on the people of Anambra State to take their fate into their hands by exercising their franchise in the election. We call on all stakeholders to work towards a free, fair and credible election in Anambra State on November 16, 2013.  TMG’s new methodology of election observation will make election malpractices high risk business during the coming election.

Going forward, TMG has harmonized all its Social Media Platforms for TMG-Quick Count Election Observation work ahead of the Saturday, November 16, 2013 Anambra Gubernatorial Polls and the years ahead. Our ongoing election observation efforts and critical work will be released on these Social Media Platforms and our usual outreach Emails: media@tmgng.org, quickcount@tmgng.com and tmg.democracywatch@gmail.com. Kindly note that the Social Media Platforms are critically important, as we will be reaching out to you and the public often on them. Therefore, we encourage you to follow us on the platforms if you are not already doing so.

The Social Media Platforms in which you can follow us on Anambra election and other important governance issues are:

Facebook:          https://www.facebook.com/CentreforCivicEducationakaTMG

Twitter: https://twitter.com/tmgnig

Flickr:    http://www.flickr.com/tmg_nigeria

Youtube:            http://www.youtube.com/transitionmonitoring

Blog:      http://www.tmgnigeria.wordpress.com

Our main Website for general information on TMG and PDF Press Statements and others remains: http://www.tmgng.org

Finally, we thank the USAID and NDI for their financial and technical support that enabled us to engage in this lofty and high-tech venture of Quick Count observation. TMG is especially grateful to the government and people of the United States of America for their consistent and unflinching interest and support to Nigeria’s democratization.

Thank you all for your attention.

Comrade Ibrahim M. Zikirullahi                                                        

Chairman                      

For Media Enquiries, kindly contact Comrade Eneruvie Enakoko on:

+2348033188864, 08094648891;

media@tmgng.org, quickcount@tmgng.org and tmg.democracywatch@gmail.com

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