It may have started over two decades ago somewhere in the Philippines when the National Citizen Movement for Free Elections (NAMFREL) decided to deploy observers to polling units, the Parallel Vote Tabulation election is fast becoming in the norm in parts of Africa and Nigeria.. The PVT team which consisted of citizen’s observers successfully revealed how the then President of Phillipines, Ferdinand Marcos had lost the elections which led to the end of his reign and an autocratic regime. This method also ended another unpopular government of Kenneth Kaunda the Zambian former politician who served as the first President of Zambia, from 1964 to 1991.
Election observation reports overtime have become a key denominator in determining the credibility of elections in Nigeria, Africa and other parts of the world. The nature of the conduct of Election Day activities from arrival of electoral officers, materials, accreditation, vote counting and announcement of results goes a long way in determining the credence given to the eventual outcome of the election. There are various ways in which election observer groups try to observe elections focusing on different issues like pre-election environment, electoral violence, vote counting and election results.
The PVT is an advanced Election Day observation methodology that uses well-established statistical principles and sophisticated information technology. PVTs provide the most timely and accurate information on the conduct of voting and counting and is the only observation methodology that can independently verify the accuracy of official Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) election results. The PVT allows observers to present an accurate and comprehensive assessment of the Election Day processes, such as whether election officials follow proper procedures, the presence and behavior of party agents, secrecy of the vote, and transparency of the counting process.
The PVT is an Election Day observation methodology which uses statistical principles and information Communication Technology (ICT) to observe the election. This is done through drawing a random sample of polling units that is representative of all the polling units in a state or country as the case maybe. And through the help of ICT, accurate and timely information on the election process which includes accreditation, voting and counting process. This is also the only methodology that can verify the accuracy of the election result with an aim of strengthening the work of the electoral commission in achieving its mandate of delivering credible, free and fair elections in Nigeria.
The PVT has also been successfully deployed in the 2016 general elections in Zambia Tunisia in 2014, Burkina Faso in 2015, Ivory Coast in 2015, Ghana in 2016 and Nigeria 2011 and 2015. Beyond the general elections, the PVT has also been deployed in off-cycle governorship elections in Nigeria like the recent Governorship election in Ondo State where YIAGA deployed the methodology.
Most recently YIAGA Africa’s WatchingTheVote team observed and verified the Anambra Governorship Elections using the PVT methodology by deploying over 500 observers to 250 sampled polling units. Just after the announcement of official results by INEC, the YIAGA Africa WTV head of board, Dr Hussain Abdu revealed in a press conference that the result released by INEC is consistent with WatchingTheVote untainted official figures reported by polling unit observers as announced by the polling officials. To further justify this, two separate tribunals recently upheld the election of Governor Willie Obiano, the winner of the November 2017 Governorship elections in the state.
Ahead of the Ekiti and Osun elections, YIAGA Africa’s Watching The Vote (WTV) which seem to be the only team deploying the PVT methodology will again be deploying 500 stationary observers to 250 sampled Polling Units across the 16 Local Government Areas in the State with 24 mobile observers and 16 LGA collation observers. The fact that the methodology makes use of citizens from the state gives credence to the process and the fact that, citizens are taking charge of the process for the purpose of transparency.
This is good news for the people of Ekiti and Osun as the stakes are high as major stakeholders are displaying ahead of the Governorship Elections. There is a lot of pressure on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and thus Election observation body provides an avenue to further ease the pressure off the Commission. Election observation no doubt deters fraud and builds citizens confidence in the electoral process while ensuring the citizens take charge of the process.
Moshood Isah, Communication Expert and Media Officer of YIAGA AFRICA. He tweets: @Moshoodpm