Report by Halimah Olamide
YIAGA Africa, a civil society organization has raised concerns over the delay in the uploading of results the just concluded Presidential Election on the INEC Result Viewing (IReV) Portal by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
Earlier, NPO Reported that the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and Labour Party (LP) urged INEC to upload the election results.
In YIAGA’s latest press release which was made available to the NPO Reports on Wednesday, the organization called for a reform of the commission.
According to YIAGA, the Parallel Vote Tabulation (PVT) methodology was adopted and 3,014 observers were deployed in pairs to a representative random sample of 1,507 polling units, 822 mobile observers in all 774 local government areas (LGAs), in the 36 states and the FCT, hence enabling them to provide timely information on the step-by-step process.
“This deployment strategy enabled Yiaga Africa to provide timely and accurate information on the election day process commencing from the set-up, voter accreditation, voting, and counting and to independently assess the official results of the presidential election as announced by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
“This statement is based on reports from 1,454 of 1,507 (97%) sampled polling units in Nigeria.”
Yiaga however commended INEC for producing sensitive materials locally and early deployment of materials to each states. Despite these actions, the election day process was fraught with widespread logistical challenges resulting in the late arrival of polling officials and late opening of polling units across the country particularly in South East and South-south geopolitical zones.
Meanwhile, YIAGA redeployed more observers to polling units where voting hours were extended due to logistics interlude and has applauded electorates who waited till late into the night to exercise their franchise.
“Voting was extended to the late hours in some polling units affected by logistical hiccups.
“Yiaga Africa commends the voters who waited patiently to vote late into the night and to watch the counting of the ballots in the early hours of the morning.
“Due to logistical challenges, some polling units failed to open on election day. Yiaga Africa redeployed observers to 20 of its 1,507 sampled polling units affected by logistical hiccups on Saturday, February 25, 2023.”
“Observers reported that INEC failed to redeploy and conduct elections in 13 (less than 1%) of sampled polling units. These polling units were distributed across Adamawa, Taraba, Jigawa, Katsina, Anambra, Imo, Cross River, and Delta states. INEC’s inability to conduct elections in those polling units denied voters the opportunity to exercise their right to vote. “
“In the course of the election, Yiaga Africa expressed concerns about the delay in uploading polling unit results for the presidential election on the INEC Election Results Viewing Portal (IReV).
“As of today, only 73% of the polling unit-level results have been uploaded. Undoubtedly, the delay in uploading the polling unit-level results cast doubts on the credibility of the results management process resulting in broken public trust in electoral technology.
“Yiaga Africa notes that the delayed upload of the results on the IReV is a flagrant disregard of INEC’s Regulations and Guidelines, and it failed to meet citizens’ expectations.
“Once again, the 2023 Presidential and National Assembly elections were a missed opportunity.
“Factors like serious logistical and technological shortcomings, non-compliance with electoral guidelines, lack of transparency, and manipulation of election results undermine public confidence in INEC and the overall outcome of the elections.
Yiaga Africa also stated that the integrity of electoral outcomes are influenced by processes and procedures. Therefore, a compromised process will produce questionable outcomes.
It also condemned the cases of violence and disruption of the voting and results collation process by thugs and hoodlums, especially the violence targeted at National Youth Service Corp (NYSC) members and INEC staff.
Key challenges noted by the society include difficulties with locating polling units, deployment of security personnel, insufficient electoral materials amongst many others.
Yiaga Africa also observed that at 99% of polling units where the BVAS was used, it was used throughout the day for the accreditation of voters.
In 89% of polling units, the BVAS functioned properly. However, in 8% of polling units, the BVAS malfunctioned, and it was fixed and in 2% of the polling units, it malfunctioned and was replaced.
According to YIAGA, it was estimated that the national voter turnout for the 2023 Presidential election will be 29.4% ±1.0 based on registered voters and will be 31.3% ±1.0% based on the number of PVCs collected. Nationally, the percentage of rejected ballots is projected to be 3.6% ±0.3%.
Yiaga Africa observed 8 instances (0.5% of polling units) of irregularities in voter turnout where turnout was over 100%.
Also, Based on reports from 97% (1,453 of 1507) of sampled polling units, Yiaga Africa’s statistical analysis shows that the All Progressives Congress (APC) should receive between 34.4% and 37.4% of the vote, Labour Party (LP) should receive between 24.2% and 28.4% of the votes, the New Nigeria People’s Party (NNPP) should receive between 4.6% and 6.4% of the vote, People’s Democratic Party (PDP) should receive between 28.3% and 31.1% of the vote, while no other political party should receive more than 0.3% of the vote.
The PVT statistical analysis is based on the number of registered voters and not on the number of PVCs collected. Yiaga Africa estimate rejected ballots are between 3.3% and 3.9% while INEC’s official rejected ballot is 3.8%.
These numbers do not however reflect voters who were denied access to vote either through delay in election logistics or cases of violence and voter intimidation.
“Once again, incremental reforms have failed to inspire confidence in the electoral commission and the electoral process.
“The inconsistencies in presidential election results for states like Imo and Rivers make abundantly clear drastic steps are now needed and INEC must be fundamentally reformed.
“INEC must have authority over its state structures and have ultimate responsibility for the conduct of elections.” It concluded.