African election observer group, YIAGA AFRICA has indicted the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for allegedly manipulating the Saturday’s Governorship election in Bayelsa State at the collation stage.
YIAGA Africa at a press conference hours after INEC announced David Lyon of the All Progressives Congress (APC) winner of the Bayelsa state governorship elections countered the results.
Project Director of the group, Cynthia Mbamalu claims:
“The official result as announced by INEC for APC and PDP are not consistent with the PVT estimate, suggesting that the collation process may have been manipulated. INEC announced that APC received 352,552 or 71% of the vote share, while the PVT estimated range is between 62% and 46 % meaning that the largest vote share APC could have received is 62% of the vote. Similarly, INEC announced that PDP received 143, 172 or 29% of the votes, while the PVT estimated range is between 52% and 37% meaning that the smallest vote share PDP could have received is 27% as against the result as announced”
The group relied on the parallel voting tabulation which it says is a proven and advanced observation methodology that employs well-established statistical principles and utilises sophisticated information technologies for Election Day observation at the polling units.
To come to this conclusion, YIAGA said it deployed 21 mobile observers and for PVT they deployed 500 citizens observers to a statistical sample of 250 polling units located across all eight local government areas of Bayelsa state. They also deployed 8 LGA Result collation observers to the LGA Collation Centers.
YIAGA reported that elections didn’t hold at 61 out of 250 sampled polling units. And therefore, potentially, 24% of all polling units in Bayelsa did not hold elections hence results shouldn’t be final until elections are conducted in the affected polling Units.
According to YIAGA, this incident was more prevalent in 28 polling units in Southern Ijaw LGA, with 46 percent of PVT sampled polling units in Southern Ijaw held no election, suggesting that up to half of all polling units in the LGA did not open.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had announced that a total of 130,121 votes were cast in Southern Ijaw out of 165,449 registered voters for a turnout of 79 percent but YIAGA disagreed that it was not possible “given the widespread failure of polling units to hold elections across the LGAs.
According to YIAGA, 11 polling units in Ogbia LGA, nine polling units in Ekeremor LGA, seven polling units in Nembe LGA, five in Sagbama LGA and one in Yenagoa LGA were affected from the PVT sampled polling units”, the chair of the group, Aisha Abdullahi said.
The report of YIAGA was corroborated by the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Duoye Diri when he reacted after the results were announced. He insisted that he is the winner of the poll adding that the figures declared by the commission did not reflect what transpired at the polling units and urged INEC to declare him as the governor-elect.
What YIAGA recommended
To remedy the situation, YIAGA recommended that INEC performed an audit that identifies and conducts elections at the polling units where elections did not hold, thereafter re-collate the results of all polling units in the State.
It added that those culpable, from INEC, political parties, security agencies, or any other body, in preventing a polling unit from opening or manipulating the results during the collation process must be held accountable and brought to book.
YIAGA also suggested that Nigeria retool its legal framework to address the duality of jurisdiction of courts and timeline for the determination of pre-election cases.
It finally charged President Buhari to prove to Nigerians that he is committed to electoral reform and leave a legacy of reforms that ends electoral impunity.
The Jonathan factor
The Bayelsa State elections did not only face electoral discrepancies as suggested by YIAGA, the politics for the governor of Nigeria’s oil rich state also witnessed some theatrics.
The outcome of the election is probably not unconnected to the fact that the former President, Goodluck Jonathan did not openly campaign for the governorship candidate of his party, PDP, in the state, Douye Diri. There were reports that suggested that the ex president had fallen out with incumbent Governor Seriake Dickson who ‘had handpicked’ Diri for perceived senatorial benefits.
The candidate of the opposition party, David Lyon won in six local government areas which include; Brass, Nembe, Ogbia, Yenagoa, Ekeremor and Southern Ijaw while Diri won in Sagbama and Kolokuma/Opokuma LGAs. These results saw APC taking Bayelsa for the first time since Nigeria’s return to democratic governance in 1999, a step into the South South stronghold of the PDP.
Governor elect, David Lyon while reacting to his victory revealed:
“I am sincerely grateful and to our father, the president of this country, for his fatherly advice this afternoon, as one of his sons in APC, we want to say we Bayelsans will not disappoint APC. We will consult with our leaders, traditional rulers and I believe there will be a serious positive change in Bayelsa State”
Despite reservations from the observer group and the opposition, there has not been any word of an appeal by the PDP or its candidate to contest the results as declared by INEC.