Samson Itodo: Executive Director, Yiaga Africa

By Jethro Ibileke

In line with its commitment to credible election under the Watching The Vote (WTV), Yiaga Africa says it has trained 543 observers for the Edo state governorship election slated for September 19.

This is even as the citizen-led movement said it deployed its cohort of 44 Master Trainers across all 18 local government areas of the state for the training of over 500 polling unit observers and 24 roving observers.

The Executive Director of Yiaga Africa, Samson Itodo, disclosed this in a statement released to journalists in Benin on Sunday.

Tagged “Election Day Observation Training” and held between September 10 and 13, 2020, in 42 centres spread across all LGAs in the state, the training provided the participants with the rudiments of election observation and reporting.

“This was followed by the training of 18 Collation Center observers who will deploy to all 18 Local Government Area collation centres to observe, document and report the process at the collation level.

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“Yiaga Africa’s cohort of 44 Master Trainers with a deluge of experiences from their involvement in the Anambra, Ekiti, Osun, Kogi and Bayelsa gubernatorial elections and the 2019 Presidential elections, stepped down the training to the local government supervisors and the polling unit observers.

“Yiaga Africa observers were trained on the essentials of election observation beginning from understanding the Election Day process as provided in the Independent National Electoral Commission’s manuals and election guidelines, election day deployment, to the WTV observation methodology, using the observation forms.

“The observers were also exposed to the guidelines and principles of election observation in line with the global principles of Global Network for Domestic Election Monitors,” Itodo said.

The Yiaga boss further noted that since the Edo gubernatorial election will be the first of the off-cycle elections to be conducted amidst a pandemic, observers were also trained on how to track and report adherence to the COVID-19 prevention protocols at the polling units and LGA results collation centers.

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“For the 2020 Edo State governorship election, Yiaga Africa’s Watching The Vote (WTV) will employ the Parallel Vote Tabulation (PVT) methodology on election day and will deploy 500 stationary observers in pairs to a representative statistical sample of 250 polling units and 24 mobile observers, 18 Collation Center observers in each of the 18 LGAs of Edo State and one State Focal Point (SFP).

“The deployment strategy will enable Yiaga Africa to provide timely and precise information on the conduct of accreditation, voting and counting as well as to independently verify the official results for the gubernatorial election as announced by INEC.

“The Parallel Vote Tabulation (PVT) is an Election Day observation methodology that leverages statistics and technology for the observation of the process of voting and counting and tallying of results. Citizen observers are deployed to randomly sampled polling units to collect data on the conduct of elections and official polling unit level results.

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“With the results assembled from the sampled polling units, a citizen observer group can release projected estimates and verify the accuracy of results declared by the election management body.

“Using this methodology, observer reports are sent via SMS to a central database which enables WTV to analyse and share timely findings on the conduct of the election in near real-time,” Itodo explained.