With less than two months until the November 16th Bayelsa State Governorship election of 2019, SDN is giving face-to-face training to voters, police command and security services, and party political agents. SDN also instructed trainers on how to teach ad hoc INEC staff to monitor polling stations effectively on election day.
This training is essential to work towards a free, fair, and credible election in a State where elections have historically been marred by violence and irregularities. Every Nigerian has the right to exercise their right to vote without intimidation, fear or threat of violence or persecution. Voters should also be made confident of the fairness of the election and the credibility of the results.
Access to accurate information creates the foundation upon which an electorate can claim their democratic right to a free, fair, and credible vote, and spot and respond to instances of electoral malpractice such as vote buying. SDN engaged 540 voters in Ogbia and Sagbama Local Government Areas, Bayelsa State, on their democratic rights, how to spot electoral malpractice, and how to avoid escalating crises if they occur. We provided an online guide to voters, supported by an awareness-raising social media campaign.
On election day, hundreds of ad hoc staff are relied upon by INEC to oversee proper conduct and procedures are maintained at polling units throughout Bayelsa State. Because of the large numbers of staff involved, and the short time they work for INEC, the training historically received has been variable in content and often low in quality, with some ad hoc staff missing out on training altogether. This has constrained their ability to effectively safeguard voting at polling units. SDN developed a unique and comprehensive syllabus of training for ad hoc INEC staff. To reach those staff, SDN trained 40 trainers to deliver it to them. This will improve the consistency and level of training ad hoc staff receive to more effectively monitor polling units on election day in November.
Training political party agents
Political parties often pay agents to be around polling stations, where they should have an accredited, positive impact on elections by witnessing polling and reporting irregularities to INEC staff. Accredited party agents can also support voters reaching polling stations by providing transport. Unfortunately, many agents are not accredited or informed about how they are permitted to behave, their roles, and their responsibilities. In the past, some party agents have had a disruptive effect on polling stations, compromising the fairness of elections. SDN partnered with INEC to train 140 party agents on their roles and responsibilities, and how to actively support a peaceful and fairer 2019 Governorship election in Bayelsa State.
Agents representing 52 registered political parties attended this training, including: AUU, ACCORD, CAP, ADC, FJP, CNP, APM, AAC, UPN, UPW, GDPN, LMP, CUC, REBUILD PARTY, NNPP, DPC, PPP, AGAP, PDC, ZLP, DA, MPN, UP, SDP, BNPP, LB, DA, PPN, ADP, APA, NUP, SNC, APP, ANDP, NPC, ASP, AD, APC, UDP, LP, ANP, UPP, PPA, NAC, GPN, ADP, NDLP, KOWA, AAP, NNPP, RBNP, UPC, DPP, PCP, SNC, FDP, PDP, PDM, UPP, ID, NCP, NCP, ABP, JMPP, PRP, YPP
Training police command and security services
A politically neutral and well trained police command and security services will be essential for protecting voters’ safety, and to safeguard their right to vote. Police command and security services can also help ensure political party agents do not act outside their accredited roles, and to spot and stop electoral irregularities. SDN delivered training to 60 members of the Nigeria Police Force, and Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, Bayelsa State Division, on their roles & responsibilities during the Bayelsa Governorship election.