January 2019-June 2020
This project is seeking to improve the credibility, fairness, and freedom of state-level elections in Bayelsa, funded by the United Nations Democracy Fund (UNDEF) for the period of 18 months in Bayelsa State. SDN will support the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to manage polling activity and monitor the activities of political party agents. Political party agents often interfere with voting by intimidating voters they think may vote for another party, or by giving voters money to vote for their party. Both these activities undermine the credibility, fairness, and freedom of elections. SDN will also brief party political agents directly on what they are allowed and not allowed to do—and sensitise police to their permitted behaviour so they can be held to account for breaches of conduct. Lastly, and in partnership with the Bayelsa Non-Governmental Organisation Forum (BANGOF), SDN will coordinate a public information campaign, aimed at promoting voter awareness and motivation. By reaching out to all parties involved, SDN hopes to reduce interference with the proper conduct of the Bayelsa state elections. The Bayelsa state election is slated for 16th November 2019, off-cycle to the majority of state elections held in Nigeria in early March 2019. These elections have previously been marred by widespread malpractice, partially attributed to poor oversight.
The goal of this project is to improve the credibility, fairness, and freedom of state-level off-cycle elections in Bayelsa, as a key step towards improving the participation in, and representativeness and accountability of, democracy in the state.
- Train INEC’s ad hoc staff on election oversight and administration procedures at polling units on election day to identify, respond and report malpractice —particularly in areas of Bayelsa at risk of fraud and violence.
- Support INEC and the police to register political party agents, as well as sensitise political party agents as to their permitted conduct over the election period.
- Partner with BANGOF to deliver face-to-face education to voters in areas at risk of ‘vote buying and selling’ (Southern Ijaw, Ogbia, and Sagbama local government areas) about the negative effect this has on democracy in Nigeria.
- Carry out a campaign over social media and broadcast radio aiming to sensitise 170,000 citizens to the negative effects on democracy from selling or otherwise transferring their vote, and support citizens to participate safely in the election.
Bayelsa state receives a comparatively large federal budget allocation, as part of the formula for sharing the revenue for oil and gas production This budget attracts particularly fierce competition over winning political office, a competition that typically involves ex-militants, cult groups, security forces, politicians, and party agents, amongst others. In the past, some areas of state elections in Bayelsa have been marred by electoral violence and malpractice–often at the hands of unregistered party agents–such as vote-buying around polling stations. Malpractice, like vote buying, flourishes due to an apathy amongst voters willing to sell their votes, and poor—or non-existent—training and sensitisation of INEC officials and police responsible for challenging this malpractice around polling stations on election day. The Bayelsa state election is slated for 16th November 2019.
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