By Osaigbovo Iguobaro, Benin
Ahead of the Saturday Governorship election in Edo State, a Citizen-led movement committed to credible election under the Watching The Vote (WTV), Yiaga Africa has deployed its cohort of 44 Master Trainers across all 18 Local Government Areas in the State for the training of over 500 Polling unit observers and 24 roving observers.
The training tagged; Election Day observation training was held in 42 training centres spread across all LGAs in the State, Mr. Samson Itodo, Executive Director of the organization, said this on Sunday in a statement.
The development 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.
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. The training held from 10th – 13th September 2020 and provided the rudiments of election observation and reporting.
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.
According to him, 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.
The election will be the first of the off-cycle elections to be conducted amidst a pandemic.
Therefore, 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.
In ensuring citizen observers adhere to COVID-19 safety guidelines, Yiaga Africa has provided facemasks to all polling unit observers to ensure access to the polling units for observation.
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.
Itodo, stressed that 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.
The statement explained that 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.