Ahead of the distribution of the Permanent Voters Card (PVC) scheduled for 7th – 9th March 2014 and the continuous voters’ registration on 12th – 19th March 2014, young people and civil society activists have been deployed to observe the exercise in Ekiti and Osun states. The observers were deployed after a two day capacity development workshop in Ado-ekiti and Osogbo organized by Youth Initiative for Advocacy, Growth, & Advancement (YIAGA), Youth Alliance on Constitution & Electoral Reforms (YACORE) and Partners for Electoral Reform (PER) with support from the Democratic Governance for Development Project of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP/DGD).
The workshops held between Monday 3rd – Thursday 6th March 2014 at Fountain Hotel, Ado-ekiti and Leisure Spring Hotel, Osogbo. Participants were exposed to the basic rudiments of observation and strategies for conducting effective issue-based voter education. A citizen’s mobilization town hall meeting on the continuous voter registration and the distribution of the permanent voter cards was hosted in both states. A significant component of the capacity development workshop was the training of participants as volunteer observers dedicated to observing the distribution of the permanent voter’s card and the conduct of the Continuous Voters Registration by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in both Ekiti and Osun states. Considering that this is the first time in Nigeria’s Electoral history that the permanent voter’s card will be used for the elections, it is important that citizens provide oversight on the distribution process to ensure compliance with INEC’s guidelines. The continuous voter’s registration which is an indispensable electoral activity with direct implication on the credibility of an election also provides an opportunity for Nigerians to assess the commitment of INEC to deliver credible, free and fair elections to Nigerians.
The Capacity development workshops and town hall meetings in both states also focused on building the capacity of the participants as voter education volunteers through sessions on voter education tactics and strategies, developing voter education messages and the use of new media for voter education and voter mobilization. The voter education volunteer pool which is a project of YIAGA, YACORE & PER is targeted at mobilizing ten thousand (10,000) voter education volunteers across the country to compliment INEC’s mandate of conducting civic and voter education. The participants were requested to develop Getting out the Vote (GOTV) messages for the gubernatorial elections scheduled to hold in both states.
The representative of the INEC Election Observation Unit and the Citizens Contact Centre (ICCC) were present at the Capacity Development workshops and Town Hall meetings to educate participants on the work of the INEC Citizens Contact Centre and on how citizens can utilize the platform for instant and up to date information on the elections. The participants were also encouraged to volunteer as ICCC Champions to help in publicizing the work of the ICCC and educating citizens on how to use the ICCC on the social media platform.
Citizens in Ekiti and Osun States are encouraged to actively participate in the collection of the permanent voter’s card billed to commence between 7th – 9th March 2014 and the continuous voter’s registration exercise holding as from 12th – 19th March 2014. It is also important for Nigerians to be equipped with the electoral laws and INEC guidelines for an effective, active and informed participation in the electoral process for credible elections and sustenance of our democracy.