With ReVoDa, Young Nigerians Monitor Nigeria’s 2011 Elections

Yesterday, Nigerians returned to their respective polling units to cast their votes for candidates seeking to represent us at 312 of 360 Federal Constituencies and 94 of 109 Senatorial Districts where elections were not postponed. The turn-out could be better, but we commend the Nigerians who braced the odds – including security fears – to exercise their mandate.

EiE Nigeria continues to work towards getting out the youth vote, in particular, while also encouraging young Nigerians to demand good governance and public accountability from elected officials at all levels. Towards this, we launched the Register | Select | Vote | Protect (RSVP) Campaign which has become popular among the electorate in general. As part of the RSVP Campaign, we designed ReVoDa, a mobile application that allows mobile phone users to report incidents, progress, issues and results from their respective polling units. ReVoDa users are also consistently kept up-to-date on electoral issues. We are glad to announce that everyone can now view reports sent in by ReVoDa users across Nigeria via our project website, www.revoda.org, by clicking on the View Reports button on the homepage.

The newly launched ReVoDa app has already been downloaded by over 6,300 people. For the National Assembly elections, we received 556 reports from ReVoDa users across 27 states (including Abuja). We got reports from Abia, Adamawa, Akwa Ibom, Anambra, Benue, Borno, Delta, Edo, FCT, Gombe, Imo, Jigawa, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Kebbi, Kogi, Kwara, Lagos, Niger, Ogun, Ondo, Osun, Oyo, Plateau, Rivers and Zamfara states. The following summary shows our ReVoDa app users thought about yesterday’s elections:

  • Electoral Officials’ Arrival: 349 citizen reporters confirmed that INEC officials arrived on time while 195 stated that the officials arrived late. While 64% may be quickly graded as a B, we believe that 100% prompt arrival should be the target, considering the critical role this factor plays in the entire success of the Modified Open Ballot System that INEC has adopted for the 2011 elections.
  • Materials’ Availability: 79% of ReVoDa users who sent in reports said they were sure that electoral materials were available ahead of the commencement of the voting process. 20% did not report on the availability of materials while 1% stated that electoral materials were insufficient. We believe that INEC officials should allay the expected fears of voters – based on past experiences – that electoral materials may not be sufficient or available.
  • Voting: 1.3% of ReVoDa reporters confirmed that voting had not started as at 1:30pm in their polling units, and we believe this is not unconnected to the late arrival of INEC officials and materials. We also think this may be due to the inability of some polling units with more than 300 registered voters to split into multiple voting centres.
  • Vote Counting and Result Announcement: 54% of ReVoDa users stayed back at their respective polling units and confirmed that they all witnessed vote counting and result announcement. We commend the stance of INEC that voters are allowed to stay back to witness the counting of votes. As far as EiE Nigeria is concerned, protecting our votes is not something we can leave to party agents, it’s something that every Nigerian must do!
  • Violence and Fraud: 2% of ReVoDa users reported incidents of violence in their polling units while 3.8% reported suspected cases of fraud.
  • Police Behaviour: We commend INEC and the Police for providing hotlines that citizens can use to reach them for needed help, and we have since made the numbers automatically available to everyone who downloads the ReVoDa mobile application by storing the mobile numbers in the application. Of the 371 ReVoDa users who commented on the behaviour of police officers in their polling units, 96.3% said the police officers were helpful, 1.6% thought they were biased and 2.1% said the police officers in their polling units were intimidating. We urge INEC to work with security agencies to prevent a repeat of bias or intimidation during the April 16th and 26th elections.

We believe that even though the elections are not perfect, April 9th was a much more exciting day for young voters, who kept the world informed though various social media platforms and the ReVoDa mobile application. However, April 16th and April 26th must be significantly improved so that Nigerians can believe in the electoral process, which we see as a major cornerstone of our growing democracy. For example, there were many voided votes recorded in polling units across Nigeria, which points to the need for INEC to make electoral materials available ahead of elections so that stakeholders can educate voters better. Names of registered voters were reported missing, and the low turnout, which saw a polling unit recording as low as 5.75% out of potential 600 registered voters, should concern all stakeholders. We encourage Nigerians to check the results that they dutifully recorded and transmitted from their polling units, against INEC’s official breakdown of results in polling units, to confirm that their votes were accurately reflected.

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