Monday, 30 November 2015

Welcome Address by Mr Abiodun Ajijola, Coordinator Election Monitor on the occasion of the public presentation of the 2015 Kogi and Bayelsa States Governorship Elections Observation and Research Guide at Shehu Musa Yar’Adua Centre, Abuja on the 5th November 2015.

Welcome Address by Mr Abiodun Ajijola, Coordinator Election Monitor on the occasion of the public presentation of the 2015 Kogi and Bayelsa States Governorship Elections Observation and Research Guide at Shehu Musa Yar’Adua Centre, Abuja on the 5th November 2015.

It is with profound gratitude to Almighty God that I make this welcome address. I wish to recognize all dignitaries and speakers that have taken out of their busy schedules to grace this occasion. I also thank all participants who have put aside one thing or the other to attend this event. For all those who came from outside Abuja, I am especially grateful.  A special thanks to the Election Monitor team which has worked assiduously to make this happen.

As Nigeria prepares for another round of critical elections in Kogi and Bayelsa States it is critical that all efforts are put on deck to make these elections better than the 2015 General Elections. It is hoped that many lessons should have be learnt from the national elections of this year and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is encouraged to ensure that it makes every effort to implement recommendations arising from its conduct of the General elections. Some areas of key importance for INEC are as follows:

·      Ensuring consistent adherence to its guidelines on use of card readers. Manual accreditation should not be permitted.
·      All polling officers using card readers should be effectively and properly trained.
·      Logistics should be well addressed to ensure early arrival of electoral materials.
·      INEC should educate security agents that observers should not be harassed for doing their job. Security agents should be also informed that observers take pictures so as to document their observations without which such observations may be difficult to prove.
·      If possible INEC should enable an alternative e-collation system for election results.
·      INEC should warn politicians not to instigate chaos and non-compliance to INEC regulations otherwise they will face sanctions irrespective of whether they have immunity or not. Situations where serving politicians disrupt the voting process should not be tolerated by INEC.

It is critical that the Federal Government not interfere in the conduct of these elections and also is seen to not interfere. The credibility and gains built in the Nigerian electoral process by the Professor Attahiru Jega lead INEC should be sustained and improved upon and this will only be possible if INEC is allowed to operate freely and neutrally. The world is watching to see if electoral reforms will continue and this is the perfect opportunity for the government of the day to show that it is committed to free, fair and credible elections irrespective of electoral outcomes. Security agents are reminded on the need to remain impartial as their functionality is for all Nigerians.

Election Monitor's mission is to promote transparent electoral processes in Africa.

In line with this mission, Election Monitor has prepared this document to provide readers with some quality information that can enable them better understand and follow the 2015 Kogi ad Bayelsa States Governorship Elections. Election Monitor has prepared such documents in the past for previous elections, however this is the first time all three documents would be combined into one for any particular set of elections. The three documents which make up this Observation and Research Guide are as follows:

1.     The Research Guide
2.     Governorship Election Update
3.     SWOT Analysis of the Candidates
The Election Monitor Pre-Election Research Guide is a document with a robust database of articles, which have been digitised and indexed. These articles span from September 2014 to October 2015. They cover topics relating to the political developments in Kogi and Bayelsa states. It is our opinion that this database would serve as a very useful tool for observers of the electoral process especially domestic and international election observers and journalists who may need detailed current developments in those states to enable better pre-election observations. 

The Pre-Election Update is a document prepared to provide readers with basic background information about Kogi and Bayelsa states, which would provide a good foundation for understanding and following the forthcoming elections. 

This SWOT Analysis of the candidates is prepared to provide a comparative analysis of the leading candidates of the 2015 Kogi and Bayelsa States Governorship Elections. The methodology used for the comparison is the SWOT Analysis tool.

It is important to state that this publication is unbiased and not prepared in favour of any candidate or party. The cost of preparing this document was borne by Election Monitor.

It is the intention of Election Monitor that this document will support the efforts of information sharing and strengthening the quality of observation of the Nigerian electoral process.

Today we are publically presenting this unique tool with the belief that our efforts will ensure that adequate and proper observation of the 2015 Kogi and Bayelsa States elections is achieved. For the sake of our nation and our unborn generations, it is pertinent that every stakeholder especially election observers support INEC to ensure that the 2015 Kogi and Bayelsa Governorship Elections are transparent, free, fair and credible.

Thank you all once again for attending this landmark event. I wish us all successful, impactful and fruitful deliberations. God Bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

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