FIDA Nigeria preliminary statement on the presidential & national assembly elections as it relates to women participation
FIDA Nigeria through her situation room situated at Nicon Luxury Hotel, Abuja, the Nigeria Capital respectively is observing the participation of women and forms of violence perpetrated against women across four focal states of our intervention mainly Borno, Plateau, Kaduna, and Kwara states
FIDA Nigeria with support from UNWomen and the Government of Canada under Advance Women Political Participation Project is observing the participation of women and forms of violence perpetrated against women in the 2023 General Elections through 77 INEC accredited observers deployed across 66 polling units in the aforementioned four focal states.
An election monitoring tool was administered by our accredited observers at their respective polling units while leveraging partnerships with other civil society actors in observing, documenting, and reporting women participation and incidences of violence perpetrated against women. FIDA Nigeria continues to closely watch the process across the 66 Local Government Areas under our observatory process until it is concluded by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).The following issues are highlighted as part of our preliminary report:
2.1. Commencement of Polls
Reports across the polling units across our focal states observed indicate that election materials arrived at polling units observed between the hours of 8:30 – 9:30 am. 38 % of the polling units had the election materials before 8.30 am, 19.7% by 9.30 am, and 42.3% later than 9:30 am.
2.2. Mainstreaming of Female Electoral Officials
Furthermore, we observed that 26.8% of polling units visited had three electoral officials, 69% had 4 electoral officials, and less than 4 % had two (2) electoral officials. With regards participation of female electoral officials, we observed about 47.9% had more than 2 female electoral officials, 39.4 % had less than 2 officials, while 12.7% had no female electoral officials.
2.3. Security Observations
We observed that 26.8% had more than 4 security personnel, 22.5% had 3 security personnel, 28.2% had 2 security personnel, while 22.5 % had either one or no security presence at the polling units. Females were observed not fully mainstreamed by relevant security agencies in the polling units visited. Statistics from the field indicate that no female security official was seen in 49.3%, 33.8% of the polling unit had less than two female security personnel, while only 16.9% had above 2 female security officials. Furthermore, security personnel were found armed at polling units in about 18.7% of the polling units observed, however, in 81.7%, security personnel were not armed.
In 88.7% of the polling units, women felt very secure in the polling units, while women in 9.9% of the polling units, experienced some level of insecurity.
2.4.Partiality of Electoral & Security Personnel
In 91.5% of our polling units, electoral and security personnel were observed to demonstrate some level of impartiality, however, there were some concerns of the level of partiality in about 8% of polling units visited
2.5. Turnout of Female Voters:
FIDA Nigeria observed a large turnout of female voters in about 66.2% of the polling units observed. in polling unit 006, ward 2, Kaiama LGA, Kwara State. In Unit 007, Ward 2, Mafa LGA, Borno State, Women were observed in good numbers exercising their franchise.
2.6.Under-Aged Female Voters
In 94.4% of the polling units visited, we observed no incidence of underage voting by Females. However, in 5.6% of polling units observed, underage voting was witnessed. For instance, in polling unit 003, Ward 1, Zaria LGA, young girls were observed clearly below the stipulated age voting. In polling unit oo6, Ijabo ward , Oyun LGA, Kwara State, a similar occurrence occurred.
2.7. Priority Voting for Women from Marginalized/Vulnerable groups
FIDA Nigeria observes that women with disabilities, the elderly/Aged, pregnant women and Nursing mothers were prioritized in the voting process by INEC Adhoc Officials. Our Observers reported that in about 85.9% of the polling units, priority voting occurred, however in 14.1% of the polling units, these groups were compelled to join existing queues toward exercising their franchise.
For instance, at Polling Unit 001, Magajin Gari, Jema” LGA, Kaduna State, Priority voting was not observed as elderly Women were not given special consideration. However, at Polling units 002 & 003, Ward 7 Igabi LGA, an aged woman was observed given priority. In Plateau at polling unit 001, kitago in Bassa LGA, elderly and pregnant women were observed provided a separate voting priority queue, similarly, in Polling unit 005, RCM Primary School, Qua’an Pan LGA, the elderly and pregnant women also have a separate voting priority queue. At polling unit 002, Ward 6 Langtang North, women with disabilities are given priority voting, While at Mafa LGA Polling Unit 007, Ward 2, Borno State older women, nursing mothers, and remaining women were prioritized
2.8.Existence of Separate Queues for Women
In 84.5% of the polling units visited, we observed that INEC ensured that separate queues were created for women to exercise their franchise. However such was not existent in 15.5% of the polling units visited as INEC made no provisions, and neither were any form of enforcement by security agencies. In polling unit 001, RCM primary school kabwir, Kanke LGA, Plateau State, separate queues were not prioritized.
2.9. Functionality of the Bimodal Voters Accreditation System:
FIDA Nigeria has observed that across most polling units within our purview, the bimodal voter’s accreditation system was largely functional which aided accreditation and the voting process. In 91.5% of polling units visited, the BVAS Machine was highly functional, however in 8.5% of the polling units observed experienced technical difficulty which limited women participation,
2.9.1. Vote Trading: FIDA Nigeria observed a few disturbing incidents of vote trading across 1.6% of the polling units. However, 98.6% witnessed no incidences of vote trading in the polling units observed especially as our observers reported that these polling units were to have witnessed voting inducements. We will update the media as we receive further information from our deployed observers
FIDA Nigeria will continue to observe the elections and later issue her post-election statement to detail more on the overall participation of women and perpetrated violence.
God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Amina Agbaje (Mrs)
Country Vice President/National President