FIDA Nigeria Preliminary Statement on The Governorship & State House of 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 the Advance Women Political Participation Project has observed 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 observation 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 sixty-six 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. 81.4 % of the polling units had the election materials before 8.30 am, 10% by 9.00 am and 8.6 % later than 9:30 am. For instance, at Polling unit 002, ward 04, Kachia LGA, Kaduna State, Electoral Officials arrived as early as 7.40 am with electoral materials. Similarly, at polling unit 012, ward 02, Kagarko LGA, Kaduna state electoral officials arrived at 7.58 am. In Plateau state, INEC Officials arrived at polling unit 001, taagbe ward, Bassa LGA at 7.25 am, At polling unit 008, ward 02, Dalori primary school, Konduga LGA, Borno state, electoral materials arrived at 8.04 am, while at polling unit 008, ward 01, Damboa LGA, INEC officials were sighted at 8.30 am.
We witnessed the early arrivals of electoral officials in Kwara State. For example, in polling unit 006, ward 02, Kaima LGA and polling unit 007, ward 07, Ilorin West LGA, these officials were seen at 7.40 am and 7.57 am respectively
2.2. Mainstreaming of Female Electoral Officials
We observed that 51.4% of polling units under our observatory had above two female electoral officials, 32.9% less than 2 female electoral officials, and 15.7% had no female electoral officials.
2.3. Security-Related Observations
We observed that only 14.3% of the polling units visited had more than 4 security personnel, 20% had 3 security personnel, 45.7% had 2 security personnel, and 20% 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 52.9%, 30% of the polling unit had less than two female security personnel, while only 17.1% had above 2 female security officials. Furthermore, security personnel were found armed at polling units in about 7.1% of the polling units observed, however, in 92.9%, security personnel were not armed.
In 90% of the polling units, women felt very secure in the polling units, while women in 10 % of the polling units, experienced some level of insecurity. For example at polling unit 008, ward 02, Dalori primary school, Konduga LGA, Borno state, we witnessed the presence of one security personnel manning the polling unit. A similar occurrence was witnessed at Polling unit 002, ward 04, Kachia LGA, Kaduna State where only one security personnel was observed presently. However, at polling unit 108, ward 13, MMC, a good number of security personnel were observed securing the polls. In 90% of polling units observed, there were no issues of physical confrontation between female election officials, agents, and observers.
2.4. Partiality of Electoral & Security Personnel
In 74.3% 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 22.9 % of polling units visited
2.5. Turnout of Female Voters:
FIDA Nigeria observed a turnout of female voters in about 57.2% of the polling units observed. This is comparatively low compared to the Presidential/National Assembly Elections where we experienced a turnout of women amounting to 66.2%. For instance, at polling unit 004, ward 05, Jos South, Plateau State, very few women were observed exercising their franchise. Similar incidences occurred at polling unit 027, tudun-wada , Zaria LGA, Kaduna State, and polling unit 006, ward 02, Kaiama LGA, Kwara State.
2.6. Under-Aged Female Voters
In 97.1% of the polling units visited, we observed no incidence of underage voting by Females, while these same percentiles were able to find their names on the voters register.
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 94.3% of the polling units, priority voting occurred, however in 5.7% of the polling units, these groups were compelled to join existing queues toward exercising their franchise.
For instance, at Polling Unit 003, Airforce Primary school, ward 6, Jos South LGA, Plateau State, and polling unit 05, ward 11, Riyom LGA, Plateau state, priority voting was enforced. Similarly, at polling unit 090, Naraguta, Jos North LGA, only aged women were prioritized. At polling unit 10, ward 21, MMC, Borno State aged women and women with disabilities were prioritized. The same occurrence was witnessed at polling unit 004, ward 07, Ilorin west LGA, Kwara State.
2.8. Existence of Separate Queues for Women
In 84.3% 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 15.7% of the polling units visited as INEC made no provisions, neither were no forms of enforcement by security agencies. In polling unit 001, LGEA Primary school, ward 02, Ifelodun LGA, Kwara State, separate queues were observed being enforced. Similar occurrences were observed at polling unit 3, ward 2, Kaura LGA, polling unit 21, ward 18, Sabon-Gari LGA, and polling unit 01, ward 7, Zaria LGA all in Kaduna state. Furthermore, separate queues were observed at polling unit 008, ward 2, Isin LGA, Kwara State and polling unit 008, ward 02, Dalori primary school, Konduga LGA, Borno state.
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 94.3% of polling units visited, the BVAS Machine was highly functional, however, in 5.7% of the polling units observed experienced a technical difficulty which limited women participation. However, in 2.9% of the polling units, women were discouraged and went home. For example at Polling unit 11, Gwantu ward, Sanga LGA, and polling unit 02, ward 4, Kachia LGA, domiciled in Kaduna state, witnessed elections commencing late due to malfunctioning of the BVAS. From our observations, there were no incidences of ballot box snatching or destruction by thugs.
2.9.1. Vote Trading:
FIDA Nigeria observed a few disturbing incidents of vote trading across 8.6% of the polling units. However, 91.4% witnessed no incidences of vote trading in the polling units. At polling unit 027, tudun wada, Zaria LGA, women were observed to be induced by party agents towards swaying their votes for a particular party with the sum of N1,000.
84.3% of female party agents and politicians were found to perpetuate vote buying. At polling unit 21, ward 18, Sabon-gari LGA, Kaduna state, women were observed obtaining food items towards swaying their votes to a leading party. At polling unit 004, ward 7, Ilorin West LGA, Kwara State, female voters were persuaded to vote for another party with the promise of a bank transfer after voting. At polling unit 11, Hayin Mahuta Ward, GIwa LGA, Kaduna state, a leading political party was observed disbursing funds to women. At polling unit 009, community secondary school, Irepodun LGA, Kwara state, women were being induced to vote for a particular party with an undisclosed sum of money, food, and drinks. Similarly, at polling unit 001, ward 04, Ekiti LGA, women were observed being swayed with food items.
We will continually 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