FIDA Nigeria Interim Statement on the 2023 Bayelsa State Governorship Election
FIDA Nigeria, through its situation room situated at Candelux Imperial Hotel in Abuja, the Nigerian capital, is observing the participation of women and women with disabilities across the eight local government areas of Bayelsa State.
FIDA Nigeria, with support from the Canada Fund For Local Initiatives (CFLI) under the “Enhancing Women and Women with Disabilities Participation & Representation in the Political Process & Governance project,” will observe the participation of women and women with disabilities at the polls through 20 trained accredited stationary and roving election observers who will be deployed across the 8 Local Government Areas of Bayelsa State. An election observation tool has been developed, and our approach in observation will be both qualitative and quantitative, leveraging partnerships with other civil society actors in documenting election incidents and promoting the participation of women and women with disabilities at the polls. The following issues are highlighted as part of our preliminary report:
2.1. Commencement of Polls
Reports across the polling units under our observatory indicate that election materials arrived at 28.6% of polling units before 8:30 am. However, in 71.4% of the polling units, election materials arrived later than 9:30 am. For instance, at Polling Unit 61, Ward 05 Okutukutu-Etegwe, Yenagoa LGA, voting commenced at 8:30 am. Similarly, at Polling Unit 04, Ward 10 Southern Ijaw LGA, electoral materials and officials were present at 8:00 am. However, in Polling Unit 21, Ward 11, Ogbia Local Government Area, voting commenced by 10 am.
2.2. Presence of Electoral Officials
Reports across the polling units under our observatory indicate that 81% of polling units had 3 electoral officials, 14.3% had 2 officials, and 4.8% had less than 2 electoral officials.
2.2. Mainstreaming of Female Electoral Officials
We observed that 61.9% of polling units under our observatory had above two female electoral officials, 33.3% had less than 2 female electoral officials, and 4.8% had no female electoral officials. For instance, at Polling Unit 32, Community Primary School, Ward 1, Yenagoa Local Government Area, and Polling Unit 15, Ward 11, Southern Ijaw LGA, and Polling Unit 21, Ward 11, Ogbia LGA, two female electoral officials were observed present.
2.3. Security-Related Observations
We observed that only 42.9% of the polling units visited had more than 4 security personnel, 19% had 3 security personnel, 19% had 2 security personnel, and 19% had either one or no security presence at the polling units. Females were observed being mainstreamed by relevant security agencies in the polling units visited. Statistics from the field indicate that 47.6% of polling units observed had two female security officials, while 23.8% of the polling unit had less than two female security personnel. Furthermore, security personnel were found armed at polling units in about 4.8% of the polling units observed; however, in 95.2% of the polling units, security personnel were not armed. For example, at Polling Unit 10, Ward 04, Agboiri Primary School, Yenagoa LGA, we witnessed the presence of four female security personnel manning the polling unit. A similar occurrence was witnessed at Polling Unit 32, Ward 01, Yenagoa LGA, Kaduna State, where two security personnel were observed securing the polls. At Polling Unit 005, Ward 6, Yenagoa LGA, three security personnel were observed securing the polls. At Polling Unit 3, Ward 06, Yenagoa LGA, unarmed security personnel (6 female and 2 male) were observed. However, there was no presence of security personnel at Polling Unit 021, Ward 11, Ogbia LGA as at 9:30 am.
2.4. Partiality of Electoral & Security Personnel
In 71.4% of our polling units, electoral and security personnel were observed to demonstrate some level of partiality; however, there were some concerns about the level of partiality in about 27.6% of polling units visited.
FIDA Nigeria will continue to observe the elections and issue her preliminary statement on the elections to detail more on the overall participation of women and persons with disability.
God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Amina Agbaje (Mrs)
Country Vice President/National President