Friday, 18 March 2011

Nigeria: ReVoDa - Making Your Votes Count

Politicians barred from election monitoring

It appears that on Election Day political office holders as was customarily the case will not be able to travel round their constituencies as unauthorised election monitors [1], thereby exerting undue influence on the electoral process.

Many times we have seen these political office holders with their entourages and coterie of the sycophantic mob arrive at voting centres, disrupt the process and at times commandeer the ballot box and get all registrations put in their docket or cart away the ballot box to be stuffed with votes to give them office.

This time, the situation is different and according to the Resident Electoral Commissioner in Oyo State, Mr. Ayo Adakeja, none of the following people can act as party agents during the electoral process - local government chairmen, members of a local government, commissioners in a state, deputy governor, or governor of a state, minister or any other person holding political office under any tier of government.

Besides this, there are vehicular movement restrictions that apply to everyone on election days, this however becomes concerning if people have registered at polling units distant from their locations of residence or those who have registered in their home villages far away from their locations of residence that they cannot make the journey in time to get to vote on election day.

Banking on their impartiality

However, the issue of monitoring of the elections in April 2011 has in essence become a civic responsibility, everyone has to get involved, the employment of members of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) [2] rather than civil servants and teacher who were previously pressganged into service, hopes to use the lack of local allegiance of the NYSC members to offer a fa├žade of impartiality on the part of the agents of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) [3].

NYSC members are usually posted to locations other than their state of origin, a huge responsibility for the future of Nigeria is being placed on their shoulders to ensure that the voting process is transparent, free, fair, unhindered by any vested interests.

Making your votes count through reporting

The civic responsibility part comes with the launching of the ReVoDa [4] application produced by the EiE Nigeria's RSVP campaign [5] which allows for every voter who has a mobile phone to report the state of things at their polling unit.

For the first time, fully corroborated reports of activities at Polling Units can be collated to a central location which would include the Polling Unit Number and the name of the reporter of the event or activity and this should be admissible as part of evidence if electoral disputes should arise.

More importantly, it would hopefully serve as a deterrent to criminal activity since immediate citizen reporting can be done and probably would allow a prompt arresting of the situation before it becomes serious electoral malpractice.

RSVP voting without regrets

Having Registered, we are now going through the process of assessment and Selection of those vying for political office; do not commit or give allegiance until you have heard all sides and had your questions properly answered.

In April, you have the opportunity to Vote for your selections and then you need to take the next step of Protecting your vote to ensure that the popular democratic will of your community, locality, state and country is counted as the ballots indicate.

Download and Use ReVoDa

Avail yourselves of the opportunity of downloading ReVoDa [6] well before the electoral season, visit the site regularly for updates and information about how you too can be involved in ensuring your vote is protected all the way to when the results are announced.

ReVoDa appears very user-friendly with lots of drop-down menus to allow you make your reports of the Election Type, INEC Official, Materials Available, Voting & Accreditation, Votes Collation & Count, Result Announcement, Violence, Fraud and the tally of votes per party.

The democratic process in April 2011 is now squarely in the hands of the people and it is up to us to make it work, however, it can only work if every participates in the debates and discussions, in the voting, in the monitoring and in the reporting truthfully of all activities around the electoral process.

Make Your Vote Count and use all the tools you have to ensure they do count.

Sources

[1] » INEC bars govs, deputies, others from monitoring elections - Vanguard (Nigeria)

[2] National Youth Service Corp

[3] INEC Nigeria

[4] ReVoDa | How it works

[5] Good governance and Public accountability: EnoughisEnough Nigeria (EiE)

[6] Enough is Enough (EiE) Nigeria : ReVoDa – How to download the application

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