Low political campaign engagements and voter inducement may trigger electoral violence ahead of the November 16 governorship election in Bayelsa and Kogi states.
Election observer and monitoring group, YIAGA Africa, through its Watching The Vote (WTV) project, gave this warning in a report it sent to PREMIUM TIMES on Monday.
The election monitoring think tank said the findings were derived through the Long Term Observers it deployed to all the local government areas in the states to observe the pre-election environment.
The group said its pre-election findings showed that voter education activities were conducted by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), National Orientation Agency (NOA) and Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) across the two states.
The WTV said voter education messages targeted at marginalised groups like women and People Living with Disabilities (PWDs) was poor across the states.
It said INEC was the least active of the three in voter education with 50 per cent coverage across the eight local government in Bayelsa State. It said the NOA achieved 80 per cent and the CSOs 85 per cent.
In Kogi state, the WTV observed that voter education activities were conducted by INEC at 58 per cent across the 21 LGAs, the NOA 29 per cent and the CSOs 81 per cent.
The group said electioneering campaigns and activities in Kogi State were minimal, as none of the popular political parties in the state (ADC, APC, PDP, SDP) seemed to be engaging voters.
It said that its LTOs witnessed or heard only one per cent of campaign organised by the ruling All Progressive Congress APC in Kogi. It said the ADC had more campaign engagements at 38 per cent while the main opposition PDP had 23 per cent.
In Bayelsa State, the WTV said its LTOs either witnessed or heard of rallies conducted by the same ADC, APC and PDP, as well as SDP at 65 per cent, 65 per cent, five per cent, and five per cent respectively.
Vote buying is a practice of inducing voters to make them vote for a particular candidate during an election.
The WTV said voter inducement was reported in at least one of every three of the 21 LGAs in Kogi state, and in all the LGAs in Bayelsa state.
”WTV LTOs witnessed or heard of cases of voter inducement in Kolokuma/Opokuma, Southern Ijaw, Yenagoa, Brass, Ogbia, Nembe and Sagbama LGA in Bayelsa state and in Adavi, Ogori Mangogo, Okehi, Okene, Bassa, Ibaji, Idah, Kabba/Bunu and Kogi K.K LGA in Kogi state.
YIAGA Africa urged INEC to ensure inclusion, especially of all marginalised groups. “There is a need for a more proactive and targeted communication using different channels of communication on the electoral process,” it said.
It also charged the security agencies to be more intentional in addressing early signs of violence (hate speech, physical attacks, communal crises, voter inducements) and other criminal activities ongoing in the pre-election environment.
It further recommended that political parties should invest in getting out voters and mobilising voters to turn out peacefully to vote and not delve into undemocratic ways (buying of PVCs and inducing voters) of winning elections.
”All political parties, especially in Kogi state should increase their activities of engaging voters with their policy plan while soliciting their support and votes,” the WTV said.