By Eric Elezuo
Following the National Peace Accord signed today by all the contesting political parties and their presidential candidates, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has assure Nigerians that their votes will count at the elections. The party therefore urges all and sundry to come out enmasse to vote.
The Peace Accord was moderated by a former Head of State, General Abdulsallam Abubakar, and witnessed by high profile members of the international community.
In addition, the party says it has perfected plans to scuttle whatever may attempt to free flow of the voting system, just as it prevailed on the Acting Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, and his team, to rise to the occasion.
PDP’s response is stated below:
Nigerian voters should go to the polls this Saturday in record numbers, confident that the electoral process will be upheld based on our laws and our constitution.
We are pleased with the signing of The National Peace Accord today and look forward to all parties honoring our shared commitment.
We are also confident that our election officials and security services will do their duty in accordance with their oaths and obligations. Particularly we call on the Inspector General of Police whose wide international experience places him with a historic burden to ensure that security agencies strictly abide by the election code of conduct and rules of engagement.
Never in Nigerian electoral history has a candidate been so prepared to win the election and get Nigeria working again, as HE Atiku Abubakar.
Likewise, no Nigerian political party has been so prepared to help ensure that the will of the people will prevail through peaceful, free and fair elections.
The PDP is presenting some examples of our efforts, to give the Nigerian people the confidence that their vote, as expressed at the ballot box, will prevail.
1. A state-of-the-art Parallel Voting Tabulation (PVT) system is in place:
• The PVT is a scientifically proven, best practice technique, to hold election authorities accountable, particularly when there is a lack of trust, and the results are highly contested.
• The PVT is a tool that will assure that PDP partisans accept the results of the election, and that the country remains peaceful and respectful of its differences. We are aware that other PVTs will be conducted by civil society.
• Our methodology accounts for several different scenarios to ensure continued collation of the results in the event of any disruptions with collation process.
• Hard copies of the signed voter tally provided to all party agents by the NEC officers, will be transported to the central command center should future disputes need to be reconciled.
2. A national network of fully equipped Situation Rooms and call centers:
• PDP has established a reporting system for the PVT through the wards, to the district headquarters, to the States to the national tally center.
• The system has redundancies built at all levels – in the event of internet or comms shutdown or failure or any other eventualities.
• The scope of the effort is historic for Nigeria, and it will provide us with statistical certainty to accept or challenge the declared results.
Appendix I: Situation Room
3. The PDP is deploying an unprecedented number of trained party agents to each of the 176,000 polling units across the country:
• PDP agents have been trained in the electoral process, understand their rights to be present, and have data and SMS technologies to report the results as they are certified by the NEC officers at the polling units in real-time.
• The PDP has pivoted from recruiting first-time polling agents to recruiting high quality, educated individuals whose maturity and experience will help them manage and mitigate against challenges on election day.
• Systems tests, and dry runs being conducted to ensure our system is secure and fully integrated, from the polling unit all the way through to party leadership.
4. A nation-wide hotline for the public to report malpractice launched:
• The PDP is providing multiple-line inbound call center linked to a single hotline number: 097 000 551 for voters to report any incidence of violence or electoral malpractice.
• The call center will be able to identify issues to escalate serious concerns to both the Party HQ and other relevant authorities as appropriate.
5. A national campaign to #DefendYourVote is gaining traction with youth:
• The campaign is geared at Nigeria’s largest voter block (18 to 25-year-olds), many of who are first time voters.
• A set of 12 easy-to-follow guidelines has been communicated to voters.
• The PDP is grateful for the high-profile support provided by Nigeria’s top musical talent, Davido, and his highly popular #DefendYourVote videos which are trending on social media and WhatsAppp.
• An interactive Artificial Intelligence message will be sent from HE Atiku Abubakar as his final campaign message extolling people to come out and vote.
The PDP has studied the APC ‘playbook’ from the Osun election, its attempts at voter suppression, including interference and intimidation of voters, journalists, and civil society observers. Most alarmingly, the security services were deployed to discourage voter turnout in opposition strong- holds.
The PDP is concerned that the Osun playbook could be deployed again by the government especially in the states of Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Cross Rivers, Delta, Kaduna, Kano, and Rivers.
In response to Osun and other incidents of electoral malpractice, and in ensuring a free and fair election in Nigeria, the PDP has adopted international best practices including; establishing a robust elections results management system and our wide array of intelligence collectors and patriotic public servants who are resolute in defending the Constitution and the integrity of our electoral process.
We exhort all Nigerians, whoever they wish to support, to come to the polls this Saturday and cast their vote with confidence.