Why Vote Not Fight Campaign Very Successful – Jaspeer Veen | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Why Vote Not Fight Campaign Very Successful – Jaspeer Veen

Posted: Jun 6, 2015 at 5:49 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

Jasper Veen is the Resident Country Director of the National Democratic Institute (NDI). He along with his team and their partners ran the popular Vote Not Fight campaign during the last elections. He spoke with Senior Correspondent, Hazeez Balogun recently and he revealed the aims of the body.

Would you call the Vote Not Fight Campaign a success?


Jaspeer Veen

Jaspeer Veen

I would say that the Vote Not Fight, Election no be war campaign was a resounding success and that is because the message resonated with the average Nigerian. There were three basic words, Vote Not Fight and every one grasped the concept and it was an answer to politicians who saw elections as a do or die affair. The message clearly states that no, we have had enough of election violence. We will vote and we will not fight.

The campaign itself was very successful as it reached over 60 million people. We also made a lot of gains from Tv and radio. Our partner, 2face also did the Vote Not Fight theme song which was played all around the country which you must have heard or even seen the video. 68 million people were reached through the airwaves alone.

We also had the most successful online media campaign in Nigeria till date following the Bring Back Our Girls campaign. We had on our Facebook page over 100,000 likes. On the Twitter campaign, the hash tag Vote Not Fight was trending well before the election and on the day of the election. That is testimony to how the message resonated to everybody interested in the elections.


Why did NDI decide to focus on elections in Nigeria?


NDI is a Washington based organisation, but it is an international organisation. It’s the largest democracy promoting organisation in the world. Its chairperson is Madelyn Albright. It has over 80 offices around the world supporting democracy promoting programmes. We are strengthening civil societies, building capacity of political parties, support internal democracy within political parties, policy adherence within political parties, governance programmes and making sure that parliamentarians hold the executive to account. We do a lot of budget transparency programmes, training civil servants on what some of the laws mean, and how they can do their job on a daily basis better.

NDI works in a lot of areas in Nigeria and one of them is supporting domestic Nigerian groups in election observation. One of them is the transition monitoring group who has done a fabulous job in observing the elections and doing a quick count so they can independently verify if INEC has announced the correct result of not.


So did INEC announce the correct results?


The transition monitoring group has got a very sophisticated system to track the election results and we support them in the background through technical capacity to allow them monitor those elections. This was done through ICT and statistics. According to the monitoring group, it was a credible election but some states especially in the South-South, there was some tampering of the results during the coalition process. In four out of the six states, you could see inflated turn-out figures when it comes to one political party which was a concern. By and large, the elections were credible. In 31 out of the 36 states, they were able to verify that the elections results as announced were correct. Though the figure in the South-South was inflated, they did not alter the election result and they confirmed that General Buhari had won the elections.


Now that the elections are over, what will NDI be doing in Nigeria after the elections?


We will continue to support our partners. For one, Nigeria will have a new INEC Chairman coming in and there are a lot of electoral reform we have tabled in the past that has not been implemented yet. Our partners will be looking to the new Chairman implementing those reforms. Kogi election is also around the corner, and Bayelsa will be coming along as well. We know that both states has a reputation of being a restless State especially Kogi in particular.

The Vote Not fight campaign will be taken to both States, and we will be talking to traditional leaders, religious leaders and the youth themselves. We show them that a civil way to engage in politics is a better alternative than a violent way.


How does a body become an NDI partner?


We are based in Abuja and we have a permanent office in Abuja which is staffed by Nigerians. We engage with a lot of organizations in Nigeria. Everybody is free to knock on our door and come with very good suggestions on how they want to improve their political system. We are very much open to partnerships and we always look at the merit in the proposals. We are particular about vulnerable groups, people with disabilities, women and youth and how we can help them further their aims to be politically engaged or participate in politics.