Wednesday, October 10, 2018 2:58 pm
The National Democratic Institute, NDI and International Republican Institute delegation suggested ways of making the 2019 general election free, fair and inclusive in a statement released after the second pre-election assessment of their joint delegation to Nigeria.
With 2019 general elections barely four months away, the National Democratic Institute, NDI and International Republican Institute, IRI have recommended series of measures that can be taken by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, the Federal Government and other stakeholders to make the poll election credible, transparent and participatory.
The recommendations were contained in the report of NDI/IRI joint pre-election assessment mission delegation which visited Nigeria from September 19-28, 2018. The exercise, the second joint pre-election assessment mission to Nigeria by the two bodies was aimed at assessing the political and electoral environment in the lead-up to the 2019 general elections; assess preparations for the general elections and offer recommendations to enhance citizen confidence in the process, mitigate threats of violence in demonstration of international support for Nigeria’s democratization process, according to the delegation. Members of the delegation include Robert Benjamin, Senior Associate & Regional Director for Central and East Europe, NDI (USA); Mvemba Dizolele, Professorial Lecturer at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies (Democratic Republic of the Congo); Sarah Jegede-Toe, Co-Chair, Liberia National Elections Commission (Liberia); Anna Jones, National Network Coordinator, WANEP-The Gambia (The Gambia); and John Tomaszewski, Africa Director, IRI (USA).
The delegation said it met with a wide array of election stakeholders, including the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), political party and religious leaders, civil society representatives, security forces, academics, and representatives of the international community during the second assessment mission. In addition, the delegation also participated in the pre-election events of Osun gubernatorial election of September 22, 2018 and was also involved in monitoring of the election in Osogbo, Ilesa, Ede, and Ofatedo on the voting day.
While emphasizing that the pre-election environment is critical to the overall process of the general election, the delegation in the statement issued on 28 September noted that various stakeholders in the country’s electoral process have continued to work to enhance the electoral environment as they seek solutions to challenges and concerns over the 2019 general elections.
The delegation said, “Numerous positive developments have occurred since the 2015 elections that enhance today’s electoral environment in Nigeria. Some of these developments were noted in IRI/NDI’s first preelection statement. For example, the Independent National Election Commission (INEC) has improved the voting process, notably through the introduction of continuous voter registration, adoption of simultaneous accreditation and voting, improvements to the secrecy of the ballot, and advancement of the smart card reader technology.”
It also noted the move to encourage young Nigerians to participate in the electoral process through initiatives as the Not Too Young To Run campaign and increased participation of citizens in the electoral process through Civil society organisations.
However, the delegation also identified the challenges in the pre-election environment that may affect the credibility of the poll and capable of inducing pre/post-election violence in the report.
The delegation identified the challenges to include delays in finalizing legal framework necessary for improvement of the credibility and transparency of elections in 2019, delay in release of funds, continuing security threats in the Middle Belt and North East part of the country, heightened political tensions, failure to prosecute suspects arrested for vote buying , poor internal party democracy, inability of women, youth, and PWDs to actively participate in the electoral process, incitement to violence and disinformation by political parties, particularly through the social media among others.
While encouraging Nigerians to continue their efforts to enhance citizen confidence and participation in the election and mitigate violence before, during, and after the polls, the delegations made recommendations listed below for some of the key stakeholders to help enhance credibility and greater inclusion in the electoral process.
Recommendations for the Independent National Electoral Commission:
Recommendations for political parties:
Devote time and attention to women and youth candidates in particular.
Recommendations for civil society:
Recommendations for state-owned and private media:
Recommendations for the international community:
The delegation promised it will continue to observe the electoral process and will issue additional statements as appropriate and will also field joint international election observation missions for the 2019 general elections.