Tuesday 12 March 2019


Photo L-R: Sarah Fradgley (Press officer), Dr. Dayo Oluyemi-Kusa (Conflict Transformation Expert) & Maria Arena Mep (Chief Observer) @ the EU Press Conference on Nigeria's 2019 elections

Yesterday, 11th March 2019 was indeed a busy day for me. The National Democratic Institute(NDI/IRI and the European Union (EU) held separate Press Conferences on the conduct of Nigeria's 2019 elections in Abuja. I was at both briefings. The concerns about the elections are similar.

Some of the findings are:

*Systemic failings and electoral security problems show need for 'serious reform'.
*There were operational improvements in the Governorship and State Houses of Assembly elections of 9th March over the Presidential election held earlier. However, these gains were overshadowed by systemic failings - lack of transparency, incumbency advantage ballot box snatching and a 'troubling electoral security environment'.
*Condemnation for the obstruction of citizen observers by the military and security agents on election day. International observers were denied access to collation centres in Rivers state.
*Overall, the elections were competitive, with freedom to campaign. However, there was misuse of state-owned media, which prevented a level playing field. Institutional websites were used to campaign by both the APC and PDP gladiators.
*Collation process: Inconsistent numbers, lack of clear checks/explanation and insufficient public information undermined confidence in the integrity of the  process.
*The absence of internal party democracy and the lack of effective mechanisms for resolving intra-party disputes contributed to 'highly contentious' party primaries in 2018, which resulted in over 600 pending court cases, some of them to resolve candidacies for state-level offices.
*Lack of women's representation: The percentage of women candidates running for governor and deputy governor increased slightly in 2019 from 6 to 17 percent respectively in 2015 to 8 and 26 percent. However, the two major parties did not field any female candidates for governor.. Additionally, of the 276 women running for deputy governor, only 5 were candidates from APC and PDP.. So far the Nigerian government has not applied the 53% Affirmative Action principle included in the 2006 National Gender Policy.


1) To the Executive branch of government

*Expedite the adoption of comprehensive electoral reforms.
*Implement fully and expeditiously the recommendations of the Nigeria-led reform initiatives, e.g. Uwais Commission (2008) and the Nnamani Committee (2017).
*Adopt and apply measures to achieve 35% affirmative action for women in both elective and appointive positions.
*Investigate the actions of the military and hold all those who violated the electoral and other laws accountable.

2) To the National Assembly

*Undertake and pass amendments to the election law that address the challenges and lessons learned from the 2019 electoral cycle.
*Prioritise legislation that would promote women's leadership and political participation by adopting the Gender & Equal Opportunities Bill.

3) To INEC

*Publish detailed state and national level results in a timely manner.
*Conduct a comprehensive review of the conduct of the 2019 polls.
*Review the recommendations of credible domestic and international observers.
*Ensure effective communication between the state and federal levels throughout the election process.
*Reconsider the order and timing of general elections in Nigeria.
*Fully empower presiding officers to exercise their authority to act on election offences when they occur.

4) To political parties & candidates

*Strengthen mechanisms for internal party democracy.
*Develop mechanisms for effective resolution of intra-party conflicts.
*Work across parties to identify common priorities and support electoral reform.
*Abandon electoral practices such as voter intimidation, vote buying and other disruptions of the election process.
*Develop state level platforms and policy positions that take into consideration localised priority issues upon which voters can base their choices.
*Strengthen relationships between party structures and elected representatives in the National Assembly and state level to support parties' reform agendas.

5) To civil society

*Convene national and state level multi-stakeholder dialogue to draw lessons from the 2019 election process while galvanising broad-based support for electoral reforms.
*Create broad-based coalitions and aggressively champion coordinated advocacy campaigns to increase the participation of women. Take a cue from the #NotTooYoungToRun campaign.
*Enhance effort to channel citizen priorities at the state and local levels to responsive and accountable governance.

6) To security agencies

*Work with INEC to enforce the electoral law by investigating and prosecuting perpetrators of election-related criminal acts.
*Investigate and sanction security personnel who violate the rules of engagement on election day.

The above represents some of the concerns and recommendations of some foreign observers as regards the 2019 elections in Nigeria. I hope the various arms of government, security agencies and civil society do their part by closely studying the extant commentary on the elections...

Related Links

*The 'Propaganda Secretaries' behind Nigeria's 2019 elections   https://twitter.com/CDDWestAfrica/status/111885...
*8 rules for Biometric Voter Registration   https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/8-rules-successful-biometric-voter-registration/
*How are young Africans engaging the electoral processes? Lessons from Nigeria & Senegal   https://allafrica.com/stories/201904231157.html 
*Why Presidential Election Petitions fail   https://leadership.ng/2019/03/21/why-presidential-election-petitions-fail
*Nigeria's election law: Matters & petition cases   lawnigeria.com/judgement/election-matters-law-judgement3.php
*Justice Bulkachuwa withdraws from Presidential Elections Petitions Tribunal   https://www.youtube.com/watch...   https://punchng.com/breaking-bulkachuwa-withdraws-from-presidential-election-petition
*Why I asked Justice Bulkachuwa to withdraw from Presidential Election Tribunal   https://www.premiumtimesng.com/.../331202-why-i-asked-justice-bulkachuwa-to-withdraw...
*Presidential Election Tribunal dismisses suit seeking to stop President Muhammadu Buhari's inauguration   https://www.channelstv.com/.../presidential-election-petition-tribunal-dismisses-suit-seeking...
*Nigeria's 2019 elections   https://kujenga-amani.ssrc.org/2019/02/15/special-issue-nigerias-2019-elections-in-perspective/
*Displaced but not disenfranchised: IDPs and the 2019 elections in Nigeria   https://kujenga-amani.ssrc.org/2019/02/15/displaced-but-not-disenfranchised-idps-and-the-2019-nigerian-elections
*Women and Nigeria's 2019 elections   https://kujenga-amani-ssrc.org/2019/02/15/women-and-nigerias-2019-elections/
*The international community and Nigeria's 2019 elections   https://kujenga-amani.ssrc.org/2019/02/15/the-international-community-and-nigerias-2019-elections/
*Security agencies and the 2019 elections in Nigeria   https://kujenga-amani.ssrc.org/2019/02/15/security-agencies-and-the-2019-elections-in-nigeria/
*Bullets and ballots: Exploring insecurity in the 2019 elections in Nigeria   https://kujenga-amani-ssrc.org/2019/02/15/bullets-and-ballots-exploring-insecurity-and-the-2019-elections-in-nigeria
*Not ready to run: Youth and Nigeria's 2019 general elections    https://kujenga-amani-ssrc.org/2019/02/15/not-ready-to-run-youth-and-nigerias-2019-general-elections/
*Political campaigns in the 2019 elections: Economic debate takes back seat   https://kujenga-amani.ssrc.org/2019/02/15/political-campaigns-in-the-2019-election-economic-debate-takes-a-backseat/
*INEC says only 21 recommendations by foreign missions can be implemented internally   bit.ly/1HyuNuk   https://www.premiumtimesng.com/news/339714-2019-elections-inec-says-only-21-recommendations-by-foreign-missions...
*Atiku's turbulent journey from polls to Presidential tribunal loss   https://www.premiumtimes.ng.com/news/headlines/351962-atikus-turbulent-journey-from-polls-to-presidential-tribunal-loss...
*2019 elections: INEC involved in over 1,600 court cases   https://www.premiumtimes.com/news/.../356938-2019-elections-inec-involved-in-over-1600-court-cases.html

18th June, 2019


On the 18th of June, 2019, NDI/IRI presented their final statement on the 2019 elections in Nigeria. It is a follow up to their preliminary statement in February after the Presidential elections. I should not fail to mention a new innovation during the release of the final statement. As far as I can recall, this was the first time Nigerian stakeholders were invited to join the IRI/NDI team at the 'high table' for the presentation.

The invited Nigerian stakeholders were:

*Prof. Remi Sonaiya - Professor of French and KOWA Party candidate for the 2015 Presidential election.
*Honourable Simon Karu - He was elected in 2019 to the House of Representatives for the constituency of Kaltungo-Shongom in Gombe state. He emerged as the first youth under the age of 40 to be elected into a federal seat at the National Assembly.
*Chairman Bashir Yusuf Ibrahim - He is a Nigerian politician and businessman. Bashir is the National Chairman of the People's Democratic Movement (PDM).

The three stakeholders listed above gave a good account of themselves while giving their unique perspectives on the polity and nature of the electoral system in Nigeria. The following constitute the main thrust of the statement:

*The 2019 general elections fell significantly short of standards set in 2015.
*Citizen' confidence in the elections was shaken. Election stakeholders should take concrete steps to address the concerns of citizens with regard to the polls.
* The 2019 elections highlighted for many Nigerians the need for a national conversation about the country's democratisation since the 1999 transition to civil rule.
* The report provides recommendations to enhance the credibility of elections in Nigeria, going forward - political party conduct, civic engagement, election security and legal frameworks around election disputes.
*In previous years, suggestions for improvement by reputable citizens and international observation missions went unheeded.

I sincerely hope that these useful recommendations are carefully studied and implemented to a large extent.

Related Links

*The sophisticated ways WhatsApp was used in Nigeria's 2019 elections   https://qz.com/africa/1678202/how-whatsapp-impacted-nigerias-2019-elections/
*Journalistic framing of electoral conflict in a politically fragile society: A comparative study of the Zimbabwean weekly press   https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/fill/10.1080/23743670
*Sorting fact from fiction: Nigeria's 2019 elections   https://t.co/fFXsiH6iAI
*Judging an umpire: Observers' verdicts & INEC's scorecard   https://tribuneonlineng.com/226147

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