On Tuesday, the National Democratic Institute (NDI) and the International Republican Institute (IRI) of the United States revealed their final assessment on the Nigeria 2023 general elections, concluding that the polls were beset by logistical challenges. The Joint International Election Observation Mission (IEOM) reported that the 2023 elections in Nigeria were far-cry from citizens’ legitimate and reasonable expectations despite some positive developments in election administration, increased competition in the presidential race, and quality engagement of youth.
As per the US-backed CSOs report, “significant logistical, technological, and communications failures by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), divisive rhetoric by political parties, political violence, regional disparities in electoral integrity, instances of vote manipulation, and marginalization of key populations all had negative impacts on key aspects of the election process.” According to the NDI and IRI, 27% of eligible voters cast ballots in the elections, the lowest turnout for national contests in Nigeria’s modern democratic history.
Election officials should upload results image to IReV portal.
The joint observer mission called on Nigeria’s new administration, legislature, INEC, and political parties to demonstrate true and renewed commitment to strengthening the country’s democratic and electoral processes, combating corruption, and providing citizens with trustworthy institutions. It also emphasized the importance of genuine cooperation amongst all Nigerians stakeholders to address the lingering electoral defect and work continuously on the recent reform progress. The report claimed to be based on data gathered by an international election observation team to Nigeria led by the joint NDI/IRI Nigeria international election observation mission, which was present in Nigeria from June 2022 to May 2023.
INEC and the (new) Electoral Act of 2022 were put to the test in the 2023 elections, but predictable problems derailed legislative and technological progress. US-based advocacy groups urged that INEC immediately comply with civil society’s demand for a thorough, independent, citizen-led review of the entire 2023 electoral process. It also urged the electorate officials to upload all images of results from the 2023 presidential election to its IReV portal without delay, and to include results from all levels of the collation process, down to the polling unit level, in a machine-analyzable and bulk format on the IReV portal.
Lawmakers urged to prioritize gender quota legislation.
Beyond that, the commission recommended that INEC promptly release a full list of all canceled polling units, including the reasons for cancellation and the total number of PVCs received for each polling unit that was canceled. It is imperative that individuals responsible for any acts of violence or manipulation of the 2023 election are brought to justice by INEC, the police, and the courts. In addition, they urged that the international community identify and sanction the government and party officials responsible for orchestrating or tolerating any electoral violence or manipulation during the 2023 election cycle.
Moving forward to the 2027 election, lawmakers in Nigeria are urged to prioritize gender quota legislation. It recommended that the Electoral Act of 2022 be revised to accommodate absentee processes for domestic observers, polling officials, security professionals, and inter-state workers who are unable to be present at their registered polling units on election day. The IEOM proposed that lawmakers review the current legal framework to provide clear and well-resourced electoral offense enforcement measures. INEC should also make the process of compiling the results transparent by revising the guidelines to mandate that form EC4OG be made publicly available with the results forms.
Political actors should refrain from spreading deceptive narratives.
In addition, the observers urged INEC to develop realistic timelines and an operational framework. Members of political parties that promote misinformation, violent hate speech or ethnic polarization, or politically destabilizing rhetoric should be held accountable, and political actors should refrain from spreading deceptive narratives about the elections, their opponents, or democratic institutions. The report also called for an amendment to the Electoral Act to make it clear that security agencies have the ability to halt electoral offenses at polling stations, rather than defer to INEC officials for directives.