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NDI

The National Democratic Institute is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization working to support and strengthen democratic institutions worldwide through citizen participation, openness and accountability in government.

Nigeria

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The 2011 elections were a watershed moment for Nigeria as the integrity of the process improved, reversing the downward trend of previous polls. Independent international and domestic observation groups noted that despite numerous challenges, including persistent election-related violence in some parts of the country, the results of these elections reflected citizens’ choice at the ballot box. Innovations by Nigerian civil society organizations (CSOs), notably the adoption of the parallel vote tabulation (PVT) methodology that provided real time verification of the official results, enhanced the process by strengthening citizen voices, expanding space for citizen engagement and holding election authorities and candidates more accountable. Even then, the success of the 2011 polls was tempered by the violence that ignited in many northern cities soon after the announcement of the presidential election results.

The 2015 elections will be more challenging due to greater political tensions and a more fragile security situation. Fissures in the ruling party and the emergence of a strong opposition coalition mean that the elections will be more hotly contested. At the same time, Boko Haram extremists continue attacks against civilians in some northern states, criminality is on the rise in the Niger Delta and Middle Belt, and incendiary campaign language and inter-party violence mount throughout the country before the 2015 polls. In the midst of these challenges, the polls provide an opportunity for CSOs to build upon and expand the advances from 2011 to further enhance the role of citizens in promoting credible elections and reducing the potential for violence.

The Institute is currently implementing two programs -- the Electoral Empowerment of Civil Society Project (EECSP) and an International Election Observation Mission (IOM) program. EECSP is a five-year initiative which aims to: 1) improve impartial observation, accurate reporting on, and recording of election vote totals by domestic election observers during and after the 2015 election cycle; 2) improve management within Nigerian partner CSOs; and 3) increase participation by marginalized groups in Nigeria political processes. The IOM program will host over 20 high-profile and Nigeria expert international observers to monitor the 2015 polls.

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Data-Driven Citizen Observation of Electoral Processes

Under EECSP, NDI is providing technical assistance to the Transition Monitoring Group (TMG), Nigeria’s premier citizen observation organization, to deploy a statistical observation method known as parallel vote tabulation, or PVT, during the 2015 elections and to carry out systematic, structured pre-election observation. Under NDI’s previous program, TMG conducted a PVT during the 2011 general elections and more than a dozen subsequent gubernatorial elections. In June 2014, TMG conducted a PVT observation in Ekiti State’s off-cycle election. Since Nigeria's 1999 transition from military to civilian rule, NDI has worked closely with civic and political organizations to support the development of the country's democratic institutions. 

In preparation for the 2015 polls, TMG has provided extensive training to its membership structures at the national, state and local levels to prepare for a nation-wide PVT during the presidential election scheduled for March 28, 2015. TMG will deploy observers to a representative sample of polling units located in every state and every local government area of Nigeria to verify official results for the 2015 presidential election.

NDI has also supported TMG to develop a comprehensive communication and outreach strategy to inform citizens and other critical electoral stakeholders about the PVT as a means to independently verify election results and to build confidence in the electoral process. Part of this strategy included the launch and promotion of a one-of-a-kind online elections data repository, which uses infographics and maps to present the findings of PVT observers deployed during the country’s 2011 presidential elections. Through the website’s interactive content, users can explore stories about critical election day issues such as polling unit opening times, voter accreditation, presence of party agents and voter turnout.

TMG has one pre-election observer in each of the country’s 774 local government areas (LGAs) gathering systematic information about the 2015 pre-electoral environment, including early warning signs of electoral violence.  The TMG observers monitor developments in their LGAs and once every two weeks text in responses to a fixed checklist of questions on such issues as the presence of political party rallies, the spread of voter education and information campaigns, INEC preparations, hate speech, inter-communal conflicts, incitement to violence, attacks on party rallies, reports of vote buying, and other important indicators of conflict in the pre-election environment. This allows TMG to track trends both over time and geographically and to produce  biweekly reports with time-series data visualizations, which is distributed to a broad network of election and security stakeholders.

Non-violent Citizen Participation in Elections

To mitigate the potential for electoral violence, NDI is partnering with the 2face Foundation and Youngstars Development Initiative (YDI) to roll out the youth non-violence voter education and a get out the vote initiative, “Vote Not Fight: Election No Be War,” with Nigerian artist, 2face Idibia, as the campaign spokesperson. A winner of multiple MTV Africa and MTV Europe Music Awards, popular artist 2face has broad, nonpartisan appeal, and his foundation promotes peace and development work in Nigeria. Ahead of the 2015 elections, YDI has been leveraging public events including 2face concerts, to discuss the campaign and encourage youth to sign the campaign’s non-violence pledge. During an electronic card reader event on October 31, 2014, INEC chairman, Attahiru Jega, expressed his support for the Vote Not Fight campaign, signed the non-violence pledge and facilitated a card reader demonstration to event attendees and the media.

International Election Observation

NDI will field an international observation mission for Nigeria’s presidential and legislative elections on March 28. The delegation members come from eight countries. The mission’s findings will be presented at a press conference in Abuja on Monday, March 30.

In an early March 2015 press release, 14 current and former leaders of NDI observation missions to Nigeria from 10 countries joined the Institute in calling for Nigerian election authorities to adhere to the new March 28 date for presidential and legislative elections.

In January 2015, NDI and IRI deployed a joint pre-election assessment mission to assess the current political  and  electoral  environment, preparations for the presidential election and offer recommendations to demonstrate international support for Nigeria’s democratization process. The joint delegation met with a variety of election stakeholders including party leadership, INEC and civil society organization.

Citizen Engagement in Electoral Reform

During the 2011 elections’ program, NDI assisted citizen groups to advocate for electoral reform to improve the election laws before the next national polls.

Civic and Voter Education Multimedia

Assisting civil society organizations to develop innovative civic and voter education multimedia has been a major focus of NDI’s work.

Strengthening Electoral Processes

NDI has trained domestic election monitors and deployed international observers for every general election in Nigeria since 1999.

1999

2003

2007

2011

Strengthening Governance at State and National Levels

In June 2014, NDI completed a year-long program supporting Bayelsa State in Nigeria’s southern Niger Delta region to promote transparency and accountability in budget and procurement processes. NDI provided training and technical assistance to the Bayelsa State House of Assembly, executive bodies working on budgeting and procurement, and civil society groups. The program sought to enhance their knowledge about the public procurement law, to hold public budget hearings and to improve legislative rules of procedure.

In 2009, NDI concluded a six-year legislative strengthening program to enhance the ability of the National Assembly to create laws and keep checks on the executive branch.

Funding

NDI's current programs in Nigeria are funded by the United States Agency for International Development, the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development, and the United States Department of State’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor.

Contact Information

For more information about these programs, use our contact form or contact:

Abuja

Jasper Veen, chief of party and resident director, jveen@ndi.org

Washington, D.C.

Gemima Barlow, Anglophone program director, gbarlow@ndi.org

 
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Promoting the AU Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance in West Africa06/28/2013
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Radio Drama Promotes Women and Youth Political Participation in Northern Nigeria06/26/2013
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Despite Problems, National Assembly Elections Give Nigerians a Real Chance to Vote, NDI Mission Finds04/11/2011
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Published Publication Title Author
03/06/2014 Equal Access: How to Include Persons with Disabilities in Elections and Political Processes
Manual|Handbook
National Democratic Institute, International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES)
01/01/2014 Civic Updates
Civic Update
National Democratic Institute
10/23/2013 Increasing Women’s Political Participation Through Effective Training Programs: A Guide to Best Practices and Lessons Learned
Training Manual
National Democratic Institute
06/28/2013 Press Release: Meeting of the West Africa Election Observers Network (WAEON) on the Status of Implementation of the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance in West Africa
Press Release
West Africa Election Observers Network
06/12/2013 West Africa Election Observers Network (WAEON) Field Guide Series
Manual|Handbook
National Democratic Institute
12/01/2012 Final Report on the Nigeria 2011 Elections
Report
National Democratic Institute
10/22/2012 Project Swift Count: Statement on Nigeria's Ondo State Governorship Election - Held Oct. 20, 2012
Statement
Project Swift Count
07/16/2012 Statement on the Edo State Governorship Election
Statement
Project Swift Count
04/03/2012 Declaration of Global Principles for Nonpartisan Election Observation and Monitoring by Citizen Organizations and Code of Conduct for Nonpartisan Citizen Election Observers and Monitors
Declaration
04/02/2012 Statement on the Kebbi Gubernatorial Election – Held 31 March 2012
Statement
Project Swift Count
02/25/2012 Statement on the Cross River Gubernatorial Election Held Saturday February 25, 2012
Statement
Project Swift Count
02/18/2012 Statement on the Sokoto Gubernatorial Election Held Saturday February 18, 2012
Statement
Project Swift Count
02/11/2012 Statement on the Bayelsa Gubernatorial Election Held Saturday February 11, 2012
Statement
Project Swift Count
02/04/2012 Statement on the Adamawa Gubernatorial Election Held Saturday February 4, 2012
Statement
Project Swift Count
12/05/2011 Statement on the Kogi Gubernatorial Election
Statement
Project Swift Count
10/31/2011 Empowering Women for Stronger Political Parties: A Good Practices Guide to Promote Women's Political Participation (Now available in Burmese)
Manual|Handbook
Julie Ballington
09/14/2011 Nigeria 2011: Post-Election Multilogue
Report
National Democratic Institute
09/14/2011 Catalogue of Recommendations to Improve the Nigerian Electoral Process
Report
National Democratic Institute
05/18/2011 Final Statement on the April 2011 General Elections: National Assembly, Presidential and Gubernatorial Elections
Statement
Project 2011 Swift Count
04/30/2011 Statement on the Selected Gubernatorial Elections Results (Nigeria)
Statement
Project 2011 Swift Count