Nigeria’s 2023 elections marred by vote manipulation – IEOM report

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By Wale Odunsi

The National Democratic Institute and International Republican Institute’s joint International Election Observation Mission (IEOM) released its final report on the 2023 general elections in Nigeria on Tuesday.

The mission, supported by the US Agency for International Development (USAID), led by Dr Joyce Banda, former President of Malawi, monitored the February 25 Presidential and National Assembly elections and presented its preliminary report on February 27.

The report criticised the conduct of the polls, saying “inadequate communication and lack of transparency by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) about their cause and extent created confusion and eroded voters’ trust in the process.”

In the final 2023 elections report sent to DAILY POST on Tuesday, National Democratic Institute (NDI) Press Secretary Paulina Chavez Alonzo gave a damning verdict, recalling the nationwide exercise saw the “lowest turnout for national contests in Nigeria’s modern democratic history, with only 27 per cent of registered voters participating.”

It noted that while there were improvements in election administration, advances in results transparency, increased competitiveness in the presidential race, quality engagement of youth, and overall optimism generated by the enactment of the Electoral Act 2022, the elections “fell short of citizens’ legitimate and reasonable expectations.”

The mission observed “significant logistical, technological, and communications failures by INEC, divisive rhetoric by political parties, political violence, regional disparities in electoral integrity,” declaring that “instances of vote manipulation and marginalisation of key populations marred the electoral process and disenfranchised voters”.

The report urges the new government, lawmakers, INEC, and political parties to show genuine and renewed dedication to improving electoral and democratic processes, fighting corruption, and providing Nigerian citizens with responsive and trusted institutions.

“Nigerians must undertake collective actions to combat disenchantment, address lingering political grievances, and restore faith in elections and democracy as a whole,” the final report states.

IEOM found that there is still space to confront electoral integrity challenges and build on the gains of recent reforms, but only through demonstrable political will, good faith, and committed and coordinated efforts among Nigerian stakeholders.

The report includes key findings on the pre-election, election day, and post-election periods and offers practical recommendations for consideration by Nigerian stakeholders and partners to promote a resilient and inclusive democracy.

The report is based on information gathered by the delegation from June 2022 to May 2023. The 40-person election day delegation observed the polls in 20 states, including the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

National Democratic Institute and International Republican Institute thanked the Nigerian people for the warm welcome that they accorded IEOM and commended the contributions of the more than 60 observers who participated in the pre-election, election day, and post-election teams.

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