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Nigerian Government Must Strengthen Democracy, Restore Trust In Electoral Commission – CSOs

Nigerian Government Must Strengthen Democracy, Restore Trust In Electoral Commission – CSOs
March 24, 2023

The groups said the Nigerian government must understand the significance of the event and how it can contribute to the growth and development of Nigeria.


A coalition of civil society organisations in Nigeria has said the country has a lot to learn at the second Summit for Democracy in the United States.


The summit to be held from March 28 to 30 is a discussion on the tensions between security, democracy and civil liberties, the costs and benefits of total defense/comprehensive security models.


It will be co-hosted by the United States, Costa Rica, the Netherlands, Republic of Korea, and Republic of Zambia.


In a statement, the organisations which include Accountability Lab Nigeria; BUDGIT Foundation; Centre for Journalism Innovation and Development (CJID); Connected Development (CODE); DEAN Initiative, Abuja Nigeria; Public and Private Development Centre (PPDC); Spaces for Change | S4C, Nigeria and Yiaga Africa said the recently held elections in Nigeria lack transparency and operational failures reduced trust and challenged the right to vote.


As a critical partner in this Summit, the groups said the Nigerian government must understand the significance of the event and how it can contribute to the growth and development of Nigeria.


The statement read, “On March 29-30, 2023, the United States will co-host the second Summit for Democracy with the governments of Costa Rica, the Netherlands, the Republic of Korea, and the Republic of Zambia. The Summit for Democracy aims to bring together key international players to discuss various topics related to democratic renewal. As a critical partner in this Summit, the Nigerian government must understand the significance of this event and how it can contribute to the growth and development of Nigeria.


“At the 1st Summit for Democracy in 2021, President Muhammadu Buhari spoke on improving the following: Democratic Decision Making, Electoral Reform, Anti-Corruption, Rule of Law and Insecurity, and Regional Democracy Support. We analyzed his verbal commitments in a blog: “Nigeria needs to renew its commitment to Democracy.”


“The past two years’ results on these commitments needed to be more specific and actionable. However, there have been highlights: Democratic Decision Making: President Buhari set his handover two weeks before the presidential election with the establishment of a Presidential Transition Council; Electoral Reform: President Buhari signed the Electoral Act amendment into Law; Anti-Corruption: Nigeria’s Implementation of 51 of 65 recommendations of the 2014 and 2019 United Nations Convention against Corruption, with the most significant strides in asset recovery; Regional Democracy Support: Nigerian Government boosts its presence in ECOWAS with a permanent Mission, supports reforms, and wants better collaboration in the region; Rule of Law and Insecurity: UK and Nigeria strengthen security and defense partnerships to tackle terrorism and build regional security.


“Yet, gaps still exist in these fields: Democratic Decision Making: Nigeria’s election results put disenfranchisement in the spotlight. INEC failed to adhere to its statements and guidelines, derived from the electoral act, that results would be uploaded to its portal using the BVAS directly from the polling unit in real-time for the public’s viewing. Lowest voter turnout recorded: Of 93.4 million registered voters, 87.2 million collected their Permanent Voters Card, and the total number of actual voters in the presidential election was 24.9 million;

“Electoral Reform: Nigeria ticks some boxes as a democracy. Why has this not translated into a better life? Elections were held on schedule, but lack of transparency and operational failures reduced trust and challenged the right to vote.; Observers blame INEC for identified challenges: Logistical challenges and multiple incidents of political violence overshadowed the electoral process and suppressed voters;


“Anti-Corruption: Dariye, Nyame’s release major setback in Nigeria’s anti-corruption war, says Transparency InternationaI; Rule of Law and Insecurity: Nigeria's insecurity, every region is affected, and a considerable concern with Africa’s largest democracy at the polls; Regional Democracy Support: Nigeria has spent over $1bn on the purchase of weapons in eight years; However, instability affects neighbouring countries.


“Here are some recommendations: Democratic Decision-Making: Inclusive and Participatory Democratic approaches towards decision-making: public consultations and the transparency of decision-making processes; Strengthen the freedom of expression and information for a healthy civic space; Independent Press/ Media, with the protection of journalists/ media personnel from all forms of human rights abuses and violations. Electoral Reform: Political party financing in elections: criminalize the use of public resources for political purposes; Resist undermining the Independent National Electoral Commission through nominating, confirming, and appointing partisan and unqualified persons as Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC); Regular update of existing voter verification; Anti-Corruption: Develop the National Money Laundering Strategy report before December 2023 to curb Illicit Financial flows;

“Enforcement of the NFIU directive under Section 3(1) a – s and Section 23 (2) of the NFIU Act, 2018, and other provisions under the Money Laundering (Prevention and Prohibition) Act, 2022 (MLPPA, 2022), regarding the prohibition of cash withdrawals from all government accounts at federal, state and local councils by Governors, Ministers, Foreign Missions, Local government chairmen and all the MDAs;


“Commit to full implementation of the Open Government Partnership Nigeria reforms according to the third National Action plan; Strengthen the framework for improved fiscal transparency, including budget documentation, treasury reports, and citizen engagement documents; Implement the Open Contracting Standards with a competitive tendering process with full disclosure and transparency. Rule of Law and Insecurity:

“Conduct dialogues for a clear operational separation of powers between the 3 tiers of government;

“Commitment to an e-procurement system for defense agencies and organizations recognizing defense procurement dynamics;

“Invest in the rule of law to ensure the judicial system is independent, efficient, and accessible and serves justice equally to all, to enhance citizen’s confidence in the Judiciary;

“Promote and protect citizens' fundamental human (and digital) rights at all costs, including equal treatment for all citizens, regardless of political class, gender, or socioeconomic and disability status.


“Regional Democracy Support: Lead Heads of State in Africa in the effort to implement the Supplementary Protocol A/SP1/12/01 on Democracy and Good Governance Supplementary to the Protocol relating to the Mechanism For Conflict Prevention, Management, Resolution, Peacekeeping, and Security, an international agreement adopted by the African Union in 2002 and ratified by many African countries to strengthen democratic governance in Africa.”