Successful Nigeria elections boost democratic process

05 Oct 2011

image Voting taking place in the 2011 elections in Nigeria.@ComSec

Nigeria’s general elections held from April and May of this year were widely hailed as credible, free and fair by international observers and citizen groups. Over 38 million voters cast their ballots in what many called the most successful election in decades.

Some 73.5 million voters were registered, an increase of 5.7 million from the previous figure and a critical component for conducting free and fair elections. This year, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) provided US$5.5 million to Nigeria’s Independent National Election Commission to create a credible voters’ register and to train 260,000 temporary staff to conduct the voter registration. 

Nigeria’s electoral commissioner, Attahiru Jega met with UNDP head Helen Clark Tuesday to thank her for UNDP’s critical work to make these elections a success.

The registration project forms part of a five-year, US$80 million initiative in Nigeria to consolidate and strengthen its democracy. This governance project, which runs for the five years covering Nigeria’s 2010-2015 electoral cycle, focuses primarily on voter registration, civic education, media training, women’s political representation, training for elections tribunal staff and election observers, and production of information materials and electoral kits.

Funding is provided by UNDP, the European Union, the UK Department for International Development, the Canadian International Development Agency, and the Korean International Cooperation Agency.

This project also provided financial support to the National Human Rights Commission to train 750 election security personnel and 370 security monitors who helped to ensure security during the polls. In addition, 365 youth leaders of political parties were trained on non-violence and conflict management.  UNDP and its partners provided over US$ 10 million to 18 civil society organizations to support community-based elections education including registration, voting, observation and sensitization on gender issues.  As a part of this initiative, the Alliance for Credible Elections trained and deployed a total of 3,478 observers to monitor the voter registration exercise. The Transitional Monitoring Group also trained and deployed 10,536 domestic observers to observe the elections in 12 conflict-prone states.

To bolster the effectiveness of mass media in the elections, the project established six regional media centres and trained 250 journalists in the six geo-political zones of the country on ethical coverage of the elections. The project developed, printed and disseminated 7,000 copies of the Media Guide for the 2011 elections, and engaged with media owners and editors to ensure objective, balanced and conflict-sensitive reporting of the elections.

UNDP and UN Women also provided support to political parties to enhance women’s representation and participation in the political process. Events were held in all the states with over 1,000 male and female political party officials to encourage the inclusion of more women on the candidate lists before the party primaries. A further 2,043 women politicians and candidates received various training to enable them to engage more effectively in the electoral processes.