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Fixing Nigerian Elections: The Imperative and Substance of Electoral Reforms
"It’s about 2 years, 7 months and 21 days to the 2023 general elections. It’s obvious the challenges of our electoral process are enormous and it requires leadership and decisive actions from diverse stakeholders to fix. This is why Yiaga Africa and our partners are hosting this townhall to address the declining quality of elections and loss of faith in the democratic institutions due to impunity, exclusion and unbridled corruption. If the electoral process is reformed, it will improve the quality of public leadership and governance at all levels and also increase public trust in democracy and democratic institutions. Tonight’s townhall is an opportunity for stakeholders especially citizens to reflect, engage and build consensus on electoral reform priorities and timelines"
These were the words of Samson Itodo, Executive Director, Yiaga Africa while delivering opening remarks at the Citizens’ Townhall on Electoral Reforms held on June 30, 2020 on Channels television. The event was co-hosted by Yiaga Africa and European Centre for Electoral Support (ECES). Other partners include Albino Foundation, International Press Centre (IPC), Nigerian Women Trust Fund (NWTF), CLEEN Foundation, Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre (PLAC), Westminster Foundation, National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS), BBC Media Action, Institute of Media and Society (IMS), INEC and Premium Times Centre for Investigative Journalism (PTCIJ). The townhall was hosted with the support of the European Union.
The Citizens’ townhall, which drew participants from key institutions and stakeholders in Nigeria’s electoral processes, including elections umpire Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), political parties, government (both the executive and the legislature), mass media, Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), academia, legal practitioners, Development Partners and the general public, sought to ‘address the declining quality of elections and loss of faith in democratic institutions’.
This publication is a summary of key outcomes of the conversations held at the townhall. The townhall highlights pertinent issues that require urgent attention in order to boost the democratic qualities of Nigerian elections, notably competition, participation and legitimacy. Such issues include the challenge of managing the political environment, the attitude and behaviour of the political gladiators, the cost of conducting elections, the relevance and application of technologies, electoral violence and election security, issues of inclusion and representation of marginalized groups, especially women, youth and People With Disability (PWDs), etc. As Samson noted, ‘if the electoral process is reformed, it will improve in the quality of public leadership and governance at all levels and increase public trust in democracy and democratic institutions’.