The joint International Election Observation Mission (IEOM) of the National Democratic Institute and International Republican Institute released its final assessment of Nigeria’s 2023 general elections on Tuesday.
Dr. Joyce Banda, former President of Malawi, led the mission, supported by the US Agency for International Development (USAID). The IEOM monitored the Presidential and National Assembly elections held on February 25 and presented a preliminary report on February 27.
The report strongly criticized the election process, highlighting “insufficient communication and lack of transparency from the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), which caused confusion and eroded voters’ confidence in the process.”
In the final report on the 2023 elections, sent to Eyewitness9ja on Tuesday, Paulina Chavez Alonzo, Press Secretary of the National Democratic Institute (NDI), delivered a scathing assessment, stating that the nationwide exercise witnessed the “lowest voter turnout for national contests in Nigeria’s modern democratic history, with only 27 percent of registered voters participating.”
While acknowledging improvements in election administration, result transparency, increased competitiveness in the presidential race, meaningful engagement of youth, and overall optimism generated by the enactment of the Electoral Act 2022, the report concluded that the elections “failed to meet citizens’ legitimate and reasonable expectations.”
The IEOM observed “significant logistical, technological, and communication failures by INEC, divisive rhetoric from political parties, political violence, regional disparities in electoral integrity” and stated that “instances of vote manipulation and exclusion of key populations tarnished the electoral process and disenfranchised voters.”
The report calls on the new government, lawmakers, INEC, and political parties to demonstrate genuine and renewed commitment to enhancing electoral and democratic processes, combating corruption, and providing Nigerian citizens with accountable and trusted institutions.
“To restore faith in elections and democracy as a whole, Nigerians must collectively take action to combat disillusionment and address persistent political grievances,” states the final report.
The IEOM found that there is still an opportunity to confront challenges to electoral integrity and build on recent reforms. Still, it requires visible political will, sincere intentions, and coordinated efforts among Nigerian stakeholders.
The report presents key findings from the pre-election, election day, and post-election periods, along with practical recommendations for Nigerian stakeholders and partners to foster a resilient and inclusive democracy.
Based on data collected by the delegation from June 2022 to May 2023, the report reflects the observations made by the 40-person election-day delegation in 20 states, including the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
The National Democratic Institute and International Republican Institute expressed gratitude to the Nigerian people for their warm reception of the IEOM. They commended the contributions of over 60 observers who participated in the pre-election, election day, and post-election teams.