IRI Announces Delegation to Observe Nigeria’s Presidential Election

March 23, 2015

Washington, DC – IRI today announced its delegation to observe Nigeria’s March 28 presidential election.  Leading the delegation will be Constance Berry Newman, member of IRI’s Board of Directors, former assistant secretary of state for African affairs and former U.S. Agency for International Development assistant administrator for Africa; and Thomas E. Garrett, IRI’s vice president of programs. 

Delegates will travel to Nigeria to monitor accreditation, voting and ballot counting throughout the country.  Following the voting, IRI will issue a statement on the preliminary findings of the delegation.  This election observation mission follows IRI’s pre-election assessment mission, which was conducted along with the National Democratic Institute.

Other delegates who will observe the election are:

  • Karin Alexander, of Zimbabwe, noted author and African expert specializing in democratization, governance and conflict management;
  • Worku Gachou, professional staff member-majority overseeing the African affairs portfolio for the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee;  
  • Doug Heye, communications consultant and deputy chief of staff for communications for then-House Majority Leader Eric Cantor;
  • Djingarey Maiga, of Mali, head of Women and Human Rights and a member of the Women’s Democracy Network;
  • Peter Manu, of Ghana, political consultant and former national chairman of the New Patriotic Party;
  • Okumu Ronald Reagan, member of the Ugandan Parliament;
  • W. Douglas Smith, program officer at the U.S. Institute of Peace;
  • Gretchen Birkle, director of Africa programs at IRI; and
  • Robina Namusisi, of Uganda, director of IRI’s Nigeria program.

Upon arrival in Nigeria, delegates will be briefed by political party and civil society representatives as well as by election officials.  They will also be briefed on the rights and responsibilities of international observers and Nigerian election law and will then deploy throughout the country where they will observe polling stations and identify and evaluate strengths and weaknesses in Nigeria’s election system, including campaign regulations, the balloting process, vote tabulation and reporting. 

In addition to its pre-election assessment and its election observation mission, IRI is also supporting local monitoring efforts through its work with the Nigerian Women’s Trust Fund, a local civil society group that is monitoring gender participation in the elections.  Through this effort, and its endorsement of the Declaration of Global Principles for Non-Partisan Election Observation and Monitoring by Citizen Organizations, IRI recognizes the important role citizen observers play in ensuring transparent, open elections. 

IRI endorses the Declaration of Principles for International Election Observers, and, through international election observation missions and assessments, has monitored 203 elections in 57 countries, including Nigeria’s 1999, 2003, 2007 and 2011 elections. 

IRI’s observation mission is funded by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor.

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