The International Republican Institute (IRI), in collaboration with the National Democratic Institute and the International Foundation for Electoral Systems’ Democracy at Large, held a two-day event from March 31-April 1, 2009, titled National Dialogue on Electoral Reform.  The dialogue reviewed the recommendations made by Nigeria’s Electoral Reform Committee (ERC) and the Executive White Paper, with the purpose of creating a common understanding of what the future holds for Nigeria’s electoral process and how stakeholders can enhance their ability to engage in the reform process.  

Nigeria’s 22-member ERC was formed in August 2007 by President Musa Yar’ Adua with the mandate to reform Nigeria’s electoral system to meet international best practices.  The call for recommendations on reform was not limited to the electoral process, but also included reforms of Nigeria’s 1999 Constitution, the 2006 Electoral Act and other mandates related to the electoral process.  

The working sessions at the two-day event addressed an overview of the ERC and its implications for Nigeria’s electoral process, the ERC’s recommendations and the Executive White Paper on Electoral Reform, and civil society organizations in Nigeria.  The event concluded with a dialogue about moving forward and building confidence in Nigeria’s electoral process.

Just as the topics for each session addressed a range of issues, the speakers and guests at the event represented a number of high profile individuals from a variety of institutions.  In attendance was:  General Muhammadu Buhari, a former head of state and presidential candidate of All Nigeria Peoples Party; Senator Ken Nnamani, former Senate President; Dr. Christiana Thorpe, Chief Electoral Officer of Sierra Leone; Alhaji Aminu Bello Masari, former Speaker of the House of Representatives,; National Chairmen of Action Congress, Progressive Peoples Alliance, Citizens Popular Party, All Progressive Grand Alliance, as well as representatives from academia, the media, women’s groups, youth groups, the Joint National Association of Persons with Disabilities and Civil Society Organizations.  The Ambassador of the United States to Nigeria, Robin Renee Sanders, attended the closing session and delivered the closing remarks.

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