IRI to Observe Nigeria’s Presidential and Gubernatorial Elections

Abuja, Nigeria – a delegation of approximately 50 election observers from IRI – a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to advancing democracy – departed today for 14 states across Nigeria to monitor Saturday’s presidential election.

Robert C. Perry, a former U.S. Ambassador to the Central African Republic, will head a group of observers consisting of elections officials, African political leaders, political campaign veterans and international development and democracy experts, including IRI president George A. Folsom.

IRI Calls for Credible Voting Process “IRI is here to bear witness to and support Nigeria’s efforts to consolidate its democracy,” said Ambassador Perry.  “A credibly administered election will go a long ways towards mobilizing resources for Nigeria’s future development.”

Perry noted the concerns of opposition political parties and election observers over the conduct of the April 12 National Assembly election.  “IRI recommends that Nigerian election officials take all necessary steps to insure the integrity of the voting process,” Perry said.

The IRI teams deployed to the states of Katsina, Kogi, Imo, Gombe, Cross River, Abuja, Sokoto, Rivers, Ogun, Nassarawa,Bauchi, Oyo and Lagos to observe election procedures.

A 20-person IRI delegation observed Nigeria’s national assembly elections on April 12 in seven states.  In a preliminary statement issued the next day IRI commended the people of Nigeria for the “serious and generally peaceful conduct” of the assembly elections, but noted “serious lapses at critical levels at critical levels of the election administrative structure.”

IRI made several specific recommendations on a range of issues to improve the conduct and credibility of the presidential election.  For example, observers reported that security seals were not being used to close ballot boxes as the officials moved the boxes from polling stations to counting centers.

IRI is also increasingly concerned about apparent discrepancies between the voter turnout observed by election monitors and the voting statistics later reported by elections officials.

IRI calls on Nigeria’s political parties to avoid acts of violence.

About Ambassador Perry
Robert C. Perry most recently served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs at the U.S. State Department.  He previously was the U.S. Ambassador to the Central African Republic where he reopened the U.S. Embassy and supported UN peacekeeping and conflict resolution efforts.  In a 34-year Foreign Service career Ambassador Perry served in Ethiopia, Bolivia, Mauritius, Mexico, Chile and Vietnam.
IRI in Nigeria
IRI has been active in Nigeria since 1998, training political parties in grassroots political skills, conflict resolution, communications and women’s participation.  For Nigeria’s 2003 elections IRI produced a widely distributed illustrated handbook to help polling agents from the political parties monitor the voting procedures.
IRI in Africa
In December 2002, IRI election observers also oversaw the Kenyan presidential election.  IRI is currently involved in several African countries including Angola, Kenya, Liberia, Somaliland, South Africa, Sudan, Uganda and Zimbabwe.
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