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IRI/NDI Release Nigeria International Election Observation Mission Final Report

June 18, 2019

Washington, DC - The joint Nigeria International Election Observation Mission of the National Democratic Institute (NDI) and the International Republican Institute (IRI) released its final report on the 2019 Nigerian elections. The final report is a comprehensive analysis of the electoral process and includes important recommendations ahead of Nigeria’s 2023 general elections.

This final report builds on the findings and recommendations of three pre-election assessment missions in July 2018, September 2018, and December 2018 as well as preliminary statements released following the February 23, 2019 presidential and National Assembly elections and the March 9, 2019 gubernatorial and state House of Assembly elections. The IRI/NDI mission conducted its activities in accordance with Nigerian law and the Declaration of Principles for International Election Observation.

The NDI/IRI observation mission concluded that the 2019 elections did not meet the expectations of many Nigerians. The last-minute postponement of the presidential and National Assembly elections on the morning of Feb. 16 and delays in opening some polling units and other administrative challenges on Feb. 23 undermined public confidence in the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). While INEC distributed materials and opened polls in a more timely fashion for the March 9 gubernatorial and state House of Assembly elections, many serious irregularities occurred, including vote buying, intimidation of voters and election officials, and election-related violence.

“The 2019 general elections fell significantly short of standards set in 2015. Citizens’ confidence in elections was shaken,” said Dr. Daniel Twining, IRI President. “Election stakeholders should take concrete steps to address the concerns of citizens with regards to the polls in order to rekindle their faith in the power and possibility of credible elections.”

“The 2019 elections highlighted for many Nigerians the need for a national conversation about the country’s democratization since the 1999 transition to civilian rule,” said Ambassador Derek Mitchell, NDI President. “We hope this report may both spur and contribute to enriching that national conversation.”

The final report provides recommendations to enhance the credibility of elections in Nigeria going forward, including areas of improvement for political party conduct, civic engagement, election security, and legal frameworks around election disputes. In previous years suggestions for improvements by reputable citizen and international observation missions went unheeded. The IRI/NDI mission urges Nigerian stakeholders to seriously consider these and other recommendations to improve the electoral process.

The NDI/IRI joint election observation mission in Nigeria demonstrates the Institutes’ collective commitment to strengthening the country’s democracy and supporting democratic progress in the country.

The high-level delegation for the joint Nigeria International Election Observation Mission included His Excellency Festus Mogae, former president of Botswana; Her Excellency Vaira Vike-Freiberga, former president of Latvia; Her Excellency Fatoumata Tambajang, former vice president of The Gambia; Ambassador Johnnie Carson, former U.S. assistant secretary of state for African affairs; Randy Scheunemann, vice chairman of IRI’s board of directors; Ambassador Derek Mitchell, NDI president; and Dr. Daniel Twining, IRI president, along with 40 observers from Africa, Europe, and North America. Five thematic experts were also deployed to provide in-depth analysis on key issues identified during the pre-election assessments: electoral violence, election administration, inclusivity and the political environment.

Previous Statements on Nigeria’s 2019 elections: