Washington, DC – Lorne W. Craner, President of IRI, testified today before the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa and Global Health chaired by Donald M. Payne (D-NJ). Craner’s testimony focused on the legitimacy of Nigeria’s 2007 elections which IRI observed.

Following Nigeria’s April 21 presidential election, IRI’s international election observation delegation determined that the election fell below the standard set by previous Nigerian elections and international standards witnessed by IRI around the globe.  In his testimony today, Craner highlighted this point and went on to say that, “Rather than serve as an example of democratic sustainability on the continent, the Nigerian government oversaw a broken electoral process that allowed the election to be stolen from the Nigerian people.”

Despite the failed elections, Craner pointed out that there is an opportunity for Nigeria’s new President. “Yet if President Yar’Adua can muster the strength to act independently of his party’s machinery, he has the unique opportunity to turn his questionable victory into a great legacy…Yar’Adua can reach out to the opposition to work to reform Nigeria’s political and electoral systems so that the flaws of the April elections are never repeated.  Starting by strengthening judicial independence at all levels and de-politicizing the anti-corruption commission, Yar’Adua can begin to take the steps necessary to demonstrate his administration is genuinely committed to reform, as he claims.”

Craner went on to urge the United States to not overlook April’s elections in favor of continued stability. “The United States must not be afraid to push electoral reform as a top priority of our bilateral relationship with Nigeria…What we cannot forget is that this matters to the Nigerian people, who implored our election observers to tell the truth, in the hope that their government would pay greater attention to our words than theirs.”

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