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Insecurity and Covid-19: Threats to Electoral Democracy in Africa

By Blog

By Prof. Jibrin Ibrahim

More than 13 African countries are scheduled to hold or have already held, parliamentary or presidential elections in 2021. Reflective of the democratic backsliding observed on the continent in recent years, more than a third of these polls are likely to be little more than political theatre – aimed at garnering a fig leaf of legitimacy for leaders need to be seen to have a popular mandate.

In Uganda’s January poll the same winner was returned for the sixth consecutive election following a campaign marred by attacks on opposition candidates. Measures put in place by the Electoral Commission for ‘scientific campaigns’ designed to limit the spread of Covid-19 were implemented more rigorously on opposition candidates, by security agencies who remained loyal to President Museveni. In November 2020, security forces clashed with protestors in Kampala demanding the release of opposition candidate Bobi Wine, after he was arrested for violating the guidelines that required presidential candidates to meet or address crowds of less than 200 people. Over 50 Ugandans were killed in the clashes. The combination of, and links between, Covid-19 and insecurity are an increasingly common challenge facing polls on the continent.

The coronavirus context

According to the 2016 Infectious Disease Vulnerability Index 2016, 22 of the 25 countries most vulnerable to infectious disease are in Africa. But to date, the continent has recorded a little more than 4 million cases of Covid-19 and over 100,00 deaths out of a global total of more than 120 million cases and more than 2.5 million deaths. But the social and economic impacts of the pandemic might end up having the greatest impact. The imposition of lockdowns, designed to restrict movement and slow down the spread of the disease, have equally affected jobs and livelihoods especially for the poor. These measures have also created opportunities for authoritarian regimes to restrict people’s ability to engage in civic and political processes like elections.

In Ethiopia, Prime Minister Abiy’s tenure was elongated after parliamentary elections scheduled for August 2020 were postponed due to Covid-19. Despite opposition from the federal government, political actors in Tigray province opposed this decision and decided to go ahead with its own regional election. The region is now involved in an active conflict with the Ethiopian state, with the problematic elections one of several triggers for a multifaceted conflict that has drawn in actors from neighbouring countries.

For the most part elections did proceed as planned in 2020, even if scheduled by-elections were postponed in eleven countries – Botswana, Chad, Ethiopia, Gabon, The Gambia, Kenya, Liberia, Nigeria, South Africa, Uganda and Zimbabwe. But the health risks of doing so quickly became apparent. In Burundi, having stood aside after serving three-terms President Nkurunziza died in office, shortly before his elected successor was due to succeed him. Covid-19 was the suspected cause, though officially his death was ascribed to a heart attack. A similar fate befell President Magufuli in Tanzania last month, just five months in to his second tenure at the helm. Nkurunziza and Magufuli were both vocal deniers of the existence of Covid-19 and did not seek to introduce measures to stop its spread.

Elsewhere restrictions aimed at limiting the spread of the virus have also impacted on the space for political discontent. It is not just the election campaign period that is being affected, restrictions on public gatherings can impact voter education efforts and wider demands for greater transparency and accountability in how governments operate. That is not to say that measures to limit the spread of the deadly disease should not be in place to protect voters and candidates alike during elections but that they must be balanced carefully with commitments to a fair and equitable process.

Growing insecurity

In contexts like Chad, Ethiopia, Libya, Niger, Burkina Faso and Somalia the challenge of holding elections during a pandemic has been, or will be, further exacerbated by prevailing insecurity. Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project data showed a steep upsurge in violent attacks taking place in March and April 2020 across Africa – when restrictive measures were first introduced to address the threat posed by Covid-19. This suggests that terrorist and non-state armed groups capitalised on the pandemic to increase attacks. If these trends continue, “Africa is at risk of losing ground to violent groups following years of counterterrorism advances alongside regional and international security partners” according to experts at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies. Recent events in Niger are a concern in this regard.

On 2 April 2021, Mohamed Bazoum was sworn in as elected President of Niger. He took over from Mohammed Issoufou who stood down after completing his two constitutionally-mandated terms in office in what was the first ever democratic transition from one elected administration to another in country’s history. But Bazoum inherits an insecurity pandemic. In January at least 100 people were killed in a terrorist attack near the border with Mali: seven members of Niger’s election commission died when their car hit an explosive device on election day in February; whilst in March another 137 Nigeriens civilians perished in two separate attacks by gunmen on motorbikes. Niger has been troubled by insecurity for several years but the spate of attacks by hardlines Islamist groups in early 2021 seem to have been aimed at disrupting and undermining the election process.

However, Bazoum and the ruling party – to which he and Issoufou both belong – have also been able to utilise the prevailing insecurity narrative for political ends in recent weeks. After unsuccessfully challenging the election outcome at Niger’s Constitutional Court, leading opponent Mahamane Ousmane called for mass protests to overcome what he claimed was a rigged outcome. But the prevailing insecurity, including an attempted coup d’état on 30 March, created the conditions for the rallies to be banned by the government.

Prevailing insecurity also limited the participation of voters in Burkina Faso’s November 2020 poll. Although provisions were put in place to support voting for those internally displaced by insecurity, the amended electoral code stated that the more than one million IDPs were to be enrolled where they were displaced, and their vote counted in the constituency they currently occupied, not where they have previously lived. The impact of this was that under threat constituencies elected officials charged with trying to address multiple challenges, are now doing so with a very small popular mandate. Furthermore, voting amidst a string security presence can have implications for voters’ perceptions of freedom.

Invariably, the responsibilities of maintaining internal security, peace, order and justice within a country lies with the police. However due to the lack of an effective internal security mechanism, several African states regularly deploy the army to maintain internal insecurity and forestall instability. With military personnel that are usually earmarked for counterterrorism measures now being deployed, or having been deployed, to enforce lockdowns or implement pandemic response measures, in Nigeria, Ghana, Uganda and Kenya, there are concerns about an oversecuritisation of key state functions, without an improvement in the prevailing security situation.

Implications for democracy

Politically, Covid-19 has created conditions that have worsened the state of insecurity on the continent. It has also impacted on the electioneering process and political campaigns by providing justification for leaders with authoritarian ambitions to restrict rights and oppress opposition. Selective use of pandemic control measures to restrict the ability of opposition parties to campaign poses a threat to multi-party democracy. While Africa has so far largely avoided the worst case Covid-19 scenario, the emergence of new variants could potentially create health, social, economic and political emergencies in the coming months and years, especially as vaccine rollouts remain slow. All with serious implications for democratic accountability.

But on a more positive note, the pandemic has increased the speed at which digital tools are being developed and deployed for democratic accountability. Notwithstanding the challenges, these have the potential to make African elections safer, cheaper, more efficient and more accurate. 

Jibrin Ibrahim is a Senior Fellow at the Centre for Democracy and Development

Editor’s note: This is the sixth article in a nine-part series in which leading thinkers and practitioners explore key questions and themes about the current state of electoral democracy in Africa. You can click to read the fifthfourththirdsecond and first.

How tenure elongation and a lack of term limits weaken the integrity of elections in Africa

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By Ayisha Osori

Until the late 1980s, Liberia’s constitution was the only one in Africa to provide clarity for presidential term limits. Without these limits, political succession was a major source of instability on the continent, with many countries dominated by a single leader who insisted on his – and it was always him – indispensability. The end of their rule was invariably by force. In 35 years from 1961 to 1997, Africa witnessed 78 coups d’états.

But by 1995, at least 33 countries had revised their constitutions to include presidential term limits. The Organisation of African Unity (as it then was) built on this trend by developing a rule against coups and what it called “unconstitutional changes in government” with the recommendation that “any manipulation of the constitution aimed at preventing a democratic change of government” be outlawed. By the 2000s elections and term limits had replaced death and coup d’état as the most common way in which African presidents and prime ministers left office. Term limits were one effective way of curtailing the excesses of all-powerful executives and a tool that allowed for greater investment in the independence of critical democracy strengthening institutions such as the judiciary, legislature and election management bodies (EMBs).

Fast forward to 2021, and 16 countries across the continent have either revised their constitutions to remove term limits or seen the extension of the tenure of the incumbent president against the spirit of term limits. A further eight – Eritrea, Ethiopia, The Gambia, Lesotho, Libya, Morocco, Somalia and Eswatini – still have no term limits, whilst another nine countries, have term limits that exist in law, but that has yet to be tested or applied in practice.

Electoral choice

According to academic Andreas Schedler, to qualify as democratic “elections must offer an effective choice of political authorities among a community of free and equal citizens”. He identifies seven conditions that should exist if regular elections are to fulfil the promise of effective democratic choice: empowerment, free supply, free demand, inclusion, insulation, integrity and irreversibility.

Empowerment and insulation speak to voters’ ability to vote freely without restrictions, fear or intimidation. In the January 2021 presidential elections in Uganda – where presidential term limits were removed in 2005 and age limits in 2017 – political violence linked to the election resulted in over 50 deaths, while more than 400 individuals have been forcibly ‘disappeared’ in a pre and post-election clampdown. In Guinea, after changing the constitution through a dubious referendum, President Conde contested and won, a third term in 2020 amidst sustained protests that saw at least 12 people killed.

Free supply, free demand and inclusion cover citizens ability to form, join and support opposition parties, candidates and their policies; and mitigate against candidates being prevented from participating in the elections through legal or pseudo-legal means. An increasingly common way of preventing candidates from participating in elections is the sponsorship system where presidential candidates are required to secure a minimum threshold endorsement of registered voters or elected representatives. This, along with high filing fees, effectively narrows the number who can contest.

Ahead of the 2020 presidential elections, Cote d’Ivoire’s election management body required that to be eligible candidates must secure the signatures of at least 1% of the electorate. This gave a significant advantage to the incumbent, Alassane Ouattara, who successfully secured a disputed third-term against reduced opposition. In addition to technical obstacles, more direct threats can be used by incumbents. Ahead of April’s presidential poll in Chad, the leading opponent to President Deby’s sixth term in office, Saleh Kebzabo, withdrew his candidacy after a deadly raid by security forces at the home of another opposition candidate.

The integrity factor relates to the election process, rules and execution. When EMBs or courts are perceived as compromised, the impact on the credibility of the electoral outcome is diminished. Like in Uganda in January, many voters in Congo Brazzaville cast their ballot on 21 March 2021 with continued doubts about the independence of the EMB given that nothing has changed since it oversaw a questionable outcome in 2016. An election that followed the 2015 removal of term limits, that gave President Sassou Nguesso the opportunity to seek a third term in his second spell in power. A fourth term is set to follow.  

Finally, the irreversibility condition covers the sanctity of the result and winners taking office peacefully. Elections should have the desired consequences, where the will of the majority of voters is respected. In 2016, Yahya Jammeh tried, albeit unsuccessfully, to ignore and annul the results of the election, but the EMB, supported by regional powers, held firm to force him from office after two decades at the helm.  

Limiting power

Those who argue against the imposition of term limits claim that they compromise the sovereignty of the people and their choice, as well as risk undermining the stability and continuity required for the development. They argue that instead of term limits, the focus should be on improving the integrity of elections. But a determination to stay in power predisposes leaders to oversee compromised polls. Presidents contesting for or having won, their sixth term in office in 2021 – Museveni in Uganda, Sassou-Nguesso in Congo Brazzaville and Deby in Chad – do not feel more secure. Instead, with each successive election the violence against the opposition, the rhetoric of intolerance and abuse from state security actors increases. As Schedler has argued, “the desire of those who manipulate elections is to enjoy the fruits of electoral legitimacy without running the risk of democratic uncertainty”.

But respect for term limits alone is not a vaccine against electoral authoritarianism. Niger’s historic transition in February affirmed its commitment, for the first time, to two-term limits, but the vote, which was won by the ruling party candidate amidst protests about the results and an internet shutdown, exposed the fragility of the country’s democracy. Despite adherence to term-limits in Tanzania, a change of the political party in power has not been forthcoming. In places where the ruling party never loses, there can be a systemic weakening of the checks and balances, and critical voices, required for a healthy democracy. Even in places where term-limits are in place and turnovers have occurred – Benin, Senegal and Nigeria – continued vigilance is required. There have been deep erosions to the independence of democracy strengthening institutions in recent years.

Innovative thinking is needed to tackle anti-democratic forces intent on capturing and controlling access to power whilst maintaining a veneer of electoral legitimacy. Africa still has more countries that have strengthened and upheld term limits than not. But constitutional power grabs are on the rise, particularly in West Africa, and the complicit silence of the Africa Union (AU), and regional bodies like ECOWAS, is a concern. In addition to considering the adoption of non-amendable presidential term limits, as has been proposed as part of Burkina Faso’s constitutional review, the AU should lead a collective review of the application of the non-retroactivity principle to constitutional amendments to make it explicit that leaders who oversee constitutional amendments cannot reset their tenures on that basis. The spirit of the principle is to prevent a retroactive application of punitive law and not to give sit tight men a window to legally hijack their countries.

Most importantly citizens must also be encouraged, and supported, through investments in organising and social movement-building to demand change. Afterall half of the dozen African leaders who have tried to evade limits over the past 15 years, were foiled by populations who rallied against these tenure extensions. Listening to, and learning from, the experiences of Burkina Faso, Malawi, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal and Zambia can offer valuable lessons.  

Ayisha Osori is Executive Director of Open Society Initiative West Africa

Editor’s note: This is the fourth article in a nine-part series in which leading thinkers and practitioners explore key questions and themes about the current state of electoral democracy in Africa. You can click to read the fourth, thirdsecond and first.

Crafting Credible Election Commissions in West Africa

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By Professor L. Adele Jinadu

The crass and partisan manipulation of African electoral management bodies (EMBs) was a central feature of the legacy of abuse that successor regimes to colonial rule in Africa inherited and perpetuated. Embedded in partisan politics through “outright control” by successor regimes, EMBs became “ineffectual mechanisms for democratically managing diversity”.

To lay the ghost of such partisan political abuse, and to nurture and strengthen trust in electoral commissions, the democratic transitions of the 1990s stipulated new norms and rules for redesigning competitive party and electoral politics and systems. These norms included democratic political succession, entrenched provisions for the periodic conduct of credible elections, in the case of presidential systems, fixed presidential term limits, the promotion of diversity, civic participation, and engagement, especially through an increased role of civil society and marginalised groups and the establishment of independent EMBs.

Indicators of what credible EMBs and electoral integrity should look like were set out in African codes and standards such as the African Charter on Popular Participation in Development and Transformation (1990) and the African Charter of Democracy, Elections, and Governance (2007) to name just two. But has the objective of nurturing credible EMBs and electoral integrity been achieved?

Multiple management models

EMBs in Africa are currently either a single, independent body; comprised of two or more bodies with shared responsibilities for election management; or a hybrid government-civil society EMB under an independent oversight supervisory body of experts, usually judges. Non-autonomous or fully government controlled EMBs inherited at independence, notably in francophone and lusophone countries, have been replaced with autonomous or semi-autonomous ones. But within these classificatory models, structures and composition vary significantly, dictated by each country’s constitutional and political history, and the interplay of contending sociocultural forces and prevailing circumstances.

However, appointment processes and the tenure terms of the chair and members of election commissions are problematic areas across the continent. Concerns remain about the transparency of the nomination, appointment and removal process of EMB members according to a 2013 Economic Commission for Africa expert opinion survey. It found that “in only 10 of the 40 African countries surveyed did more than half the respondents consider the procedure to be mostly or always transparent and credible…[with] serious implications for the integrity of elections in Africa.”

Renewal under consecutive fixed tenure for members tends to enhance EMBs’ credibility, but remains problematic and is diminished by the power of appointment and renewal, which is also the power of removal. This power can be used to remove members perceived as resisting or not pliable to executive branch partisan influence, or who, by general perception, have not lived up to the integrity expectations of their office. In Nigeria and Sierra Leone, EMB members have been removed before their tenure expired. To pre-empt such a possibility, it has been suggested that the tenure of EMB members should be fixed, like judges, to their retirement age, except for cause, as is the case in Ghana.  

Autonomous actors?

Recent studies of West African EMBs distinguish between their formal, administrative and financial autonomy. The level of autonomy varies not only from country to country but also within country over electoral cycles according to a 2019 study of six West African countries comissioned by the ECOWAS Network of Electoral Commissions (ECONEC). The study explored factors driving or constraining the autonomy of the EMBs and how these impact election integrity.

In Benin, the financial autonomy of the Commission Electorale Nationale Autonome (CENA) is constrained by attempts by the Ministry of Finance to exercise a priori control over its expenditure. This leads to dysfunctions in the electoral administration process. Another problem is the dependence of the CENA on the executive to obtain electoral funds. A challenge that confronts many EMBs in the ECOWAS region. Furthermore, in Senegal, the 2019 ECONEC study found that when the funds were released, almost half the election budget was spent by the other institutional actors such as the judiciary and security agencies.

But formal autonomy on paper does not always translate into practice. In West Africa, several EMBs have almost identical legal provisions protecting their independence, yet they have widely differing degrees of autonomy. An EMB, like CENA in Benin, made up of members nominated by political parties, whatever its defects, has sometimes conducted elections with more independence and competence than an expert commission such as Nigeria’s. Cape Verde’s EMB has a longer tradition of effective performance and independence in action than Senegal’s. Even though both exemplify the same classificatory model.

Although the different systems of appointment and composition do have an impact, institutional partnership and collaboration – like the Inter-Agency Consultative Committee on Election Security established by Nigeria’s Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) – between EMBs and other institutions with election-related mandates, can play an equally important role in shaping perceptions of EMB capability. Issues like a country’s size, the relative balance of powers among political parties, the internal security situation, and the strength of courts, the civil service and civil society, are critical for the conduct of credible elections.

In short, an autonomous EMB is a necessary, but not a sufficient condition for conducting credible elections. An anti-democratic political culture of impunity characterised by abuse of power by incumbent parties for partisan electoral gain; a zero-sum approach to electoral competition that ignites and fuels electoral violence; and high-levels of vote-buying and voter-intimidation create an environment in which conducting credible elections is difficult, regardless of the technocratic skills and technological innovations deployed. This is the experience in Nigeria, where controversial elections were held in 2015 and 2019, despite the popular perception of INEC as increasingly credible after it invested in technology such as smart-card readers and undertook internal administrative and financial reforms, after polls in 2011, to try and limit the space for electoral malpractice.

Advancing credibility

Enhancing the application of ICT and internal administrative reforms that improve the transparency of EMBs has improved electoral transparency in Ghana and Nigeria. So too can enhancing the administrative and financial independence of EMBs. This can be done by vesting in them powers to recruit their own staff, professionalise their bureaucracies, and make their annual budget and election budget direct charges on national consolidated revenue funds. Reforming EMBs also requires removing their members’ appointment and reappointment process from political officeholders and vesting them in independent, non-partisan individuals or bodies.

But election commissions need to be supported in their efforts to conduct credible polls. Partnerships with civil society organisations can improve civic awareness and tackle prevailing problems such as vote-buying. Allying with impartial security actors can also discourage campaign and election-day violence, whilst regular dialogue with all political parties can go some way to reducing the zero-sum, winner-takes-all approach to politics. They also must continue to learn from each other. ECONEC, and the Electoral Commissions Forum of Southern African Development Community countries, are constantly sharing experiences that can shape regional best practices.

The impact of these discussions and dialogues become clear on election day, but the work to get there is ongoing and unending. Maintaining credibility does not just mean standing still. Election commissions across West Africa must be constantly evolving if they are to do their part to oversee elections that reflect the will of voters.

Professor L. Adele Jinadu is a Senior Fellow at the Centre for Democracy & Development, Abuja, Nigeria.

Editor’s note: This is the fourth article in a nine-part series in which leading thinkers and practitioners explore key questions and themes about the current state of electoral democracy in Africa. You can click to read the third, second and first.

It is time to start taking West Africa’s legislative contests more seriously

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By Kojo Asante

Parliamentary elections were scheduled in as many as 16 African countries in 2020 but due to the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic four of these polls were postponed. In 2021, a further ten countries are scheduled to hold legislative votes. Despite the frequency of these elections, rarely do they attract significant international media coverage or scrutiny from election observation groups. In fact, legislative polls seldom feature in the planning of domestic or international election observation missions. Even though parliamentary processes are used as indicators for tracking fraud or the potential for conflict in presidential polls, particularly when the two are held concurrently.

Recent elections in Uganda are a good example. The international media was almost exclusively focused on the presidential contest between President Museveni and Bobi Wine. There was little mention of the process that produced 529 parliamentarians. Whilst in Uganda the majority of MPs elected were members of the ruling National Resistance Movement, in other recent elections in Africa the president’s party has not been able to secure a legislative majority. 

Ghana’s hung parliament

For the first time since the Fourth Republic began in 1993, Ghana has a hung parliament. Despite its failure to win back the presidency in the December 2020 polls, the National Democratic Congress (NDC) did claw back a 63 seat deficit in the parliament. Both it and the incumbent New Patriotic Party (NPP) won 137 seats, in the 275 member parliament. The single independent member has so far chosen to align with the NPP. But the Speaker of the House, Alban Sumana Bagbin, is a member of the NDC; elected after two members of the NPP broke rank and voted for him during the secret ballot process.

The current situation has already generated several contentious issues for Speaker Bagbin to resolve, including who should be the majority side, how should the allocation of committee members be done and who should chair which committee. The Speaker recently ruled that NPP shall be the majority side because of the independent MP’s formal request to seat with the NPP. But with the NPP and the NDC challenging 12 parliamentary results, the make-up of parliament could still change significantly.

There are parallels between Ghana’s current reality and the outcome of Sierra Leone’s March 2018 general election where, initially at least, the All People’s Congress’s candidate lost the presidential race, but the party was still able to maintain its parliamentary majority. Subsequent legal challenges changed those dynamics, handing the Sierra Leone People’s Party a slender majority in the legislature to go with its control of the executive. But these two recent examples, both in dominant two-party systems, raise important questions about voter choice and have implications for elections and governance in West Africa.

Sending a message?

A pre-election survey led by academics from the University of Ghana predicted that the incumbent NPP was going to face a strong challenge from the opposition in the parliamentary elections, but no one predicted just how strong. Several factors contributed to the unexpected result. First, many NPP candidates and supporters emerged from the party primary process deeply dissatisfied. In some cases, candidates with greater popular support were bullied or priced out of the contest by those with greater resources and the backing of the president or senior party officials. In other constituencies, ministers of state and existing MPs were shielded from a party primary challenge and were elected unopposed. Scholars working on electoral politics in Ghana have shown that parties suffer at the polls when they try to impose candidates on constituents and that voters become more sophisticated the more they participate in elections. In short, the NPP paid the penalty for the way it conducted its primaries.

However, this is not the full story. In several cases where the NPP parliamentary candidate was rejected by voters, the party’s presidential candidate was still favoured. Similarly, in some constituencies, voters voted for the NDC presidential candidate but elected an NPP MP. For example, in the Kintampo South constituency in Bono East Region, former President Mahama, the NDC presidential aspirant, took 52.99% of the vote but the same constituents elected an NPP MP with 49.44% of the vote. In Agona East constituency in the Central Region, President Akuffo Addo received 51.99% of the vote but a NDC candidate was elected as MP, with 50.5% of the vote.  This phenomenon of ticket-splitting – referred to in local parlance as ‘skirt and blouse’ voting – is becoming more prevalent. In 2008, there were 19 skirt and blouse seats, that rose to 26 in 2012, 28 in 2016 and 33 in 2020.

If the current configuration of Ghana’s parliament avoids governance gridlock and instead functions to promote stronger accountability and transparency, this type of voting may increase still further in Ghana in 2024. Speaker Bagbin’s remarks at the first sitting of the 8th parliament signalled his intention to steer the legislature away from excessive partisanship and gridlock; to ensure it can exercise its oversight responsibilities and assert its independence. If realised, the impact of this could be greater scrutiny exercised by a legislature that is not simply a rubber stamp approving the will of the executive. 

Parliamentary scrutiny

Credible elections remain an important mechanism for sustaining and strengthening democracy in Africa. Over the years, election watchers have been consumed by presidential elections, in part because of the dominance of the executive in many countries on the continent. As a result, parliamentary polls have not received the serious attention they deserve. But recent elections in Ghana and Sierra Leone underscore the growing importance of the outcome of legislative races for the way in which democratic institutions function in the periods between polls.

In Ghana’s most recent vote, as results began to trickle there was an increased focus on the parliamentary outcome among election observers. But moving forward, this focus in Ghana and elsewhere, should be embedded into the initial approach. Domestic election observation groups should mount special observation of selected parliamentary races in addition to the general presidential election watch, whilst international observers should send missions to watch parliamentary polls even when there are no presidential polls. Results at this level indicate an increased level of sophistication in how voters cast their ballots and offer a more nuanced indicator of people’s evaluation of a government. It is time to start paying more attention to what they tell us about the state of a country’s electoral democracy.

Kojo Asante is Director of Advocacy and Policy Engagement at the Ghana Center for Democratic Development (CDD-Ghana)

Editor’s note: This is the second article in a nine-part series in which leading thinkers and practitioners explore key questions and themes about the current state of electoral democracy in Africa. You can read the first piece here.

The Futility of Elections: Rethinking Democracy in East Africa

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By Su Muhereza and Eshban Kwesiga

Despite their frequency and venerated place in the functioning of democracies, elections in East Africa are increasingly violent, plagued by coercion and widespread irregularities and tend to exacerbate existing socio-political tensions without resulting in meaningful political change, improved quality of governance or citizen participation. Recent polls in Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Tanzania, Burundi, South Sudan and Uganda have all been heavily criticised. But with the elevation of elections as the most sacred anchor point for a functioning democracy, electoral “winners” can claim their victories as legitimate despite the dubious circumstances under which they are earned.

Democratic decline

In the 1990s and 2000s, participatory politics in Africa grew exponentially as the percentage of African countries holding democratic elections increased from 7% to 40%. In 2010, Freedom House classified 18 countries on the continent as electoral democracies. During the past two decades, the general trend in Africa has been towards demands for greater accountability from political leaders, whose domestic legitimacy is largely linked and limited to elections. However, the 2020 Freedom in the World report documented the 14th year of global decline in democratic governance and respect for human rights, with Africa contributing to the backsliding. Freedom House now ranks just seven countries on the continent,  none of which are in East Africa, in its ‘free’ category. The lowest figure since 1991. As elections have become more commonplace, the quality of public participation has declined.

While elections have advanced political participation in some African states, they have also been one of the major causes of instability and economic setbacks. Instability that has gone beyond the harassment and detention of opposition leaders, to outright clashes between voters, and between voters and security forces. In 2005, Ethiopia suffered 200 election-violence related fatalities. Over 1,000 Kenyans died during and after the country’s 2007 elections and triple that figure were killed in election and post-election clashes in Ivory Coast in 2010-11. In the run-up to Uganda’s recently concluded elections clashes with security actors, during riots sparked by the detention of opposition candidate Bobi Wine in November 2020, resulted in the deaths of 54 people.

There are economic electoral consequences too. 11 of the 13 elections held in Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania and Kenya over the last two decades have been accompanied by a fall in GDP during the election year or in the year after, with the raiding of central banks to fund increasingly expensive election campaigns a key driver of socio-economic pressures. Political instability and uncertainty also impact small and big businesses. Uganda’s 2021 election driven internet shutdown saw companies lose an estimated 66 billion Uganda shillings daily (US$17.9 million) according to the country’s Financial Technology and Service Providers Association. In this regard, elections risk undermining the very forces that help consolidate a democracy, such as access to economic opportunities and better standards of living.

The threat of election related violence, and the accompanying instability and economic uncertainty, bring into question the value of elections to a region grappling to consolidate democracy.

Elections in vain?

Elections as the basis of democracy is a strongly held global norm, defended and enforced by a wide array of individuals and institutions even though governments produced by credible polls can also be corrupt, short sighted, dominated by special interests and inefficient. Afterall, it was an electorate that chose Donald Trump and Jair Bolsonaro to preside over the United States and Brazil, respectively. But ensuring free, vibrant and informed mass engagement in political life and governance choices – key tenants of democracy – should not be conflated with the holding of regular elections.

In January 2021, Uganda held its sixth consecutive election – four of which have been held in a multi-party dispensation – but each resulting process has happened within a context of restricted political competition and limited changes towards an open political culture. Ahead of the 2021 poll, analysts and citizens alike questioned the value of holding an expensive election in the middle of a global health pandemic when the outcome was all but predetermined.

President Museveni’s 58% share of the vote – his nearest challenger Bobi Wine secured 35% – was announced amidst a five day internet shutdown. Procedural irregularities and claims of fraud by the opposition centred around failing biometric voter verification machines, videos on social media of ruling party agents ticking ballot papers in favour of Museveni and a lack of clarity about the way votes were tallied at the districts and announced by the Electoral Commission. Administrative hurdles, along with the internet blackout, prevented both international and domestic election observers and media from observing these processes across the country. Widespread claims of kidnappings and extrajudicial arrests of opposition agents and supporters charged with planning riots have been reported before, during and after polling day, whilst the house arrest of Bobi Wine from 14-26 January, continuing a pre-election pattern of detaining political opponents.

But despite violence and coercion consistently revealing themselves as the most relied on and direct means for changing power in Uganda, there is an almost unshakeable belief in, and need for, elections by all sides. Yes, elections provide an opportunity for yesterday’s losers to become today’s winners, but they also have downsides. While acknowledging that it is not elections that make bad leaders – it is leaders that make elections less than desirable and it is easy to blame political actors that have failed to play by the rules – we must also ask ourselves if ‘electoral fundamentalism’ prevents us from seeing the problems they produce.

According to David Van Reybrouck, author of “Against Elections: The Case for Democracy”, ‘electoral fundamentalism’ is an unshakeable belief in the idea that democracy is inconceivable without elections and elections are a necessary and fundamental precondition when speaking about democracy. Electoral fundamentalists refuse to regard elections as a means of taking part in democracy, seeing them instead as an end in themselves, as a doctrine with an intrinsic, inalienable value. They argue that at the very least elections produce some qualified politicians who act as democratic punching bags; representatives that can be held accountable and blamed for a lack of service delivery. But in Uganda, even this bare minimum has struggled to be realised. Most parliamentarians know they will likely only get one term in office and as such use that time to recover funds lost during expensive campaigns and to build connections to advance their own personal interests, rather than to improve service delivery.

Renewing democracy

Resistance to re-imagining political participation beyond elections does a grave disservice to the many ways in which citizens have found to participate in civic and political life within their communities beyond queuing at polling stations once every few years. In fact, it is electoral fundamentalism that has led to the destruction and delegitimising of alternative means for regular, iterative civic and political participation of ordinary citizens.

There are many examples of active citizen participation in political and civic life at the village level that go beyond the narrative of declining voter turnout across East Africa. Ugandans remain actively involved in village and municipal level politics, and interact regularly with leaders of local councils. Prior to the 2016 elections, 62% of respondents to a Twaweza public opinion poll said they sought information from their local council office, the smallest administrative unit in Uganda. In Rwanda, national and district youth councils channel the voices of young people into annual budget conferences and allocation cycles. In Kenya and Tanzania, citizens were an active part of constitutional review processes.

Despite the limited devolvement of decision making power and funding from central governments there is a real possibility for democratic decision making and citizen participation at village and municipal levels across East Africa. Examples exist of community innovation, participation and voice in transitional restorative justice practices and land dispute resolution mechanisms across Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and Kenya. Unfortunately, these types of civic organising and participation are overlooked by donors, civil society organisations and political parties working to advance democracy who favour a narrower focus on elections.

Beyond the ballot

What does it say for East Africa that recent elections have, by and large, failed to be conducted fairly, transparently, and peacefully? Or to produce outcomes that foster meaningful civic participation, improve the quality of governance and usher new voices and ideas into the arena of political participation? Acknowledging the limitation of elections as the primary institution of democracy would be a good start. Beyond that we must start to see them as a transient system in the organisation of human affairs.

Political analyst, Chris Ògúnmọ́dẹdé recently tweeted that “institutions are not organisms with supernatural, self-correcting powers. Institutions simply are collective agreements people come to. In other words, they can change over time and produce good or bad outcomes.” Even though the words “election” and “democracy” have become synonymous, elections alone cannot, and do not, adequately reflect the will of the people. Over the last decade citizens of 13 of 15 countries regularly polled by Afrobarometer have expressed a decline in support for elections.

The tendency to focus on citizen participation in elections has pushed aside local democratic and proto-democratic institutions such as village meetings, traditional conflict mediation or established jurisprudence even though they are valuable in encouraging a peaceful and collective discussion on the issues that affect people’s daily lives. Although they have not always done so, these institutions are perfectly capable of reflecting more inclusive values that acknowledge the equal status of women, youth and other excluded demographics.

Ultimately a democratic society should not be identified by whether or how it conducts winner-takes-all elections but rather how it allows for liberal freedoms such as political inclusivity, freedom of speech, media, expression, and association, access to property rights and judicial independence. Ensuring a combination of these elements supports greater everyday political participation and the building and consolidating of democracy, as opposed to a decisive vote once every few years in a sham election. To safeguard the democratic experiment in the region, we should begin to consider elections as a feature of, and not the basis for, democracy.

Su Muhereza is a Ugandan political analyst and tweets @suemuhereza.

Eshban Kwesiga is a development analyst and tweets @EshbanKwesiga.

Editor’s note: This is the first article in a nine-part series in which leading thinkers and practitioners explore key questions and themes about the current state of electoral democracy in Africa. 

CDD, Others Call on Politicians, Clerics to Join in Combating Fake News

By Blog, News

The Centre for Democracy and Development on Tuesday, September 15, has urged politicians, religious leaders, and social media influencers to join hands curbing the spread of disinformation and misinformation in the ecosystem.

Speaking at a webinar themed; “Addressing Mis and Disinformation in Northern Nigeria”, the moderator of the event, Hamza Ibrahim, said it is important that everyone including citizens work towards bringing an end to the widespread of disinformation in various platforms and forum.

Ibrahim, a fact-checker at the CDD said almost every sector of Nigeria’s economy is affected by some level of disinformation

“From the health sector, especially with the outbreak of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, to education, communication, and technology, not even one sector is spared,” Hamza said.

Addressing the role of the media in countering disinformation in the Northern region of the country, Jaafar Jafaar, the publisher of Daily Nigerian said journalists should be made to understand that they are saddled with the responsibility to serve as gatekeepers in the industry.

Further noting that not all news items make it to publish, Jaafar said articles should be properly screened before being posted.

According to Jaafar, such an effort could help in reducing the number of disinformation and false narratives spread across the media space and at the community level in the Northern region of the country.

Also, stating that social media platforms have become a contributing factor to the spread of false narratives, Jaafar said media organisations are caught in the wave of fake news due to the need to be ahead of competitors.

“Newspaper is caught in the wave for fake news because of the speed at which news is being circulated and in order to stay relevant,” Jaafar said.

Blaming Nigerian political leaders for the widespread of disinformation especially in election seasons, the Daily Nigerian publisher said: “Political leaders will support any person who is ready to spread fake news as long as the person paint them in a good light.”

He also said that disinformation is benefitting the political class more and such actions are causing harm to residents of the Northern part of the country.

These politicians even go as far as giving appointments to fake news peddlers supporting not minding its effect on the people,” Jaafar said.

In his address, the Dauda Sharafa who represented Professor Umaru Pate, the Dean School of Post Graduate Studies, Bayero University Kano, listed the high rate of unemployment in Nigeria as the major cause of disinformation spread.

Sharafa said a lack of digital literacy has also led to the prolific production and spread of all kinds of false narratives.

He also said the poor welfare of journalists by media employers cannot be ruled out.

“You cannot rule out brown envelope Nigeria in journalism, because of welfare. If they are to choose between ethic and survival they would choose to survive due to the economy of Nigeria,” Sharafa said.

He called for improved welfare for journalists by media organisations to curb some of these dangers of reporting false claims.

“On this side of the country, most people do not verify stories, before share because it comes from the family, friend, or close contacts,” he added.”

Sharafa added that there is a need to identify the vulnerable population among residents in the Northern region including uneducated individuals, artisans, young adults, social media users, market women and men, business people.

He said identifying such individuals would help to empower them to get involved in fact-checking claims perceived to be false before dissemination.

He said these groups of individuals can play the roles of fact-checking ambassadors and ease the strain caused by the spread of false narratives in Northern Nigeria.

New Allegiances, Familiar Faces A Preview of Edo’s 2020 Gubernatorial Election

By Blog, Publicaitons, UncategorizedNo Comments

As Edo State voters prepare to head to the polls for the 19 September gubernatorial election, the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) is closely monitoring the democratic process.

CDD’s observation of the electoral process in Edo State, which is also informed by the guidelines of Nigeria’s electoral regulatory body, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), will provide citizens, the media and other stakeholders with an objective, non-partisan assessment of the voting environment.

The analysis will span the pre-election period, election day and the post-election period. The 2020 Edo State gubernatorial election is the first major election that INEC will conduct since the outbreak of the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19).

In addition to the disruption of lives and livelihoods, the pandemic holds significant implications for the electoral process.

Edo State has recorded 2,311 COVID-19 cases, with NCDC data indicating that there are currently 335 COVID-19 patients in the state, with 84 deaths confirmed so far.



Engage in issue-based campaigns, not violent activities – CDD to politicians

By Blog, Press ReleaseNo Comments

Ahead of the forthcoming governorship election in Edo state, the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) has urged political parties to engage in issue-based campaigns.

The Centre also urged the political parties to shun activities which may potentially incite violence among members and opponents alike.

In a communique released by the CDD on Friday, August 7, 2020, after a civil society organisations (CSOs) roundtable on the 2020 off-cycle governorship election in Benin, Edo state, the Centre said all political parties should agree to sign a peace treaty ahead of the polls.

The roundtable organised to examine the unfolding political events characterising the election also created a platform for civil society actors to interface with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on its preparedness in the lead up to the election. 

Urging politicians to comply with the rules and regulations governing the conduct of elections in Nigeria, CDD said there should be a deviation from character assassinations and an increased focus on engagement and development of the state.

The Centre also urged security agencies (particularly the Police) to hold perpetrators of the ongoing pre-election violence accountable as a necessary condition to encourage participation in the election.

The Police were also tasked to prioritise intelligence gathering and commit to mop up the Small arms and Light Weapons (SALWs) currently circulating in the state, and resist political influence. 

According to the CDD, security agencies should be wary of allowing the undue interference of political actors in the management of security situation and make necessary arrests in cases of organised violence stemming from political parties.

In addition, the electoral body was urged to implement a robust voter education programmes to promote the participation of voters at the polls, strengthen its engagement with CSOs in planning and implementing voter education programmes, as well as creating avenues for CSO actors to support the conduct of a credible election.

CDD also called on INEC to communicate frequently and in a sustained manner, with relevant stakeholders (including traditional rulers, CSOs, political parties, etc.) on any matter relating to the preparations for the forthcoming election.

INEC was also asked to work with the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), the Federal Ministry of Health and security agencies to enforce compliance to the commission’s Policy on Conducting Elections in the Context of the COVID-19 Pandemic.  

“Strict measures should be put in place to ensure full compliance of voters, ad-hoc staff and other actors in the election. These include the use of PPE materials, social distancing, infrared thermometers, and the provision of on-site health officials to inspect persons who display any symptoms of COVID-19,” the communique said.

Also, it added that there is be a strict implementation of INEC Framework on Access And Participation Of Persons With Disabilities (PWDs).

CSOs participating in election observation were urged to facilitate the signing of a peace treaty by political parties and their candidates ahead of the governorship election, observe the strict implementation of the peace pact if signed by the candidate and support the INEC in its voter education programmes to enlighten eligible voters on participating in the elections, and to dissuade individuals against election violence.

The CSOs were also called on to demand accountability from INEC, especially in the face of continued problems around the conduct of elections and prioritise civic education that focuses on mandate protection.

Traditional and religious leaders were advised to desist from making political statements or from publicly expressing support for any political parties and their candidates. 

“Such public statements could deepen the tensions that already characterise the election,” the communique added.

Organisations represented at the meeting include the Community-based Initiatives for a Brighter Tomorrow (CIBT), Solomon Sheperd Foundation (SSF), Willi Johnson Foundation (WJF), Association of Professionals for Family Health, Empowerment and Community Development (APFFHECOD), Unique Love for PWDI and Josemaria Escrivia Foundation (JOSEF).

Others are Edo Civil Society Organization (EDOCSO), Wise Sisters Charity Organisation, Initiative for Girls and Women Empowerment, Kairos Youth Empowerment Initiative, Justice Development and Peace Commission (JDPC Benin), Indomitable Youths Organisation (IYO), SOTHAWACA, Take a Cue Development Initiatives, Youth Empowerment Project, African Women Empowerment Guild (AWEG), Lift Above Poverty (LAPO), National Council for Islamic Affairs (NCIA),  Conference of NON Governmental Organisations (CONGOs), amongst others.


Kogi State: Post-Election Analysis of Disinformation

By Blog, PublicaitonsNo Comments

The Kogi state off-cycle elections were conducted on 16th November 2019. Twenty-four political parties participated in the election, but there were three frontrunners: Musa Wada of People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Yahaya Bello of All People’s Congress (APC), and Natasha Akpoti of Social Democratic Party (SDP). Given the trend of disinformation in previous elections held in the country, the Centre for Democracy and Development
(CDD) chose to intervene in two ways:

  1. CDD conducted disinformation mapping, aimed at identifying key actors and mechanisms of action in Kogi’s disinformation ecosystem;
  2. This mapping informed a stated-based fact-checking structure that sought to identify and counter disinformation spread before, during and right after the election. Our methodology for disinformation mapping involved a combination of a desk review of reports on political and electoral trends and in-person unstructured interviews. Disinformation mapping revealed that false narratives were spread by actors called “Data Boys”
    and “Shekpe Boys” who operate in online and offline spaces.
  3. The primary mechanism of action was tailoring messages to exploit ethnic cleavages in Kogi as they largely coincide with partisan divides. The tension between the two major ethnic groups, Igala and Ebira,
    was exploited the most. These messages leverage confirmation bias to entrench polarization; their efficacy is enhanced by high levels of poverty and illiteracy in Kogi state. Our pre-election report details specific sources of disinformation.


Transitional Justice Initiative in North-East Nigeria (A Training Manual)

By Blog, PublicaitonsNo Comments

Restoring peace and rebuilding the communities ravaged by the Boko Haram insurgency must include a justice component. When legitimate grievances are not redressed timely, justly, and fairly, then impunity and injustice can become formidable obstacles to restoring peace and rebuilding communities. In fact, unaddressed grievances have been identified as one of the major push factors towards violent extremism. Clearly, justice is an indispensable component of restoring and sustaining peace.

However, the scale of the atrocious crimes and violations of human rights committed in the context of the Boko Haram insurgency makes it very hard, if not totally impossible, to prosecute all the perpetrators through the already overburdened criminal justice system.

The duration that criminal cases take to be concluded, and the resources, expertise and personnel needed to prosecute thousands of criminal complaints are too daunting to contemplate. Furthermore, the evidence and the circumstances of each murder, and the identities of the murderer and the murdered are not all available because of the chaotic contexts of the insurgency in which the crimes were committed.

Even prosecuting the thousands of the alleged Boko Haram combatants already incarcerated may be too great a task. This reality dictates the need to explore the potential for transitional justice as a more appropriate and feasible alternative

The Center for Democracy and Development (CDD) has taken the initiative to develop the requirements that make transitional justice the appropriate mechanism for addressing the imperative of justice as an indispensable component of restoring and sustaining the peace in the communities devastated by the Boko Haram insurgency.

The Prospects for Transitional Justice Initiative in North-East Nigeria, a telescoping study conducted by CDD, has identified critical issues that appear prominent in public discourses on the complex challenges that
need to be addressed in the post-insurgency situation in the North-East of Nigeria.



By Blog, GeneralNo Comments

According to the Nigerian Electricity System Operator on July 16, 2020, nine of the country’s 27 power plants were idle, leaving a total generation capacity of 2,079.1 megawatts stranded. The system operator put the nation’s installed generation capacity at 12,910.40MW; available capacity at 7,652.60MW; transmission wheeling capacity at 8,100MW; and the peak generation ever attained at 5,375MW.

Total power generation in the country stood at 3,269.6MW, up from 3,074.6MW on June 15. Only 58% of Nigerians have access to electricity and an estimated 80% of those with access use an alternative source of electricity supply due to reliability concerns.

The power sector lost an estimated N2.01 billion on July 14, 2020, due to constraints from the insufficient gas supply, distribution, and transmission infrastructure. The shutdown of the power plants was due to these factors including low load demand by the distribution companies and rupturing of the gas pipeline, among others. Due to the unstable power supply, companies in Nigeria are struggling to remain in operation.

The high cost of production, exacerbated by the high costs incurred from powering generators places a huge strain on production companies.

Electricity is a vital component of the industrialisation process and the constant power challenges in Nigeria have to be solved to aid socioeconomic development and hence industrialization.



By Blog, UncategorizedNo Comments

Ahead of the governorship election in Ondo state, eleven (11) governorship aspirants of the All Progressive Congress (APC) have rejected the indirect mode of a primary election. They petitioned the party’s Caretaker/Extra-Ordinary National Convention Planning Committee (CEONCPC), rejecting the planned indirect mode of primary election slated on July 20.

The aspirants said, having traversed the length and breadth of Ondo State and interfaced with party members as aspirants, they can confidently inform that overwhelming majority of our party members prefer direct primary for the nomination of the party’s candidate for the 2020 governorship election.

The letter which contained other reasons why the candidates felt the indirect primary was not an option was submitted by Chief Olusola Oke, one of the aspirants, on behalf of others at the national chairman’s office.

Only the incumbent Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu who is seeking a second term did not append his signature. It was gathered that the aspirants were reacting to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) indicating that the indirect mode of the primary election had
been approved for the primary.


Les OSC d'Afrique de l'Ouest demandent à la CEDEAO de prioriser son processus d'intervention au Mali

By Blog, UncategorizedNo Comments


13 Juillet 2020

Les OSC d’Afrique de l’Ouest demandent à la CEDEAO de prioriser son processus d’intervention au Mali

Etant donné la crise en cours au Mali, les organisations de la société civile en Afrique de l’Ouest ont, le lundi 13 juillet 2020, appelé la Communauté économique des États de l’Afrique de l’Ouest (CEDEAO) à accorder la priorité à son intervention dans le pays.

Dans une lettre signée par les directeurs de 100 OSC à travers l’Afrique de l’Ouest et adressée au Président de la République du Niger, M. Issoufou Mahamadou, la coalition a déclaré que les tensions politiques croissantes au Mali doivent être traitées de toute urgence.

La coalition a exhorté président Issoufou, qui est également le président de l’Autorité des chefs d’État et de gouvernement de la CEDEAO, à faire face aux agitations politiques au Mali à la suite des élections législatives de mai.

Il a également souligné que les élections ont mis l’administration du président Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta et de l’opposition, la coalition M5-RFP sur une trajectoire de collision.

La coalition M5-RFP est composée de la Coordination des mouvements d’associations et de sympathisants de l’imam Mahmoud Dicko (CMAS), du Front pour la sauvegarde de la démocratie (FSD) et d’Espoir Mali Koura (EMK).

Copiés dans la lettre du 13 juillet 2020, sont les leaders politiques de la France, du Danemark, les chefs des Nations Unies, de l’Union européenne, de l’Union Africain, de l’ambassade de la France, l’ambassade de Danemark, du Département des affaires politiques de la CEDEAO, du Département des affaires de consolidation de la paix/Unité d’alerte précoce de la CEDEAO, les commissaires aux droits de l’homme de la CEDEAO/UA parmi beaucoup d’autres.

Les OSC ont attiré l’attention sur le fait qu’étant donné l’impact multidimensionnel que l’escalade de cette crise politique au Mali pourrait avoir sur la région de l’Afrique de l’Ouest, des pays tels que le Burkina Faso, le Niger, la Côte d’Ivoire et la Guinée pourraient se retrouver dans une situation sécurité irréparable. 

Les OSC ont déclaré qu’une telle crise pourrait ainsi avoir un effet d’entraînement regrettable sur la vie de 172 millions de personnes dans toute la région de l’Afrique de l’Ouest.

Dirigées par le directeur du Centre pour la démocratie et le développement (CDD), Idayat Hassan, les OSC ont appelé le président Muhammadou Issoufou à s’engager de manière décisive avec les parties concernées pour résoudre l’impasse entre le gouvernement du président Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta et la coalition d’opposition M5-RFP.

Selon les OSC, il est essentiel, à court terme, d’assurer la paix et la bonne gouvernance pour le peuple du Mali avec un effort soutenu afin d’arriver à une solution qui garantira la paix et la sécurité dans le pays dans le respect des normes et principes de la CEDEAO.

« Nous sommes conscients que la CEDEAO s’est engagée avec les autorités du Mali, et il y a des signes de réceptivité au dialogue. Nous sommes également encouragés par les concessions significatives faites par le Président Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta », peut-on lire dans la lettre.

« On peut dire la même chose de l’imam Mahmoud Dicko, qui continue à interagir avec les diplomates, les fonctionnaires des Nations unies et le représentant de l’Union africaine (UA), alors que toutes les parties cherchent une solution pacifique à la crise. Néanmoins, un travail important est nécessaire pour parvenir à une résolution », peut-on lire.

Il a également imploré la CEDEAO de prioriser la quête d’un engagement continu au Mali, avec toutes les parties prenantes. Cela doit inclure les organisations de la société civile comprenant les groupes de jeunes et de femmes, les organisations confessionnelles représentant toutes les confessions, les autorités traditionnelles – représentant tous les groupes communautaires – et le secteur de la sécurité – au-delà du clivage politique et idéologique.  

Les OSC ont encouragé la CEDEAO à collaborer avec les représentations diplomatiques, en particulier l’Union européenne, la France, pour engager de manière proactive tous les combattants au Nord et au Centre du Mali. 

Il a déclaré que la fin des hostilités au Mali peut permettre la tenue de négociations sur une paix durable et mettre fin aux souffrances humaines persistantes en raison du conflit et des crises politiques et des difficultés économiques concomitants déjà exacerbées par la pandémie de Covid-19.

« Alors que l’UA cherche à faire avancer sa campagne « Silencing the Guns in Africa » d’ici 2020, nous, en tant que société civile et organisations confessionnelles, sommes prêts à travailler avec la CEDEAO au Mali, de toutes les manières possibles », ont déclaré les OSC.

La lettre a été cosignée par les Directeurs du :

Centre pour la Démocratie et le Développent (CDD -West Africa)

L’Institut de la société civile de l’Afrique de l’Ouest (WACSI)

Réseau Ouest Africain pour l’Edification de la Paix (WANEP)

Centre pour le Développement Démocratique (CDD-Ghana)

Dr Emmanuel Akwetey – Institute for Democratic Governance (IDEG), Ghana

Partners West Africa

Marcella Samba-Sesay – Campaign for Good Governance (CGG)

Esther Tawiah – Gender Centre for Empowering Development (GenCED  

Hawa Sally Samai – Advocacy Movement Network (AMNet)

Centre pour la Gouvernance Democratique (CGD) Burkina Faso

Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA)

Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC)

Yiaga Africa

Global Rights, Nigeria 

Partners West Africa

The Centre for Information Technology and Development, CITAD

Centre for Democratic Development Research and Training (CEDDERT) Nigeria.

Socio Economic Rights & Accountability Project (SERAP)

Nigeria Network of NGOs

Alliances for Africa

Resource Centre for Human Rights & Civic Education (CHRICED) Nigeria

Corporate Accountability and Public Participation (CAPPA)

Community Life Project (CLP)

Yar’Adua Foundation

National procurement Watch Platform

Rule of Law and Accountability Advocacy Centre (RULAAC).

Centre for Social Justice.

State of the Union (SOTU) Campaign

Asabe Shehu Yar’Adua Foundation (ASYARFS)

Policy Alert

Corporate Accountability and Public Participation (CAAPA)

Zero Corruption Coalition

Tax Justice and Governance Platform

Community Action for Popular Participation

Say No Campaign

Alliance for Credible Elections

Beautiful Eves of Africa Organisation

Oke Foundation

Confluence of Rights, Nigeria

Legal Resources Consortium; Justice for Peace and Development Initiative.

Divine Era Development and Social Rights Initiative (DEDASRI)

National Association of Nigerian traders (NANTS)

Women, Law and Development Initiative (WOLDI)

Community Outreach for Development and Welfare Advocacy (CODWA)

HEDA Resource Centre.

Foundation for Environmental Rights, Advocacy & Development (FENRAD)

Centre for Human Rights and Social Advancement (CEFSAN).

National Procurement Watch Platform Nigeria

Front Citoyen Togo Debout

Le Mouvement Martin Luther King Togo

Novation Internationale Togo

Conseil Episcopal Justice et Paix

Centre for Research and Policy Development- Gambia

African Youth Commission – Gambia

Activista Gambia

Gambia Participate

Rights and Rice Foundation & Chairman, TJWG Liberia

Community Health Education and Social Services (CHESS-Liberia)

Young Leaders of Africa (YOLEAF) – Network Liberia

Namote Partners

Foundation for Human Rights and Democracy (FOHRD)

Center for Media Studies and Peacebuilding

Association Panafricaine pour l’analphabétisme et L’Education des Adulte (PAALAE)

Association des blogueurs de la Guinée

Centre for Accountability and Rule of Law (CARL)

Mano River Women’s Peace Network

The 50/50 of Sierra Leone                                                     

Girls +                                                            

Society for Democratic Initiatives (SDI)                              

 Kids Advocacy Network                                                      

Centre for Coordination of Youth Activities (CCYA)

Women’s Forum Network (50 Women’s organisations)

Foundation for Rural and Urban Transformation (FoRUT)  

Child Rights Coalition – Sierra Leone (105 National Organisations)

Skyy Women’s World Network                                                        

Barbarra Town                                                                       

Kids Radio Network                                      

Youth Forum Network                                                          

ECOWAS Youth Council – Sierra Leone                                         

Salone Lives Matter                                                               

One Family People                                                                

Madam Planner                                                                                  

Society for Peace and Development                                      

Social Workers – Sierra Leone                                                          

Mabalka Foundation                                                              

Native Consortium (NTT) (236 members)

Foundation for Human Rights and Democracy (FOHRD)

Régional President of REPSFECO

Defence for Children International– Sierra Leone                

Indigo Centre for Justice                                                        

Africa Mirror                                                                          

Girls Advocacy Development Network                                            

Young People Advocacy Network (YPAN)                         

Women’s Alliance Against Maternal Mortality Foundation

Girls Empowerment Advocacy Board                                              

Women’s Rights Advocacy Group                 –                      


Shin Kanfanonin Apple da Google Sun Samar Manhajar Da Zata Bi Diddigin Cutar Corona a Asirce a Wayoyin Mutane?

By Blog, Fact Check, UncategorizedNo Comments

Tantancewar CDD: Labari ne na bogi!

Tushen Magana:

Mutane da yawa a Najeriya dake anfani da manyan wayoyi suna ta bayyana shakku da cece-kuce dangane wata magana dake yawo cewa daya daga cikin kanfanonin nan guda biyu, wato Apple ko Google ya jefa wata manhaja da zata rika bin diddigin bayanan da suka shafi cutar Corona ba tare da izinin masu wayoyin ba. Wannan magana tayi yawo sosai a kafafen sadaarwa na zamani irinsu WhatsApp da Facebook da Twitter. Kamar yadda bayanin dake kunshe acikin maganara ya bayyana, wannan manhaja an kirkire ta ne dan liken asiri ga mutane.

Gaskiyar Magana:

A baya-bayannan kanfanin Google ya kara wata fasaha akan jerin fasahohin da yake anfani dasu, fasahar wadda take da taken: “bayanai akan cutar Corona”, wannan jimla takan bayyana daga mutum ya shiga runbun takaitattun bayanai  a manhajar Google akan wayar sa ko wayarta da Android, yadda hoton shafin ke kasancewa kamar yadda wannan hoto na kasa ke nunawa.

Ba’a samar da sabon runbun takaitattun bayanan dan liken asiri ga mutane ba ko wani abu da ya shafi cutar Corona kamar yadda wassu sakonni da suka bayyana ta kafafen Facebook da Twitter dama WhatsApp suka yayata.

Kanfanin Android ko IOS suna anfani da tsari ne dake bada damar saka manhajoji da yawa akan waya ko na’ura daya. Kamar tsarin da yadda sauran manhajoji da tsare-tasren da suka kan wayoyi da na’urori, abinda kanfanin Apple da Gooogle sukayi shine sabunta tsare-tsaren su dan kyautata yadda wayoyin zasu yi anfani da kuma barin sauran manhajoji suyi aiki idan kowane mai waya ya dora akan wayar sa ko wayar ta.

Kamar yadda jadawalin kirikirar manhajar da kanfoanonin Apple da Google din ta zaiyana, mutane suna da zabin dora manhajar akan wayoyin su tare da damar amincewa ko rashin amincewa da dora manhajoji a wayoyinsu, kamar dai yadda dora sauran manhajoji yake daga runbun manhajoji na app store.

Sabon runbun bada sanarwa ko bayanai game da cutar Corona din bazai yi aiki a waya har sai ansaka shi a waya kuma kawo yanzu wannan tsari bazai yi aiki a waya ba saboda kirkirar manhajar bai kan kama ba, dan batun saka shi a waya ma bai taso ba.

Bayanan da masa tantance sahihancin labarai na CDD ke dasu kawo yanzu sun nuna cewa gwamnatin Najeriya bata sanar da samar da manhajar bin diddigin bullar cutar Corona ba.

Babban lura da sashin dake kula da jita-jita na cibiyar dakile yadiwar cutuka ta kasa NCDC, Abiola Egwuenu yace cibiyar bata da manhajar bin diddigi.

Egwuenu ta kara da cewa manhajar kawai da cibiyar ke anfani da ita itace ta gano bulla da alkintawa tare da bada sharfi akan annoba da aka yiwa lakabi da SORMAS a turance.

Egwuenu tace wannan manhaja da suke anfani da ita manhaja ce data shafi bangare lafiya dake anfani a wayoyin hannu wadda kuma take tallafawa wajen gano bullar annoba kai tsaye ta hanyar hange a fasahar zamani da dakuna gawje-gwajen lafiya.

Ta ci gaba da cewa bayanan da wannan mahaja ke tattarawa ana samun su ne ta hanyar jami’an gwamnati a matakin jaha da kananan hukumomi wadanda aka basu damar yin anfani da ita manhajar.


Kanfanonin Google da Apple basu sakawa wayoyin mutane wani tsari dazai rika tattara bayanai game cutar Corona ba. Abinda kawai sukayi shine fadada yadda jadawalin yadda tsarin su ke aiki dan bada dama ga manhaja tayi aiki wanda kuma hakan ke nufin kowane mutum na iya saukar da manhaja da kowa ne runbun manhajojin da yake anfani dashi.

Idan mutum ya saukar da manhaja wadda hukumomin lafiya suka samar, kamar a Najeriya hukumar dakile yaduwar cututtuka ta kasa NCDC da ma’aikatar lafiya ta tarayya, za’a bukaci izininka ta fuskoki daban-daban dan baiwa manhajar damar yin aiki yadda ya kamata.


Our Analysis For This Week, July 4, 2020

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Declining demand for oilfield services poses a threat to Nigeria’s oil and gas industry

Global demand for Oilfields Services (OFS) has been on a steady decline, and this has continuously challenged the oil industry in Nigeria. Oil represents over 80% of Nigeria’s exports, 30% of its banking-sector credit, and 50% of overall government revenue.

Due to low prices and the looming COVID-19 pandemic, the economy has been affected, leading to limited and postponed activities towards large oil discoveries within the country. According to the World Bank, the collapse in oil prices accompanied by the COVID-19 pandemic is predicted to plunge the Nigerian economy into acute economic recession, the worst since the 1980s.

Government revenues are expected to fall from an already low 8% of GDP in 2019 to a projected 5% this year due to the decline.

It is estimated that Global demand for oilfield services (OFS), measured in the total value of exploration and production (E&P) company purchases, will drop by 25% because of the downturn caused by COVID-19, leading to low oil prices.

Apart from the Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas train seven project, no major projects or investments are forthcoming. The demand for oilfield services has declined terribly, oilrigs contracts have been postponed and many contracts cancelled.


Fake News Website Developer – Call for Application

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The Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) is seeking applications for a website developer for Centre’s Countering Disinformation and Misinformation project (Fake News website).

The website developer will be involved in creating an internet-based platform to upscale the education and enlightenment of the general public on the need to fight the spread of disinformation referred to as “Fake News”.

The developer will also be involved in database programming which will aid in delivering a top-notch, high-quality content on a user-friendly platform to Nigerians and the public in general.

Are you interested? You can submit your resume and samples of your work to with the subject line – Fake News Website Developer.

The deadline for the submission of applications is July 10, 2020.

If you have further questions, please direct them to the email above.

WhatsApp and Everyday Life in West Africa – Call for Contributors

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We are looking for contributions for an edited book volume tentatively titled, ‘WhatsApp and Everyday Life in West Africa’. 

The edited volume aims to cover a range of topics from politics, misinformation and elections; to how WhatsApp is used for healthcare, by businesses and as a source of news; to how it can facilitate love, family connections (and disputes), spiritual/religious connections and support women’s empowerment. (Call for contributors CDD)

We are looking for pieces between 5,000 and 7,000 words in length for inclusion in the edited book volume. They can either be personal experiences or build on research already being done. The idea would be for the pieces to be rigorous and detailed without being academic or overly theoretical. This is a paid opportunity. (Call for Contributors CDD)

If you have an idea please submit a 250 word abstract and a piece of previously published writing to, with the subject line – WhatsApp in West Africa.

The deadline for the submission of abstracts is 30 June 2020.

We will aim to select the ten pieces we intend to commission in July.

If you have further questions please direct them to the email above

Edo/Ondo: We’ll not make declarations where elections are disrupted – INEC chairman talks tough

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If you don’t behave yourself during elections, we’ll go by the law – INEC Chairman goes tough on politicians

The Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Professor Mahmood Yakubu, on Tuesday, June 9, issued a stern warning to politicians ahead of the governorship elections in Ondo and Edo States.

Professor Yakubu while speaking at a virtual event on Democracy and Elections in West Africa, organised by the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), Washington DC in collaboration with the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) said INEC is committed is ensuring free, fair and credible elections in Nigeria.

The event sought to bring to the limelight, the future of democracy in the West African region.

Nigeria has governorship elections scheduled to take place in Ondo and Edo States on October 20, 2020, and September 19, 2020, respectively.

Continuing, the INEC Chairman said where an election is disrupted, the commission will not make a declaration on the outcome due to lack of adherence to guiding rules of the election.

Professor Yakubu said: “Where the election is disrupted and the commission cannot vouch for the integrity of the process, we will not go ahead to make any declaration.”

Noting that political parties have been duly noted on this, Professor Yakubu said: “You (political parties, politicians and voters) either behave for the elections to be concluded in a free and fair manner or we do what the law says.”

Professor Yakubu said there will be no point making a declaration in such situation because the commission will not endorse fraud or function outside the minimum standard set for the conduct of credible elections anywhere.

“While elections are disrupted, we should look far beyond the electoral commission. I think you put your fingers on the problem, on the political class and the security challenges. And that is why we have been engaging with them,” Professor Yakubu said.

“Yesterday, I had a meeting with the national security adviser, we are meeting with all the security agencies. But what pro-active measure is the commission going to take to ensure that if there is a replay of what happened in Bayelsa and Kogi, we will protect the integrity of the process,” he added.

Addressing challenges the commission might face in conducting an election in a Coronavirus pandemic period, Yakubu, said Nigeria with 10 bye-elections and over 6.2 million voters is determined to ensure democracy is not truncated.

“Our electoral & democratic process can’t be suspended on account of the COVID19 pandemic, ” Professor Yakubu said.

He said proper measures have been put in place to contain the possible spread of COVID-19 among voters and officials.

Listing some of the measures, the INEC Chairman said, machines used for voter authentication will be disinfected, the use of face masks and a two-meter (6 feet) physical distance between voters will be enforced while infrared thermometers will be provided in voting and collation areas.

Professor Yakubu said adequate security during the process will be put in place while officials participating in the conduct of the election will be properly trained in line with advisories and guideline listed by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).

According to him, INEC will continue to relate with political parties across the country to ensure a free, credible and fair respective of the pandemic

“Nigeria is one of the most litigated against public institutions in the country. In the last one and the half years over the conduct of the general elections and party primaries, we have been dragged to court over 2000 times and it is counting, ” Professor Yakubu.

Also, on gender representation in politics, the INEC chairman said there is a zero turnout of female candidates for the scheduled elections.

 “I was looking at the number and names of candidates for the election and I didn’t see a single female, ” he said.

He further assured that the commission will continue to engage with political parties on the importance of gender balance and the conduct of primaries by these parties.

“We will continue to push for reforms even though political parties are hard to deal with in emerging democracy.” – Professor Yakubu added.

In her address, the Director of CDD, Idayat Hassan, called for sanctions against political parties and individuals who make efforts to jeopardize electoral systems in African countries.

Hassan said unruly behaviour by politicians and their supporters cannot be condoned.

Further addressing challenges the nation might experience in conducting these elections amid the Coronavirus pandemic which has ravaged the globe, Hassan said efforts must be made to ensure the process is free, fair and credible.

Also noting that these are important and already contentious elections for Nigeria and Africa as a whole, Hassan said while the Independent National Electoral Commission is doing its best within available resources, the Nigerian civil society and international partners should support the commission.

She suggests that support for INEC can be made in crisis management, combatting misinformation and dissuading bad behaviour.

“The international community must support INEC in the procurement process to reduce cost, civic education must be delivered on adherence to the guidelines by voters and political party members,” Hassan said.

Continuing CDD’s Director said: “Punishing bad behaviour will be very very key, not just visa ban for them (politicians) and their children but making strong statements to prevent any form of violence during these elections.”

Henry Prempeh, the Executive Director of CDD Ghana said the COVID-19 pandemic has compressed election in the country.

COVID-19 Has Exposed Real State of Africa's Economic structures – Comrades Speak as they Honour Tajudeen, Momoh

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On Saturday, May 30, friends, associates and labour comrades virtually gathered to honour Tajudeen Abdul-Raheem and Abubakar Momoh both of whom stood for true Pan-Africanism.

Tajudeen, a writer and general secretary of the Pan-African Movement died on May 29, 2009, while Momoh passed on on the same day in 2017.

Celebrating the third and seventeenth anniversary of both icons, the governor of Ekiti State, Kayode Fayemi, said this is a moment of reflection and also for the celebration of the two comrades.

Describing both Tajudeen and Momoh as people who did not just see Africa as a geographic location, Kayode said, the duo always saw solutions and possibilities amid challenges and difficulties.

The governor said that there is need for Africans to re-engage and connect with each other with the Pan-African ideology.

“COVID-19 is an opportunity for Africa more than it is adversity, it is an opportunity to reject the insularity and protectionism. We must reconnect in Pan-African politics,” Kayode said.

In her contribution, Dr Awino Okech, an academic, based at the University of London’s School of Oriental and Africa Studies (SOAS) said Africans need to be able to create multiple leaders and chiefs who would help the younger generation find focus.

According to Awino, the Coronavirus pandemic is not just an incidence but it has made the continent aware of challenges of Africa’s declining economies, health systems and poor leadership.

Further describing Tajudeen and Momoh as connectors who opened their doors to the younger ones, Professor Awino said Africans need to reconnect new social movements to progressive African academics.

“Some movements have been captured by the deep state and power merchants, we need to create political parties and structures that would reflect and project the Pan-Africanism dream, ” Dr Awino said.

In her address, Professor Funmi Olonosakin, the founder and former Director of the African Leadership Centre (ALC) said at a time like this, certain things are key.

She said these include; new ways of working, new models of leadership, organisation of the state and solidarity with the next generation.

Professor Funmi said: “Two things stand out namely: the relative silence of the African Union and the question of the leadership of the future.”

“How do we mobilise together to transform Africa?” She queried.

In addition, Horace Campbell, a professor of African-America studies and political science at the Syracuse University, New York called for the transformation of realities facing the continent including environmental justice and building shared infrastructure to transform lives across Africa.

Professor Campbell said the COVID-19 has sharpened the question of peace, development and the need tor organisation among the African people.

Professor Campbell: “There is a clear limit of military management of the international system.  We are moving into the era of a multi-polar currency world. Social justice is key.”

He called for support and upliftment of the dignity of Africans and Afro-descendants’ struggle to be human and strengthen the spirit of the people.

Also, a former chairman of the National Human Rights Commission and the senior team manager for the Africa Program of Open Society Justice Initiative, Chidi Odinkalu, said Tajudeen’s anthem was “one struggle, many fronts”.

According to Odinkalu, this implies that Pan-Africanists should never think of anyone as too irrelevant as what everyone brings to the table must be respected.

Also, decrying the state of election processes in Africa, Odinkalu said beyond intergenerational dialogue, there is a need for Pan-Africanists to consciously and deliberately work towards replacing themselves on earth.

“The silence from African Union is quite deafening; more needs to be done and we need to demand accountability from our governments in Africa, ” he said.

Odinkalu added: “COVID-19 has surfaced a crisis of regionalism and regional integration. Question is, how do we work better with AU, Regional institutions and African governments?”

COVID-19: People Who Look Like They’re Not Poor Also Need Support – Experts Tell Nigerian Government

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Considering the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic and its lockdown on citizens, the Federal and State Governments have been urged to consider Nigerians from all walks of life in the nation’s social protection policy.

This call was made by Nkechi Ilochi-Omekedo, the Women’s Right Program Manager, for Action Aid on Thursday, May 28.

Nkechi who spoke at a Virtual Series organised by the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) titled; “Protecting the Most Vulnerable During COVID-19: The Effect of Socioeconomic Disparities” said, those who do not look like they are poor need for some form of support.

The women’s right advocate said now is time for government at all level to rethink its governance policies and more for citizens to hold government accountable.

Recounting challenges faced during and post COVID-19, Nkechi said women and girls are worst hit as the pandemic has shown the weaknesses in Nigeria’s public structures.

“Issues concerning women have been compounded, for example, women and girls who are in abusive relationships are now confined in the same space for a long time with their abusers,” Nkechi said.

She said such issues bring to limelight challenges surrounding housing in Nigeria as the system need to be addressed to allow for a more suitable process.

Also noting that the pandemic has increased the burden of care on women and girls at the household level, the women’s right advocate said challenges associated with Wash, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) have been exposed.

“One of the primary ways of avoiding COVID-19 is washing of hands regularly with water, meaning women and girls in areas where there is no access to potable water will have to find means of fetching water daily, ” Nkechi said.

She called on government and other relevant actors in the sector to re-examine the process of making WASH services available – during and post COVID-19 pandemic.

Also speaking, Dr Dozie Okoye, an Associate Professor at Dalhousie University, Canada said more attention should be paid to urban dwellers during this COVID-19 era.

Okoye said there should plan for inclusivity in the distribution of palliatives to the Nigerian populace during this time.

Okoye, who is also a member of the Research on ImporviImproving of Education (RISE) Nigeria said: “I think that more attention needs to be paid to the urban folks in terms of palliative distribution during the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown.”

According to him, most urban dwellers have been limited by the lockdown as their ability to commute to work daily have been affected.

He said the working-class citizens who largely need to commute to places where they need to work – for long our and higher prices – using public transport, now find that difficult.

Further looking at the impact of COVID-19 and the lockdown on Nigeria’s education sector, Okoye said, most students are being left behind academically.

“About half of our students are in public schools and are not even able to pass some test ordinarily, primary 6 students not being able to pass Primary 2 exams, mostly due to higher curriculum, ” Okoye said.

He added: “Now we speak of online education, most of our students do not have required devices or even internet access. There is also room for private tutoring but most an average household in Nigeria cannot afford this.”

He said Nigeria needs to work out strategies to ensure that students are not left behind because of the impact of COVID-19 pandemic.

In his address, Remi Ayiede, a professor of Political Institutions, Governance, Public Policy and Administration at the University of Ibadan said there should be a sober reflection of how the country needs to develop its social system.

He said the failure to do so affects every member of society.

Ayiede said: “We need to operationalise the social protection list where everyone who has been listed as poor is captured. Some government have already started doing that which is commendable.”

He also called for a stronger approach to an even distribution of palliatives across the board and among citizens.