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NIGERIA’S PRESIDENTIAL POLLS: A SWOT ANALYSIS

By Democracy, Press ReleaseNo Comments
By Prof. Okechukwu Ibeanu & Idayat Hassan

The 2023 elections will be the seventh consecutive elections since the return to democracy in 1999; making a 23-year period of unbroken democracy, the longest in the country’s short history. The presidential election is scheduled to hold on 25 February 2023 and will not feature the incumbent president for only the second time, while governorship and other subnational polls will hold on 11 March. More than 95 million Nigerians have registered to cast their ballots with key issues for the leading presidential candidates likely to Centre around the economy, prevailing insecurity and corruption. Ironically, these were the same issues that defined the 2015 general election that brought the outgoing president, Muhammadu Buhari, to power.

This strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT) analysis assesses some of the key factors and actors that will shape the 2023 polls. These include a review the preparedness of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and how it is working within the newly passed legislation that ostensibly provides a more robust legal framework for the conduct of the polls. It also offers a review of prevailing insecurity in all the six geo-political zones of the country and how this is likely to impact voting. Finally, attention is drawn to some of the leading candidates and their main support bases in the country. Whilst not ignoring the issues that are likely to come up in the campaign, this piece looks at issues of religion and misinformation that are likely going to be equally critical in shaping electoral outcomes.

The 2023 election will be conducted with a new electoral framework but with the same leadership of INEC as in 2019. INEC continues to push for increased application of technology to election administration and the new Act provides the legislative backing for a more transparent and robust voting and results management processes, if applied judiciously. But the credibility of the 2023 general election will also depend on the degree to which citizens can vote freely and unencumbered. Insecurity remains a critical issue, particularly in the northwest and southeast. Further challenging this operation are the prevailing structural, infrastructural, and cultural ecosystems in which the polls will take place. Prompt release of the full INEC budget could help in mitigating some of these.

Finally, the role played by the security agencies, and subsequently by the judiciary, may be as important in determining the credibility of the election as that of the election management body. Nigeria is currently facing an epidemic of insecurity. Violence led by bandits, terrorists and secessionists has been recorded across its six geo-political zones, further dividing the country along ethnic, religious and political lines. Holding credible polls in this context that guarantees the security of voters and INEC personnel will be a major challenge. The ability of INEC to conduct continuous voters registration has already been questioned as insecurity has prevented the Commission from deploying to all wards across all electoral districts. The challenge of citizen access to electoral infrastructure will remain constant throughout the campaign and during the voting period. This is particularly true for those that have been displaced internally by conflict.

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PRESS STATEMENT – CDD SWOT Analysis Lists Threats To Credible Elections in 2023

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CDD SWOT Analysis Lists Threats To Credible Elections in 2023

  • Pro-Democracy Think-Tank Pinpoints Insecurity, Money Politics, Religion And Ethnicity As Risk Factors
  • New Electoral Act Could Redefine Credibility of Polls    

In a new report released today in Abuja, frontline pro-democracy think tank, Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) has warned that rising insecurity, misinformation, money politics, religion and ethnic narratives may undermine the credibility of the 2023 election. The report titled ‘Nigeria’s presidential polls: A SWOT Analysis‘ raised concerns over the safety of election personnel, voters and election materials, as well as the hurdles posed by threats such as kidnapping, violence, banditry, insurgency and communal clashes.

Noting that the 2023 general election is a significant logistical operation, CDD stressed that there will be significant logistic challenges reaching the 176,846 polling units with election material. CDD noted that for such a far-reaching level of deployment to be successful, it would require the recruitment and training of close to 1.5 million poll and security officials. This, the pro-democracy think tank pointed out requires the deployment of personnel, which number about four times the size of the entire Nigerian military.

On the other hand, CDD pointed out that the negative influence of religion, ethnicity and money politics could also undermine the credibility and acceptability of the elections, if not properly addressed. The think tank observed that these divisive factors have already played a role in shaping the emergence of the four major party candidates running in the presidential election of next year. The candidates are Alhaji Atiku Abubakar of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Bola Tinubu of All Progressive Congress (APC), Peter Obi of Labour Party’s and Rabiu Musa Kwankwanso of the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP).

Although, the report, which was signed by the Director of CDD, Idayat Hassan, rated the legal framework in place for the elections as robust and laudable, the report however noted that the conduct of political actors would be critical if the benefits of such framework were to be enjoyed across the board. The report pointed that the Electoral Act 2022 has elicited prospects that could redefine elections in Nigeria.

The report further noted that with political campaigns looming in the coming weeks, key governance issues, such as insecurity would be a factor in the political calculations for the leading candidates as they traverse the country.

The report noted in the northwest, the hot button issue of security of lives and property would have an impact on the performance of the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate, Tinubu. At the same time, the secessionist agitations in the southeast could reduce turnout, which may not favour either the Labour Party flag bearer Peter Obi or People’s Democratic Party candidate Abubakar Atiku. The report read: “Religion is likely to feature prominently in debates following the APC’s decision to contest the presidency with a Muslim-Muslim ticket. Renewed youth engagement in politics, a feature of the voter registration period, could also be transformative and favour Obi.

“Money will continue to play a huge role in determining who emerges the winner if the presidential primaries and recent gubernatorial elections offer any lesson. Finally, online campaigns will be more fiercely fought than ever, with attacks aimed at boosting candidates, attacking opponents and undermining INEC likely to be accentuated in social media in the run-up to, during and even after voting,” the report noted in part. CDD added that citizens’ access to electoral infrastructure would remain constant throughout the campaign and during the voting period, especially for those displaced internally by conflict.

On the character and composition of INEC and the implications for the polls, the report recalls that INEC chairman, Prof Mahmud Yakubu, is the first Chair of the Election Management Body to be appointed for a second term in the country’s history. The new report observes the backlash generated by the replacement of 19 Resident Electoral Commissioners at the Commission, noting the perception that a number of the replacements are alleged to be partisan and lack integrity could impact the elections; however, CDD stressed that the 2022 Electoral Act may have introduced several changes that would continue to improve the credibility of elections.

Consequently, the SWOT Analysis noted that cases of inconclusive election would be drastically reduced in 2023 as the new Electoral Act now defines overvoting in terms of accredited voters as against registered voters, adding that INEC would also be able to, according to the new act, review results signed under financial inducement or duress. The report enthuses that if INEC judiciously applies technology, which it had pushed for and was granted through the new Electoral Act, the transparency of the election could be improved. The report similarly added that the poll’s credibility would also depend on the degree to which citizens could vote freely and unencumbered.

It noted: “Insecurity remains a critical issue, particularly in the northwest and southeast. Further challenging this operation are the prevailing structural, infrastructural, and cultural ecosystems in which the polls will take place.

“Prompt release of the entire INEC budget could help mitigate some of these. Finally, the role played by the security agencies, and subsequently by the judiciary, may be as crucial in determining the credibility of the election as that of the election management body.

“Nigeria is currently facing an epidemic of insecurity. The violence led by bandits, terrorists and secessionists has been recorded across its six geo-political zones, further dividing the country along ethnic, religious and political lines. Holding credible polls in this context that guarantees the security of voters and INEC personnel will be a major challenge. The ability of INEC to conduct continuous voter registration has already been questioned as insecurity has prevented the Commission from deploying to all wards across all electoral districts,” the report noted.

CDD Slams NBC for Fining Trust TV, Others

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PRESS STATEMENT

The Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) has condemned the imposition of the N5 million fine slammed on Trust Television and other media organisations by the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) for airing documentaries that exposed terrorists and their activities.

Idayat Hassan

Trust TV is owned by Media Trust Group, a multimedia company that also publishes Daily Trust newspapers and other titles.

Also similarly fined by the NBC are Multichoice Nigeria Limited, owners of DSTV, TelCom Satellite Limited (TSTV) and NTA-Startimes Limited, for broadcasting a documentary by the British Broadcasting Commission (BBC) Africa Eye titled ‘Bandits Warlords Of Zamfara.’

But the CDD, in a statement on Saturday by her Director, Idayat Hassan, described the imposition of the fine as obnoxious, oppressive and suppressive, asking the commission to withdraw it immediately.

According to her, the fine is a reprehensible attempt to gag the media and infringe on citizens’ rights to free speech and information.

The statement reads: “We condemn, in the strongest terms, the imposition of the fine on Trust Television and other media outlets by the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC).

“We are particularly alarmed at the speed with which took action without giving the affected media outlets time to respond and defend themselves.

“As the partner who supported Trust TV in producing the documentary, we unapologetically emphasise that the documentary was done and aired in the public interest. The documentary was based on years of field research, representing all affected communities and proffered pathways to ending the conflict. The calibre of persons featured in the documentary and those who attended the screenings, followed by a panel discussion, only speaks to our genuine interest in finding solutions to the conflict.

“As the country approaches the 2023 general elections, we urge the Federal Government to avoid doing anything that will threaten the media landscape or infringe on the citizens’ right to free speech and the right to know.

“We are shocked to see how the National Broadcasting Commission violated its procedures by not giving the affected media organisations the right to a fair hearing and acting without receiving any written complaints from anybody as required by its law.

“As a regulator, we expect the NBC to act independently and professionally without succumbing to political pressure.”

Signed

Idayat Hassan

FIRST INTERIM STATEMENT ON THE JULY 16, 2022 OSUN STATE
GOVERNORSHIP ELECTION BY THE CDD ELECTION ANALYSIS CENTRE
(CDD-EAC)

By Election, Press Release, PublicationNo Comments

With voting in the 16 July 2022 Osun State Governorship election already underway across the 30
Local Government Areas of the state, the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) through its
Election Analysis Centre (EAC) has been closely observing the election. CDD-EAC deployed 300
trained and accredited observers who are currently collecting data on key aspects of the day’s voting
and voting related process. The objective of the CDD-EAC doing this is to determine through
evidence based analysis, the credibility of the election in meeting and satisfying canons of electoral
integrity under Nigerian laws and international codes and standards.


The observations that follow are based on preliminary findings of the conducts and procedures on the
election day.


General Environment of the Election
The CDD-EAC notes the signing of the peace accord by thirteen out of the fifteen political parties
taking part in the election and other measures aimed at ensuring the election is hitch free. The decision
by the political actors to commit to an agreement, which enjoins them to do their part in ensuring a
violence-free election is laudable. Although pockets of disagreements between party agents and INEC
officials were reported by our observers in a few polling units, these were largely resolved. CDD-EAC
similarly notes that in the build up to today’s governorship election, a number of consultations and
strategy sessions involving the Election Management Body and the relevant security agencies were
held under the Inter-Agency Consultative Committee on Election Security (ICCES). These
consultations were observed to have happened at both national and state level; added to this is the
deployment of 21,000 police officers to the state. We hope these measures contribute to the peaceful
conduct of the election.


INEC Preparedness and Deployment
Data from the CDD-EAC observers indicate that 97 percent of INEC officials had arrived at their
polling units by 8:30am. It further shows that 79 percent of INEC poll officials addressed voters
before the 8:30am official time of poll opening. CDD-EAC data indicates that in at least 92 percent of
polling units observed critical election materials like ballot papers, Biometric Voter Accreditation
System (BVAS) devices, results sheets, ballot boxes and the voter register were available for the
conduct of the election – a marked improvement over the 83 percent recorded in Ekiti.
CDD-EAC notes that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) took some steps to
address some of the gaps identified in the Ekiti State governorship election last month. INEC has
embedded officials of the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) in the INEC
situation room in Osogbo to help address issues around deployment of personnel and movement of
voting materials. The Commission similarly conducted mock accreditation exercises in Osogbo,
Borife, Ede, and Egbedore to test the preparedness of the trained staff and the efficiency of the BVAS.

Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS)
The mock accreditation exercise carried out by INEC to ensure the readiness of the 5,306 BVAS
machines appears to have worked, with CDD-EAC officials noting that there was a BVAS machine
and compliance in 99% of the polling units visited, with two polling units in Ife Central and Irepodun
reporting the absence of BVAS machines at 9:30am.


Electoral Offences
CDD-EAC observers reported cases of political party agents campaigning, and canvassing for votes
near the polling unit in 14 LGAs, which represents 9.6 percent of the polling units observed. These
acts which contravene the provisions of the Electoral Act 2022 were mostly reported by observers in
Ife Central, Odo Otin, Osogbo, Oriade and Irepodun. CDD-EAC observers also reported seeing
unremoved campaign posters at some polling units, just as political party agents openly canvassed for
votes.


Fake News
CDD-EAC Fake News Hub for the July 16, Osun State Governorship election has been closely
watching online and offline spaces with the objective of tracking and fact-checking fake news and
misinformation. A number of fake news stories, misleading captions for images, and the sharing of
dead online links are being used by partisan actors to mislead voters or to possibly depress the vote in
areas in which the political opposition is perceived to have some strengths. CDD-EAC fact-checkers
have also documented claims and counter-claims by political actors over allegations of vote buying.
Using online tools, and a range of verification techniques, CDD-EAC fact-checkers have been
working to independently fact-check online and offline misinformation capable of undermining voter
confidence. One of the major fake news stories, which began trending as voters headed to the polls
this morning, is the claim that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate, Ademola Adeleke had
been sacked by a court. CDD-EAC fact checkers verified and found this claim to be false. CDD-EAC
fact-checkers also spotted a claim that one of the major opposition parties’ candidates was asking
voters to swear an oath that voters voted for him before he would pay them. CDD-EAC fact-checkers
found nothing on the circulated image to lend credence to the claim. Our fact-checkers also noted that
the image, which was circulated to make the claim, was taken at the point the candidate was casting
his vote.


Conclusion
CDD-EAC observers will continue to keep a close watch on the election up till when voting ends, and
counting and collation of results begin. Further updates on findings will be provided at the end of
voting.


Signed:
Professor Adele Jinadu, Chair, CDD-EAC
For Media Enquiries, contact:
Mr. Damien Ihekoronye
Coordinator, Election Analysis Centre (CDD-EAC)
(+2348087185684 | idamian@cddwestafrica.org )

SUMMARY OF DISCUSSIONS ON EMERGING ISSUES THAT WILL SHAPE THE 2023 GENERAL ELECTION IN NIGERIA

By 2023 Elections, Election, Fact Check, Politics, Press ReleaseNo Comments

The 2023 general election will be a defining moment not just for Nigeria but also for West Africa. The region has suffered democratic decline and experienced coups and counter-coups in the past three years. However, beyond the hopes of the emergence of transformational leadership that will change the country’s fate, there are existing challenges that threaten the conduct of free, fair, and credible elections in Nigeria.

Nigeria’s 2023 election will be the seventh to be conducted in the fourth republic. It will be unique for two reasons. First, it will not have an incumbent running. Second, the country has promulgated the 2022 Electoral Act, bringing new changes to election guidelines and regulations. However, the 2023 election is one that many analysts speculate will be fraught with severe challenges. Nigeria’s six geopolitical zones are currently embroiled in different conflicts, ranging from farmer-herder clashes witnessed in all the zones to banditry and terrorist threats in the northwest and north-central and secessionist agitations in the southeast. These conflict situations are likely to deteriorate further with increased political violence that could affect the safety of election materials, personnel and even voters. In addition, the security situation could affect voter turnout – despite ongoing voter registration already surpassing 85 million registered voters – and even the legitimacy of the results.

Beyond the security situation and the controversies arising from the interpretation of the 2022 Electoral Act by politicians and political parties, the lack of internal democracy in parties, monetization of the electoral process and the issue of zoning will all be critical issues that are likely to affect the outcome of the 2023 general elections.

It is on this basis that the Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA) and the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) organized a one-day colloquium to discuss “Emerging Issues that will Shape the 2023 General Elections in Nigeria”. The event was held on 25 May 2022 and was attended by a broad spectrum of stakeholders interested in ensuring the peaceful and credible conduct of elections in Nigeria. They included the current Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and his immediate predecessor, representatives from leading civil society groups, political parties, security agencies, academia, and the media.

The keynote address by Prof Mahmood Yakubu, the Chairman of INEC, kicked off the day of discussions and was followed by four enriching panel sessions that x-rayed diverse emerging challenges to the conduct of elections in Nigeria with solutions proffered. The first panel dealt with the perquisites for a successful general election in 2023. The second panel examined the emerging threats and challenges to a successful 2023 general election. The theme of the third panel was the pathways to electoral accountability in 2023, while the fourth panel was a summary of cardinal issues arising from the colloquium.

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CDD Election Analysis Centre Preliminary Anambra Election Report

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Key Talking Points

  • Despite concerns over the heavy deployment of security agents, very few incidents of intimidation and violence have been reported defying the context of fear and uncertainty that preceded election day.
  • Security agents were frequently absent at the commencement of accreditation in several pollings units, which likely heightened uncertainty among voters and officials.
  • Persistent incidents of the failure of the Bi-Modal Voter Accreditation System (BIVAS) across numerous polling units, have impaired the smooth conduct of the elections, and will likely disenfranchise some intended voters.
  • The lateness of officials in commencing accreditation and polling has left many voters frustrated, necessitating INEC’s extension of the voting period till 4pm.
  • Incidents of electoral malpractice including vote-buying have been widespread and will likely impact the credibility of results.

Welcome remarks

Gentlemen and women of the press. On behalf of the Centre for Democracy and Development, I welcome you to this Press Briefing on the 2021 Anambra State governorship election.

Introduction

Earlier today, voters across the 21 Local Government Areas (LGAs) in Anambra State, headed to the polls to elect their next governor. CDD deployed its trained and non-partisan observers across all the LGAs in the state to keep a close watch on the electoral process and its outcomes. CDD’s Election Analysis Centre (EAC) has been receiving reports from field observers from the commencement to the end of voting. This preliminary statement provides an overview of our initial findings on the conduct of the election, and the extent to which poll officials, voters, and security officials adhered to key processes governing the conduct of the election.

Security Situation

Despite threats by non-state armed groups and concerns over the heavy deployment of security agents, very few incidents of intimidation and violence have been reported defying the context of fear and uncertainty that preceded election day. Despite the heavy deployment of state security agents, observers have noted a surprisingly scanty presence of security personnel in numerous reports from across the state. Where security agents have been present, reports indicate that they have largely respected rules of engagement and acted with professionalism. This is highly commendable and we hope that this mode of engagement with voters is sustained till the end of the electoral process. Likewise, the withdrawal of the sit at home order pronounced by IPOB has contributed to the opening of the polls and the relatively peaceful atmosphere we have witnessed. We noted that as the hours progressed, more voters began to show up at the polls, as information spread that accreditation and voting were proceeding largely peacefully. However, we note that the worrying security context ahead of the polls sustained a heightened level of uncertainty among many voters, and exacerbated voter-apathy.

INEC Logistics

Reports from CDD’s observers indicate widespread delays in the commencement of accreditation and voting as a result of the late arrival of poll officials. For instance, at  9:55am, CDD observers reported that INEC officials had not arrived at Otolo Ward 2, Nnewi North LGA. Likewise, in Ihiala LGA, observer reports indicate that INEC officials and electoral materials had not arrived at 1 pm. The lateness of officials in commencing accreditation and polling has left many voters frustrated, necessitating INEC’s extension of the voting period till 4pm and possibly till tomorrow. This will likely contribute to the late closing of the polls and the delayed announcement of the election results.

Malfunctioning BVAS

One repeated occurrence that threatens to mar the quality of the election outcome has been the widely reported failure of the  Bi-Modal Voter Accreditation System (BIVAS) across numerous polling units in the state. In several instances, the BVAS failed to recognize voters’ faces and fingerprints, and those affected were asked to wait until the challenge was resolved. CDD’s EAC observers also reported malfunctioning of the BVAS in Ayamelum LGA with three polling units affected.

The wider security atmosphere leading up to the polls has likely impacted INEC’s preparedness, particularly its capacity to train Ad-Hoc staff on the use of the BIVAS technology. In some polling units, INEC officials resorted to the manual methods of accreditation and voting. This was observed in Awka South, Akwa North, Idemili North, Idemili South, and Anambra West. CDD observers further reported that in cases where the BIVAS worked, its pace was frequently slow, leading to longer wait times than necessary for voters. In several reported cases, frustrated voters were forced to return home without casting their votes. The resort to manual voting will likely generate uncertainties about the validity of votes cast. This will likely also open up the election to petitions and questions regarding its legitimacy.

Low Turnout of Voters

As expected, CDD observers recorded a low turnout of voters across the state. This reflects the climate of uncertainty leading up to the election, as well as the historically high levels of voter apathy that have been recorded in the state. The heightened voter apathy will likely be accentuated in several polling units as news spreads about the disruptions caused by the malfunctioning of the BIVAS.

Conduct of Security

Although there have been pockets of reports indicating the absence or low presence of security officials, there have been no widespread reports of misconduct by security officials deployed for the elections. This is a noteworthy development considering that the expectation of intimidation and abuse from state security officials was a source of heightened concern ahead of the elections. We commend security agencies for the high level of professionalism they have so far shown, and once again urge them to sustain this humane approach to election security through the voting, collation, and announcement of results

Vote Buying

We have also noted widespread incidents of vote-buying that will likely negatively impact the credibility of the election result. CDD observers reported numerous not-so-discreet cases of “see-and-buy”  in pollings units across the 21 LGAs of the state. In many reported cases, police officers have been alleged to have looked the other way, likely as a result of having themselves been compromised. This practice, which appears to cut across party lines, has been an increasing feature of Nigerian elections and requires more concerted remedial efforts by INEC and other critical stakeholders.

Recommendations

  • We call on security agencies to continue to respect human rights and standard rules of engagement and to secure voters as well as INEC staff and infrastructure.
  • We call on civic and pro-democracy groups to remain vigilant, especially during the collation and announcement of voting results.
  • We urge INEC and its officials to ensure the diligent accounting of votes, especially since voting collation will likely stretch into the night.
  • We urge INEC to properly train its officials in the use of its BVAS devices.
  • We implore voters to remain calm and, where possible, to monitor the outcome of the polls up to the announcement of the results.
  • We call on political parties to remain calm and to do nothing to compromise the integrity of the election.

CDD Election Analysis Centre Preliminary Election Report

CDD Sues for Peace Ahead of the November 6, 2021, Anambra State Governorship Election

By Press ReleaseNo Comments

Welcome remarks

Gentlemen and women of the press. On behalf of the Centre for Democracy and Development, I welcome you to this Press Briefing on the 2021 Anambra State governorship election.

Introduction

In the past few months, the upcoming Anambra state elections have captured national discourse, mostly because of what it represents at this moment of our nation’s history. Unravelling events gives strong indications that the conduct of the election in Anambra is an important litmus test for Nigeria’s democracy.

Foremost on our minds is the deteriorating security situation in the Southeast, with the escalation of unrests noted in Anambra state as an epicentre of sorts in the months ahead of the elections. We observed, with dismay, the emergence of the “unknown gunmen” phenomenon, and subsequent unrelenting attacks on the officials and installations of the police, the Nigerian Correctional Services, and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) across the state. These attacks have resulted in several casualties as well as the destruction of state properties and equipment.

Worryingly, this has also coincided with the seeming intensification of the agitations of separatist groups, with the most pronounced manifestation of this phenomenon being a series of largely successful sit-at-orders by the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB), demanding the release of their leader Mazi Nnamdi Kanu. Enforcement of these sit-at-home orders have not only deepened insecurity in the region but has also led to a crippling of economic activities, which places a further strain on the already burdened livelihoods of a region largely dependent on commerce.

Against this backdrop, an election that should ordinarily represent the celebration of a people’s democratic franchise, and an opportunity to determine the course of political events in their state has, for many, become a source of unrelenting anxiety. Apart from the impact that this has had on individual residents of the state, the institutional impact has been even more far-reaching. INEC, media organisations, political parties and even CSOs who are involved in the electioneering process have had to seriously adapt their activities. Voter education carried out by civil society organisations and INEC have largely been circumspect; INEC has had to depend on heavy security deployment for the most basic of their statutory activities and political campaigns by political parties with large local support bases have largely been online or held in surrogate states. This same dismal picture cuts across other elements of the electioneering process. The recent extension of the sit-at-home orders by IPOB to overlap with the election week further deepens the prevailing state of apprehension in the state.

Outlook

We note that the heavy security presence, particularly in Awka, the state capital, will likely ensure that elections in some form are held. However, the risk of clashes between state security agents and non-state armed groups as well as the threat of armed attacks on polling stations will remain elevated, particularly in more rural LGAs in the state where security deployments have been relatively scantier. While the extraordinary deployment of police and security agents to the state will likely maintain some modicum of stability, the intimidating security presence will add to the heightened state of unrest.

We also note an increased likelihood of an even higher level of voter apathy than has typically been witnessed in Anambra elections. Meanwhile, the usual, embarrassing intrigues that have marred candidate selection processes — including repeated suits and countersuits by rival candidates, forcing the court to pick the flagbearers of all the major parties — have done little to reassure voters that the election would be a worthwhile affair. In a state where low voter turnout has traditionally plagued the electoral process, the peculiar circumstances of this election have only deepened uncertainty about the extent to which voters will feel secure enough to leave their homes to cast their ballots.

There have nonetheless been some glimmers of hope in the lead up to the election. That the commission has affirmed its determination to hold the election despite the loss, due to the insecurity, of several offices and substantial amounts of equipment is worth commending. INEC’s addition of over a thousand new polling units has also literally brought democracy closer to home for a larger number of people, ensuring easier access for more voters and potentially reducing the length of queues on election day. Also worthy of note has been INEC’s increasing introduction of online processes in its preparations for elections — including online registration for voters, journalists, and elections observers.

The introduction of the Bi-Modal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS), which makes use of both fingerprints and facial recognition to verify the identity of voters will likewise serve to improve the credibility of election results. However, we note that the perennial obstacles affecting voter education, as well as the particular challenges of this election have limited the extent to which citizens have been made aware of this innovation. We, therefore, call on INEC and concerned civic groups to intensify voter-education and engagement efforts in the period that remains before the polls open.

The fact of this being an off-cycle election has also made possible the substantial deployment of Civic and Election observer groups from elsewhere in the country, which will contribute to reinforcing the integrity of the result. While much work remains to be done in preparing stakeholders and voters for the election, many civil society groups have already made laudable efforts to support the successful conduct of the election, including mobilizing citizens to register to vote, engaging with the police, media, and other stakeholders to advocate for peaceful elections, and countering the spread of fake news through positive digital and traditional media campaigns. In addition to these activities, we at the CDD have continued to train local observers who will be deployed to the 21 local governments of the state to monitor developments and provide timely information about emerging issues on election day.

Conclusion

While the prevailing security situation and the perennial challenges of election security have necessitated the presence of the police and other agencies mandated to ensure public safety, we are also aware that the security agents have had an unfortunate record of heavy-handedness and have been used to intimidate voters and electoral officials in previous elections. Amid fulfilling their duty of protecting the democratic franchise, CDD therefore, calls on security personnel to respect human rights and standard rules of engagement while allowing INEC to conduct a credible poll and voters to exercise their franchise. Security agents must desist from engaging in acts of intimidation and targeting the election managers, party agents or the electorate. Security agents should also ensure that INEC staff and infrastructure are secured. As always, the world will be watching and taking records.

Finally, we sue for all actors to prioritize peace before, during, and after the polls. Noting that there can be no progress without peace, we affirm that the embrace of the armed opposition and the imposition of enforced restrictions on the constitutional right of citizens to choose their leaders will only serve as a further obstacle to the developmental aspirations of Anambra state, the Southeast, and Nigeria as a whole.

Ultimately, the task of ensuring that a peaceable and credible election takes place rests on the shoulders of Anambra voters. While remaining vigilant and keeping safe, we urge the electorate to not be intimidated by threats to their hard-fought democratic franchise. We also urge relevant state and civic actors to play their role in ensuring that the desires of the electorate are reflected in the ultimate outcome of the polls.

May we conclude by wholeheartedly wishing the good people of Anambra State a peaceful and credible governorship election. Thank you for your time and attention.

Recommendations:

  • We call on security agencies to respect human rights and standard rules of engagement and to secure voters as well as INEC staff and infrastructure.
  • We call on civic and pro-democracy groups to intensify voter education and civic and stakeholder engagement efforts in the remaining 48 hours ahead of the opening of the polls
  • We urge INEC and its officials to ensure timely deployment and the commencement of polling in good time, as well as the diligent accounting of votes.
  • We urge voters to come out and exercise their democratic franchise and not to be intimidated by threats from masked or identified actors.

Signed: 

Idayat Hassan
Director

Download CDD Press Statement on Anambra Elections

 

Anambra Election 2021: Low Voter-Turnout Expected Amid IPOB Fears

By Press ReleaseNo Comments

With the off-cycle Anambra elections scheduled to hold in a few days, the feasibility of the election has been the subject of widespread commentary. This uncertainty that has trailed discussions of the elections have been a result of the deteriorating security situation in the state. Two security situations with strong implications on the election include the emergence of multiple non-state armed groups referred to as “unknown gunmen” as well as the reportedly brutally enforced sit-at-home orders issued by the separatist group Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB). , threatens the elections in a manner before unseen in the region.

Already, political parties have disclosed that their campaign activities have been virtually nonexistent as a result of the fear of violent attacks from IPOB. More recently, IPOB has declared a sit-at-home order between 5-10 November unless their leader, Nnamdi Kanu is released and all charges against him dropped. This sit-at-home order clearly targets the election and is leveraging on that to negotiate for IPOB’s leader.

Given that in recent months, IPOB’s sit-at-home protests have been so successful that even when the group lifts the ban, residents still sit-at-home either out of solidarity or to err on the side of caution, this new sit-at-home order will have serious implications on voter turn-out in the elections as well as the overall security of the election.

Reflecting on this multifaceted set of concerns, the following briefing offers a forward-looking analysis of how these factors will likely shape the conduct and outcome of the Anambra 2021 governorship election.

Click here to download the full report

#ENDSARS ANNIVERSARY: CDD ADVOCATES POLICE REFORM, JUSTICE FOR VICTIMS OF POLICE BRUTALITY

By Press ReleaseNo Comments

AFRICA’s leading pro-democracy, policy advocacy and research organisation, the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD), has admonished President Muhammadu Buhari to ensure the holistic reforms of the Nigeria Police Force, the nation’s leading law enforcement agency, before the expiration of his tenure of office, saying such would become an indelible legacy he would be bequeathing to Nigerians.

In a statement issued on the first anniversary of the EndSARS protest and signed by its Director, Idayat Hassan, CDD, while expressing displeasure over the poor response from the government to the development issues generated from the demonstration, said accountable and humane policing which formed the fulcrum of the protest, are part of the broader good governance and social justice deficits currently holding the country down.

It would be recalled that between October 7th and 22nd, 2020, a nationwide protest broke out against police brutality, particularly regarding the alleged atrocities of the now-disbanded Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), leading to the disbandment of the police intelligence unit, and the institution of panels of inquiries nationwide to investigate the matter and recommend sanction and appropriate compensation for the victims. Prior to the protest, SARS has been widely reported as one of the most notorious armed agencies of government engaged in extortion, torture, rape, and extrajudicial killing of innocent Nigerians, particularly the tech-savvy youths.

Field investigations revealed that about 80 people were killed, 57 civilians, 22 police officers, and three soldiers, in the ensuing mayhem. 137 Police Stations were burnt, 71 public warehouses and 248 private stores looted, and 1,137 inmates set free from Correctional Facilities in different parts of the country.  In addition, out of the 1,596 suspects arrested in connection with the violence and widespread looting, more than 1,117 have been charged to court across the country, according to the Inspector-General of Police.

Part of the recommendations put forth to forestall a reoccurrence of such intense youth-led demonstration includes adequate compensation for victims of police brutality and their families, subjecting erring police officers to accountability, and ensuring the holistic reform of the Nigeria Police, through the upward review of their salary structure, construction of modern or the renovation of the existing police divisional commands, and provision of health insurance scheme for the personnel and their families, among others.

CDD expressed displeasure that despite the clear message that the protest sent, the government has not exhibited an iota of seriousness to address the trigger factors, which if continued to be ignored, can reignite a similar experience in no distant time.

The statement reads in part:

“Our record shows that out of the 36 states and the FCT, 29 states did set up the Panel of Inquiry to hear complaints against erring police officers, particularly personnel of the disbanded SARS. It is on record that 18 states have completed sittings, however, they did not submit the report of the panels. Ekiti is the only state that has completed the process, made its report public, and paid all compensations awarded to victims. Lagos State, though suspended its sitting indefinitely, has reportedly been visiting the families and relatives of only the police officers that were killed in the protest for payment of compensations.’’

“To us at CDD, this imbalance needs to be addressed especially now that the country is desperately in search of peace. From our over two decades of field experience, working to deepen democracy, good governance and regional cohesion, a recurring component central to achieving sustainable peace and development remains social justice. And this is what the EndSARS protest was about. We, therefore, implore the government to ensure this is served to all concerned,” the statement says.

Given the government’s kid-glove attention to the recommendations of the EndSARS protest, CDD is also calling for an Independent Panel of Inquiry to look at the over 750 petitions previously submitted against SARS (WWW.DATAPHYTE.COM), identify the rogue officers, recommend their prosecution, and other measures deemed necessary intended to further heal open wounds and facilitate closure for families and victims of the brutality.

“CDD is also worried that one year after, no single erring police officer or that of the Nigerian Army has been held accountable regarding the killing of peaceful and armless protesters during the protest, in spite of the panels of inquiry. Of more heart-breaking is the October 20 Lekki Toll Gate Experience, which is still largely being denied and shrouded in official denials. We, therefore, call for an Independent Panel of Inquiry to look into this, in the interest of justice and social cohesion,” the statement added.

END

The Centre for Democracy and Development awarded FCDO grant to support “Strengthening the Delivery of Peace and Security in Nigeria” project

By Press Release

Abuja – The Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) is excited to announce today that it is the recipient of a grant from the UK government to support the project Strengthening the Delivery of Peace and Security in Nigeria (SDPS)

Nigeria is burdened by an unprecedented array of overlapping security crises ranging from banditry to the spread of extremist jihadist movements. No corner of the country is spared by this surge in conflicts. This funding supports CDD’s well documented work in the areas of Peace and Security and will strengthen efforts to stem the surge of insecurity as well as to combat misinformation and disinformation which are often drivers of conflicts across the country.

“This grant could not possibly have come at a more symbolic time,” said Idayat Hassan, CDD’s Director. “Insecurity in Nigeria is currently at a scale that threatens the very fabric of our nationhood. With conflict manifesting in various forms in virtually all regions of the country, Nigeria has for decades not been as vulnerable as it currently is. Our SDPS project will not only enhance the public’s understanding of the drivers of these conflicts, but will also counter emotion-driven narratives with evidence-based analysis that will equip stakeholders with the timely understanding of issues needed to positively influence policy and entrench lasting peace in the country.”

In addition to countering sensationalist narratives in the media and public discourse, the key objectives of the project will be geared towards strengthening the nexus between knowledge creation, public awareness, and policy decision-making in addressing insecurity and conflict in Nigeria. To that end, the funding will leverage partnerships with influential media organisations to commission the production of special investigative reports as well as regular radio programming to advance evidence-based understandings of the conflicts. This funding will also advance activities that drive the uptake of new knowledge by policy makers within relevant and influential policy institutions.

About Centre for Democracy and Development

The Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) is an independent, non-profit organization that conducts research, training, advocacy, and capacity building. It was founded in the United Kingdom in 1997 and registered in Lagos in 1999. Since its establishment, the organisation’s goal has been to mobilize global opinion and resources for democratic development while also providing an independent space for critical reflection on the challenges to West African democratization and development processes. Its mission is to be the prime catalyst and facilitator for strategic analysis and capacity building for sustainable democracy and development in West Africa. The Centre has an established track record in capacity building and policy advocacy, and has also remained a research reference point on democratic governance, human security, people-centered development, and human rights.

About FCDO

The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) is a department of the Government of the United Kingdom. It was created on 2 September 2020 through the merger of the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) and the Department for International Development (DFID). In Nigeria the FCDO supports good governance, peace and stability through a range of programmatic, diplomatic and operational partnerships and initiatives. Their work across these themes is structured around four strategic goals: promoting inclusive and accountable democratic and governance institutions; furthering human rights, social inclusion and social protection; support to security and justice mechanisms, and tackling crime and corruption; and strengthening conflict prevention, mitigation and resolution.

Signed: Idayat Hassan,
Director

[Press Statement] Center For Democracy And Development (CDD) Awarded Macarthur Funds Supporting An Equitable Recovery

By Press Release
[ABUJA,] July 28, 2021 — Centre for Democracy and Development has been awarded a grant from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation for its work to accelerate COVID-19 vaccine uptake in Nigeria by addressing disinformation and misinformation and building public confidence.

The grant is part of roughly $80 million in awards MacArthur announced today in support of the foundation’s Equitable Recovery initiative, centered on advancing racial and ethnic justice. The initiative is funded by MacArthur’s social bonds, issued in response to the crises of the pandemic and racial inequity.

“CDD was honoured to have been invited to submit a proposal for this worthy endeavour,” said Idayat Hassan, CDD West Africa’s Director. “We’re humbled to be among the recipients of the funds. The work of combating widespread disinformation and misinformation around COVID-19 vaccines is lifesaving. We hope our contributions to this area of work stimulates meaningful discussions and counter negative narratives.” 

In its announcement, The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation said “As we emerge from this moment of crisis, we have an opportunity to improve the critical systems that people and places need to thrive. Our systems and structures must be rebuilt,” said MacArthur President John Palfrey. “We are committed to ensuring that our response to the pandemic is focused on supporting the reimagining of systems that create a more just, equitable, and resilient world.”

Centre for Democracy and Development is one of the organizations receiving grants advancing the Public Health Equity and COVID-19 Mitigation and Recovery focus area of the Foundation’s initiative. The grant will support CDD’s work to advance accelerate COVID-19 vaccine uptake in Nigeria by addressing disinformation and misinformation and building public confidence.

To advance Public Health Equity and COVID-19 Mitigation and Recovery supports improving access to resources for immediate health challenges while advancing new policies, models, and structures to support a more equitable and resilient public health sector in the future, MacArthur is supporting work in that focus, as well as three other areas:

  • Racial Justice Field Support, with a focus on combatting anti-Blackness, supports building Black power by supporting Black-led and -focused philanthropic organizations. MacArthur also will take a leadership role in positioning reparations and racial healing as issues that philanthropy helps to meaningfully address.
  • Self-determination of Indigenous Peoples supports uplifting Indigenous communities to enable autonomous pursuit of a recovery guided by their priorities, cultures, and practices.
  •  An Equitable Housing Demonstration Project supports restoring communities and reducing incarceration and housing instability by generating an array of housing solutions that can help to permanently end the use of jails and prisons as housing of last resort.

MacArthur identified the areas through a participatory process with a diverse group of external advisors, who informed its strategic approach. The participatory process aimed to center the voices of communities that are affected by the Foundation’s decisions and have a stake in the grantmaking outcomes.

Almost two-thirds of the awards represent new grantee relationships, and most of the organizations are Black, Indigenous, and People of Color-led or -serving. The grants also reflect MacArthur’s global reach: 45 percent of the new funding supports work outside of the U.S., including 12 percent in India, and 14 percent in Nigeria, where MacArthur has offices.

Equitable Recovery Initiative

In the fall of 2020, MacArthur established a $125 million Equitable Recovery Initiative. The Foundation deployed $40 million of bond proceeds through 24 grants. Initial grants focused on strengthening voter mobilization and election protection, addressing anti-Black racism, and supporting Native Americans impacted by COVID-19. Grants also supported Black, Latinx, Asian, and Indigenous arts organizations in Chicago, technology and justice, and a fund for social entrepreneurs advancing racial equity.

View all Equitable Recovery grantees.

MacArthur media contact: Kristen Mack, kmack@macfound.org

CDD Media contact: Yeremi Akpan, ayeremi@cddwestafrica.org, +2348063924205

CDD Calls On National Assembly To Make Critical Changes To The Electoral Act (CDD Press Statement)

By Press Release

The Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD-West Africa) has renewed its call on the National Assembly to yield to the yearnings of Nigerians and finally deliver an electoral law that will secure our hard-earned democracy and deliver an electoral ecosystem that respects the choices of Nigerians.

In a position paper titled Still Work To Do On Nigeria’s Electoral Bill, 2021, while acknowledging positive changes reflected in the Bill, CDD-West Africa has highlighted some amendments proposed that are capable of reversing gains recorded in the past decades.

Of particular concern is the prohibition on the transmission of votes electronically. Electronic transmission of votes is a core component of the recommendations for full digitization of the electoral process that we made ahead of this amendment. As a long-standing election monitor, CDD-West Africa has documented the chaos associated with manual elections collating, which are “often messy, incoherent and susceptible to manipulations by individuals and political parties”. Choosing chaos over order does not help our democracy. 

Again, the proposed Bill gives Returning Officers (RO) powers to correct unit results. While CDD acknowledges that there are occasions where unit results genuinely need to be changed, there is a need to include provisos that will prevent abuse of these powers. A 2019 survey by CDD-West Africa that sampled respondents from all geopolitical zones in the country and the Federal Capital Territory, 41% of respondents concluded that INEC staff often favored candidates of the ruling party. 

The position paper also highlights the drastic increase in the campaign spending limits in the new Bill. While acknowledging that elections are expensive to run and that the naira’s declining value has made previous campaign funding limits unfeasible, the proposed limits in the Bill are disproportionate with inflation levels and, if sustained, are capable of favouring big spenders, particularly incumbents while preventing vulnerable constituencies like women and youths from contesting for public office. The paper notes that Nigeria’s democracy is not a commodity for sale to the highest bidder.

While commending the full financial autonomy that the bill proposes for INEC, the position paper points out that without clearly making provisions for a three-year rolling plan and twice yearly disbursement of budgeted funds to INEC as recommended by ECOWAS Network of Electoral Commissions, the electoral body would still struggle to meet the logistical requirements of delivering credible elections. This concern is not conjecture – the last three general elections were postponed as a result of the ad hoc nature of election funding in the country.

A final matter of concern is that the Bill denies INEC powers to review already declared results in situations where there is evidence that an RO declared results and returned the wrong candidate as winner under duress. This was a key recommendation by election observers after an RO stated that he declared a winner under duress in the 2019 elections following threats to his life. CDD-West Africa believes that ignoring this provision puts the lives of ROs at risk, as there is a likelihood that politicians will further explore this method of rigging.

Based on the foregoing, CDD-West Africa makes the following recommendations: 

  1.  Full use of digital technology across the electoral spectrum to enhance the efficiency of elections and credibility of outcomes 
  2. To prevent abuse, there should be clear provisos on how ROs should proceed with the correction of unit results.
  3. The increase in the limit on campaign spending should be proportionate to the percentage of inflation and sensitive to wealth distribution to keep our democracy representative of vulnerable constituencies like women and youths.
  4. The recommendation of ECOWAS Network of Electoral Commissions for a three year rolling plan for elections should be reflected in the amendment to guarantee timely logistical needs ahead of elections. 
  5. INEC should have powers to review already declared election results, where there is clear evidence that the RO was forced to declare a false election result.   

Signed:

Idayat Hassan
Director CDD

Download a copy of the paper below:

CDD Petitions National Assembly on Onochie's Nomination As INEC Commissioner

By Press Release
  • Calls on the Senate to disqualify Ms Lauretta Onochie as nominee for National Commissioner of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC)
  • Advises President Buhari to honourably withdraw her nomination

The Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) has petitioned the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to object to the nomination of Ms Lauretta Onochie for appointment as a National Commissioner of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). CDD is of the strong opinion that Ms Onochie’s nomination by President Muhammadu Buhari is ill-conceived, politically motivated and intended to roll back years of successes recorded by the electoral umpire in promoting electoral integrity in the country. The organisation’s opposition to Ms Onochie’s nomination is based on the following concerns:

First, Ms Onochie is from Delta State, the same state from which Barrister May Agbamuche-Mbu, a current national commissioner, hails. Barrister Agbamuche-Mbu’s tenure is not ending until December 2021. Also, Mr Mike Igini, the Resident Electoral Commissioner for Akwa Ibom State, hails from the same state and his tenure will end in August 2022. Neither Mrs Agbamuche-Mbu nor Mr Igini has been removed from office. Therefore, Ms Onochie’s confirmation will contravene the Federal Character principle as enshrined in the 1999 constitution of Nigeria as amended. President Buhari’s renomination of Ms Onochie from Delta State promotes inequity and appears to send a message that there are no qualified and non-partisan persons in the other South-South states worthy of appointment into INEC.

Second, Ms Onochie does not hide her partisan support for the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and she is likely a card-carrying member of the party. It is also important to realise that her partisanship is the reason she was appointed to her current role as an aide to President Muhammadu Buhari on Social Media, a position in. This, therefore, precludes her from being appointed into INEC. Section 156(1) and Item F, Paragraph 14 of the Third Schedule of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, forbid an appointee to INEC to be a political party member or a partisan individual. There is no doubt that Ms Onochie will continue to protect the interest of the APC if confirmed by the Senate. Moreover, CDD believes strongly that she will represent political baggage that could damage the Commission’s legitimacy. Any elections she oversees will likely be subjected to multiple litigations, even in a genuine win by the APC and other parties.

Third, Ms Onochie does not satisfy the character requirement for appointment into INEC. Section 30 (Paragraph 14, Part 1 of the Third Schedule to the Constitution) forbids anyone of questionable character from being appointed into the election management body. The nominee, in past elections, particularly ahead of the 2019 General Elections,  used her social media handle (@laurestar) to peddle fake news, with the intent to delegitimise INEC. She also peddled fake news when she shared photographs of a Nasarawa-Jos road construction project purportedly done by the Muhammadu Buhari administration. CDD’s fact check traced the images she posted to a foreign construction project shared on iStock photos, where she lifted the images.

CDD, therefore, calls on the Senate to reject the nomination of Ms Lauretta Onochie in its entirety. Also, President Buhari should in good fate withdraw her nomination to save INEC from ridicule within and outside the country.

Signed:

Idayat Hassan
Director

Six-Year Assessment Outlines President’s Anti-Corruption Record (CDD Press Statement)

By Press Release

West Africa’s frontline pro-democracy think tank, the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD), an organization advocating for transparent and accountable public governance in the West African sub-region, has released an assessment report on the Buhari administration’s anticorruption programme.

The report observes that Nigerians are disappointed with the Buhari administration’s poor response to corruption, recalling that Nigerians overwhelmingly voted for Buhari in 2015 believing that there was substance to his anti-corruption posturing. As the focus shifts to the fast-approaching 2023 elections, the report notes that it is unlikely that the administration will make any meaningful progress with the fight against corruption.

While acknowledging that the decision to appoint Abdulrasheed Bala to lead the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission is a great choice given his experience as an investigator, the think tank struggled to find any other achievement in the anti-corruption fight between last year’s report and now.

Chronicling the anti-corruption failures of the current administration, the report highlights Buhari’s tendency to appoint persons with questionable characters to public office. The report also emphasised the tendency to shield the president’s cronies from prosecution. One area where this was widely reported in the past year was the management of Covid-19 relief funds, which generated complaints of widespread misappropriation. As has become the norm, President Buhari ignored reports that implicated his appointees but was quick to condemn state government officials for diverting supplies.

The report also highlights the unravelling of the security architecture of the country, which CDD believes can be linked to the opaque nature of security spending as currently done. The think tank notes that this has made responding to insecurity in Nigeria a cash cow for security chiefs. The report further regrets that President Buhari has done little or nothing to hold corrupt military leaders to account, which emboldens newly appointed security chiefs to perpetuate the tradition of graft.

Noting the shrinking of the civic space, the report highlights how last year’s violent clampdown on the #EndSARS protests against police brutality, the recent ban on Twitter as well as restrictions on certain international humanitarian organisations have made it difficult for the media, civil society groups, and everyday Nigerians to hold this government accountable. While noting the deliberate clampdown on legitimate civil society groups, the report calls attention to the proliferation of pro-government NGOs across the country since Buhari came to power. Numbering over 360, these pro-government NGOs undermine the work of legitimate NGOs. The report further notes that the resort to dangerous propaganda has been a hallmark of the Buhari administration.

In addition to these gross executive shortcomings already highlighted, the report notes the obvious ineffectiveness of the legislative arm that has become a rubber-stamp body rather than a collection of independent legislators. This weakening of legislative oversight and checks over the executive marks a further decline of democratic institutions. As if to confirm this verdict, the National Assembly screened Ms Lauretta Onochie for appointment as an INEC commissioner a couple of days back, in clear violation of the Constitution. Ms Lauretta is an aide to President Buhari and an ardent APC supporter. Many believe she is a card-carrying APC member.

The assessment report closes with some recommendations:

  1. The National Assembly should pass legislation outlawing security votes at the three tiers of government.
  2. The National Assembly should partner with the Nigerian Law Reform Commission “to harmonise, consolidate, and modernize legislation.”
  3. Citizens, the media and CSOs should be more involved in gathering information on public sector corruption and petitioning anti-corruption agencies to compel them to act.
  4. Given the proliferation of state-sponsored NGOs, the media should be cautious on how they place stories about the activities of such groups in their publications and refuse inducement to attend their meetings.
  5. International partners should prioritize anti-corruption in “their diplomatic engagement, military assistance, and development support to Nigeria.”
  6. Foreign missions should consider enforcing visa ban on corrupt government officials and those who undermine Nigeria’s democracy.
  7. Foreign governments repatriating recovered stolen assets to Nigeria should ensure that commitment to transparency and probity are core conditions for repatriations.

Idayat Hassan

Director, CDD-West Africa

Tribute: CDD Mourns the Loss of Innocent Chukwuma; Eulogises the Indelible Marks Left Behind

By Press Release

Innocent Chukwuma was a global citizen whose memory will be cherished as a champion for democracy, justice, and equality in Nigeria.

The quote “Gone but not forgotten” perfectly describes the character and person of Innocent Chukwuma. As an activist, Innocent Chukwuma was a creative, committed, compassionate and strategic leader.

Innocent Chukwuma was one of the civil society activists who fought to entrench the hardwon democracy currently enjoyed in Nigeria. His dedication to the ideals of democracy, human rights, and good governance led him to establish the CLEEN Foundation, to promote public safety, protection, and access to justice. CLEEN Foundation has evolved into one of Nigeria’s most influential civil society organizations.

Innocent is unarguably the father of modern-day policing reforms in Nigeria, with one of his memorable achievements, the new Police Act, 2020. He was a father, mentor, bridge builder, and connector, bringing together state and non-state players, young and old, and knowledge and practice. He has also enormously contributed to the promotion, protection, and compliance with human rights and security in Nigeria by promoting, supporting, and empowering both state and non-state actors to participate in active people-driven policing.

Our Prayers are with his wife Josephine Effah-Chukwuma and her children. Innocent is not dead but lives on.

Idayat Hassan

Director

CDD Condemns Killing of Three Voters at Ekiti State Assembly Bye-Election

By Press Release, Uncategorized

PRESS STATEMENT

March 21, 2021

Abuja

•            Calls for the Enactment of Electoral Offenses Commission and Speedy Prosecution of Culprits

The Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD-West Africa) is dismayed by the violent disruption of the conduct of Saturday, March 20, 2021 bye-election for the Ekiti East Constituency (1) of the State House of Assembly.

Despite the peace accord signed by the political actors participating in the election on March 17, 2021, criminal elements have again undermined the smooth conduct of the election. Those who do not want the electorate to decide the outcome of an election have again frustrated the efforts of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to improve on the existing quality and standard of elections. This latest attempt to subvert the will of the electorate undermines the assurance that votes would count. It is most unfortunate that politicians have continued to demoralize the Commission’s effort to ensure a violent free bye-election.

Electoral violence affects electoral participation; particularly it increases voter apathy in several ways; studies abound that voters who have experienced threats of election violence at the polls are less likely to vote in future elections. Electoral violence does undermine the modest progress of INEC towards ensuring the conduct of free, fair and credible elections.

As we prepare for the off-cycle polls in Anambra (2021), Ekiti and Osun (2022), the National Assembly must take the opportunity of the Constitution and Electoral Amendment process to enact the Electoral Offenses Commission. The Commission will be responsible for investigating and diligently prosecuting all acts of electoral violence and other related matters. There is an urgent need to sanitize the electoral landscape, empowering the election management architecture to conduct seamless, transparent and credible elections, where losers will exhibit sportsmanship and winners will be gracious in their victory.

CDD condoles with the families of the voters killed in Polling Unit 007, Ward 07; we place a demand on the authorities that their death must never be in vain. And without equivocation, we call on the Nigeria Police to immediately arrest and prosecute all the criminal elements responsible for the killing of the three voters, and injuring policewoman and the INEC Staff who were on election duty.

 As we head up to the 2023 general elections, we challenge INEC to be ready to take the decisive step of banning any political party and/or candidates involved in electoral violence. Until there is a deterrent, the political class may never play by the rule of engagement. We hope that the 2023 General Elections will see less electoral violence.

Signed

Idayat Hassan

Director

CDD Hails Resilience of Women Despite Challenges

By Press Release

  • Calls For Legislation, Policies To Enhance Participation in Decision Making

As the world celebrates International Women’s Day, the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) heartily felicitates with women in Nigeria, Africa, and worldwide. Notwithstanding the devastating impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on lives and livelihoods, women have remained resilient as they continue to play pivotal roles in societies. CDD uses this moment to celebrate great women achievers who shattered glass ceilings and made history. Worthy of note is the beautiful story of Kamala Harris, who defied the odds last November to emerge as the first female Vice President of the United States.

Another instructive story would be found in the emergence of our own Dr Ngozi Okonjo Iweala as the Director-General of the World Trade Organization (WTO). It is an important lesson of inclusion that while Harris is also the first Asian and African to be Vice President in the United States, Okonjo Iweala is the first African to lead the WTO. CDD is convinced that these amazing stories point to the possibilities of an inclusive future anchored on gender parity and women’s participation in decision-making in the local, national and international arena. Despite the myriads of challenges ranging from entrenched patriarchal systems, marginalization in decision making, the pandemic of rape and gender violence, women can still defy the odds to shine alongside the other gender.

Nonetheless, beyond the inspiring stories of a few women who overcome many challenges to get to the peak, CDD is convinced that societies would derive more benefits from opening up political and economic spaces for women to play their roles in the quest for a better world. In various sectors such as education, health, business and technological innovation, women have continued to demonstrate their capacities. In terms of leadership, evidence abounds that even in the context of COVID-19, countries led by women were able to put forward strategies to limit the pandemic’s devastating impacts.

These achievements have motivated CDD to reflect on the theme of this year’s celebration: “Women in leadership: Achieving an equal future in a COVID-19 world.” We have, therefore, deemed it important to focus on encouraging women and girls around the globe to collectively organize to bring about the change they want to see.

The CDD would use this year’s commemoration of the IWD to encourage women and girls in Nigeria and West Africa to #ChooseToChallenge and make a positive impact in every aspect of their lives and that of others.

To address the challenges, which hold women back and limit their potentials, CDD calls on stakeholders to work together to address gender inequalities by deepening women’s participation in politics, economy, education, health and other critical sectors in society. With the #ChooseToChallenge mantra, CDD would strengthen its interventions to promote and protect the rights of women and girls. We must #ChooseToChallenge barriers in governance, political and economic systems, which prevent women from achieving their true potentials.

Signed:

Idayat Hassan

Director

Now That Jangebe Schoolgirls Are Back, Government Must Implement Holistic Plan To Deter Further Attacks on School – CDD

By Press Release

For Immediate Release

March 2, 2021

Image
Released Jangebe Schoolgirls. Photo credit: The Cable

The Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) expresses relief on the release of 317 students of the Government Girls Secondary School (GGSS) Jangebe in Talata Local Government Area of Zamfara State on Tuesday, March 2, 2021. While we rejoice with Nigeria and the families of the students on their release, we cannot but emphasise the need for a plan to ensure that this kind of child right violation does not repeat itself.

The CDD calls on government and relevant authorities including the Ministry of Education to come together and map out workable strategies that would ensure that every child is protected in his or her quest to seek development and learning.

Efforts should also be made to ensure that all abductees in captivity are released by their abductors without succumbing to any form of amnesty or ransom. The trauma of families with children in the hands of such deadly criminals can be better imagined. CDD finds it unacceptable that Nigerian children are being subjected to the dehumanizing and traumatic experiences, which the bandits have continued to subject them. It is a slap on the face of the entire country that common criminals have turned the national space into a lawless, chaotic, and non-habitable place. It is most unfair to the long-suffering citizens of Nigeria that the Buhari government has woefully failed to stem the tide of insecurity. It is not tenable that Nigerians, especially young people seeking an education, can no longer do so in a secure, peaceful, and conducive atmosphere.

In the face of these traumatic experiences for the families of young scholars abducted by criminal gangs, CDD believes it is time for the government to adopt a holistic approach to deter further attacks. The government can no longer continue to hide its head in the sands in the hope that the wave of the kidnapping of school children will simply go away. In fact from the evidence on the ground, the bandits will become even more daring, especially as they have been getting generous financial returns from hefty sums paid to them as ransom. The government, therefore, needs to effectively perform its primary function of ensuring the security of lives and property of all Nigerians. In this regard, CDD warns that the resort to measures meant to placate and pamper the criminals responsible for these abductions will lead to further heinous crimes.

Importantly, the government should revisit and update existing school security policies such as the Safe School Initiative. Subsequently, a common national template involving the security agencies and communities should be activated to respond to the current threat of mass abductions.

Finally, CDD calls on the government at all levels to work together to provide victims of abductions with the right psycho-social support. Given the trauma many of these students have passed through, their lives are not likely to be the same again. Part of the role of the government is to find ways to soothe the trauma of all released abductees, while the families of those killed have to be properly cared for. These steps are important because the country cannot afford to breed a set of traumatized, angry and frustrated citizens who feel let down by the country. Such feelings of resent and hopelessness may alienate the victims, and transform them into threats against society, if not properly managed.

Signed

Idayat Hassan

Director

National Security: Buhari Has So Far, Failed – Joint Civil Society Action Coalition

By Press Release

21 FEB 2021

Introduction

Nigeria is in dire straits. All over the country, Nigerian citizens, including children, are killed daily by terrorists and criminals as well as in extra-judicial killings by state actors with the government doing little or nothing about it. The government, through the Minister of Defence, has instead callously abdicated its responsibility and called Nigerian citizens ‘cowards’ and urged Nigerians to ‘defend themselves’.

Kidnapping for ransom has assumed an industrial and deadly scale never witnessed on the African continent. Our children are no longer safe in schools and Nigerian citizens and communities are now pauperised by terrorists who extort huge ransoms while murdering their hostages. We condemn, in the strongest possible terms, what has now become the government’s standard state policy of using taxpayers’ money to pay terrorists thereby funding and encouraging terrorism and criminality.

President Buhari and his government have failed in their primary duty under Section 14 2(b) of the 1999 Constitution which is ensuring the security and welfare of the Nigerian people. Instead, under their watch, Nigeria is now a catalogue of bloodletting with:

● The unending war in the North East with our troops often bearing the brunt of this government’s security failures;

● Gross injustices by President Buhari’s government against the Nigerian people such that peaceful protesters are threatened and attacked by the government’s security agents while terrorists carrying out mass murder, rape, maiming and kidnapping of Nigerians including women and children are feted, molly coddled, granted ‘amnesty’ and paid by the government. This is tantamount to funding and supporting terrorists, encouraging murder and the decimation of the Nigeria’s gallant troops and amounts to treason against the Nigerian State and people;

● Terrorist herder attacks on unarmed farming communities and reprisal attacks in the face of government inaction and failure to bring the terrorist herdsmen and their funders to justice;

● Large scale terrorist attacks in the North West irresponsibly tagged by the government as ‘banditry’ in a bid to downplay their criminality;

● Industrial scale kidnappings all across the country;

● Extrajudicial killings by State Security agents in various forms

● Inter-ethnic violence and

● Menace of political cult gangs and ethnic militia.

Furthermore, Section 14 of the Constitution has imposed a duty on the State i.e FG, States & LGs. All Governments should invest in the security of life and property of every citizen. And since, armed robbery, kidnapping and murder or culpable homicide are state offences. All arrested suspected should be prosecuted by State Attorney Generals

Nigeria is completely under policed. As a matter of urgency, more security personnel should be employed, trained and motivated to defend the society. When an American citizen was recently kidnapped in Niger State no ransom was paid. Yet, a team of US troops invaded the country, killed two of the kidnappers and freed the abducted American!

Our Demands

This government, under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari, has failed to protect Nigerians as is their primary duty under Section 14 (2)b of the 1999 Constitution and we hold President Buhari solely responsible as the buck stops at his desk. As Civil Society organisations, we call on the President to take immediate steps to :

Provide political and moral leadership for the security crisis and ensure governmental actions are humane in tandem with Section 17 (2) ( C ) of the Constitution;

The Nigeria Police Council established by section 153 of the Constitution is constituted by the President, IGP, Chair of Police Service Commission and the 36 state governors. The NPC is empowered by the Construction to administer organise and supervise the Nigeria Police Force. The NPC should be called to meet regularly to address the crisis of insecurity

End impunity for abuse of power and sectionalism through his appointments by balancing the need for competence with the federal character principle. In this way, he will demonstrate that every part of Nigeria matters as sectional appointments appear to fuel sectional violence;

Amnesty for terrorists and abductors should stop. Huge ransom paid to criminal gangs is used to purchase arms and ammunition to attack communities. As security is technology driven the Government must acquire the necessary equipment to deal with the menace of terrorism, banditry and abduction.

Take responsibility and end the persecution of the media and free speech both of which are foundations of a democratic state.

Mobilize our rich Nigerian assets to address the insecurity situation across the country and seek international cooperation to ramp up security assets.

Where the President fails to fulfill his constitutional duties as stated above, we demand he steps aside or the National Assembly initiates impeachment proceedings against him on grounds of gross misconduct as provided for in Section 143 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Conclusion

We remain hopeful as citizens of Nigeria and call on all Nigerians to keep hope alive as we bond together and build a nation where true peace and justice reign.

Signed:
for Civil Society Joint Action Coalition

Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD)

Centre for Democratic Research and Training (CRDDERT)

Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC)

Media Rights Agenda (MRA)

Centre for Information Technology and Development (CITAD)

Socio-Economic Right and Accountability Project (SERAP)

Zero-Corruption Coalition (ZCC)

Partners on Electoral Reform

African Centre for Media and Information Literacy (AFRICMIL)

National Procurement Watch Platform

Praxis Center

Resource Centre for Human Rights and Civil Education (CHRICED)

Social Action

Community Action for Popular Participation

Borno Coalition for Democracy and Progress (BOCODEP)

Global Rights

Alliance for Credible Elections (ACE)

YIAGA Africa

Tax Justice and Governance Platform

Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth, Nigeria

Women In Nigeria

African Centre for Leadership, Strategy & Development (Centre LSD)

Rule of Law and Accountability Advocacy Centre(RULAAC)

Women Advocate Research And Documentation Centre

Community Life Project

Nigerian Feminist Forum

Alliances for Africa

Spaces for Change

Nigerian Women Trust Fund

Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa

BudgiT Foundation

State of the Union (SOTU)

Action International Nigeria

Femi Falana Chamber

HEDA Resource Centre

Conscience for Human Rights and Conflict Resolution

Organization Community Civic Engagement(OCCEN)

Say NO Campaign—Nigeria

Women In Media

Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF)

Sesor Empowerment Foundation

House of Justice

Molluma Medico-Legal Center

Open Bar Initiative

Tap N’Itiative

Partners West Africa, Nigeria (PWAN)

We The People

Lex Initiative for Rights Advocacy and Development (LIRAD Nigeria)

Centre for Impact Advocacy

Actionaid

Dorothy Njemanze Foundation

FEMBUD

Raising New Voices Initiative

Haly Hope Foundation
Centre for Liberty

Coalition in Defence of Nigerian Democracy and Constitution

Adopt a Goal for Development Initiative

Education as a Vaccine

Stand to End Rape

TechHer

Invictus Africa

Dinidari Foundation

International Peace and Civic Responsibility Centre (IPCRC)

Foundation for Environmental Rights, Advocacy and Development (FENRAD)

Mowalek Centre for Sustainable Community Development

Silverchip Fox

Connected Development

Srarina Initiative for Peace, Justice and Development (SIPJAD)

CDD Ranked High Among Sub-Saharan Think Tanks

By Press Release

January 31, 2021

Abuja, Nigeria

CDD Ranked High Among Sub-Saharan Think Tanks

A new ranking by the Global To Go Think Tank Index of the University of Pennsylvania has ranked the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) as the top-rank civil society think tank organisation in Nigeria.

The 2020 report released Thursday, January 28, 2021, also rated CDD as number 11 in Sub-Sahara, moving up from its 16th position in the institution’s last report. CDD takes the lead after Ethiopia Policy Studies Institute (PSI) FNA Ethiopia Development Research Center and African Economic Research Consortium (AERC, Kenya) which ranked nine and 10 respectively.

Following CDD on the table of top 15 Sub-Saharan think tanks are the Centre Ivoirien de Recherches Economiques et Sociales (CIRES) (Côte d’Ivoire), Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN) (South Africa), Centre for Development and Enterprise (CDE) (South Africa) and the  Institute for Security Studies (ISS) (South Africa) on 12th, 13th, 14th and 15th positions.

Next on the list from Nigeria are the Africa Heritage Institution (Afri-Heritage) and the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs (NIIA) on 20th and 24th positions. The institution through its Think Tanks and Civil Societies Program (TTCSP) of the Lauder Institute at the University of Pennsylvania said the research was conducted based on the role policy institutes play in governments and civil societies around the world.

Referred to as the “think tanks’ think tank,” TTCSP said it examines the evolving role and character of public policy research organizations and over the last 30 years, the program has developed and led a series of global initiatives. The initiatives include helping to bridge the gap between knowledge and policy in critical policy areas such as international peace and security, globalization and governance, international economics, environmental issues, information and society, poverty alleviation and healthcare and global health.

Led by James C. McGann, the institution’s added that TTCSP continually seeks to improve the nomination and selection process while keeping several things in mind.

“The Index’s aim is to produce an inclusive and far-reaching report of international think tanks,” the Institution said.

Reacting to the ranking, the Director of CDD, Idayat Hassan, said while this is a pat on the back for the many work done by the Centre to strengthen democracy and improve good governance in Nigeria and the West African region, this is also a call to do more.

Hassan said: “This means more and more work for us at the CDD, but the fact remains that we at the Centre will not relent in our effort to promote the values of democracy, peace and human rights in Africa, particularly in the West African sub-region.”

The 2020 Global Go To Think Tank Index (GGTTI) marks the fifteenth year of continued efforts by the Think Tanks and Civil Societies Program (TTCSP) at the University of Pennsylvania to acknowledge the important contributions and emerging global trends of think tanks worldwide.

For media enquiries, please contact cddabv@cddwestafrica.org cc nibeh@cddwestafrica.org or phone 08021476979

Idayat Hassan

Director