The Electoral Commissions Forum of SADC countries ( ECF-SADC ) received an invitation from the Independent National Electoral Commission ( INEC) Nigeria to observe the General elections (President , Vice- President , members of the Senate and House of Representatives) of the Federal Republic of Nigeria held on 25 February 2023. As Nigeria is not a SADC member State , the ECF-SADC did not deploy an Observer Mission., however in the spirit of learning and sharing experiences amongst Election Management Bodies., an invitation was extended to member commissions to participate in these elections. Only the Electoral Commissions of Namibia (ECN) represented by Ms Elsie Nghikembua (Chairperson) , Dr Gerson Sindano (Commissioner) , and Tanzania (NEC ) represented by Hon. Justice Jacobs Mwambegele(Chairperson) and Dr Wilson Mahera (Former CEO) -NEC) joined the ECOWAS Network of Electoral Commissions (ECONEC) Peer Support and Learning Mission comprising of six (6) Chairpersons from Electoral Commissions of Benin, Ghana, the Gambia, Liberia, Niger and Sierra Leone to observe the General Elections in Nigeria that took place on 25th February 2023.
The ECF-SADC Secretariat facilitated accreditation processes with INEC, whilst all other logistical arrangements and Mission activities were arranged and coordinated by another ECONEC – as per attached programme .
This was the first co-deployed mission between ECONEC and the Electoral Commissions Forum of SADC Countries (ECF-SADC) and provided an opportunity for cross-regional exchanges and learning among EMBs. The approach was informed by the overlapping mandates of the two EMB networks which has shown that exchanges and practical insights from other EMBs prove useful in dealing with some unforeseen challenges for Electoral Management Bodies.
The team has since issued report in which they shared their observations on the conduct of the elections. The team also shared LESSONS LEARNT FOR EMBs as takeaways from INEC and Nigeria elections as a whole,
- Adoption of technology and its impact on public trust and perceptions; technology played a role in shaping public perception of the electoral process, it strengthened public confidence while the technical challenges changed public perception.
- INEC has demonstrated the sustainability and cost effectiveness of a continuous voter registration system with a voter register that has been in place since 2011.
- Nigeria demonstrated strong political will to strengthen the mandate of INEC through key legal reforms, in 2006 amendment of electoral act, the Elections Fund was established, in 2022 another amendment was created of the disbursement of election funds at least a year in advance of Election Day.
- INEC showed its ability to drive public perception and acceptance of its procedures through evidence-based stakeholder engagement.