Contrary to political permutations, the upcoming presidential election in Nigeria would not be predictable, said a US-based election monitoring organization, the National Endowment for Democracy.
While Nigeria’s 2023 election was “a consequential choice,” the US agency praised Nigeria for the technology-driven electoral process and expressed optimism that the country would be the world’s second-largest democracy by 2050.
NED President and CEO Damon Wilson said this in an interview with journalists in Abuja during a meeting called by Yiaga Africa to engage with other stakeholders on preparations for the 2023 general election.
sunday punch reports that NED, a private, nonprofit foundation dedicated to the growth and strengthening of democratic institutions worldwide, was established in 1983 by the United States Congress for the promotion of global democracy.
Each year, NED awards more than 2,000 grants to support the projects of overseas non-governmental groups working for democratic goals in more than 100 countries.
Wilson said, “Nigeria is the fifth largest democracy in the world; it is on track to be the second largest democracy in the world by 2050, even larger than the United States. But he has a major election in less than 40 days, based on seven elections since the transition.
“And we have seen in this time a Nigerian democracy that has ousted incumbents, where term limits have been imposed, peaceful transitions have taken place and now we have seen a country that is about to have a technically more effective election that has strengthened The authority. , the Independent National Electoral Commission, which is leveraging technologies to help ensure greater credibility for voting at a time around the world, where things are a bit difficult for democracy and elections in many places are headed for hurdles. Nigeria offers an example of a world of progress and momentum.
“There’s a lot of energy, a lot of enthusiasm, and we’re looking to understand that to learn from that and see how we can help support that.”
He also pointed out that his organization did not come to predict who would win the elections or if there would be a second round.
Wilson, however, expressed concern about low voter turnout during the Nigerian elections.
He added that Nigeria’s democracy was really evolving dramatically as the current presidential candidates have made it difficult for Nigerians to know who will win the election.
Wilson said: “It really is not for me to determine or predict the outcome of this election. I’m a really interested observer and what I do see is that I’m looking at relatively low voter turnout and their last election.
“And just from the conversations that we’re having, we see a higher level of engagement, a higher level of interest, the fact that we’re less than 40 days away, and most Nigerians don’t know who’s going to win and they don’t . I don’t know if there will be a second round.
“We have seen a surge of young voters registered, I think in the last six months, INEC said that they had seen in the last period, that 70 percent of those registered were in the youth category. It’s quite dramatic, remarkable.
“So what I have learned over and over again is that even when democracies and elections are imperfect, elections become an opportunity for people to organize and express themselves. I have seen surprises time and time again and I don’t know what will happen.
“It’s a beautiful thing for Nigeria, the largest democracy in Africa, to go to an election and not know what’s going to happen. That is democracy and action. It’s exciting and we’re going to see this.”
Wilson also expressed his concern about the prolonged situation of insecurity throughout the country before the elections.
He said: “I guess there are two things going on; One is the general security situation that has been difficult in the country, whether due to insurgency or terrorism or simply banditry, kidnapping, other sources of instability that you know very well.
“But the truth is that the 10,000 Nigerians who have died in recent years from security incidents, that’s extraordinarily high and creates a difficult environment where people feel safe enough to vote.
“What they reported to me about the violence related to the elections, which is much less violence related to the elections, is serious because it is directed at the elections in which we have seen political actors who have been, in some cases assassinated in other places, intimidated, INEC offices attacked and so what was really interesting about the briefings that we saw was that Nigerians are organizing to be able to track this down to document and report it, to take it to the authorities to see if the security forces are By understanding where their bullying efforts and voter turnout were four years ago, they can anticipate that today.
“So while this is a major issue, there is no question that I am listening to the Nigerians. I also see a lot of Nigerians focused on this issue of how can they really provide a greater sense of security, how can they be better prepared, how can they anticipate where there are problems.
“So ultimately this is going to be a problem for this election, but I’m hopeful it’s not going to be such a disruptive problem. That being said, anyone needs to feel safe to voice their vote. That is a sacrosanct act in any democracy.”