NDI/IRI predict Runoff in Nigeria’s 2023 Presidential Election

By Boris Esono Nwenfor

Contenders for Nigeria’s presidential seat in 2023

The International Republican Institute, IRI, and the National Democratic Institute, NDI, have said a runoff could be possible if a third party draws sufficient support in the upcoming 2023 Presidential Election. Should that be the case, Nigeria will see the first runoff since the transition to democracy took place.

The delegation of the NDI/IRI led by the Secretary of State for Ohio, Frank LaRose, stated this while presenting its first joint pre-election assessment report to journalists in Abuja.

Christopher Fomunyoh, NDI’s Regional Director for Central and West Africa said the 2023 elections present a significant opportunity to consolidate Nigeria’s democracy, as reported by Sunnewsonline while adding that the 2022 Electoral Act passed in May, enjoyed wide stakeholder support and has elevated public confidence in the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) commitment to deliver democratic elections in 2023.

Christopher Fomunyoh, NDI’s Regional Director for Central and West Africa

The recent surge in voter registration numbers and increased voter turnout in the 2022 Osun polls, especially among young people, point to a renewed interest in political participation among Nigerians according to Dr Christopher Fomunyoh.

He said: “… There are questions about whether the 2022 Electoral Act will be fully implemented and whether political parties will take advantage of this increased enthusiasm to engage Nigerians on issues that matter to them. There are also questions about whether these new technologies (IReV and BVAS) will perform at the same level when scaled up for the national elections.”

“The 2023 elections are a departure from some of the political dynamics that defined previous polls. For the first time since 2007, the presidential election will be an open contest with no incumbent. The ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) selected former Lagos governor Bola Tinubu as its flag bearer. Former Vice President and 2019 presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, will contest on the ticket of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP). However, the emergence of Peter Obi – former Anambra State governor ad presidential candidate for the Labour Party (LP) and Rabiu Kwankwaso – former Kano governor and presidential candidate for the New Nigeria People’s Party (NNPP) as viable “Third Forces” has excited many young Nigerians.”

“If a third party draws sufficient support, a runoff presidential election could be a real possibility for the first time since the transition to democracy, adding complexity to the 2023 elections,” NDI and IRI added.

“Confidence in the government and elections has declined over the past 10 years, as exemplified by the EndSARS movement that gained traction in 2020 to protest security forces abuses. In addition, insecurity has deepened, spreading to every corner of the country. Extremist and sectarian violence continues to spread, banditry and criminality are endemic, separatist elements are gaining traction, and informal security forces are proliferating. This intensifying violence takes place against a backdrop of increasing religious and regional division permeating the political discourse. If the 2023 polls fail to improve upon past elections, Nigerians may lose faith in the ability of democracy to deliver,” the IRI and NDI stated.

NDI , IRI delegation in Osun State Nigeria as part of a delegation to monitor the Governorship Election

“To comply with this measure and enhance the transparency of results, INEC is now requiring polling unit-level officials to transmit photos of the results posters so that they can be uploaded on the IReV website. The IReV was commended by nearly all stakeholder groups with whom the delegation met because polling unit-level results are made available to the public in real-time,” a member of the delegation, Bernadette Lahai.

“Citizen observer groups noted, however, that the photos uploaded to IReV are not always legible, available in due time, or in a format that can be digitally analyzed. Observer groups are also advocating for the expansion of IReV to include images of registration area (RA), LGA, and state-level results forms. Stakeholders hope that adding these tools will increase confidence in the credibility of the results; however, concerns remain about whether the IReV will work under the strain of a national election. The delegation also commends INEC for disaggregating voter turnout by the number of permanent voter cards (PVCs) collected and by registered voters for each LGA and polling unit for the Osun election,” Lahai added.



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