What We Do

Learn more about the context behind the Nigerian Election Working Group

With the successful completion of the 2015 general elections, Nigeria has now conducted two consecutive elections widely adjudged to meet international standards of credibility. The second of these elections also led to the peaceful transfer of Presidential power from an incumbent to the candidate of an opposition party. Several experts on democratic consolidation recognize this as an important milestone in the consolidation of electoral democracy. For instance, the famed “two turnover” test propounded by Samuel Huntington, the renowned American political scientist, proposes that democracy may be viewed as consolidated when “the party or group that takes power in the initial election at the time of transition, loses a subsequent election and turns over power to those election winners, and if those election winners then peacefully turn over power to winners of a later election”. It can therefore be said that Nigeria’s 2015 general elections has set the country well on its way to democratic consolidation.

However, it cannot be taken for granted that there is a linear path that leads from two successful elections to democratic consolidation. Certainly, the process is reversible. Indeed, Nigeria may well be moving into its most vulnerable phase of democratic consolidation whereby the next general elections will be fought with even more rancor, following the defeat of the ruling party at the center in 2015. In fact, even going by the last two general elections, it is clear that Nigerian elections remain extremely contentious, as formulated by Norris et al. For one thing, there is still contestation of the legitimacy of “electoral actors, procedures or outcomes” for diverse reasons. This is not helped by the many reversals of outcomes by courts, and even more so by several contradictory decisions by different courts on some results from the 2015 general elections. For another thing, there are still several reform issues that are outstanding, which date back to the 2008 Uwais Electoral Reform Committee Report.

There is an urgent need to ensure sustained support for reforms and improved election management at the strategic and intellectual levels, as Nigerian democracy moves into these difficult stages of consolidation. This is the central gap that the proposed Nigerian Election Working Group (NEWG) would fill.

What drives us

Essentially, the NEWG is designed to be a technical body that studies elections on a continuous basis and makes recommendations to diverse stakeholders.

Often, election management bodies like INEC seek improvements in various aspects of election management and require technical and strategic inputs for that purpose.

Development partners regularly seek ideas about areas of need in the electoral process to channel funds and technical assistance, while civil society organizations need to know critical areas requiring reforms to channel advocacy and demands for accountability.

All these require knowledge that is grounded in good theoretical thinking, field experience and reliable empirical data. Through NEWG, we seek to create a framework that brings all three aspects together.

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