UNDP’s continuous support, key to Nigeria’s deepening democracyApr 8, 2015
On 28 March, Nigerians went to the polls to mark the first part of the 2015 general elections; to choose their President and their representatives in the National Assembly. With over 60 million registered voters spread across 36 States including the Federal Capital Territory and the pre-eminence of two strong political parties, the election was the most competitive in Nigeria’s 4th Republic.
UNDP’s support in the process, through the Democratic Governance for Development (DGDII) project, was aimed at ensuring that the country continues to enjoy a just, democratic, stable society, with accountable governance and increased transparency, through trusted, regulated, participatory electoral processes. Through partnerships established at different levels with both state and non-state actors, UNDP provided institutional capacity building support, through skills training and knowledge exchange.
Through dialogues facilitated by UNDP, Nigeria witnessed significant levels of issue-based campaigns and enhanced space for democratic processes to take place; political parties and the legislatures interacted more, women and youth expressed their views just as people with disabilities did. With the growing need for credibility and transparency in the management of elections, UNDP worked with and supported the country’s Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), providing technical and financial support that enabled it to conduct the presidential elections, hailed as one of the most credible, transparent and peaceful in the history of the country and whose results have been accepted by all political and non-political stakeholders. This support is continuing as the country heads to the polls again to elect State Governors. The aim is to ensure that an inclusive democratic process takes place at all level of governance in the country.
Continuous engagement by the UNDP supported National Peace Committee (NPC) for the 2015 elections with the front-runners in the presidential elections facilitated early acceptance of the results; the people of Nigeria had chosen opposition party leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC) party over the ruling People’s Democratic Party’s (PDP) incumbent president. President Goodluck Jonathan conceded before the formal conclusion of the tallying process by INEC and made a phone call to Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, Presidential candidate for the APC party, congratulating him on the victory. This act, commended by many, paved way for the on-going peaceful transition of power to the new government.
The NPC, composed of eminent Nigerian individuals drawn from different backgrounds, continues to receive UNDP’s advisory, technical and financial support so that it can effectively implement its terms of reference. Early in the year, UNDP, through the basket funded DGDII project, supported a workshop that led to the signing by 14 presidential candidates, of the Abuja Accord, through which they affirmed their commitment to peaceful elections. On the eve of the elections, the NPC brought together the two front-runners, President Jonathan and Gen. Buhari, to renew their commitment to the Accord.
UNDP’s support to and partnership with NPC will continue as we aim at assisting Nigeria to build its capacity and ownership of national peace building and conflict prevention initiatives. We will continue building on the foundation so far established through the work of the NPC to develop a broader and inclusive National Peace Infrastructure. Our work and support through partnerships in the country will adopt an integrated approach, with continuing efforts towards promoting and advocating for the broader human rights issues including the right to vote, and the protection of internally displaced people affected by the conflict in the North Eastern part of the country.