As part of its commitment to supporting peaceful, credible, free and fair general elections in Nigeria, the United Nations convened a meeting to listen to and discuss civil society perspectives on the ongoing general election process.
The meeting, attended by representatives of some twenty civil society organisations, discussed both positive developments and potential threats to peaceful and credible elections such as vote buying, insecurity across the country, mobile phone usage in polling booths, slow PVC collection and election materials distribution in some parts of the country, Naira redesign and swap, as well as violent attacks on women engaging in politics.
The UN Resident Coordinator in Nigeria, Matthias Schmale during the meeting, said that the United Nations system through the UNDP, was providing technical support to INEC.
He said: “At the technical level, we see INEC making progress in preparing and running elections,” calling on civil society organisations to acknowledge positive progress.
Civil Society representatives noted that some progress had been made around electoral reforms including the deployment of BVAS. They called for further needed improvements such as INEC clarifying to the voting public what two-third of 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory means before the elections, to eliminate possible controversies about whether it is 24 or 25 states.
The UN Resident Coordinator expressed that there had been strong statements of intolerance and hate speech in public space, which led the UN to publicly call on all actors to refrain from such statements.
He pointed to several examples of the UN making its voice heard such as UN Deputy Secretary General Amina Mohamed recently calling on the judiciary to adjudicate possible legal disputes in an impartial and neutral manner.
On the request for stronger advocacy for higher representation of women in politics as well as against violence against women in politics, Schmale noted that UN agencies such as UNWomen and UNFPA had done a lot in the past and towards the coming elections, “but we and other stakeholders need to do much more impactful work ahead of the next elections in 2027”.