Nigeria will hold national elections in February 2023. The conduct and outcome of these polls, the largest in Africa, will have far-reaching effects on Nigeria’s and the region’s democratic trajectory.
For these elections to approach a democratic ideal and provide the Nigerian people with a real voice in choosing their future leaders and policies, stakeholders will need to grapple with several challenges. The inclusivity of party primaries, smooth execution of electoral process logistics, ability of civil society and media to provide oversight, and an improved security situation are far from guaranteed and warrant sustained attention and investment. The vision of candidates and their ability to inspire confidence in the country’s future is also integral to the success of the elections.
Despite the many challenges ahead, the Nigerian people and government set the stage for free, fair, and democratic elections in 2023 by advocating for, legislating, and signing the Electoral Act, 2022. The act provides an opportunity to enhance the credibility and capacity of the Independent National Electoral Commission, improve the party primary process, and strengthen the integrity of the vote.
During this event, Hon. Ben Kalu of the House of Representatives in the Nigeria National Assembly, Barr. Festus Okoye of the Independent National Electoral Commission, and Samson Itodo of Yiaga Africa discussed the new legal framework and Nigeria’s preparations for the 2023 Elections.
Benjamin Okezie Kalu is a Nigerian politician and a member of the House of Representatives in the 9th Nigeria National Assembly, representing Bende Federal Constituency, Abia State. He is currently the Spokesperson for the House of Representatives and Chairman, House Committee on Media and Public Affairs.
Barr. Festus Okoye is a National Commissioner of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), currently serving as the Chairman of Information and Voter Education Committee. Prior to joining INEC, he worked extensively on human rights and electoral issues as a legal professional and civil society activist. Mr. Okoye has served as the Chair of the Transition Monitoring Group (TMG), a coalition of Nigerian civil society groups instrumental to ensuring credible elections, the Executive Director of Human Rights Monitor (HRM), and the National Coordinator of the Independent Election Monitoring Group (IEMG).
Samson Itodo is a lawyer from Nigeria and Executive Director of Yiaga Africa, an NGO whose mission is to promote democracy in Africa. Over the last decade, Samson has worked to facilitate the inclusion of young people in politics and promote electoral integrity. One of his most significant achievements has been the successful campaign #NotTooYoungToRun to lower the minimum age for elective office in Nigeria. He serves on the boards of the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance and the Kofi Annan Foundation.
Christopher O’Connor is a Senior Program Manager for Africa at the National Endowment for Democracy.
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