Ahead of the 2023 general elections in Nigeria, International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES), a global, nonpartisan nonprofit organisation says it is providing national-level capacity building to Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
IFES adds that it is incorporating lessons learned from the 2019 election process in electoral management, inclusion of traditionally marginalised groups, voter education, electoral conflict monitoring and alternative dispute resolution processes, among many others.
The US-based global group is boasting of advancing democracy for a better future on its website, pointing out, ‘’we collaborate with civil society, public institutions and the private sector to build resilient democracies that deliver for everyone.
‘’As a global leader in the promotion and protection of democracy, our technical assistance and applied research develops trusted electoral bodies capable of conducting credible elections; effective and accountable governing institutions; civic and political processes in which all people can safely and equally participate; and innovative ways in which technology and data can positively serve elections and democracy.’’
While it has worked in more than 145 countries, from developing to mature democracies since 1987, IFES has been working to strengthen the capacity of Nigerian election management bodies to promote credible, inclusive and transparent elections at the national, state and local levels since 1998.
The group said it provided technical support at the state level, strengthened processes in the 2019 by-elections in Kogi State and Bayelsa State and 2020 by-elections in Edo State and Ondo State.
IFES provides this assistance through the “Support for Electoral Reforms Project II” (2019-21) funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the United Kingdom’s Department of International Development (DFID).
This project built on the gains made during IFES’ previous “Support for Electoral Reforms Project” (2014-19), which was also co-funded by USAID and DFID.
IFES’ support to INEC has included development of the 2017-21 strategic plan, which incorporated INEC’s first-ever monitoring and evaluation plan. IFES has also partnered with many of Nigeria’s state-level electoral commissions to prepare for gubernatorial and local government elections.
Through the ongoing “Nigeria Election Violence Report” project, it said it builds civil society’s capacity to monitor, analyze and respond to incidents of election-related conflict. IFES has also trained representatives of civil society organizations to monitor campaign finance and the use of state resources during presidential and gubernatorial elections.
Under SERP I, IFES developed a cascade training plan for poll workers and executed a training of trainers who then trained 650,000 poll workers. With IFES’ support, INEC’s voter education campaign reached over 67 million Nigerians.
Enhancing credible and inclusive elections in 2019, IFES supported INEC’s voter education campaigns, supported the implementation of INEC’s gender policy and assisted in the creation and launch of INEC’s framework on inclusion of persons with disabilities.
IFES’ Country Director for Nigeria is, Seray Jah, a senior electoral management specialist and seasoned certified training professional with expertise on electoral management, institutional capacity building and strategic planning.
He has over 24 years’ experience with the National Electoral Commission of Sierra Leone, United Nations Department of Peacekeeping, UN Development Program, UN Electoral Assistance Division, UN Office for Project Services and IFES.
Jah previously served as IFES Nigeria’s senior electoral management specialist, where he provided technical advice, assistance and expertise to INEC and State Independent Electoral Commissions on institutional strengthening, capacity building, innovative electoral management strategies, strategic planning, communications, voter education, continuous voter registration and special voting in two electoral cycles.
Jah has extensively advised and worked with election management bodies and civil society organizations in Asia and Africa. In Afghanistan, Sudan and South Sudan, he worked as an electoral officer with the UN missions in Afghanistan, Sudan and the Republic of South Sudan in conducting landmark elections.
He is a graduate of the University of Sierra Leone, the Institute of Training and Development in Malaysia and the UN Institute for Training and Research.