Nigerian Study Tour Brings Delegation to D.C.
IFES and the National Democratic Institute (NDI) organized a study mission for high-ranking members of Nigeria’s Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and INEC’s Electoral Institute from January 11-17 in Washington, D.C.
Over the course of the week-long visit, the delegation met with U.S. Department of State representatives, policymakers, advocates and topical experts.
With Nigeria’s presidential and legislative elections scheduled to take place in February 2015, INEC is in the process of gearing up for the crucial polls.
During a series of interactive sessions with experts at IFES, the delegation analyzed real world scenarios in electoral operations within the unique political context of Nigeria. Senior Global Electoral Adviser Peter Erben and Director of Program Development and Innovation Staffan Darnolf led a discussion on electoral operations and planning strategies that examined how international best practices could inform INEC’s planning for recruitment, training and other aspects of electoral management.
Deputy Regional Director for Europe Gavin Weise drew on comparative experiences of electoral institutes in Europe during a discussion on institutional challenges that impact elections worldwide. Director of Communications & Advocacy Daniela Colaiacovo’s session on best practices in communications highlighted the critical importance of timely communications with the public and within organizations during the full span of the electoral cycle.
Aside from connecting the delegation with IFES experts, the study tour allowed IFES to build on its excellent relationship with INEC.
IFES President and CEO Bill Sweeney welcomed the delegation to IFES headquarters on January 15. He emphasized the regional importance of Nigeria in bolstering West African democracy, as well as the critical role the current INEC, under the leadership of Chairman Attahiru Jega has played in sustaining progress made in Nigeria since 1999.
INEC’s Electoral Institute Chairman Lai Olurode, who led the delegation, underscored the importance of IFES’ support to the commission. He said he looked forward to strengthening the partnership in the lead up to the 2015 elections, as his team would be leading electoral training and research.
Later in January, IFES hosted a visit by INEC Chairman Jega, his Chief Technical Adviser Professor Okechukwu Ibeanu and two other INEC officials.
IFES Vice President of Programs Michael Svetlik and Africa Regional Director Almami Cyllah took the opportunity to thank INEC for its close partnership and collaboration with IFES. Chairman Jega thanked IFES for its continued support in voter registration, alternative dispute resolution, graphic design of electoral materials and the implementation of the election management system, which will help INEC streamline internal operations.
Both visits highlight the close relationships that have grown between INEC and IFES and the many opportunities for future work. This collaboration continues to strengthen the credibility of elections and the professionalism of election management bodies in Nigeria.