Since 1998, the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) has worked to strengthen the capacity of Nigerian election management bodies, namely the Independent National Electoral Commission of Nigeria (INEC) and the State Independent Electoral Commissions, and other local partners, to promote credible, inclusive and transparent elections at national and local levels. IFES provides support on electoral operations, election dispute resolution, political finance monitoring and voter and civic education. IFES also focuses on improving and monitoring the electoral dispute resolution system and increasing the capacity of civil society to analyze, monitor and advocate against electoral violence.
IFES has played an instrumental role in institutional capacity-building and decentralization at the INEC. IFES supported the establishment of a training and research institute under INEC in 2007, termed The Electoral Institute, which it continues to support in its mandate of certifying trainers and training over 700,000 poll workers around the country ahead of elections. Other IFES-suggested innovations adopted by INEC are Election Operation Support Centers, which track and monitor electoral operations. IFES also supported the INEC’s set up of an internal graphic design center (which allowed the INEC for the first time to design ballot papers in-house, an important milestone for maintaining the security of the ballot) and a GIS lab that integrated GIS into electoral operations and planning.
IFES’ key areas of work in Nigeria have been:
- Local and national election administration
- Voter education
- Electoral security assistance
- Inclusion of traditionally marginalized groups in electoral processes
- Electoral alternative dispute resolution processes
- Electoral violence monitoring and peacebuilding
- Political finance