PAACA’s Nationwide Electoral Reform Efforts

Posted by Grace Abuh

At the Peering Advocacy and Advancement Centre (PAACA), we are dedicated to fostering transparency, accountability, and citizen participation in Nigeria’s electoral processes. Our #ChangeOurElections campaign which is supported by Mac Arthur Foundation in partnership with PLACA and WRAPA is now in full swing, extending in batches across all 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT). Building on our initial efforts in 11 states, we are promoting organically generated engagements between citizens and pivotal electoral management institutions via strategic dialogues on electoral reforms and constitutional amendments.

Our campaign has three main objectives: to foster inclusive dialogue among citizens from varied backgrounds, to enhance public understanding and awareness of electoral reform, and to compile and present citizen-derived recommendations to the National Assembly and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). Through these town hall meetings, we aim to empower major electoral stakeholders to advocate for and promote citizen driven reforms that will ensure a more credible elections nationwide.

During the town hall meetings, we address several key activities and discussion points. In the area of Electoral Integrity and Transparency, we explore how to ensure free, fair, and transparent elections. We discuss measures to combat electoral fraud and manipulation, the potential of leveraging technology to enhance electoral integrity, and the feasibility of early voting for essential election staff. We also consider proposals for amendments to Section 26 of the Electoral Act regarding the oath of loyalty and neutrality for electoral officials.

Voter Education and Participation is another critical focus. We examine strategies to increase voter education and civic engagement, address barriers to voter registration and turnout, and promote inclusive and accessible voting processes. Discussions include proposals for Section 28 of the Electoral Act, which pertains to the scheduling of elections.

In Electoral System Reform, we weigh the advantages and disadvantages of different electoral systems, such as first-past-the-post and proportional representation. We aim to ensure that our electoral systems reflect the diversity of our society and enhance the representativeness and accountability of elected representatives. Proposals for amendments to Section 42 of the Electoral Act, regarding the format of ballot papers, are also considered.

Lastly, our discussions on Electoral Legal Framework and Institutional Reform focus on strengthening electoral laws and regulations, enhancing the independence and effectiveness of electoral management bodies, and potentially shifting the burden of proof to INEC for greater accountability. We also explore proposals for Section 60 of the Electoral Act, particularly the legal backing for the Independent National Electoral Commission’s Result Viewing Portal (IREV).

These town hall meetings are not just about discussions; they are about action. The resolutions we gather will guide our advocacy efforts with the National Assembly, INEC, and other relevant stakeholders. We believe that by engaging citizens directly, we can drive meaningful electoral changes that will shape the future of Nigeria’s democracy.