By Chibuike Nwabuko
Abuja (Sundiata Post) – As Nigeria enters its third decade as a democracy, YIAGA AFRICA, National Endowment for Democracy (NED), and Ford Foundation is hosting a conference titled “Nigeria’s Democracy at 20: Reflections and Reform” in Washington DC on October 22 – 23, 2019. The conference provides an opportunity for reflection on Nigeria’s democracy with special focus on how Nigeria can consolidate and deepen its democracy. The event is designed to raise the profile of and build on on-going election review and governance reform conversations in Nigeria and mobilize international support for democratic reforms in Nigeria. The conference will also feature a special roundtable on Nigeria’s economy and restructuring at the School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), John Hopkins University, Washington, DC.
The Executive Director, YIAGA AFRICA, Samson Itodo disclosed this on Friday in a statement sent to Sundiata Post.
In February 2019, Nigeria held its sixth national election since the country returned to democratic civilian rule. The election reflects both the strengths and deficiencies in Nigeria’s democracy. Whilst the political space is pluralistic and competitive, democratic institutions remain weak, and civic space restricted. Citizens have real expectations for government officials, and failure to meet these expectations can result in removal from office through the ballot, even as public trust in state institutions declines. Government structures and systems, including the electoral management bodies, security forces, and the courts are guided and constrained by democratic rules. And yet, politics is exclusionary and divisive. Government officials and agencies often fail to operate transparently and respond to the needs and demands of the people. Officials and agencies also fail to abide by the rule of law. This and many more will form the thrust of conversations and dialogue sessions moderated by Prof. Carl Levan, American University; Jennifer Cooke, George Washington University; and Christopher O’Connor, National Endowment for Democracy.
The event will feature a cross section of Nigerian civil society, academics, and government officials discussing 20 years of inconsistent democratic progress, the 2019 elections, and avenues for reform. Key speakers include: Professor Okechukwu Ibeanu, National Commissioner in charge of electoral operations, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC); Prof. Eghosa Osaghae, University of Ibadan; Dr Hussaini Abdu, Country Director, PLAN International; Clement Nwankwo, Executive Director, Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre (PLAC), Ayo Obe, Ezenwa Nwagwu, Chairman, Partners for Electoral Reform Idayat Hassan, Director, Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD); Cynthia Mbamalu, Program Manager, YIAGA AFRICA. Others include Kemi Okenyodo, Executive Director, Partners West Africa; Yemi Adamolekun, Executive Director, Enough is Enough; Mufuliat Fijabi, CEO, Nigeria Women Trust Fund (NWTF), and Paul Phillip James, Watching The Vote Training manager.
The conference will contribute to tangible policy reform priorities for election management, internal party democracy, security sector governance, and political inclusion, as well as a roadmap on what civil society, the government, the public, and the international community can do in accelerating the process of democratic reform in Nigeria.