2023 Nigeria Elections: Conceptual Map of INEC’s Credible Election Discourse at Chatham House

2023 Nigeria Elections: Conceptual Map of INEC’s Credible Election Discourse at Chatham House

In this piece, the views of Professor Yakubu Mahmood, chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, were examined as part of our analyst examination of political and electoral actors’ presence at Chatham House. Professor Yakubu’s speech came a day after the Labour Party’s presidential candidate, Mr Peter Obi, discussed his agenda for Nigeria in the House on January 16th, 2023. According to the chairman, Nigeria will hold her seventh consecutive general election in 2023.

The over 7,000-word speech revealed the Commission’s successes and challenges during the previous general elections, particularly the 2015 and 2019 general elections. Using a conceptual discourse map approach, our analyst discovered that INEC requires complete institutional independence in order to conduct credible elections. This independence would allow it to use technologies to avoid potential malpractices orchestrated by political actors and their supporters. Our analyst also concluded from Professor Yakubu’s speech that having credible elections requires more than the Commission’s efforts.

Nigerians must support it. According to our analyst, this appeal is primarily directed at politicians and supporters who believe in inciting violence before, during, and after elections. Politicians and supporters who believe elections should be a do-or-die affair are also urged by the electoral body’s chairman, who claims the Commission’s only commitment is to Nigerians. These insights were derived primarily from five extracts in which integrity serves as the focal point of his credible election discourse.

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  1. As Zavadskaya and Garnett aptly note, the question of integrity of elections is relevant for “all elections, whether in new democracies or jurisdictions that have held election for decades”, because they are all “vulnerable to malpractice.
  2. …we are preparing for a general election of high integrity and inclusiveness in Nigeria in 2023.
  3. For election technology, early decision is central to maintaining its integrity, popularising it among voters and addressing any challenges that could arise.
  4. On 4th January 2023, we received the final batch of the BVAS to be used for the election. That puts us on course to perform functional and integrity tests on every BVAS to be deployed for the election, which has been concluded in many States nationwide.
  5. Our commitment remains only to Nigerians and not to any political party or candidate. That is what the law requires of us. We cherish the institutional independence and integrity of the Commission.

Exhibit 1: conceptual map of integrity discourse in relation to other key knots

Source: Yakubu Mahmood, 2023; Infoprations Analysis, 2023

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