As Nigeria's nearly 61 million registered voters prepare to elect a new President this weekend, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) today said it is administering a $10.5 million effort to help strengthen the country's capacity to run the poll effectively.
The 19 April elections in Africa's most populous nation represent the first balloting held by a civilian government in Nigeria in nearly two decades, UNDP said. Subsequently, numerous logistical challenges, including the use of a complex new computerized voter register, have led to some criticism of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) - the body charged with conducting the elections and regulating the 30 participating political parties.
"The tight elections schedule has presented some serious challenges," UNDP official Jules Frippiat said, explaining the need for the UN Electoral Assistance Project in Nigeria. "With this project, UNDP is helping to shore up INEC's capacity to improve awareness and participation in the elections and to communicate with the public."
To help address these concerns and ensure the credibility of the electoral process, the project, a partnership between UNDP and the UN Electoral Assistance Division, has provided the INEC with technical assistance and helped to develop a new Media Results Centre, which is posting the outcomes of the poll publicly and on its web site.
"From Lesotho to Mali, UNDP's support for elections in Africa has been far-reaching," UNDP Administrator Mark Malloch Brown said. "We have done everything from coordinating international observers and facilitating negotiations between political parties and civil society, to advancing electoral reforms and supporting development of database systems that manage voter registration."