From Direct Capture to Mandate Protection: Experiences From the 2011 Nigerian Election

For many years now, the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) has committed itself in the improvement of the electoral process; The Centre has created out of the need to entrench democratic governance and push back against the effects of military dictatorships that had derailed the democratic process in Nigeria and in other West African countries as well.

By 2003, elections and deepening democracy have become critical areas of research, advocacy, and of capacity building for CDD. Our work explores the process of expanding citizens’ political participation, especially women, and also the important issue of mandate protection, following the experiences gained in the 1999 elections.

In 2003, CDD received support from the Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA) for a project called Expanding Women’s Political Space in the North-East region of Nigeria. The project purpose was to empower women and to increase their participation in elections. One of the project key achievements was the formation of women caucuses to lobby for greater women’s participation in political parties’ decision-making process.

Towards the 2007 elections, this strategy had developed into the Mandate Protection project. CDD then developed a Mandate Protection manual for grassroots organisations with support from the National Endowment for Democracy (NED). The manual became the main tool for the Centre’s awareness campaigns and voters’ mobilisation to protect their mandate.

The programme was implemented in Nigeria’s South East, South West and North West regions. During the same period, CDD also received support from OSIWA to work on mandate protection in Nigeria’s South West region. CDD’s reflection on the 2007 elections is documented in Direct Capture: The 2007 Nigerian Elections and the Subversion of Popular Sovereignty, a publication supported by OSIWA.

Within the framework of the Citizens Forum for Constitutional Review (CFCR) and the Constitutional Review Dialogue Mechanism (CRDM), CDD has worked with various civil society organisations’ coalitions on issues pertaining to the Constitution and the Electoral Act amendment process to develop new ways that would enhance the people’s mandate protection. The Electoral Act successful amendment prior to the 2007 and 2011 elections is partly credited to the work of such coalitions. Yet, there was
more work to do ahead of the 2011 polls and perhaps for future elections.
CDD is the leading organisation in the work to develop mandate protection strategies and in its application in Nigerian Elections. In 2007, CDD managed to develop a ‘Training Manual on Election Mandate Protection’, which the Centre subsequently used to train grassroots organisations across the country.

That was made possible by funding support from NED, and OSIWA, as well as the Canadian Agency for International Development (CIDA), the UK Department for International Development (DFID), the European Union (EU), and the United Nations’ Development Programme (UNDP). The strategy was mainly successful thanks to the careful review and updating of the training manual to include illustrations and to reflect the changes that have happened in the electoral law since 2011.

This reproduction was made possible by NED and OSIWA’s support.
Towards the elections, CDD also received crucial financial support, in the form of grants, from the Democratic Governance for Democracy project (DGD), anchored by UNDP; and from OSIWA and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). These grants were fundamental in our work. They provided the platform for various elections and mandate protection activities across the country and gave the authors the opportunity to observe many situations, some of which are the subject of the following
chapters.

This book provides a synopsis of CDD’s reflections and work, before, during, and after the 2011 general elections. The volume is important as it combines both reviews and reflections of election trends, with
direct on-the-spot reviews of the elections through CDD’s programme interventions. All the chapters are written by CDD’s crop of programme officers who led the implementation and evaluation of the Centre’s
election programming.

It is hoped that the ideas and thoughts documented in the following pages will add to the broad efforts at documenting elections in Nigeria and also provide references from which future mandate protection projects could draw upon.