Nigeria is Africa’s largest economy, with a population of close to 200 million. The 2015 elections in Nigeria is reported to be one of the most peaceful in a country that lost close to 1000 citizens in the 2011 election following a three days post-election violence. The gains in 2015 were in part due to the incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) conceding to Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressive Congress (APC) party. Given the competitiveness of elections Nigeria both at federal and state levels, it is incumbent on stakeholders in promoting Nigeria’s democracy to engage in programs that sustains peace, promote an engaged citizenry, and foster election integrity. This is even more important because of current ethnic and religious confrontations that have been witnessed in the country which the International Crisis Group reported to be six times more deadly than the extremist group called Boko Haram. The pro independent group, the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), which has publicly announced for the boycott of elections in its regions, also presents a unique threat to election security. The conduct of peaceful elections in Nigeria, therefore, especially in the regions affected by these conflicts is vulnerable to election related violence.
Within the frame work of election assistance, the United States International Center for Electoral Support (USICES) funded a training on “Preventing Electoral Violence: The Role of the Civil Society” at De Jewels Apartment in Edo, Ekiti State from March 28-30, 2018. The training brought together 32 leaders of civil society organizations from four states, Ekiti, Kaduna, Plateau, and Akwa Ibom, with history of conflict. The purpose was to use real time scenario based and interactive learning methodology to x-ray and assess election related violence, challenging participants to develop and use customized tools to identify, prevent, manage, and coordinate incidents of election violence. The methodology created a supportive learning environment allowing participants to acquire insights and the needed management skills effectively serve as peace crusaders within their states and communities.
Participating civil society organizations were selected based on their engagement in civic education, election monitoring, or involvement in governance and democratic accountability. Using the election cycle approach, the leaders were trained on prevention election violence from an election cycle view point as well as given tools such as AGGIEto be able to coordinate and report information incidents of election violence. The training also witnessed the participation of Resident Election Commissioner of Ekiti state, security agencies, and the academia.