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This paper summarizes the findings of an evaluation of Nigeria's general elections.
It is organized by the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue (HD Centre) and focuses on political and inter-communal conflicts before, during, and soon after the elections.

• Describes formal and informal methods established at the state and national levels to assist in the prevention and resolution of disagreements and violent clashes in the context of the 2015 elections.

• Describes the variables that affected the development and administration of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) systems in Nigeria.

• Assesses the strengths and weaknesses, as well as the benefits and drawbacks, of Nigeria's various ADR approaches.

• Identifying the opportunity and scope for employing conflict resolution procedures to address some of Nigeria's systematic and recurring causes of dispute.

The report laid out the topics and events that sparked high tensions ahead of the elections, as well as the measures made to diffuse them around the country, as well as instances when no major action was taken to reduce the likelihood of conflicts and violence.

To that goal, the researchers investigated the numerous formal and informal processes established at the state and national levels, assessing the extent to which stakeholders were mobilized to lower the possibility of election violence.

They considered the National Peace Committee and the Council of the Wise; faith-based initiatives; coordinated diplomatic interventions; the use of electoral observer groups, particularly in high-risk areas; measures taken by security agencies to prevent or reduce electoral violence;

non-violence campaigns by civil society organizations; the role of the media; and interventions by community elders, traditional authorities, religious leaders, the Independent National Electoral Commission, and the Independent National Election Commission.

Problems with methodology and concepts

Individual and group interviews with stakeholders involved in the federal and state electoral processes were conducted as of the assessment. To collect similar data, the researchers used a standard set of questions, but performed semi-structured interviews to guarantee that interviewees' answers were not pre-determined.

They used snowball sampling approaches to discover potential interviews and triangulated the information gathered to ensure that the data and findings were as credible as feasible.

1 The research was funded by the Australian High Commission in Nigeria and the Department for International Development (DFID).

The information utilized for this assessment is primarily based on over 130 in-depth interviews conducted in seven states and at the federal level (see Annex I for a list of interviewees), and it has been supplemented with information from other sources, including media coverage.

The preliminary draft assessment findings were examined, discussed, and endorsed at a ‘validation' workshop held on October 12, 2015 in Abuja (see Annex II for an addendum report on the ‘validation' workshop). The general reflections and observations provided by workshop participants were included in the addendum report, while omissions and factual errors found by attendees were remedied in the final edition of the post-elections assessment.

Alternative conflict resolution: explanation of concepts

For the purposes of this assessment, the term “alternative dispute resolution” (ADR) refers to a broad range of peace initiatives such as arbitration, conciliation, dialogue facilitation, peace education, sensitization campaigns, and mediation interventions carried out outside of formal legal processes to prevent, respond to, or transform the actions of individuals or groups involved in the electoral process prior to, during, and after the 2015 General Election.

Choosing a Case Study
The review begins with a look at federal peace initiatives. It then examines the situation in several states. Some of these saw significant levels of electoral violence. Others were seen as potential flashpoints but witnessed little disruption

as a result of the election. Kaduna (North West); Plateau (North Central); Borno (North East); Lagos (South West); Rivers and Akwa Ibom (South South); and are the states covered (South East).
The report's main themes

Each chapter follows the same general format:

i. Historical context: political history and current conflict issues

ii. Tensions in the run-up to the elections.

iii. Attempts to minimize tensions and the likelihood of violence.

iv. Local reactions to the Abuja Agreement.

v. The impact of local conflict resolution and conflict prevention activities.

vi. Violence reduction: the road forward


Many analysts in Abuja, the federal capital, predicted months ago that the March and April 2015 polls would spark a serious conflict. Longstanding tensions between the North and South; threats of militant activity in the South South sub-region; a major insurgency in the North East (where Boko Haram threatened to disrupt the “pagan practice” of elections);

tensions over electoral management; and recurring clashes and incidents of intimidation were all stress indicators. Given the complexity of security difficulties, their politicization, and an apparent complete breakdown in trust and communication between the People's Democratic Party (PDP) and the All Progressive Congress (APC), the people also expected large-scale violence (APC).

In the end, the elections were marred by violence. Election-related violence killed 58 people between December 2014 and February 2015, according to the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC). At least 50 people were also reported dead on election day and the day after in nine of the country's 36 states, and many confrontations broke out between supporters of the major parties.

However, Nigerians' willingness to vote peacefully, regardless of delays and anomalies, and to respect the results of the elections enabled the country to achieve a democratic handover and a historic transition. A variety of national and international players are also regarded to have worked together to prevent widespread conflict.

Key interventions included constant peace messaging at the political and community levels, as well as attentive monitoring of the electoral process by local civil society groups and observer teams, and high-level diplomatic visits by international actors.

implemented technical innovations that resulted in a more credible and lawful voting process. Finally, and most importantly, the outgoing President, Goodluck Jonathan, swiftly admitted defeat — a decision that many feel virtually single-handedly prevented huge violent protests in several sections of the country, notably Northern Nigeria and his own Niger Delta.

Tensions in the run-up to and during the elections
As the elections approached, political language became heated, even vicious. Politicians tended to mobilize voter support along ethnic lines, and to personalize their discourse in religious terms at times. According to some respondents,

the PDP ran a more aggressive (negative) national campaign than the APC, while this was less visible at the state level. Simultaneously, various civil society organizations were monitoring hate speech and forcefully condemning it. Comments made by the former Katsina Governor, for example, sparked outrage across the country and beyond. 2
The campaign took place in an atmosphere of anxiety and uncertainty, swamped by rumor.

When the PDP administration postponed the elections,3 officials claimed it was for security reasons (to allow international forces more time to mount a coordinated attack on Boko Haram), but many nationals believe it was for political motives.

2 In a video, Ibrahim Shema urges his supporters to smash the opposition like cockroaches in response to any provocation.
3 The elections were originally set for 14 February 2015, but were moved to 28 March.
9 stakeholders stated that the PDP, fearful of losing, wanted additional time to strengthen its chances, or that it was a political ploy to keep power.

Former President Goodluck Jonathan promised Nigerians that elections will go place, stressing that they were not worth any Nigerian's blood. However, the PDP as a whole did not convincingly relieve popular fear, and some rumors (speculations about a possible military takeover, for example) sparked major public debate and unease.

Furthermore, there was some uncertainty about INEC's technical preparedness. The usage of permanent voter cards (PVCs) and smart card readers (SCRs) has received a lot of attention. Some Nigerians, including many PDP officials4, were fiercely opposed to biometric technology, believing it was untrustworthy and would impede the certification process.

Several interest organizations claimed that INEC was breaking the constitution by denying the ability to vote to persons holding temporary voter cards.


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