Still on the 2023 general elections…

President Muhammadu Buhari, this week, commended the collective efforts of nations in tackling global security challenges and called for more collaboration to check terrorism, banditry and insurgency plaguing nations, including Nigeria.

The President made the call when he received the letters of credence of the Canadian High Commissioner to Nigeria, Ambassador James Kingston Christoff and Ambassador of Mexico to Nigeria, Juan Alfred Miranda Oritz.

The President, who disclosed that successes have been made in taming insecurity with nations working together across borders, said more could be achieved with determination and sustained onslaught against criminals, citing some of the debilitating effects of global challenges.

“The devastating effect of global insecurity, climate change and the post-COVID-19 era has devastated global economies,” he said. “Nations continue to struggle to recover from these multiple global challenges. The ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine has undermined the progress countries have achieved in tackling food security in the last decade. While, the political instability in Libya continues to fuel terrorism in the Sahel, as well as scuttle democratic sustenance in both West and Central African regions.”

The President lamented that Nigeria is not left out of the troubles as it battles to rid itself of banditry, kidnapping, herder/farmer crisis and insurgency. He, however, said that the country is grateful to sister countries like “yours to sustain these fights until we overcome these challenges.’’

Turning his attention to the regional level, the President said Nigeria is working with other member-states of ECOWAS and other regional bodies to deal with the problems of terrorism, trans-border crimes and unconstitutional changes of government.

“I believe that matters of security have become the business of all nations as these challenges go beyond the abilities of any single country to effectively contain,” he said.
Ahead of next year’s general elections, the President urged the diplomats in Nigeria to monitor political developments in the country but he pleaded with them to remain true to their professional ethics of non-interference in the country’s local political affairs.

He said Nigeria is drawing closer to its national elections and both the electoral umpire and parties’ candidates have commenced, in earnest, their preparations for the elections. Soon, he said, political campaigns will start across the country and politics will reach a fever pitch.
“As the drums of campaign begin to rise, I urge you to be guided by diplomatic practice to ensure that your activities remain within the limits of your profession as you monitor the build-up to the elections and the conduct of the general elections,” he said.

Of course, in many ways, the President’s call on the diplomats not to interfere in the country’s electoral process is apt because, from the meddling of the Russian Intelligence Research Agency (IRA) in the 2016 US elections to a hack and leak operation targeting Emmanuel Macron, whose design and timing showed a determination to disrupt the election, several spectacular attempts at electoral interference have made the headlines recently, in an era where disinformation has become a common political strategy.
Foreign interference includes activities going beyond routine diplomatic influence engaged in by diplomats and their governments that may take place in isolation or alongside espionage activities. Such interferences could be in form of making openly supportive partisan statements and tampering with the authenticity of the democratic debate, relying on hidden actors or proxies, behaving in an inauthentic manner and propagating doctored or fabricated material.

Foreign interference in democratic processes, of which elections are the fundamental characteristic, can serve various goals from the achievement of a certain preferred outcome to a more general aim to increase polarization, breach information security and ultimately undermine democratic institutions.
As the President tried to suggest, the fears of foreign meddling in elections are not misplaced. Partisan electoral interventions (i.e., attempts by foreign powers to intervene in an election to determine the identity of the winner) are a common form of interference that usually has significant effects on the targeted election results in the manner desired by the intervener.
Such foreign interference can also frequently cause serious damage to the targeted country. However, while it is difficult to completely stop or deter foreign powers from meddling in this manner, Nigeria, apart from the warning issued by the President to the diplomats, can significantly reduce the odds that such foreign interference will affect the election results.

To do so, the Buhari-led administration should increase the legal penalties for collusion, promote public education on this topic, monitor the use of electronic voting or counting in elections and ensure that votes are not just cast but they also count.

How will the monitoring, and evaluation policy for Nigeria work?

The Federal Executive Council (FEC) Wednesday approved a new policy for the institutionalisation of the practice of monitoring and evaluation in Nigeria.
The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, disclosed this and said the programme is to be known as the National Monitoring and Evaluation Policy.

According to her, the policy is intended to improve the socio-economic development of the country and the well-being of the citizens.

“The policy defines a framework for the institutionalization of the practice of monitoring and evaluation (M&E) to promote good governance, learning and accountability for results,” she said, “that will contribute to improve the socio-economic development of the country and enhance the wellbeing of citizens.”
No doubt, this development could hardly have come at a better time than now when studies around the world have begun to reveal effective methods for evaluating projects which aim to improve governance and accountability.

Monitoring and evaluation in the public sector where government officials are recipients of programmes to improve efficacy in service delivery is a significant and complex field of M&E.

Frequently, system failure happens between different spheres of government, or between government departments and entering into this space with developmental solutions requires a particular and in-depth understanding of the history of these institutions.
Where multiple stakeholders are involved, it is important to understand how to best allocate roles and responsibilities which are in line with workplace requirements, and legislative frameworks, but still create the space for improved practice and collaboration.

Thankfully, the minister said that the policy clarifies how M&E should be conducted in the country, specifies the position, institutional and financial arrangements and the modalities for feedback, especially from citizens so that decision-makers can make effective use of evidence by government and stakeholders to inform policy strategies and investment.
Helpfully, the minister said the policy was developed in close collaboration with 36 states of the federation, development partners, members of the academia, experts and associations of monitoring and evaluation in Nigeria.

In the end, however, it should be noted by the minister and, indeed, Nigerians, that though much work has been conducted globally to define good governance indicators, the use of these is still hotly contested. This is partly because of the difficulty in defining what good governance looks like and partly due to the growing realisation that measuring governance is itself a political process.

Hence, when there are some standards for measuring what constitutes good governance, countries in Africa must not develop complexity and gauge the performance of their governments based on the yardstick adopted by the Americans and Europeans.
After all, largely relying on a mono-economy of crude oil since the 1970s, Nigeria still appears blind to, and visibly indifferent to global attraction and shift to cleaner and cheaper energy sources, including economic diversification, even when the era of ‘oil is ready, food is ready,’ is over.

Only total realistic reformation would re-route Nigeria out of the vicious cycle of structural traps and stimulate the geometric variable of competitiveness expected in a federal structure.
Such development would result in a consistent dialectical economic development, steered by an inclusive diversification, empowering entrepreneurial growth, challenging infrastructure deficit, and re-evaluating and revitalising the educational system, all under visionary leadership.

Nigeria is, no doubt, sitting on gold and may not need the details of textbook analysis and development yardsticks of the West to mine and use its resources to develop.

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