Former President of the Republic of Malawi, Dr. Joyce Banda, is leading a joint international election observation mission (IEOM) to Nigeria deployed by the International Republican Institute (IRI) and the National Democratic Institute (NDI.

Dr Banda will be joined in the 40-member delegation by Ambassador Mark Green, President and CEO of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars; Ambassador Johnnie Carson, former Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of African Affairs at the U.S. Department of State; IRI Board Member Constance Berry Newman, Nonresident Senior Fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Africa Center; NDI Board Member Stacey Abrams, American political leader, lawyer, and voting rights activist; and IRI Board Member Dana White, foreign policy and communications advisor.

The delegation composed of political and civic leaders, elections experts, and regional specialists from 20 countries in Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America and North America, was accredited by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to observe the elections on February 25.

“We are here to show our support for, and solidarity with Nigerian democrats,” Banda said, describing the elections as being of tremendous significance for Nigeria and the region as a whole.

“I encourage all voters to participate and make their voices heard through the ballot box,” she said.

A press release on Monday said IRI and NDI have deployed international election observation missions to every general election in Nigeria since 1999 when the country transitioned from military to civilian democratic rule.

NDI President, Ambassador Derek Mitchell, who will also participate in the mission, said the joint deployment by NDI and IRI was a testament to the continuous commitment of both organizations to Nigeria’s democracy.

“We are honored to support the Nigerian people in this pivotal election, and contribute to the continued strengthening of their country’s electoral processes and democratic institutions,” he said.

IRI President, Dr. Daniel Twining, who is also in the delegation, said the organisations “celebrate the commitment of the Nigerian people to making their voices heard through the democratic political process”.

“We are here in support of credible, free and fair elections and urge all electoral stakeholders to remain peaceful throughout the election process,” he said.

The joint press release said the mission would conduct a substantive and detailed analysis of the process in various areas, including election administration, citizen participation, gender and inclusion, election security, legal framework, information environment, and political parties and campaigning.

“On Election Day, IRI/NDI will visit polling stations in 20 states across all six geopolitical regions of Nigeria to observe the various aspects of the elections and the administration of the poll, including the opening, voting, tabulation, transmission and publication of results,” it said.

It said the joint IEOM follows two joint pre-election assessment missions conducted in July and December of 2022, which made recommendations on actions that could enhance the credibility of the upcoming February 25 elections.

NDI and IRI, both nonpartisan, nongovernmental organizations that support and strengthen democratic institutions and practices worldwide, have collectively observed more than 200 elections in more than 50 countries over the last 30 years.

The delegation will conduct its activities in accordance with the laws of Nigeria and the Declaration of Principles for International Election Observation, which was adopted by the United Nations in 2005. The delegation’s work is funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), according to the release.