Sustaining Nigeria's Democracy




Nigeria is witnessing a vicious crackdown on social critics, bloggers, journalists, activists, and civil society organizations demanding accountability and challenging official corruption and human rights abuses. Between May 2015 and May 2017, the Closing Spaces Database tracked 264 incidents of crackdowns on free speech, association, religious and assembly rights

With support from the Federal Commonwealth Development Office (FCDO), the Yar’Adua Foundation is contributing to improved safety and inclusiveness of civic participation by:

  • Supporting the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) to carry out effective case management, tracking and documentation of human rights abuses.
  • Galvanizing Nigeria citizens and civil society to address the shrinking civic space, spearheaded by the Nigerian Civil Society Situation Room.

The Foundation redesigned the NHRC reporting platform to improve the effectiveness and judicial service delivery of the Commission. Citizens are encouraged to file reports using the link:

An extensive risk assessment identified subsisting and emerging threats to Nigeria’s online and offline civic spaces and provided recommendations for stakeholder action.

Download Reports:

Reclaiming Nigeria's Shrinking Online Space

Galvanizing Collective Action to Protect the Civic Space in Nigeria

Advocacy Campaign

Video vignettes and flashcards were deployed to stimulate collective action to protect the civic space and promote awareness of the NHRC platform to increase visibility of the Commission’s work. Social media campaigns engaged a wide audience on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram using #ProtectTheCivicSpace and #DefendYourRights.


In collaboration with the Nigerian Civil Society Situation Room, Department for International Development (UKAID), Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA) and Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre (PLAC), the Foundation deployed an online platform to support national surveillance efforts in the management of the COVID-19 pandemic in Nigeria.

The platform received, documented and analysed reports of individuals displaying COVID-19 symptoms in Nigeria. A team of volunteers escalated confirmed reports to relevant health authorities. CSO partners and citizens were encouraged to file reports using the link:

Advocacy Campaign

Video vignettes were produced to promote a sense of personal accountability in preventing the spread of COVID-19. The effort was part of a national campaign to build community ownership of recommended preventive behaviours that will reduce community transmission of the virus. The vignettes were promoted by the US Embassy in Nigeria, the Risk Communication and Community Engagement Committee of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 and Multichoice Nigeria Limited.

Flashcards were developed and deployed to encourage citizens to act responsibly to contain further spread of the pandemic. Social media campaigns engaged a wide audience on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram with the hashtag #ActResponsibly.


Corruption is one of Nigeria’s most critical but least understood governance challenges. Successive reports released by Transparency International since 2000 have placed Nigeria in the top 40 of the world’s most corrupt countries, affecting public finances, business investment and our standard of living.

Nigeria has sought to tackle corruption by focusing on legal and institutional measures - including reform of public procurement and public finance management, enactment of anti-corruption laws and the establishment of various anti-corruption agencies tasked with investigating and punishing incidents of corruption. This focus on strengthening institutions and imposing tougher sanctions is critical. But innovative and complimentary efforts are required to shift cultural attitudes to corruption at all levels of society.

Download Reports:

United against Corruption: Galvanizing Collective Action in Nigeria - 2020

United against Corruption: Galvanizing Collective Action in Nigeria - 2018

Anti-Corruption Advocacy Campaign

The Yar’Adua Foundation seeks to reduce retail corruption through an advocacy campaign to empower and galvanize pro-accountability stakeholders to combat corruption. The Foundation deploys messaging and communication to support demand-driven accountability by amplifying the impact and effectiveness of Civil Society organisations.

Town Hall Meeting

The event engaged relevant education experts to explore how stakeholders can act collectively to improve transparency and accountability in basic education.

Public Policy Forum

The event mobilized young people as agents of change by conveying the social costs of corruption and showcasing bold citizen-led attempts to combat graft.









Campaign flashcards and infographics were developed to combat retail corruption in basic education and the electricity sector. Social media campaigns engaged a wide audience with Little Things Matter (#LittleThingsMatter) and Full Current (#FullCurrent) that encouraged parents and the general public to combat corruption in basic education and the electricity sector.

The campaigns reached over 2 million users on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube and created social incentives for action against corruption.


We empower our partners with knowledge and tools to deepen and sustain the fight against corruption; create and sustain synergies between non-state actors involved at national and sub-national levels; and increase demand for transparency and accountability from political actors at the state level beyond the 2019 elections.

Partners United Against Corruption

An anti-corruption portal ( was created to facilitate collaboration and ease of access to advocacy material for civil society collaborators and MacArthur Foundation grantees. Since the portal was deployed, 61 grantees have uploaded information in the form of publications, flashcards, infographics and videos.


Oil Revenue Tracking Initiative

Accountable and transparent management of our natural resources, particuarly the oil and gas sector, is critical to good governance and national development. The Oil Revenue Tracking Initiative (ORTI) provides factual and credible information on issues surrounding Nigeria’s oil resource governance and engages citizens and stakeholders to promote sustainable policy making.

Supported by The Facility for Oil Sector Transparency and Reform in Nigeria (FOSTER), our policy advocacy campaign on savings and stabilization mechanisms in Nigeria seeks to further reform governance in Nigeria’s oil and gas sector by mobilizing citizens to demand accountability.



Despite being the largest producer and exporter of petroleum in Africa and one of the ten largest producers in the world, Nigeria has failed to transform decades of oil earnings into sustainable development. In the period spanning 1970 to 2014, Nigeria wasted five oil booms – earning a conservative estimate of a trillion dollars in oil revenue but making no significant savings. These earnings have also not translated to lasting or productive capital through human development, infrastructure and institution building. Read More...




Project Report: A Savings and Stabilization Mechanism for Nigeria 2019
Report from Enugu Demand-side Roundtable 2018
Communiqué for Enugu Demand-side Roundtable 2018
Report from Port Harcourt Demand-side Roundtable 2018
Communiqué for Port Harcourt Demand-side Roundtable 2018
Report from Lagos Demand-side Roundtable 2018
Communiqué for Lagos Demand-side Roundtable 2018
Report from Abuja Demand-side Roundtable 2018
Communiqué for Abuja Demand-side Roundtable 2018
Report from Stakeholder Supply-Side Roundtable 2018
Communiqué from Stakeholder Roundtable 2018
Policy Roundtable on Fuel Subsidy in Nigeria 2015
FOSTER Report: Oil Revenue Tracking Initiative 2014
Stop Impunity in Nigeria 2014


Promoting National Cohesion and Building Platforms to Counter Divisive Behavior

Nigeria has experienced divisions and tensions between and among various ethnic identities since the struggle for independence. Efforts to resolve conflicts have been deployed, but latent acrimonies and mutual suspicions remain evident due to a combination of socio-economic and political factors, compounded by perceived and existent injustice.

A June 2018 three-day retreat at the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library in Abeokuta explored drivers of tension in Nigeria and identified strategies to address them. A community of stakeholders committed themselves to address challenges confronting unity in Nigeria.

Support for the retreat was provided by the Ford Foundation.

Retreat Video:

Download Report:

Citizenship, Democracy and the Culture of Transactional Politics

The transactional nature of Nigerian politics is a major driver of corruption and ethno-religious tension. Clientelism – the exchange of goods and services for political support – remains the dominant culture. In Nigeria, elections represent a potential flashpoint for violence, fuelled by illicit cashflows and rampant divisive behavior. If left unchecked, these features of our political culture could drive Nigeria to the brink – with grave humanitarian consequences for the sub-region and beyond.

A November 2018 conference addressed the culture of transactional politics and its impact on participatory democracy and accountable governance in Nigeria. Strategies to reduce retail corruption, improve political participation and track divisive behavior around the 2019 elections were deployed.

Support for the conference was provided by TrustAfrica and the Ford Foundation.

Conference Video:

Download Report:

Memory and National Building: Biafra 50 Years After

Despite efforts at reconciliation, reconstruction and rehabilitation, the effects of the bitter civil war – fought over the attempted secession of Biafra in 1967 - still linger.

Memory and National Building: Biafra 50 Years After was the first national convening with participation of the federal government since the end of the war. The event revisited narratives of events and actions taken before, during and after the Civil War with a view to spurring conciliatory conversations and learning lessons that could be useful in addressing lingering grievances.

Support was provided by the Ford Foundation and OSIWA.

Download Report:


Elections are a critical pillar of democracy and good governance the world over. When free, fair and credible they confer legitimacy and acceptance. Reports from international and domestic election observers concluded that the 2019 elections fell below this threshold. The election was marred by violence, security lapses, results manipulation by compromised INEC officials and interference by partisan security operatives. In a significant number of locations guidelines for accreditation and voting were not followed.

Elections have frequently been a sour point of Nigeria’s democracy. Although the 2011 and 2015 elections showed strong improvements over 2007, most off-cycle elections held since 2015 featured reports of irregularities that undermined INEC’s credibility. Sadly, the conduct of the 2019 election demonstrated that Nigeria has taken a major step backward in strengthening participatory democracy.

Too many voters have developed a sense of fatalism that has led to extreme apathy. Vote buying has assumed an increasingly worrisome scale. Experts argue that there is a strong link between the growing incidence of poverty and vote buying in Nigeria as electoral choices are more likely to be influenced by the financial inducement of poor people.

New, strategic approaches are required to reform Nigeria’s political culture. Parties must improve their internal democracy. Political leaders must inspire faith by implementing the Electoral Act that governs the conduct of elections. INEC must reduce the risk of results manipulation during collation by transmitting and publishing vote totals directly from polling units. Collective action, driven by evidence based advocacy, is critical in order to redress Nigeria’s imperiled democracy.

Content Aggregation System for Elections (CASE 2019)

The Content Aggregation System for Elections is an open source, multi-stakeholder technology platform developed by the Yar’Adua Foundation to facilitate real-time reporting and incident escalation to INEC and security agencies. The platform is comprised of a mobile app and SMS codes for sending reports, social media aggregation software and a visualization platform for analysis.

The Office of the National Security Adviser commended the Yar’Adua Foundation for its significant contribution to the ONSA Crisis Centre during the 2019 elections.

Support for CASE 2019 was generously provided by the UK Department for International Development (DfID).

Download Report:

MyINEC Mobile App

An upgraded version of the MyINEC mobile app includes personalised content and features designed to appeal to young voters, improve responsiveness, service delivery and civic engagement.

Accreditation Portal

The Foundation developed a web-based platform for INEC that facilitated on-line registration and accreditation of observers for the 2019 election. Link:

Social Media Tracking Centre

The tracking centre facilitated management and escalation of reports from civil society and citizen observers deployed across the country using the CASE mobile app.

CASE 2015

One of the many highlights of the 2015 General Elections was the role that technology played in empowering Nigerian citizens and CSOs to organize, collaborate and mobilize. The Content Aggregation System for Elections (CASE2015), developed by the Yar’Adua Foundation, was an example of multi-stakeholder collaboration in sharing election observation information. The platform retrieved more than 2.6 million micro-reports from social media and received over 11,000 reports from registered observers in the field. These reports enabled volunteers to identify 1,542 critical incidents that were escalated to INEC and relevant security agencies in a timely manner.


CASE 2015 Report: Content Aggregation System for Elections 2015
CASE 2015: Pilot Test Report March 2014
Social Media Tracking Centre and the 2011 Elections
Promoting Two-Way Communication between INEC and its Stakeholders  2011
Electoral Reform: Building Confidence for the Future March 2005