In 2010, President Goodluck Jonathan appointed committed reformer Attahiru Jega to chair Nigeria’s electoral commission, building hope that the West African nation would finally break its chain of discredited elections. With under a year to prepare for the April 2011 elections, the commission turned to emerging technologies such as open-source software and social media to register 73 million voters from scratch and open a direct dialogue with the electorate. A small team of young Nigerian engineers guided by Nyimbi Odero pioneered these innovations, many of which contradicted the advice of elections experts. Despite some initial technical difficulties, Nigeria’s homegrown technology enabled the commission to prepare for elections goals on schedule and under budget. The credibility the commission earned helped spur unprecedented levels of voter participation. Ultimately, domestic and international observers validated the 2011 elections as the most free and fair in Nigeria’s history.
Gabriel Kuris drafted this case study on the basis of interviews conducted in Abuja and Lagos, Nigeria, in October 2011. Case published March 2012. For a broader analysis of Nigeria's 2011 elections, see "Toward a Second Independence: Repairing Nigeria's Electoral Commission, 2010-2011."
Associated Interview(s): Nyimbi Oderos, Dapo Olorunyomi