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An Assessment of Independent National Electoral Commission INEC and the Management of the 2015 Election in Nigeria

An Assessment of Independent National Electoral Commission INEC and the Management of the 2015 Election in Nigeria

An Assessment of Independent National Electoral Commission INEC and the Management of the 2015 Election in Nigeria



The following are the objectives of this study:

  1. To examine the performance of INEC in the management and conduct of 2015 general elections in Nigeria.
  2. To examine the level of success recorded by the INEC in the management of 2015 general elections in Nigeria
  3. To determine the problems associated with the conduct and management of 2015 general elections in Nigeria.




Elections are for two main purposes in a democratic state. First it gives the voters the freedom to choose candidates to manage their affairs and secondly, it gives the candidates the opportunity to canvass for the votes of the electorate in a free and fair duel. “Elections provide essential validation for democracy by increasing the confidence of individual citizens in their ability to meaningfully participate in public life.”1. However when the citizen electorate faces repeated episodes of election rigging, political violence and disorderly administration, their fundamental trust in the institutions and processes of electoral rule may aptly dissipate and the benefits of election may turn to deficits.2 To avoid this ugly scenario the impartiality and fairness of the machinery and institutional processes put in place to regulate and conduct this contest becomes not only imperative but essential for a legitimate democratic rule. Unfortunately, elections in Nigeria have been replete with the twin malady of malpractices and violence that have severally threatened and many times successfully truncated democratic rule. Since the nascent democratic rule in Nigeria, the various succeeding elections of 2003 and 2007 were embroiled in controversy, rejection and legitimacy crisis given the massive fraud and violence that attended them. Although the blame for the electoral malfeasances witnessed in these two elections may not be completely laid on the shoulders of the electoral management body INEC, nevertheless INEC through acts of omission and commission contributed largely to the wide scale malpractices that characterized the 2003 and 2007 elections and the crisis of confidence they generated among the electorate as to the suitability of electoral democracy as a mechanism of choosing leaders and the ability/ impartiality of the electoral body to conduct a free and fair contest. Consequently, the 2011 election started on a pessimistic note as many Nigerians doubted the sincerity of INEC to conduct a credible election not minding the President’s repeated promise to conduct a free and fair contest and the appointment of Prof Attahiru Jega, a man known in various circles for his honesty and integrity as the new INEC chairman. Despite the high rating received by Prof Jega from Civil Society organizations and prominent Nigerians, many members of the public remained apprehensive that like most Nigerians the integrity of the new INEC boss will be jeopardized or ruined once in office as he may not be able to resist the pressures that come from the political class. Thus pessimism greeted the initial policy statements by the INEC boss that he will conduct a credible election in 2011. When he reported that INEC shall need about N85 billion to run a credible election, many Nigerians saw this as another opportunity to waste public funds. Nevertheless this request got the approval of the President and the National Assembly. This pessimism was not helped by the initial hiccups experienced during the voter registration exercise in which many of the registration machines fail to accept finger prints of prospective voters and thereby slowed the process and inculcated the fear that many prospective voters may not be able to get registered. INEC eventually rose to the occasion and improved the process that enabled many Nigerians of voting age to eventually get registered for the election Nigeria’s changed in political history is bedeviled with the gory tales of electoral malpractices which have significantly impacted negatively on the nation’s polity. Effective management of the electoral process has therefore, become an imperative political demand so as to ensure the sanctity, transparency and credibility of election results in the nation’s democratic setting (Akinboye, 2005). The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), is the institutionalized governmental body established, through the instrumentality of law, to manage the nation’s electoral process.




Research design

The researcher used descriptive research survey design in building up this project work the choice of this research design was considered appropriate because of its advantages of identifying attributes of a large population from a group of individuals. The design was suitable for the study as the study sought to examine the effect of inconclusive election on the credibility of electoral process in Nigeria.

Sources of data collection

Data were collected from two main sources namely:

(i)Primary source and

(ii)Secondary source

Primary source:

These are  materials of statistical investigation which were collected by the research for a particular purpose. They can be obtained through a survey, observation questionnaire or as experiment, the researcher has adopted the questionnaire method for this study.

Secondary source:

These are data from textbook Journal handset etc. they arise as byproducts of the same other purposes. Example administration, various other unpublished works and write ups were also used.

Population of the study

Population of a study is a group of persons or aggregate items, things the researcher is interested in getting information on the study the effect of inconclusive election on the credibility of electoral process in Nigeria. 200 staff of independent national electoral commission (INEC) was selected randomly by the researcher as the population of the study.




Efforts will be made at this stage to present, analyze and interpret the data collected during the field survey.  This presentation will be based on the responses from the completed questionnaires. The result of this exercise will be summarized in tabular forms for easy references and analysis. It will also show answers to questions relating to the research questions for this research study. The researcher employed simple percentage in the analysis.


The data collected from the respondents were analyzed in tabular form with simple percentage for easy understanding.

A total of 133(one hundred and thirty three) questionnaires were distributed and 133 questionnaires were returned.




It is important to ascertain that the objective of this study was to assess the independent national electoral commission INEC and the management of the 2015 election in Nigeria

In the preceding chapter, the relevant data collected for this study were presented, critically analyzed and appropriate interpretation given. In this chapter, certain recommendations made which in the opinion of the researcher will be of benefits in addressing the challenges encountered by INEC in the conduct and management of the 2015 general election.


We need to collectively renew our commitment to democracy and seek to place our country on an irreversible path of democratic governance. The INEC need to be strengthened to be truly independent to discharge its duties impartially. Democracy as Amartya (1999), argued guarantees freedom and development and is indeed, the sure antidote to war and hunger. The plausibility of democracy and its correlation with qualitative human development is evidenced in the World Bank (1989) study which discovered that out of 24 richest countries in the world, only 3 of them were not democratic and out of 42 of the poorest world countries, only 2 of them had never experienced democracy. Hence, the visible correlation between democracy, wealth creation and security has made democracy attractive to the world (Kukah, 2015). For instance, in 1973, only 32 per cent of the world’s population lived in free, democratic societies. Between 1990 and 1994, the member soared between 38 and 58 per cent; today, the statistics hover between 60 and 70 per cent consequent of China population. The essence of democracy is competition, inclusiveness and civil liberties. Democracy will die if it fails to serve as a platform for creating opportunities, managing diversities and encouraging the attainment of the common good. Over the years, Nigeria has been apparently defined in terms of Christianity, Islam, Northerners, minorities et.c, but General Buhari’s victory at the 2015 general elections has shown clearly that coalition and consensus building is imperative to election success and that no group can achieve it all alone.


Elections remain the only mechanism of choosing political officers in a democratic setting and as such its conduct remains crucial for the sustainability of democracy. A number of factors have combined to derail the electoral process in the past and ipso facto the democratic project, but what has always put the nails on the coffin of democratic transition in Nigeria is the massive fraud that characterize the electoral process. This trend was minimal in the 2011 and 2015 elections. It is a trend largely attributed to the rentier character of the Nigerian state which enables those with access state power to feed off the state without getting involved in any productive venture. The consequence has been the primacy of politics and associated struggle for state power sought and fought for in a Hobbesian manner. What matters then in such struggle is the calculus of force; every act is legitimated provided it affords opportunity to grab state power and what it affords. The implication is that politics becomes a zero sum game with attendant negative impact on the building of strong state institutions rising above parochial and selfish interests and capable of mediating conflicts among conflicting interests. Thus state power in Nigeria has become a business venture and continues to be more rewarding than being in private business. This poses serious challenge to the democratization process and associated electoral processes that go with it. It is for this reason that the former INEC Chairman Prof Maurice Iwu asserts that any reform of the electoral process shall not be successful unless there is corresponding reform or change of the attitude by the political class. He argues that the current ‘rampaging primitive accumulation’ and the ‘unrestrained deployment of such resources’ for the pursuit of state power negates the idea of electoral reform.105 In addition, the skewed reward system that enable political office holders earn what is currently known in Nigeria today as ‘jumbo pay’, has contributed in no small way to the incidences of electoral malpractices and violence.


The study recommend that INEC as an institution that conduct election in Nigeria should be holistically independent (in the appointment of the chairman and the finance of the body should be within the confides of the consolidated account of the federation which will ensure sincerity of purpose concerning free and fair elections in the country); INEC should work with the National Assembly and other stakeholders towards reviewing the relevant sections of the constitution and the Electoral Act to address all gaps and problems in the legal framework of electoral governance in the country. Such review should be concluded before the end of 2014. This is to ensure that the legal framework guiding subsequent elections is concluded in order to facilitate better understanding of the electoral process and enhanced electoral administration; INEC should be restructured in relation to its recruitment and staffing with emphasis placed on the definition job roles recruitments and the matching of such roles with relevant skill. Such restructuring should address the issue of staff redundancy and underutilization of personnel. Also, there should be definition of the duties and responsibilities of INEC department with regard to the discharge of the mandate of the commission; and electoral crime commission should be established to serve as a watchdog of the electoral commission.


  • Peter Lewis, “Troubled Election Outcomes a s a Threat to Democracy: A Global Perspective in Report of Conference on Electoral Reform: Building Confidence for Our Future.” (Nigeria,American University Centre for Democracy &Election Management,2005), 15, ( accessed August 9 2007)
  • Leone, Usigbe “Jonathan Signs Electoral Act, Releases N89.5bn To INEC” (accessed Sept 30, 2011)
  •  Okechukwu,Ibeanu. “Elections and the Paroxysmal Future of Democracy in Nigeria” in Elections and the Future of Democracy in Nigeria ed. Attahiru Jega and Okechukwu Ibeanu (Nigeria, Nigerian Political Science Association (NPSA) 2007), p.7
  •  Claude Ake “Is Africa Democratising” Cass Monograph No 5 (Nigeria, Centre for Advanced Social Science 1996)
  •  Hussein Mahdavy, . “The Patterns and Problems of Economic Development in Rentier States: the Case of Iran” in M. Cook (ed.)Studies in the Economic History of the Middle East. (Oxford,Oxford University Press 1970)pp 428-467
  •  Hazim Beblawi and Giacomo Luciani 1987 and 1990 were cited in Yates. The Rentier State In Africa: Oil Rent Dependency and Neocolonialism in The Republic of Gabon Hazim .(Trenton,NJ. Africa World Press 1996)