Analysis of Election Monitoring in Nigeria: The Case of 2023 Election
The objectives of this research are:
- To identify the role monitoring teams played in the 2023 presidential elections in Nigeria.
- To identify the challenges faced by foreign election observers in carrying out their duties.
- To identify the effect of having monitoring teams on election grounds have on the conduct of elections.
Within the last decade, democracy can arguably be said to be the most sought after and yet the least understood system of government known to mankind. The collapse of the authoritarian regimes in Eastern Europe, the end of the cold war and an upsurge of natural agitations in many parts of the world seem to have opened the flood gates for new definition of the concept of democracy. (Tunde Babawale 2007:37) Schumpeter. J. (1943:15) defines it as an institutional agreement for arriving at political decisions in which individual acquires the power to decide by means of a competitive struggle for people’s vote.
Dahl, R (1956:22) advances the argument further to make it inclusive of high level of civil liberties participations, and political pluralism. To sum up, what characterizes democracy, it has also been defined as “the government of the people by the people and for the people” (Edson Howard, 1960:11). It is clear from all these definitions that democracy has certain empirical referents which may be identified as follows: meaningful competitions among individuals and organized groups, especially the political parties for all the elective positions of government power, at regular intervals and excluding the use of force, a high level of political participation in the selection of leaders and policies at least through regular and fair elections, and a level of civil and political liberties, freedom of expression freedom of the press, freedom to join organizations, sufficient to ensure the integrity of political competition and participation.
“Literacy, the concept means an identifiable phase in the transition from authoritarian rule to civil rule and by extension of democratic systems that are germane and fundamental to the establishment and enthronement of a stable, institutional and enduring democracy. Democratic consolidation therefore calls for the enthronement of democracy as a system of organizing both societies and government and creating concomitant institutions. Essentially, arriving at a consolidated democracy require nurturing democratic values, ethics, principles and institutions in a mature sense that prevents a revert to hitherto authoritarian regime.” (Diamond Larry, 1997:7). This is also about test on successful transfer of power and democratic survival within a period of time. Therefore, Nigeria as a nation cannot shy away from the tenets of democratic consolidation. The players and supporters must abide by the poll verdict.
Over the past decade, international monitoring and observation of election have increasingly become a necessity in the democratization processes in Nigeria and other developing countries. Whilst it can be argued that international monitoring exercise are not an entirely new development in Africa (Obi and Abutudu, 1999:21), it is fair to maintain, however, that electoral monitoring and observation have, in recent years becomes something of a “growth business” (Geisla, 1993:46-47) especially in African countries that are in the process of transforming their political systems from military or one party dictatorship to multiparty democracy. Beyond Africa, however, elections have also been monitored in Europe, South America and Asia, in developing and industrial societies, as well as open and closed economies (Stack, 1993:21-22). Indeed, a number of well-known organizations such as the United Nations, the European Union, the Commonwealth, the Organization of American states, the African Union and the Economic Community of West African States, as well as individual country such as United State of America, France and Britain have all been involved in this practice; as are various non-governmental organizations, notably among which are the Carter Center, the International Republican Institute and National Democratic Institute for International Affairs.
In many countries where attempts are being made to install democratic political systems, home-based or local monitoring organizations or groups are involved in monitoring. The activities of these local monitoring and observing organizations complement those of their foreign counterparts. For example, in Nigeria, which is the focus of this study, several election monitoring groups can be indentified that worked alongside their foreign counterparts during the 2003 presidential elections. Such group that easily come to mind include the Transition Monitoring Group (TMG), Freedom Organization of Nigeria (FON), Justice Development of Peace Committee (JSPS), Civil Society Organization (CSO), Nigeria Labor Congress (NLC), and the Civil Liberty Organization (CLO), amongst others. Invariably, many of these domestic monitors received training as well as financial support from donor nations in Europe and North America.
It is apposite at this juncture to look into, if only briefly, the phenomenon of election monitoring and observation in Africa, with a view to illuminating the background against which it emerged as well as the purpose it is programmed to achieve or accomplish. But, first, what is election monitoring?
According to Bard-Andreassan et al (1992:120): Election monitoring is a form of actionoriented and participatory research, which is currently of great importance in those Third World countries which are in the process of transition from one party dictatorship to multiparty democracy. The main purpose of the monitoring is to objectively collect evidence of the electoral process in order to make an assessment of whether the process was democratic. The research is action-oriented in that the result are not merely of academic interest, but are intended to influence the situation in encouraging politicians to act democratically in encouraging public institutions to allow free and fair debate, in enabling voters to know their democratic rights.
Central to election monitoring is the critical role of confirming or contesting the result of an election, as well as determining how “free and fair” when certain electoral criteria have been met. For example, there should be no electoral fraud; election must be accompanied by freedom of press, free association and assembly, as well as relative peace. Above all, the most important function fulfilled by election monitoring is, according to Stack (1993), to establish an atmosphere of confidence in the electoral process.
Essentially, election monitoring can be categorised into three broad types (Stack, 1993:24) the first is linked to the process of decolonization. In this context, the assistance of foreign governments or international body is enlisted to administer and monitor elections in a newly independent country. This was the case in Africa during the 1950s and 1960s when, before the OAU’s inception, several African countries were granted independence following UNsponsored referenda or elections. The practice continued even after the formation of the defunct O.A.U (Garder, 1993:2416). Indeed, Nigeria’s presidential elections which ushered in the first republic were duly observed, as were also the presidential elections that marked the second republic.
The second type of election monitoring, which is the norm in the advanced democracies of the world, is when a state-appointed electoral commission officially monitors elections. In this situation, the monitoring exercise can be limited to nothing more than monitoring the actual vote count on Election Day. The third type of election monitoring occurs when elections are monitored in tandem by international and local non-governmental organizations. Many African countries are familiar with the type of election monitoring. As Stack has noted, this type of election monitoring only takes place in societies that are reformed or revolutionizing themselves out of non-democratic political system.
The study on “Role of Monitoring teams in the consolidation of Democracy in Nigeria: A case of 2023 presidential election is an exploratory design study. It is also an action oriented project, and content analysis in character. The study is an academic intellectual exercise in the area of political science administration that requires careful study and proper documentations of issues that makes (or) mar democracy process in Nigeria. The survey on the conduct of 2023 presidential election cut across different geo-political culture in Nigeria. The paper is on need for Nigeria to take democratic elections serious, because without peaceful transition to democratic rule, Nigeria cannot achieve meaningful development. This make the study timely and prime importance.
Research Location and Coverage Area
The study took place in Nigeria between March– May 2023, the study cover Eighteen states out of Thirty Six state of Nigeria. (Pre-Election arrangement and Post Election Situation).
This paper covered the following eighteen states:
South West: Lagos and Oyo and the Ekiti State, South East: Anambra, Enugu and Ebonyi State, South-South: Akwa-Ibom, Bayelsa and Riverss State, North East: Adamawa, Gombe and Borno State, North Central: Benue, Niger and Plateau State, North West: Sokoto, Kano and Katstina State. (2000 people from each of the state chosen.
GENERAL DISCUSSION ON THE MONITORING TEAMS ACTION, ROLE AND ASSISTANCE IN THE NIGERIA 2023 PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS
Nigeria Election has come and gone but the role of the Monitoring teams in ensuring democratic consolidation in Nigeria will linger in the memory of Nigeria people and the African Union in particular because of the premier position which Nigeria occupy in the African Continent. The observer teams also have become credible pillar for the management of global elections and ensuring that states conform with the universal best practices. The global electoral principles have become a useful guidelines for performance judgment. Furthermore, understanding the internationalization of elections is now of research interest in democratization and democratic transitions since 1999 and academic discourse.
CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATION
The 2023 presidential elections has come and gone, the memory will chalked up linger on in mind of political parties, local and monitoring teams and particularly the Nigerian voter that made the election free and fair. This is not discounting the roles played by the Independent National Electoral Commission and International Monitoring Observers that came to observe the election and ascertain its conformity with international best practice and credibility. Their effort, action and roles are commendable. Their overseeing the election and the acceptance of the results without rancor and acrimony, has chalked up Nigeria’s stature in the African Continent.
The Monitoring teams role made Nigeria Government realize that the state cannot compromise with democracy while democracy and good governance are sine quanon for Nigeria’s growth and development. To a reasonable extent, the Nigeria 2023 presidential elections did conform to tenets of democracy such as ‘Transparency’, free conduct of elections, freedom of movement during the election, counting of votes and announcement of result, and choice of contesting the election result at the Elections Tribunal. The Monitoring teams role shows that they are partner in progress and their action and assistances are commendable in the history of democracy and election management in the continent.
On the whole, Independence National Electoral Commission (INEC) has done well, likewise, the national security operatives. Also, Nigerians that troop out to vote enmas and made change possible deserve commendation for the success of the 2023 Presidential elections. And, the monitoring teams for a job well done for taking their time, energy and courage to travel around the country and ensure that the election was actually free and fair in line with tenents of democracy. The Electoral Commission should be praised for new ideas introduced into the electoral process, especially the Smart Card Reader and the replacement of Temporary Voters Card with the Permanent Voters Card. This also added value to the electoral processes. The culture should be sustained in the 2027 Presidential election. Above all, kudos go to the former Vice President Atiku Abubarka for conceding defeat and congratulating the president elect, Asiwaju Tinubu. Finally, election shape the destiny of a nation and determine the way changes and progress flow, under the watch of international observer, it deserves to be taken serious. Therefore, Nigeria as a member of international Community cannot ignore the comments, observations and report that emanates from monitoring teams because they are umpire that gives verdict to the credence of democracy around the world.
This paper proffers some recommendation to stretching the practice of democracy and consolidation in Nigeria under three sub-heading namely: Political parties, State, INEC and Monitoring teams role.
- Political Parties Membership Enlightenment: The behaviour of political party’s members still leaves much to be desired, hooliganism, thuggery and destruction of public property still happened in 2023 presidential election. Therefore, political parties need to educate voters and parties supporters on how to behave and conduct themselves during the political campaign.
- State and federal government support: the state government need to work in tandem with local government areas to ensure that voters registration list is ready and submit the same to the state electoral office before the electoral commission deadline. This will minimize pressure on the INEC in preparing the master list for election.
- The Federal Government of Nigeria should also ensure that budget prepared by the electoral commission is approved and fund released to the organization six months before the elections commence.
INEC Action: The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) need to take cognizance of the constraints encountered in the conduct of 2023 presidential election and put in place measures to forestall the mistakes of the future presidential elections.
Registration of Voters: This should be a continuous process as people become eligible for universal adult suffrage.
Collection of PVC’s: More centres should be created in the states for easy collection of the permanent voters cards (PVCs). It should be every year and collection within two weeks.
Employment of Ad-hoc Staff for Election: There is need to employ more staff to cope with the General conduct of Election. The Electoral Commission should organize training for them at least six weeks before the election date. This would enhance their competence and performance during the election.
Readers Machine: The INEC office should ensure that it is tested before being dispatched to the polling stations.
Security of INEC Personnel and Election Materials: In the future elections, military Police should be engaged at the polling units and collation centres instead of Nigerian Police.
Collaboration with International Organization: To ensure credibility of national election in Nigeria, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) need to work with International Monitoring team and Implement their advices on genuine election in Nigeria.
Funding of Election: The national government should ensure that budget for the presidential election is approved and released in time for the electoral commission.
Electoral Reform Law: The national assembly needs to fortify the electoral commission by approving enabling bills that will make the organization truly independent and remove it from the control of the presidency. The Nigeria Electoral Law Reform Panel recommendations headed by Justice Muhammed Uwais should be looked into with a view put into use in the future election.
Advance Dialogue and Peace Pact: Democracy has now become a dominant theme in the international discourse while the role of the international observer is also a first to reckon with therefore the international monitoring team most encourage political gladiators to dialogue and sign a peace pact towards free and fair election.
The way forward: charting the way forward, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) need to take cognizance of the constructs encountered in the conduct of 2023 presidential election and put in place measures to forestall the mistakes of the future presidential elections.
Registration of Voters: This should be done one to two years ahead of the election.
Collection of PVCs: More centres should be created in the states for easy collection of the permanent voters cards (PVCs). It should be every year and collection within two weeks.
Voters Education: Sustainable, continuous civic and voters education in local languages in the rural areas is necessary and important.
Employment of Adhoc Staff for Election: There is need to employ more staff to cope with the General conduct of Election. The Electoral Commission should organize training for them at least six weeks before the election date. This would enhance their competence and performance during the election.
Card Reader Machine: The INEC office should ensure that it is tested okay before dispatch to the polling stations.
Security for INEC Personnel and Election Materials: In the future elections, military Police should be engaged at the polling units and collation centres instead of Nigeria Police.
Collaboration with International Organizations: To ensure credibility of national election in Nigeria, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) need to work with International Monitoring team and implement their genuine advices on election in Nigeria.
FUTURE RESEARCH STUDIES
Party Politics, Elections and Democratic consolidation has become and International issues and concern of the global village. Nigeria 2023 presidential elections has revealed that some gap still need to be filled in the field of African politics and democratic consolidation. The areas that require astute attention of political scientists in future are:
- Parochial culture towards politics and new participation by the middle class in Nigeria.
- The Electoral reform Acts to strengthen the independence of National Electoral Commission in Nigeria, and conduct of fraud free elections.
- The use of National Election to promote National Integration in Nigeria, and the Money Politics and God fathomism sub version of Democracy in African states.
Future research studies will go a long way in finding durable solutions to political crisis associated with Election and democratic consolidation in African states and Nigeria in particular. It will ensure credible election and promote national development.
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