Political Science Project Topics

Election Rigging and Political Instability in Nigeria

Election Rigging and Political Instability in Nigeria

Election Rigging and Political Instability in Nigeria

Chapter One


  • To explore the extent to which election rigging has on the political stability in Nigeria.
  • To expose the mechanism of election rigging
  • To examine the economic, social and political effect, election rigging, has caused on the Nigeria populace




The flaws of electoral act in most countries lead to election rigging, which constitutes a serious threat to democratic values in any liberal democracy. These flaws are inherent in most African States’ Electoral Acts. The countries experiencing flaws of the Electoral Act are Kenya, Sierra-Leone, Nigeria, etc. These flaws affect Nigeria democracy. Nigeria’s democracy is the most populous democracy in Africa with population of about 150 million. Nigeria is so giant that people say that as Nigeria goes, so goes Africa. Therefore, much is expected from Nigeria. What this means is that the way she conducts her elections serves as an example to other African democracies. Nigeria gained independence from the British imperialist in 1960; was born into democracy at independence. The roots of democracy were yet to sprout when the civilian rule collapsed owing to a lot of factors, chief among which is the flawed election. There are various factors responsible for flawed election in Nigeria. Chief among the factors are incompetent of electoral commission which serves as an umpire in the electoral process, do-or-die syndrome of the political parties to capture political power by all means, widespread procedural irregularities, numerous incidence of violence, intimidation of the electorate, stuffing of the electoral box, poverty on the part of the electorate, etc. The outcomes of many elections have been so fiercely contested that the survival of the country and democracy has been jeopardized. This sad history of election fraud has serious implications for Nigeria’s political future because the phenomenon rather than declining, keeps growing and becoming more sophisticated with every succeeding elections. The principal forms of election fraud or irregularities were perfected in the elections of 1964, 1965, 1979, 1983, 1999, 2003 and 2007. Elaigwu (2007: 9) also looks at the trends of electoral process since 1999 when he posited that: The electoral process has been crises-ridden since 1999. It seems each successive election since then has been worse than earlier ones. The result is that governments emerge with a baggage of crises of legitimacy, which often complicates the dynamics of federalism. This was what happened after the 2003 and 2007 elections It is important to note at this juncture that democracy and elections are inextricably linked. The reason is that no election, no democracy because it is through elections that electorates exercise their popular sovereignty to give their consent to a particular political office holder to rule. Nigeria had problems associated with elections which made the Nigerian democracy a mirage among the comity of nations in the world. This, is fact, is the centre of the difficulties inherent in Nigeria’s democratic experiment today. Nigerians have often made the point that the process by which political office holders attain political power should be transparent. When a politician earns an executive office through the back door, through rigging of elections and through the employment of violence, he negates democracy and creates avoidable cracks in the entity. The pertinent questions in this work are: Is election rigging a new phenomenon in the Nigerian body politic? What are the lapses in the 2006 Electoral Act in Nigeria and what are the strategies to be made to correct such abnormalities? These are the questions this study intends to provide answers for. The task of this study is to look at the election rigging and the flaws of the electoral act in the Nigerian body politic with particular reference to the flaws of the 2006 Electoral Act. The paper is structured into five parts. Part one examines the introduction. Part two grapples with the conceptual clarification of election(s), part three looks at the conceptual framework of the study, part four examines the flaws of Nigeria’s Electoral Act while part six concludes and recommends for the study

Democratic governance appears to be in crisis if not in danger, as a result of many factors which may occur as a result of insecurity in the state, god-fatherism and political instability of a state trying to adopt or practice democracy as a result of their independence [1]. Democratic governance also appears to be full of manipulations that corrupts our political system in the country (Nigeria) and this could exist inform of thugry, snatching of ballot boxes etc [2]. All the beautiful attributes of what the electoral process should mean cannot be associated with Nigeria. Nigeria electoral history has not been a pleasant one. Nigeria has participated in many elections beginning with the colonial era when the concept of elections was first introduced. Elective positions have also increased tremendously and electoral referees have also changed from being members of the colonial service whose electoral duties were part time assignments to being members of an independent electoral commission on full time employment, since its attainment of independence in 1960, Nigeria has been bedeviled by political instability fueled largely by an electoral process in crisis and electoral malpractice also. The country and her leaders have refused to learn from history and avoid the pitfalls of the past mistakes in order to pave the pathway for a secured political future rather, they have continued to perpetuate the worst forms of political processes characterized by ugly incidents of political thugry and violence, electoral malpractices both at party level and general elections, unending law suits, crisis of legitimacy, instability and chaos. Over the period of Nigeria’s existence as independent state, all these negative attributes of her political processes have often compelled military adventurous to seize power with their civilian collaborators, without any fear of contradiction, the problems associated with the first post independence national election of 1964 and 1965 western region election culminated in January 15, 1966 coup


The concept of election is associated with so many meanings that it is hardly difficult to say its exact meaning. In the edition of the International Encyclopaedia of Social Science Vol. 5, Election is defined as one procedure and preferences of particular kind. The two features of this definition are procedure and preferences. By procedure, the concept it used to describe a special way of doing something. Preference connotes choice between alternatives. During elections the electorate is given the opportunity to choose between alternative programmes of contestants. Election can, also, be described as a procedure that allows members of an organization or community to choose representatives who will hold positions of authority within it. The most important elections select the leaders of local, state and national government. Elections also promote public accountability. “The threat of defeat at the polls exerts pressure on those in power to conduct themselves in a responsible manner and take account of popular interests and wishes when they make their decision.” (1993-1998 Microsoft Corporation) In the words of Dowse and Hughes (1983: 322): Election is a procedure recognized by the rule of an organization, be it a state, a club, a voluntary organization or whatever, where all, or some, of the members choose a smaller number of persons to hold an office, or offices, of authority within that organization. According to Omonijo et al (2007), election is the act of choosing public officers to fill vacant posts by vote, it is an act of choosing those that govern a state; it may be conducted periodically. Elections are central institution of democratic representative governments. The reason is that, in democracy, the authority of the government derives solely from the consent of the governed. The principal mechanism for translating that consent into governmental authority is the holding of free and fair elections.






This chapter deals with the method used in collecting data required in carrying out this research work it explains the procedures that were followed and the instrument used in collecting data.


Data were collected from two main sources namely:

  1. Primary source and
  2. 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 a study is a group of persons or aggregate items, things the researcher is interested in getting information for the study election rigging and political instability in Nigeria, the researchers randomly select 200 staff of independent national electoral commission 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.




It is important to ascertain that the objective of this study was to ascertain the consequences of election rigging and political instability 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 challenge of election rigging and political instability in Nigeria


Based on the facts on ground and from the recorded events, the cause of political crisis in Nigeria right from pro to post independence till date are not farfetched. In the first place, Nigerian political system has been surrounded with crisis, since our so called political leaders cannot handle the affairs of this country in legally constitutional way, they choose to jeopardize and intimidate the poor masses, thereby turning everything against the wish of the constitution.


This study examines the flaws in the electoral act of Nigeria. These flaws enable politicians to introduce irregularities into the electoral game. As Kurfi (2005:101) rightly observed, ‘rigging is almost synonymous with Nigerian elections.’ The objective of electoral fraud is to frustrate the democratic aspirations of citizens who have voted or would have voted into offices someone other than the purported victor. The study showed that the flaws in the Nigerian act constitute post election tension and if these problematic clauses are not amended, the electoral process in Nigeria will be mirage. Despite these flaws inherent in Nigerian electoral code, it is important to note that there are opportunities to institutionalize a viable and efficient electoral act. The Federal Government of Nigeria should amend the controversial clauses in the Nigerian Electoral Act. These problematic clauses led Nigerians home and abroad to call for electoral reforms. By electoral reform projects seek to change the way that public desires are reflected in elections. They include measures to reform parties, redefine citizens eligibility to vote, alter electoral constituencies and their borders, design new ballots, counting procedures or equipment, tighten scruiteering (by parties or other observers), ensure safety of citizens voting, limit the influence of bribes and coercion, and often to alter the rules by which the legislature and executive organize themselves given the ballots, e.g. runoff voting, referendum, etc. Right from first republic to the third republic, it can be adduced that military regime it the outcome of the all electoral rigging and violence. Therefore, if electoral reform is not implemented by the Nigeria government, the military might find an excuse of intruding into the Nigeria’s political space. In addition, electoral litigation and adjudication must be taken care of. According to the Chairman of the Review Committee and Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, he posited that “protracted electoral cases in our courts/election tribunals which extend deep into the term of office of elected officers, is a serious embarrassment to our electoral process.”(Ojeifo, 2010). Also, Awopeju (2009) is of the opinion that the 2006 post-elections activities were so bad to the extent that activities were characterized by contending results of the elections at the Election Tribunals in all the 36 states of the federation, including the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja. Most of the cases brought to the Tribunal are yet to be determined. There should be a time available to the political parties and the aggrieve contestants to challenge the winner of an election before the handing over date. This will reduce incessant conduct of elections in various states of the federation. Also, it is important to note that amending the 2006 Electoral Act is one thing; adherence to the laws is another thing. National Publicity Secretary of the newly formed Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), Alhaji Lai Mohammed, stressed that: Nation’s need was actually the political will to deal with electoral offenders in the interest of all and sundry. We have heard that in the past. But will political will to persecute them be there? It is one thing to make laws; it is another thing to ensure compliance (Nigerian Compass, Thursday, September, 2, 2010). Based on the above assertion, the Federal Government of Nigeria has signed the amended Act of the 2006 passed by the National Assembly into law. In other words, there is 2010 Electoral Act in Nigeria. Political parties must strictly observe the implementation of the 2010 Electoral Act in Nigeria. The Nigerian political parties and the other democratic forces need to organize and educate themselves on the adherence of the amended electoral act. In particular, political leaders from all political parties should affirm their commitment to basic principles for free, fair and credible election in 2011. Contestants and major participants in elections must be made to abide by common codes of conduct.


: It is easier to point at a problem and suggest solutions to it but it is not easy to apply those solution to the eradication of such problem in many candid opinion, every problem has a solution, that this or that problem defines all solution is not true when seriousness is attached to it. To tame political violence and electoral malpractices in our fledging democracy lies on independent national electoral commission (INEC) which will play their own primary role in making sure that election conducted in this country should be conducted in peace and harmony by ensuring that all the material needed during the process of election are been distributed to their various constituencies, coming on the side of the side of the constitution. Another instance in vaulting ambition of some politicians to acquire political power which they believe is a gateway to economic power for them, to obtain it especially during election, they perform anything imaginable and height of it is assassination, they should understand what the great book, the Bible tells in Timothy 6-10 that the love of money is the root of all evil and in what shall we benefit when we gain the whole world and loss our souls, for good name is better than money, so there mind set should be re-oriented. Furthermore, political crisis and electoral malpractice can be curbed only when the rules guiding elections is obeyed, when those people contesting for a particular position bears in mind that no comprise in the power, then each contestant will see his opponent as a friend and brother knowing fully well that every competition involves two or more parties must be won by one person, if this attitude is imbibed, politics will generate interest and conducive atmosphere for any nation. Government should encourage political parties with national spread and discourage the formation of tribal parties where the winner takes it all but looks for peace. To use the power of words to bond together and form a strategic alliance for social changes this if its done will reduce drastically political crisis and ensure stability.


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  • Aluko, Y. A. (2009). “Corruption in Nigeria: Concept and Dimension” in Enweremandu, D. U. & Okafor, E. E. (eds) Anti-corruption Reforms in Nigeria Since 1999: Issues, Challenges and the Way Forward, Ibadan: IFRA
  • Awopeju, A. (2009). “The 2007 General Elections and the Challenges of Electoral Reforms in Nigeria”, in International Journal of Social and Management Sciences, Vol. 1 No 1. Pp 21-34
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  • Elaigwu, J.I. (2007). Nigeria: The Current State of the Federation: Some Basic Challenges, Paper presented at International Conference on Federalism in Honour of Professor Ronald Watts, Organized by the Institute of Intergovernmental Relations, Queens University, Kingston, Canada, October 18-21, 2007.


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