THE ELECTORAL PROCESS AND DEMOCRATIC DEVELOPMENT IN NIGERIA: A CASE STUDY OF INEC
1.3 OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
The following are the objectives of this study:
- To examine the relationship between electoral process and democratic development in Nigeria.
- To examine the factors that promotes democratic development in an electoral process.
- To determine the electoral processes and the level of democratic development in Nigeria.
- To determine the role of INEC in promoting electoral processes in Nigeria.
- To recommend ways of improving electoral process and democratic development in Nigeria.
REVIEW OF RELATED LITERATURE
Elections in Nigeria continue to elicit more than casual interest by Nigerian scholars due to the fact that despite the appreciation that only credible election can consolidate and sustain the country’s nascent democracy, over the years, Nigeria continues to witness with growing disappointments and apprehension inability to conduct peaceful, free and fair, open elections whose results are widely accepted and respected across the country (Igbuzor, 2010; Osumah & Aghemelo, 2010, Ekweremadu, 2011). All the elections that have ever been conducted in Nigeria since independence have generated increasingly bitter controversies and grievances on a national scale because of the twin problems of mass violence and fraud that have become central elements of the history of elections and of the electoral process in the country (Gberie, 2011). Despite the marked improvement in the conduct of the 2011 elections, the process was not free from malpractices and violence (Bekoe, 2011; Gberie, 2011; National Democratic Institute, 2012). Thus over the years, electoral processes in the history of Nigeria’s democratic governance have continued to be marred by extraordinary displays of rigging, dodgy, “do or die” affair, ballot snatching at gun points, violence and acrimony, thuggery, boycotts, threats and criminal manipulations of voters’ list, brazen falsification of election results, the use of security agencies against political opponents and the intimidation of voters (Rawlence and Albin-Lackey, 2007; Nnadozie, 2007; Adigbuo, 2008, Onike, 2010 Omotola, 2010, Bekoe, 2011). In fact elections remain one of the leading notable sources of conflict which often result to confrontations that continue to threaten the political stability and peace of the nation (Gueye & Hounkpe, 2010; Idowu, 2010).
Scholars have attributed this problem of election credibility in Nigeria to the weak institutionalization of the agencies of electoral administration, particularly the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the political parties and security agencies in the country arguing that elections can only engender the consolidation of democracy in Nigeria if the electoral processes are reformed in ways that fundamentally address the autonomy and capability of INEC to discharge its responsibilities effectively (Obi, 2008) and the security agencies high degree of neutrality, alertness, and commitment to maintaining law and order in the electoral process (Adigbuo, 2008; Omotola, 2010; Idowu, 2010). Observations reveal that the mode of involving Security Forces and how they carry out their duties while participating in the electoral process in Nigeria are part of the sources of violence and insecurity during elections (Gueye & Hounkpe, 2010). Unfortunately, there is however no informed emphasis on the central role played by the security agency during elections in Nigeria (Idowu, 2010). Existing literature tends to be based on the reports of election monitoring and not on analytical studies (Kohnert, 2004; Obi, 2008). Few of the existing analyses on the subject deal essentially with the mutually reinforcing questions of political violence and electoral fraud and only touch upon the security agencies tangentially. Outside the developed democracies, and recently from the Latin American and post-communist European experiences, very little is known about the role of security agencies in achieving credible election.
This knowledge gap is most acute in Nigeria and Africa in general. Against this backdrop, this essay seeks to empirically investigate the relationships between the role of the security agencies and the quest for credible elections in Nigeria. The questions that this study seeks to answer therefore include the following; what has been the role of the security agencies in the electoral politics Nigeria’s Fourth Republic? How have they been carrying out their functions of ensuring security of voters, candidates and election materials during elections and how can they be positioned for electoral security needed for the desired credible elections in Nigeria’s democratic government?
2.2 Clarification of key concepts
Democracy: Although many definitions have been given but there is no agreement on definition. According to Schumpeter (1947), democracy means only that the people have the opportunity of accepting or refusing the men who are to govern them. By this, democracy implies conducting elections and choosing leaders that will represent the majority. Rousseau and Rivero (2003) see democracy as the power of the people as it manifest in ways of thinking, behaving, and organizing that enhance participation in and influence over the decisions affecting their everyday lives.
This kind of process can come through, public debate, election and representation-building of consensus and formidable decision-making. Precisely, democracy is seen as a political system that is characterized of periodic and free elections in which politicians arranged into political parties that engage themselves in a competitive poll to ensure a standing government, where the political right will enable all adult citizens (18 years and above as it applied in Nigeria) to vote and be voted for. Furthermore, Huntington (1991) sees democracy as a political system which is considered democratic because the most popular candidates are chosen through fair, honest, and periodic elections in which candidates freely compete for votes and in which virtually all the adult population are qualified to vote. This promotes political participation of all adult members. The full participation of the people during electioneering gives the new government a legitimate foundation to govern. Any government against this background will not enjoy legitimacy which gives every government a political support from the people because it is deemed rightful since the support emanates from the people. However, if democracy is all about to choose who should govern the people, then election is one paramount way to select.
Election rigging: Election rigging according to Nwabueze (2003) refers to electoral manipulations which are palpable illegalities committed with a corrupt, fraudulent or sinister motive to influence an election in favour of a candidate (s) by way such as illegal voting , bribery, treating and undue influence, intimidation and other form of force exerted on the electorates, falsification of results, fraudulent announcement of a losing candidate as the winner (without altering the recorded results). Election rigging was perfected in the elections conducted in 1964, 1965, 1979, 1983, 1999, 2003 and 2007. Election rigging connotes any form of undue authority or power that influence and manipulate election result in a dubious way to protect a particular interest against the interest of the generality of the masses. When the interest of the people are articulated in a free and fair election, the government in power tend to enjoy the sovereign legitimacy of the people but election rigging can thwart the interest of the people hence the dubious imposition of an unpopular candidate. The sad end is governments’ lack of people’s support which is one of the basic principles of democracy.
Election: This facilitates and shapes democracy. Democracy is regarded as the best form of government because its ideology promotes peoples’ will. The people have political right to decide who should govern them in a free and fair conduct called ‘election’. Therefore, elections constitute an essential principle in liberal democracy. Election in a democracy is very important because it is through which that the expression of the people are shown via legitimacy and leadership succession.
This chapter describes methods and procedures used in conducting this research work. The description of the procedure is done under the following headings:
- Research design,
- Area of study
- Population of the study
- Sample and sampling procedure
- Procedure for data collection
- Procedure for data analysis
3.2 Research Design
The surveys research method was used for this study. This was considered appropriate because survey design generally can be used to effectively investigate problems in realistic settings. The survey technique will also allow the researcher to examine several variables and use multi-variate statistics to analyze data.
3.3 Area of the Study
The study was conducted in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Abuja. The place of study is the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
3.4 Population of the Study
The population consists of the staff of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). These population includes top management staffs, middle and low workers.
3.5 Sample Size and Sampling Techniques
Out of the population, 50 persons were selected using the simple random sampling (srs) technique. This was as a result of time and financial constraints.
3.6 Research Instrument
The major instrument used for this study is the questionnaire. The questionnaire was structured in a five-like scale measuring attitude of Strongly Agreed, Agreed, Undecided, Disagree and Strongly Disagreed.
3.7 Validity of the Instrument
In order to obtain the validity of the instrument, the supervisor of this research was requested to judge the appropriateness, comprehensiveness and clarity of items in the questionnaire.
3.8 Reliability of the Instrument
A pilot study was conducted on ten staff of the school to pre-test the efficacy of the questionnaire. The feedback received was used in the final draft which enhances it reliability.
DATA PRESENTATION, ANALYSIS AND INTERPRETATION
This chapter is devoted to the presentation, analysis and interpretation of the data gathered in the course of this study. The data are based on the number of copies of the questionnaire completed and returned by the respondents. The data are presented in tables and the analysis is done using t-Test. The chi-square test was used in the validation of the hypothesis.
4.1 Data Presentation and Analysis
The data presented below were gathered during field work:
Bio data of respondents
SUMMARY, CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATION
So far this study we assessed the electoral process and democratic development in Nigeria. Also, relevant literatures were reviewed, the methods used for data collection and how the data collected analysis and presented were all discussed in the previous chapters of the project. This chapter therefore, is exclusively meant for summary limitation of study conclusion and making reasonable recommendation pertaining to the subject matter of the research work.
This study was undertaken to assess the electoral process and democratic development in Nigeria. The study opened with chapter one where the statement of the problem was clearly defined. The study objectives and research hypotheses were defined and formulated respectively. The study reviewed related and relevant literatures. The chapter two gave the conceptual framework, empirical and theoretical studies. The third chapter described the methodology employed by the researcher in collecting both the primary and the secondary data. The research method employed here is the descriptive survey method. The study analyzed and presented the data collected in tables and tested the hypotheses using the chi-square statistical tool. While the fifth chapter gives the study summary and conclusion.
5.2 Conclusion and Recommendations
The earlier analysis suggests that the prospects of democratization in Nigeria through effective election administration remains a big challenge. Democratization through election administration depends largely on the institutional foundations and capacity of the electoral institution, specifically the INEC. A professional, impartial and independent INEC would offer a better prospect for effective election administration in Nigeria. INEC enjoys limited legitimacy, acceptance and respect among Nigerian voters. Only an independent and impartial electoral commission can conduct credible, free and fair elections accepted by majority of Nigerians, including the opposition parties. The President’s overbearing control of INEC by way of appointing its officials, grossly erode its independence and impartiality. This makes it impossible for INEC to provide level playing ground to all political competitors, actors and participants.
The high level of political instability in the country since independence in 1960 has effectively contributed to weak institutionalization of INEC. As a result of frequent changes of governments, electoral commissions in the country has been renamed six times between 1959 and 1998. The main considerations in these renaming exercises have been political, rather than institutional capacity, independence, impartiality, administrative effectiveness and efficiency.
There is an urgent need to reform electoral processes including election institutions. INEC represents the most important institutional foundations of any successful electoral processes in Nigeria. INEC should be detached completely from the presidency and make entirely independent. The funding of INEC should be charged to the consolidated account, while the appointment of its chairman and commissioners should be removed from presidency to the National Assembly (Senate and House of Representatives). INEC should incorporate media, civil society organisations and political parties as well as National Orientation Agency (NOA) in its political campaigns and enlightenments as they are crucial to the success of election administration. This will help in sensitization, education and mobilization of the citizens against the undemocratic tendencies of political competitors or actors in the society.
The emerging scenarios suggest that electoral laws should be further strengthened to encourage stiff punishment for electoral offenders as well as beneficiaries of fraudulent elections. The National Assembly should enact law establishing Electoral Offences Tribunal (EOT) to prosecute electoral offenders, instead of wasting time at the conventional courts. However, the trend towards challenging electoral fraud in the courts and the judicial decisions, signal a strengthening of democratic principles and gives some hopes of democratization.
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The Electoral Process and Democratic Development in Nigeria (a Case Study of Inec)