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DEMOCRACY AND ELECTORAL FRAUD IN NIGERIA
1.1 Background of the study
Fourth Republic has elevated corruption, impunity and meddlesomeness to political creeds that have robbed governance the much needed responsive and caring human face. This is double jeopardy: bad politics and poor economic
management characterised by collapsing institutions, disoriented political elites and a abused, violated, disillusioned and disenfranchised populace, has led to governance that has failed to deliver the much promised and political
dividends of democracy (The Nation 2009: 15).
The project, therefore, in its attempt to explain this ugly phenomenon of failed, uncaring and unresponsive governance, will link it up to the perennial problem of the nation’s inability and even unwillingness on the part of the political
class to put in place a credible, lawful and democratic electoral process. Thus, the main objective of this research endeavour is to establish a nexus between poor governance and inability and unwillingness of the managers of the Nigerian polity to evolve a democratic electoral regime. The crux of the argument is that
the failure of governance to meet fundamental needs and aspirations of majority of Nigerians is largely a product of the crisis of electoral administration
in Nigeria. Basically, these two issues have come to dominate the discourse on
the travails of democracy in contemporary Nigeria.
Election is the most foundational element of modern day representative democracy. In fact, according to Alapiki (2004: 130), election is:
…the barometer to measure the political maturity, health, legitimacy and stability of a democratic governance. It is generally held to be the single most important indicator of the presence or absence of democratic governance.
Thus, how a state arranges and conducts its elections tells a lot about the level of political development of that particular state (Paki and Inokoba 2006: 181). What is an election? In its most inclusive form, election is defined as: a form of procedure, recognised by the rulesof an organisation, whereby all or some of the
members of the organisation choose a smaller member of persons or one person to hold office or authority in the organisation (International Encyclopaedia of Social Science 1972: 1). In a rather restricted sense, Okolie (2005:
436) defines election as, “the process of selecting the officers or representatives of an organization or group by vote of its qualified members”. And as a political phenomenon, elections are institutionalised procedures for choosing
political office holders by the electorate of a country. In other words, it is a means through which the electorate choose their representatives into the different organs (positions) of the government (Paki and Inokoba 2006: 181).
However, a more encompassing definition wasposited by Bain (1964: 162). He conceives election as: …the formal process by which the electorateselects officials and determines the issuessubmitted to it. It is therefore a procedure forchoosing officials or making binding decisionsconcerning policy by the vote of those formallyqualified to participate.
The above position is also in line with the definition offered by the Encyclopaedia Americana (Vol. 10, 1996), which conceives election as “a procedure for choosing concerning policy by the vote of those formally qualified to participate”.
In a nutshell, from the foregoing, election is a formal procedure recognised by law as well as a decision taken by the electorate to decide those who occupy public offices and as well as policy direction of a policy. It is in line with this position that conceived election as a social contract between the people and their governors. As such he sees it as “the process by which a person is linked to an office with due provision for the participation of the people meant to come under the officer’s authority”. This perception of election as a framework for forming a government based on popular consent is what makes the product of transparent and credible elections, a responsible, responsive and accountable government.
1.2 Statement of the problem
Conducting free and fair election has been a weighty albatross in Nigeria’s repeated attempts
at sustained democratic governance is a fact widely acknowledged. According to the International
Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA) that the electoral process in the country faces many administrative, attitudinal and political problems that have consistently challenge meaningful, open and democratic elections in Nigeria (Nwanuforo 2009).
From the fallout of previous electoral exercises, elections in Nigeria are either undemocratically
guided or organised to fail or the process and the project privatised by sections of
the political class. Since the colonial period, Nigeria has organised about 19 elections. Apart from the
inconclusive June 12 elections of 1993, theyNwere all congenitally marred by electoral fraud .
These elections were characterised by serious and blatant cases of electoral fraud such as
stuffing of ballot boxes, over bloated voting registers, special treatment of voters and election
officials, disappearance or destruction of ballot boxes, distortion of results, grand standing
of political sponsors (or god-fathers), intimidation of voters and political opponents by law
enforcement agents and thugs as well as election related violence, arson and killings.
And examining the electoral history of Nigeria, there is a general consensus that the
integrity of election has been on the decline since 1959 with the 2007 general elections
widely assessed by both local and international observers as the worse in the country’s history.
Commenting on this, DrChukwuemekaEzeife, former governor of Anambra State opined that:
…democracy is associated with elections.
How have the elections gone since 1999 till date? The 1999 elections were disputed but it
was vastly better than the 2003 elections. People shouted foul about the 2003 election
but that was infinitely better than the nonelection of 2007. Each election has been worse,
more flawed than the one before it. We cannot be getting a democracy by running further away
from it (cited by Adeyemo 2009: 22).
The United States based Human Rights Watch also agrees with the above view by stating
in its world survey that the greatest form of human rights abuse going on in Nigeria is that
Nigerian have been denied the right to choose their leaders through a free-and-fair election.
Rather most of the so-called political leaders are selected and imposed on the people; from the local government to the national level, by Political god-fathers with the consequence that
those in power are not considered true representatives of their people (Agbo 2009: 54).
The 2007 general election was designed from the onset to be flawed. In fact, it was built on
corruption, pervasion, exclusionary politics, blackmail, intimidation and coercion. Indeed,
several months before the April 14 polls, former President OlusegunObasanjo had declared that
winning the elections was a do-or-die affair. And it turned out to be so.
1.3 Objectives of the study
1. To understand the history of electoral process in Nigeria
2. To understand the relevance of electoral process in democratic consolidation
3. To know the impact of electoral fraud on democratic consolidation
1.4 Research Questions
1. What is the history of electoral process in Nigeria?
2. What is the relevance of electoral process in democratic consolidation
3. What is the impact of electoral fraud on democratic consolidation
1.5 Research Hypothesis
H0: There is no relevance of electoral process in democratic consolidation
H1: Electoral process is relevant in democratic consolidation
H0: There is a significant impact of electoral fraud on democratic consolidation
H1: There is no significant impact of electoral fraud on democratic consolidation
1.6 Limitations of the study
There was limited time and finance during the course of the research
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