An Appraisal Of The Role Of INEC In The Electoral Process

Project and Seminar Material for Political Science

An Appraisal Of The Role Of INEC In The Electoral Process


The end of the cold war in 1990s necessitated nations which were hitherto autocratic to adopt liberal democracy. Since then democracy has continued to gain ground. Democracy as the game in town cannot be without election. Therefore, as democracy progressed election also progressed. In Nigeria, democracy has been sustained since the return to democracy in 1999. Although, there cannot be a democracy without election yet effective election cannot be without a coordinated Election Management Body (EMB). Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) since 1999 has played a prominent role at ensuring the effective administration of elections in Nigeria. Sixteen years into the fourth republic, INEC has conducted five successful elections. In fact, the 2015 general elections have been adjudged by international observers as the best election so far in Africa. This is because of the marshaling of new technology and innovations put in place by INEC to improve the electioneering process in Nigeria. This paper explored the 2015 general elections and the role of INEC in its successful outcome. The paper contends that with effective management and further innovations, INEC will become one of the EMBs to be reckoned with not only Africa but globally

Chapter One


1.1 Background of the Study

Since the return to democratic dispensation in 1999, Nigeria and Nigerians have been yearning for democratic consolidation. Although she has successfully transited from Military despotism to democracy and from one democratic dispensation to another at least five times- 1999-2003, 2003-007, 2007-2011 and 2011-2015 yet the country still yearns for democratic consolidation. Having repeated elections does not imply that democracy has been consolidated as there are varieties of democracy. It is against this understanding that Huntington (1998) argued that democracy could be said to have been consolidated when a group that wins power at the period of transition loses a subsequent election and to turns over to another election winner and the same reoccurs at another time too. Although, the idea of “two turnover” test has not been attained in the history of Nigeria, however the 2015 general election was a milestone in the history of elections in Nigeria. The 2015 general elections have ushered Nigeria into the era of “first turnover” towards democratic consolidation having successfully achieved turnover power from a party that had held on to power for sixteen years of Nigeria’s fourth republic to an opposition party at the national level. At independence in 1960, Northern People’s Congress (NPC) in coalition with National Council of Nigeria and Cameroon (NCNC) later metamorphosed to National Council of Nigeria Citizens formed a national government. The first election at independence in Nigeria was fraught with massive fraud. This led to widespread violence in the polity. The violence which this election orchestrated was one of the factors which paved the way for the first military incursion in the body politics of Nigeria. The counter coup which culminated in elite fragmentation in the rank and files of the Nigerian Military on the one hand and among the post-independence nationalist threw the country into almost three years of civil war. The year 1979 provided another opportunity of democratic presence when the National party of Nigeria (NPN) won election which was keenly contested by five political parties thereby putting an end to military rule and ushering Nigeria to her second republic. This republic was however short-lived as the military struck again in December 1983 thereby truncating the second republic. It is plausible to argue that most of these elections failed because of lack of confidence in the body which facilitated the elections. The electoral umpires in all these elections have always been accused of been biased and partisan always in favour of the ruling party. From 1983, it was from one military dictator to another up to 1999. However in between the country witnessed what political experts had referred to as “transition without end”. The military continued in power through the instrumentality of long transition programmes till 1999. Although, in between there was diarchy and Interim National Government (ING), but all these are antithetical to liberal democracy. Even the much celebrated June 12, 1993 Presidential election which was adjudged the best in the country then was annulled by the military high command. Although, the 1993 Presidential election was annulled, the process that led to the great feat achieved then became a building block for the subsequent Election Management Bodies in Nigeria. The annulment of the June 12 1993 Presidential election increased the political consciousness of the Nigerian electorates and general resentment to continuous military rule in Nigeria. Similarly, Civil Society Groups and Trade Unions of all sorts in the country continued to sensitize the general public against continued military rule. This agitation was galvanized by global resentment towards military rule with a popular slogan “the worst civilian government is better than the best military rule.” By 1999, power was again relinquished to a democratically elected government with Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) pioneering election since then. Free, fair and acceptable election as a fundamental element in democratic consolidation is not an end in itself. Therefore for election to be free, fair and acceptable there is need for an unbiased umpire. Hence Joseph Stalin posit “those who cast the votes decide nothing; those who count the votes decide everything.” It is only when the right people are in place in a right institutional framework that democracy could be said to be consolidated or on the process of consolidation

1.2 Statement of the Problem

INEC since 1999 has been managing election in Nigeria, however, the 2015 general elections was very unique in the anal of Nigeria’s electoral cycle for several reasons. It was in 2015 that the super powers had predicted that Nigeria will divide along different ethnic nationalities thereby marking the end of the Nigerian State. This election also was the first time that there was power turnover at the national level since independence. It was the first time an incumbent would concede defeat without resorting to litigation or people resorting to violence. It is against this background that this research takes a critical look at the role of INEC in electoral process.

1.3 Objective of the Study

The main objective of this study is to ascertain the role of INEC in electoral process in Nigeria. However, to aid the completion of this study the researcher intend to achieve the following objective;

  1. To ascertain the role of INEC in electoral process in Nigeria
  2. To evaluate the relationship between INEC and credibility of electoral process
  3. To ascertain the impact of INEC in sustaining democracy in Nigeria
  4. To ascertain the effectiveness of INEC strategy on the credibility of 2015 election in Nigeria

1.4 Research Hypotheses

The following hypotheses were formulated by the researcher to aid the completion of the study;

  1. H0: INEC does not have any significant role in electioneering process in Nigeria
    H1: INEC do have a significant role in the electioneering process in Nigeria.
  2. H0: there is no significant relationship between INEC and the credibility of the electoral process in Nigeria
    H2: there is a significant relationship between INEC and the credibility of the electoral process in Nigeria.

1.5 Significance of the Study

It is believed that at the completion of the study, the findings will be beneficial to the electoral commission (INEC) in their bid to conduct an itch free election, the study will also be of great benefit to the political parties who are the major players in the electoral process.

The study will also be of great benefit to the electorate in educating them on the nemesis of election violence. Finally the findings of this study will also be immense benefit to government, academia, scholars, researchers and the general public.

1.6 Scope and Limitation of the Study

The scope of the study covers appraisal of the role of INEC in electoral process in Nigeria with emphasis on the 2015 general election. However, in the cause of the study, the researcher encountered some constrain which limited the scope of the study;

a) Availability of Research Material:

The research material available to the researcher is insufficient, thereby limiting the study.

b) Time:

The time frame allocated to the study does not enhance wider coverage as the researcher has to combine other academic activities and examinations with the study.

c) Finance:

The finance available for the research work does not allow for wider coverage as resources are very limited as the researcher has other academic bills to cover.

1.7 Definition of Terms

a) Election:

Election is a formal decision- making process by which a population chooses an individual to hold public office. It has also been described as a celebration of democracy whereby the electorates are given the opportunity to elect leaders who will take charge of governance within a given period of time. Indeed, because it is a process and not an event, election management bodies worldwide deploy human and material resources in a bid to enhance free, fair and credible process; this, perhaps, underscores why the electoral cycle stipulates pre-election, election and post- election activities.

b) Nomination:

Nomination is part of the process of selecting a candidate for either election to an office by a political party, or the bestowing of an honor or award. This person is called a “nominee”, though nominee often is used interchangeably with “candidate”. Presumptive nominee is a term used when a person or organization believes that the nomination is inevitable or likely. The act of being a candidate in a race for either a party nomination or for electoral office is called a “candidacy. Presumptive candidate may be used to describe someone who is predicted to be a formal candidate.

c) Political Party:

A political party is a group of people who come together to contest elections and hold power in the government. The party agrees on some proposed policies and programmes, with a view to promoting the collective good or furthering their supporters’ interests. While there is some international commonality in the way political parties are recognized, and in how they operate, there are often many differences, and some are significant. Many political parties have an ideological core, but some do not, and many represent very different ideologies than they did when first founded. In democracies, political parties are elected by the electorate to run a government. Many countries have numerous powerful political parties, such as Germany and India and some nations have one-party systems, such as China and Cuba. The United States is in practice a two-party system, with many smaller parties participating. Its two most powerful parties are the Democratic Party and the Republican Party

1.8 Organization of the Study

This research work is organized in five chapters, for easy understanding, as follows.

  1. Chapter one is concern with the introduction, which consist of the (background of the study), statement of the problem, objectives of the study, research questions, research hypotheses, significance of the study, scope of the study etc.
  2. Chapter two being the review of the related literature presents the theoretical framework, conceptual framework and other areas concerning the subject matter.
  3. Chapter three is a research methodology covers deals on the research design and methods adopted in the study.
  4. Chapter four concentrate on the data collection and analysis and presentation of finding.
  5. Chapter five gives summary, conclusion, and recommendations made of the study

Chapter Five

Summary, Conclusion and Recommendation

5.1 Introduction

It is important to ascertain that the objective of this study wasto ascertain the role of INEC in electoral process 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 role of INEC in electoral process in Nigeria with emphasis in 2015 election.

5.2 Summary

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

5.3 Conclusion

The study was to appraise the role of INEC in electoral process in Nigeria with emphasis on 2015 election. It went further to review how the 2011 Elections informed the preparation for the 2015 General Elections. The paper asserted that the 2015 General Elections were a huge success, but there is the need to continue to reform. The new leadership of the Commission must build on the Jega’s led Commission such that in no distant future, the Nigerian INEC will become one of the best in the world. Finally, although the mode of appointment of the members of EMBs may be important, what is more important is the strength of character and integrity of the leadership. There is definitely hope for the Electoral process and for democracy to take root in Nigeria.

5.4 Recommendation

There is need for Nigerians irrespective of colour and race even gender to call to mind on the vision, values and aspirations of Nigerian’s founding fathers, particularly on the areas of credible election, good governance, formulation and implementation of people oriented policies and programs through good leadership. There is need to jettison godfatherism in Nigerian election if the nationmust live up to its national development. This will help to develop self-confidence in the voters and citizens and they will be able to successfully cope with and fight associated election fraud. It may be argued that money politics and vote-buying cannot be completely eradicated in Nigeria election. To a reasonable extent people can adopt mechanisms by which its negative consequences on good governance can be minimized. Strict adherence to spending limit during election campaign should be observed. The Nigerian economy must be repositioned to empower the people economically. This is because where poverty is minimal the electorates can then make independent electoral decisions in voting for credible politicians’ rather least qualified candidate that specialized on money spending. The 1999 constitution should be amended to strengthening INEC’s legal framework and the INEC as an electoral body ought to be truly independent of undue influences and manipulations by the government in power. Similarly, in strengthening its legal framework, the INEC Chairman, Commissioners, Resident Electoral Commissioners and Secretary should be nominated through an independent process of voting instead ofby presidential appointments. In this way, merit and credibility will be given to the positions.

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