An Assessment Of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) And The Management, The 2015 General Election In Nigeria
The study examines the powers and responsibilities of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), in the conducts of elections in Nigeria; particularly, that of the 2015 general election. Despite the general acceptance of the 2015 presidential election as free, fair and transparent, there were observed flaws that bedeviled the election. However, it was indeed, an improvement on past elections in Nigeria. The study recommends amongst others; that INEC needs to be truly independent in all ramifications to discharge its duties impartially so as to ensure credible elections and enthrone sustainable democracy in the country; the new government should tackle the issues of corruption, security, unemployment and poverty frontally. Instead of dissipating energies chasing those who have defrauded the country in the past, the administration should embark on aggressive reconciliation, reconstruction and rehabilitation of hitherto aggrieved factions; ensure institutional and human capacity development because, development itself, would raise its own armies to fight corruption. Keywords: INEC, PDP, APC, Election, Challenges, Sustainable democracy.
1.1 Background to the Study
The INEC was established by section 153 of Nigeria’s 1999 Constitution. It is responsible for organizing referendums and elections for president, vice president, state governors and deputy governors, and the Nigerian Senate and House of Representatives. The INEC also has power to register political parties and monitor their organization and operations, including auditing their finances and publishing reports for public consumption. It also has power to conduct voter registration, monitor political campaigns and undertake other functions that may be assigned by the National Assembly. The commission is composed of a chairman, who serves as the chief executive officer, and 12 members known as national electoral commissioners; the secretary to the commission is selected from the rank of bureaucrats within the institution. The constitution also provides for a resident electoral commissioner for each state of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT); it maintains administrative offices in all 36 states, the FCT and in all the local governments in the country.
The commission also has a training and research arm known as the Electoral Institute. While there are no special provisions for the physically impaired or quotas for women in the INEC’s management, it currently has three female commissioners. Though relatively autonomous in terms of operational and financial control, the INEC lacks the autonomy to act to ensure the integrity of the electoral process. In the course of electoral administration and management in Nigeria, poor management and electoral violence has become a norm looking at past elections conducted in the country such as 1964, 1979, 1993, 1999, 2003, 2007, 2011 elections. Hence the need for this study on the assessment of INEC with respect to the management of 2015 general election in Nigeria.
However, the INEC faces some institutional challenges in the discharge of its responsibilities, including its dependence on (and inadequate control over) ad hoc staff, for which it lacks a nationwide database for recruitment; bureaucratic ‘red-tapism’ and staff attitude; poor delegation of responsibilities and overlapping functions (INEC 2012). These problems often result in late preparations for elections, a lack of teamwork and low-level interdepartmental cooperation and communication gaps. Structural deficiencies, an absence of proper career progression, poor record management, inadequate communication between the commission headquarters and its state offices and the over-centralization of planning also negatively affect the commission’s work (INEC 2012).
The 2015 general elections which was the fourth in the series of election in the Fourth Republic was unique in that it was the first democratic election held that will unseat an incumbent president. The elections were conducted under the auspices of Professor Attahiru Jega who also conducted the 2011 general elections. One of the key points in the preparation for the elections was the distribution of permanent voters‟ card (PVC) and continuous voters Registration (CVR). Another important area of preparation was the use of card Reader which was used to authenticate the validity of PVC and to make sure that a prospective voter is originally registered and has his or her name in the INEC voters‟ database. In preparation for the general elections the electoral body had to contend with security challenges. The elections took place in a period when the country was waging war against general insecurity majorly occasioned by the Boko Haram insurgency. All the aforementioned issues posed serious challenges to the conduct of the 2015 general elections. In surmounting these challenges the Independent National Electoral Commission declared that as at 27th of February, 2015 it has distributed 54,377,747 (Fifty-four Million, Three Hundred and Seventy-Seven Thousand, Seven Hundred and Forty Seven) PVCs to persons registered for the general elections. This represented 78.93 percent of the total number of voters registered by INEC (Hassan, 2015). The election was conducted and Mohammadu Buhari of APC having satisfied the requirement of the law, and scored the highest number of votes was declared the winner and returned elected.
Prior to the announcement of the presidential election results there were insinuations from all quarters that there will be a likely occurrence of post election violence. People stayed back at home and preferred to watch the proceedings on air. The various election observer missions observed the elections and unanimously described the elections as peaceful and credible (Adamu, 2015). In giving the general impression of its Election Observer Mission the head of the Commonwealth Observer Group, Dr. Bakili Muluzi commented that the 28th March 2015 election elections marked an important step forward for democracy in Africa’s most populous country and a key member of the commonwealth.“ He said despite the organization and technical deficiencies, the conduct of the Presidential and National Assembly elections were generally peaceful and transparent (Muluzi, 2015). He further emphasized that though there were technical hitches but was optimistic that there is room for improvement. He however gave credence of the peaceful conduct of the polls to all the people of Nigeria for demonstrating patience and maturity (Muluzi, 2015).
1.2 Statement of the Problem
The 2015 general elections however, have been described as depicting a major turning point in Nigeria’s political history. The elections attracted audience from most part of the world. Observers both local and international described the election as a success. It is however, important to note that even though the conduct of the elections have been given a pass mark it is imperative to assess the performance of the electoral body so as to detect areas of challenges with the aim of improving on them for future elections hence, the need for this study on the assessment of independent national electoral commission INEC and the management of 2015 general elections in Nigeria.
1.3 Objectives of the Study
The following are the objectives of this study:
- To examine the performance of INEC in the management and conduct of 2015 general elections in Nigeria.
- To examine the level of success recorded by the INEC in the management of 2015 general elections in Nigeria
- To determine the problems associated with the conduct and management of 2015 general elections in Nigeria.
1.4 Research Hypotheses
- H0: INEC does not perform any management role in the conduct of 2015 general elections in Nigeria
H1: INEC performs management role in the conduct of 2015 general elections in Nigeria
- H0: INEC did not record a significant level of success in the management and conduct of 2015 general elections in Nigeria
H2: INEC did record a significant level of success in the conduct and management of the 2015 general election
1.5 Significance of the Study
The following are the significance of this study:
This study will educate the general public on the activities of INEC with specific focus on the management of 2015 general election in Nigeria with a view of ascertaining the success and problems associated with the management of the election.
This research will be a contribution to the body of literature in the area of the effect of personality trait on student’s academic performance, thereby constituting the empirical literature for future research in the subject area
1.6 Scope / Limitations of the Study
This study is limited to the management of the 2015 general elections. It will also cover the successes and challenges associated with the 2015 general election in Nigeria.
Limitation Of Study
Insufficient fund tends to impede the efficiency of the researcher in sourcing for the relevant materials, literature or information and in the process of data collection (internet, questionnaire and interview).
The researcher will simultaneously engage in this study with other academic work. This consequently will cut down on the time devoted for the research work
1.7 Definition of Terms
Independent national electoral commission is an independent body that is saddle with the responsibility of voters registration and conduction of elections in Nigeria.
An election is a formal decision-making process by which a population chooses an individual to hold public office. Elections have been the usual mechanism by which modern representative democracy has operated since the 17th century. Elections may fill offices in the legislature, sometimes in the executive and judiciary, and for regional and local government. This process is also used in many other private and business organizations, from clubs to voluntary associations and corporations
The legitimacy of democratic government is established, in large measure, by genuine elections, and they are much more than what happens on election day. A genuine electoral process requires an open pre-election environment in which citizens can participate without fear or obstruction; political parties, candidates and the media can operate freely; an independent judiciary functions fairly and expeditiously; and electoral authorities operate impartially. Since its earliest days, NDI has been working with partners around the world to help ensure that elections reflect the will of the people.
1.8 Organization of the Study
This research work is organized in five chapters, for easy understanding, as follows.
- 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.
- Chapter two being the review of the related literature presents the theoretical framework, conceptual framework and other areas concerning the subject matter.
- Chapter three is a research methodology covers deals on the research design and methods adopted in the study.
- Chapter four concentrate on the data collection and analysis and presentation of finding.
- Chapter five gives summary, conclusion, and recommendations made of the study.
Summary, Conclusion and Recommendation
It is important to ascertain that the objective of this study wasto assess the independent national electoral commission INEC and the management of the 2015 election 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 challenges encountered by INEC in the conduct and management of the 2015 general election.
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. Hence, the visible correlation between democracy, wealth creation and security has made democracy attractive to the world (Kukah, 2015). For instance, in 1973, only 32 per cent of the world’s population lived in free, democratic societies. Between 1990 and 1994, the member soared between 38 and 58 per cent; today, the statistics hover between 60 and 70 per cent consequent of China population. The essence of democracy is competition, inclusiveness and civil liberties. Democracy will die if it fails to serve as a platform for creating opportunities, managing diversities and encouraging the attainment of the common good. Over the years, Nigeria has been apparently defined in terms of Christianity, Islam, Northerners, minorities et.c, but General Buhari’s victory at the 2015 general elections has shown clearly that coalition and consensus building is imperative to election success and that no group can achieve it all alone.
Elections remain the only mechanism of choosing political officers in a democratic setting and as such its conduct remains crucial for the sustainability of democracy. A number of factors have combined to derail the electoral process in the past and ipso facto the democratic project, but what has always put the nails on the coffin of democratic transition in Nigeria is the massive fraud that characterize the electoral process. This trend was minimal in the 2011 and 2015 elections. It is a trend largely attributed to the rentier character of the Nigerian state which enables those with access state power to feed off the state without getting involved in any productive venture. The consequence has been the primacy of politics and associated struggle for state power sought and fought for in a Hobbesian manner. What matters then in such struggle is the calculus of force; every act is legitimated provided it affords opportunity to grab state power and what it affords. The implication is that politics becomes a zero sum game with attendant negative impact on the building of strong state institutions rising above parochial and selfish interests and capable of mediating conflicts among conflicting interests. Thus state power in Nigeria has become a business venture and continues to be more rewarding than being in private business. This poses serious challenge to the democratization process and associated electoral processes that go with it. It is for this reason that the former INEC Chairman Prof Maurice Iwu asserts that any reform of the electoral process shall not be successful unless there is corresponding reform or change of the attitude by the political class. He argues that the current ‘rampaging primitive accumulation’ and the ‘unrestrained deployment of such resources’ for the pursuit of state power negates the idea of electoral reform.105 In addition, the skewed reward system that enable political office holders earn what is currently known in Nigeria today as ‘jumbo pay’, has contributed in no small way to the incidences of electoral malpractices and violence.
The study recommend that INEC as an institution that conduct election in Nigeria should be holistically independent (in the appointment of the chairman and the finance of the body should be within the confides of the consolidated account of the federation which will ensure sincerity of purpose concerning free and fair elections in the country); INEC should work with the National Assembly and other stakeholders towards reviewing the relevant sections of the constitution and the Electoral Act to address all gaps and problems in the legal framework of electoral governance in the country. Such review should be concluded before the end of 2014. This is to ensure that the legal framework guiding subsequent elections is concluded in order to facilitate better understanding of the electoral process and enhanced electoral administration; INEC should be restructured in relation to its recruitment and staffing with emphasis placed on the definition job roles recruitments and the matching of such roles with relevant skill. Such restructuring should address the issue of staff redundancy and underutilization of personnel. Also, there should be definition of the duties and responsibilities of INEC department with regard to the discharge of the mandate of the commission; and electoral crime commission should be established to serve as a watchdog of the electoral commission.
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