Election Rigging And Political Instability In Nigeria: A Case Study Of The Fourth Republic

Project and Seminar Material for Political Science

Election Rigging And Political Instability In Nigeria: A Case Study Of The Fourth Republic


In human society, politics is seen as every day game, individuals or group struggle to dominate over the activities of life. This is why the great Greek philosopher Aristotle saw man as a political animal. This has come to justify that politics started from time immemorial but the method of playing it (politics) among or between individuals and nations varied. In the course of acquisition of power, violence of all kinds seems to occur especially during elections. In the electoral process of a developed country democracy is always generally competitive. There is necessity to define the concepts of our key studies which includes: Electionrigging; this is one of the political immoral vices, which always occur in Nigeria politics, these include rigging of election and snatching of ballot boxes. Political crisis is the problems that always occur while conducting elections and this is as a result of electoral malpractices. Growing democracy refers to those states or nations which gained independence after the second world-war

Chapter One


1.1 Background of the Study

In a democracy, election is a fundamental ingredient and a utmost test of political participation it is defined as a process of selecting officers and representatives of an organization by votes of its qualified members. The process gives the citizens the right to vote at regular intervals among competing leaders and policies (Bedlolman 1993).

Also, election has been defined as a process in which electorates chose government officials using a voting system. This is the mechanism by which a democracy fills elective offices in the legislature, and perhaps the executive and judiciary.

The most common election methods or electoral systems can be categorized as either proportional or majoritarin. Among the former are party-list proportional representation and additional member system. Among the latter are first past the post (relative majority), and absolute majority many countries have growing electoral reform movements, which advocate systems such as approval voting, single transferable vote, instant runoff voting or a condoicet method.

The rules by which an elections is conducted (especially the voting system used) can have wide ranging effects on the character and outcome of the election.

Election rigging refers to electoral malpractice committed with corrupt, fraudulent or sinister intention to influence an election in favour of a candidate by such means as illegal voting, bribery, threats, undue influence intimidation and other acts of coercion exerted on voters, intimidation and other acts of coercion exerted on voters, falsification of results and fraudulent announcement of a defeated candidate as winner without altering the results.

Election rigging is a subversion of the constitution and democratic forms of government instituted by the constitution. It is the theft of people’s mandate. The common methods of election rigging in Nigeria include dumping of ballot boxes stuffed with pre-thumb-printed ballot papers, falsification of results by increasing a candidate’s votes and decreasing those of his opponents, fraudulent announcement of losing candidate and so on (Ologbenia 2003).

Political stability in any form of government has to involve the stable realization of political essence of that form of government. Political stability of a communal gerontocracy in villages and small towns headed by elders under an age grade system, means the continuation of the exerciser of power by those who have reached the appropriate age at various levels of the system.

Political stability of the type of democracy provided for in our constitution means the continuation of the exercise of power by those freely elected by the people of this country for specific periods with definite mandates which conform with the fundamental objectives and directive principles of state policy clearly defined in chapter 11 of the constitution.

Political process as an economic political factor have threatened the stability of the Nigerian political system which is most cases has given rise or cause a set back to the smooth running of the transition to democratic programm. Considering the first republic (1960) the effects of that election rigging in the western region led to the January 15th 1966 military intervention in Nigeria politics. Thus anti-democratic norm was also experienced in the second republic where the ruling party national party of Nigeria (NPN) swept the general poll. The general trend of circulation of the election process during the 1983. General election was of greater dimension than the 1979 elections.

Historical evidence exist in abundance to buttress the point that what we know today as election rigging has been in existence since the 1965 western region election. The blatant rigging of the western region election by Chief Samuel Akintola’s Nigeria National Democratic Party (NNDP) the party in power in the region then, the enormity of that coup against democracy erupted the election violence between the Nigeria National Democratic Party (NNDP) and the Action Group (AG) supporters which led the army to strike in 1996. Also the October 1965 elections into the region government of the west were not still smooth. Although the people clearly rejected the Akintola’s government at the polls and voted massively for the Action Group, the opposition party, the Akintola government publicly (interfere) with the result of the election. In many cases, A.G candidate who held certificates that they lose duly elected in their constituencies later heard their names mentioned as defeated candidates through government news media.

These development including the summering TIV revolt in the middle belt, the political impasse at the centre the resulting mass revolt in the western region by the people who felt rightly that they had been cheated at the polls set the stage for the first military coup of January 15th 1966.

Again in 1983, the ruling National Party of Nigerian (NPN) under the leadership of Alhaji Shehu Shagari perpetrated all sort of electoral atrocities. The voting process, voter’s registration and actual votes cast were all grossly distorted. To produce the so called band wagon efforts, the order of election was reversed and voters registers inflated for example where as the order of elections provider that the presidential elections be held last, the NPN government decided that these election would come first.

The National Party of Nigeria (NPN) won the election with “moon slide” negating all forms of democratic norms and values as a result from the election rigging democracy was once again aborted due to the military intervention in 1983. History repeated itself again in the forth republic, 2003 general election of 2004 was conducted under the Obasanjo government, these elections (including the various party primaries) will go down in history as the most fraudulent and equal only to a coup d’ etal against the people. All commentaries on the 2003 and 2004 election except those from the PDP government in power are unanimous in their verdict that all aspect of the election was fraudulent.

He observed that the political space was not properly defined. Though more political parties were enlisted. The powerful party among the parties. People democratic party (PDP) took reins of government by storm some schools of thought believes that the struggle for power in fourth republic was based on zero tolerance strategy.

In this study the main focus will be to examine election rigging and it’s disastrous threat to political instability in Nigeria. Today it is early seen that the concept “election rigging’ is perceived to be once successfully employed by a political party to get itself into power; the tendency is for the party rather than giving up and thereby risk defeat in further elections perfect its forms and techniques to a point where it become entrenched as part of the political culture” thereby excluding altogether the chances of election ever being conducted in a free and fair manner, however, this act of election rigging has so much be demonstrated and becomes part of our cities, that hegemonies by that phenomenon rigging. Thus, this struggle led to a serious competition among political parties an actor which invariably boils down to election rigging.

Election rigging may assume the following form, stealing of ballot boxes, inflate of voter’s numbers, ghost voting control, voting of unregistered voters using of political thugs to mount pools bribery of electoral officials intimidation by dominant party against it’s opponents, manipulation of election outcome through the body conducting election. Evidence bound that the Nigeria electoral process has always been characterized with such electoral vices.

To buttress the above analysis election rigging in Nigeria is a product of the guest of political actors of perpetuate, themselves in power and thereby using rigging as instrument of main training the statuesque.

1.2 Statement of Problem

Election rigging as an economic and political factor have threatened the stability of the Nigeria political system. Our problem of concern in this research, is to examine the effect of election rigging on our political system, also, our inability as a nation to conduct free and fair elections at the national, and sub national level over the years.

The history of elections and electoral process in Nigeria has been one that is characterized by electoral malpractice which enables political actors to perpetuate themselves in power thereby, elections being mere rituals instead of representing the popular will of the Nigeria voters.

To what extent has election rigging threatened the political stability in Nigeria? In the light of this, the need to undertake this research arose.

1.3 Objective of Study

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

1.4 Research Questions

  1. How has election rigging affected the electoral process in Nigeria?
  2. What are the social economic and political effects of election rigging in the sustenance of democracy in Nigeria?
  3. Who are those involved in election rigging in Nigeria?
  4. How are the rights of citizens affected/denied through election rigging?
  5. How can we restructure the political system to make it effective?
  6. How can we eradicate election rigging in Nigeria

1.5 Research Hypotheses

The following hypotheses were formulated to aid the completion of the study

  1. H0: election rigging has no effect on the political stability in Nigeria
    H1: election rigging has effect on the political stability in Nigeria
  2. H0: election rigging cannot be eradicated in Nigeria political setting
    H2: election rigging can be eradicated in Nigeria political setting

1.6 Significance of the Study

It is believed that at the completion of the findings will be of importance to independent national electoral commission who are saddle with the responsibility of conducting a credible free and fair election in the country as the study will guide them in formulating policies that will combat the menace of election rigging in Nigeria, the study will also be of importance to political party leaders, as the study seek to explore the consequences of election rigging and the credibility of public office holders. The study will also be useful to political science student as the study will contribute to the existing literature on the subject matter and also contribute to the pool of knowledge

1.7 Scope and Limitation of the Study

The scope of the study covers election rigging and political instability in Nigeria, in the cause of the study, there were some factors 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:

Limited Access to the required finance by the researcher makes it cumbersome to broaden the scope of the study

1.8 Definition of Terms


Democracy may be defined as a system of government in which all qualified adult citizens share the supreme power directly or through their elected representatives. “Democracy is a system of government which is derived from public opinion and is accountable to it”


It can be defined as an act of choosing or selecting candidates who will represent the people of a country in the parliament and in other positions in the government. Election is also said to be a contest between competing political parties or groups for government power.


A major form of pervasion of the electoral processes in the rigging of outcomes polls usually by the financially strong parties and political privileged citizens in the party. Rigging entails multiple ballot boxes falsification of some specific popular political party or candidates.


This is the situation whereby the smooth running of either the government or the political system in jeopardy, due to expression of dissatisfaction shown by the populace through series of demonstration of notes.

1.9 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 (overview, of the study), historical background, statement of problem, objectives of the study, research hypotheses, significance of the study, scope and limitation of the study, definition of terms and historical background of the study.
  2. Chapter two highlights the theoretical framework on which the study is based, thus the review of related literature.
  3. Chapter three deals on the research design and methodology 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 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

5.2 Summary

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.

5.3 Conclusion

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 electoralrigging 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.

5.4 Recommendations

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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