The Electoral Process And National Security In Nigeria: A Comparative Study Of The 2011 And 2015 Elections

Project and Seminar Material for Political Science

The Electoral Process And National Security In Nigeria: A Comparative Study Of The 2011 And 2015 Elections


This paper examined electoral processes and security challenges in Nigeria with specific reference to the 2011 and 2015 presidential elections. The data for this study were drawn mostly from secondary sources. Systematically, the paper reviewed the conceptions of electoral violence, perspectives on election related violence and security of lives and properties in Nigeria. The major findings of this study reveal that from the 1950s, elections in Nigeria approximated a war that is often waged to determine political power. All weapons are always available for politicians in Nigeria to use religion, ethnic sentiments, outright bribery, the power of incumbency, corruption, the abuse of electoral processes, etc. to unleash violence and threaten the security of lives and properties in the country in such a way that in such election-related crises, it is estimated that over 10,000 Nigerians have lost their lives, hundreds of thousands have been displaced while properties worth billions destroyed during pre-election, election and post-election period. The study deployed the qualitative historical research method to carry out its analysis, which implied the use of the descriptive analytical tool where data were drawn from secondary sources.

Chapter One


1.1 Background to the Study

Election is an integral part of a democratic process that enables the citizenry determine fairly and freely who should lead them at every level of government periodically and take decisions that shape their socio-economic and political destiny; and in case they falter, still possess the power to recall them or vote them out in the next election. This was Obakhedo, (2011) aptly defined election thus: Election is a major instrument for the recruitment of political leadership in democratic societies; the key to participation in a democracy; and the way of giving consent to government (Dye, 2001); and allowing the governed to choose and pass judgment on office holders who theoretically represent the governed Obakhedo, (2011). In its strictest sense, there can never be a democracy without election.

Huntington is however quick to point out that, a political system is democratic ‘to the extent that its most powerful collective decision-makers are selected through fair, honest and periodic elections in which candidates freely compete for votes, and in which virtually all the adult population is eligible to vote’ (Huntington, 1991). In its proper sense, election is a process of selecting the officers or representatives of an organization or group by the vote of its qualified members (Nwolise, 2007). Anifowose (2003) defined elections as the process of elite selection by the mass of the population in any given political system, Bamgbose (2012). Elections provide the medium by which the different interest groups within the bourgeois nation state can stake and resolve their claims to power through peaceful means (Iyayi, 2005). Elections therefore determine the rightful way of ensuring that responsible leaders take over the mantle of power.

An election itself is a procedure by which the electorate, or part of it, choose the people who hold public office and exercise some degree of control over the elected officials. It is the process by which the people select and control their representatives. The implication of this is that without election, there can be no representative government. This assertion is, to a large extent, correct as an election is, probably, the most reliable means through which both the government and representatives can be made responsible to the people who elect them.

Eya (2003) however, sees election as the selection of a person or persons for office as by ballot and making choice as between alternatives. Ozor (2009) succinctly gives a more encompassing and comprehensive definition of election when he noted that the term connotes the procedure through which qualified adult voters elect their politically preferred representatives to parliament legislature of a county (or any other public positions) for the purpose of farming and running the government of the country. Thus Osumah (2002) elucidates what the basic objective of election is which is to select the official decision makers who are supposed to represent citizens-interest. Elections, according to him extend and enhance the amount of popular participation in the political system. However, elections in Nigeria has always been marred by violence and heightened sense of national insecurity because of the level of tribal and religion sentiments showed by the country men.

Nigeria’s 2015 general elections the fifth since 1999, was scheduled for 14th and 28th February 2015 respectively and later changed to 28th March and 11 April 2015 respectively. All 36 states held presidential, federal parliament and House of Assemblies (state parliaments) elections. Gubernatorial polls were held in 29 states. General elections in Nigeria have always been turbulent and violent affairs. Indeed, the 2007 election polls was widely condemned as the most violent, poorly and massively rigged in the history of Nigeria’s electoral history. Even the winner of the presidential pool, a person of late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, conceded flaws. Some analysts and observers considered the April 2011 elections as the most credible since the return to democracy, unlike 2007 elections where over 1,000 people were killed in post-election protests. Nigeria has had a checkered electoral history with successive elections being marred by serious irregularities and controversy- particularly in the conduct of its electoral commission. This has led in some cases to the collapsed of democratic experiments as occurred in 1966 and 1983.

The 2007 general elections in Nigeria provided a good opportunity to occasion a break with the past and rekindle public confidence in the electoral and democratic process of the country. However, this was not to be as the elections, according to several local and international observers turned out to be the worst in Nigeria’s political history (European Union: 2007, Human Rights Watch: 2007, Transition Monitoring Group: 2007). Like its predecessors, INEC was accused of not being able to engender public confidence in the electoral process or organize transparent and credible elections. Unfortunately, this position has scarcely been demonstrated in a systematic manner.

March 28th and April 11th 2015 election marked another turn in Nigeria’s democratic history as registered voters took to the polls to elect the next set of leaders into the Presidential and National Assembly positions. The elections, conducted in the thirty six states of the country and the Federal Capital Territory, witnessed the emergence of the opposition party, the All Progressives Congress (APC) and its candidate. This outcome was also the first time an opposition party would unseat the ruling party, People Democratic Party (PDP) since Nigeria’s transition into civil rule in 1999.

1.2 Statement of the Problem

The cornerstone of competitive elections and democracy is free and fair election. The credibility and legitimacy accorded an election victory is determined by the extent to which the process is free and fair (Garuba, 2007;Bogaards, 2007). Free and fair election serves the purpose of legitimizing such government. In fact, the quality of elections is part of the criteria for assessing the level of consolidation of new democracies. Elections are therefore considered as vital and indispensable for determining the democratic nature of a political system and ensuring national security. When election is not managed quite satisfactorily, it can pave the way for deeper ethnic and regional divisions, lost of legitimacy of elected authorities, protest, violent contestation, social explosion, and doubt about institutions, violence, and instability or even threaten the entire democratization process.

In fact, poor management of elections is a real and prolific source of conflicts, violence, insecurity and instability (Hounkpe & Gueye, 2010).Low turnout in the 2015 compared to 2011 may be attributed to some factors. First, it might be an indication that previous election results were inflated. Second, there was a heightened sense of insecurity. among Nigerians, with causes such as the Boko Haram insurgency in the North, the possibility of the incumbent not willing to accept the outcome of the election should it not be in its favour, the effects of the election postponement, Also, there is the perception that ‘votes do not count’ and that the outcomes have been pre-decided by an elite minority. However, this study is examining the electoral process and national security comparing the 2011 and the 2015 general elections.

1.3 Objectives of the Study

The following are the objectives of this study:

  1. To examine the relationship between electoral process and national security in Nigeria.
  2. To examine the differences and similarity in the 2011 and 2015 general elections processes in Nigeria.
  3. To examine the factors that promotes national security in an electoral process.

1.4 Research Questions

  1. What is the relationship between electoral process and national security in Nigeria?
  2. What are the differences and similarities in the 2011 and 2015 general elections processes in Nigeria?
  3. What are the factors that promote national security in an electoral process?

1.5 Hypothesis

HO: There is no significant relationship between electoral process and national security

HA: There is significant relationship between electoral process and national security

1.6 Significance of the Study

The following are the significance of this study:

The outcome of this study will educate the general public on the relationship between electoral process and national security. It will also educate on the differences and similarities in the 2011 and 2015 general elections in Nigeria.

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.

1.7 Scope / Limitations of the Study

This study will cover the issues of electoral process and national security with focus on comparison between 2011 and 2015 general elections in Nigeria

Limitation Of Study
Financial constraint

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).

Time constraint

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

Chapter Five

Summary Conclusion and Recommendation

5.1 Introduction

It is pertinent to note that this research was to ascertain the impacts of the electoral process and it security tendency, thus the topic “the electoral process and national security a case study of 2011 and 2015 elections”.
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 problems and challenges associated with electoral process in Nigeria.

5.2 Summary

Democracy is anchored on losers accepting the results of elections and on citizens‟ confidence on the sanctity of the secret ballot and their votes. Achieving trust worthy elections requires balancing security, funding and involving all the stakeholders to act with responsibility and civility not impunity. Information from the generated data has shown that one of the factors that causes conflict and invariably insecurity is the perception of the electorate towards the process. For instance, when the umpire puts measures that increase actual security they win the confidence of the electorate who respond accordingly. On the contrary when the electorate perceive that the process has been compromised they respond negatively. A good example is the issue of the electronic card reader which was used for the first time during the last election. In places where they did not malfunction voters responded with enthusiasm and the elections recorded minimal security breaches. But in states where the card readers failed the voters perceived a form of disenfranchisement from the umpire and resorted to self -help especially when the umpire advised that they resort to manual accreditation. It became a license to inflate the votes since they were given a negative stimuli through the malfunction of the card readers. The lesson is that the umpire must be perceived to be an impartial umpire by both the electorate and the political parties. Anything to the contrary is a recipe for conflict, violence and brigandage which ultimately may derail the whole electoral process. Concomitantly, voters‟ education is one area that has not been fully explored as discovered prior to the 2011 elections. Voters‟ education should not be a one off initiative embarked on just during an election period. It should continuous and INEC should explore the possibility of incorporating it into civic education in primary and secondary schools. Over time it will create generations of enlightened voters who would view elections as a contest and not a do-or-die affair.

5.3 Conclusion

Conventionally security of the electoral process comprises the policing and the management of security during elections. The challenge of securing elections and election management in a world where insecurity is rife is a daunting task for both INEC and the government of Nigeria. However, the presidential election of March 28th 2015, has shown that where the will exists the state can rise above issues such as social divisions and insurgency to manage an election. The challenge for transition states especially in Africa is how to manage its social divisions to ensure participatory inclusivity during elections. This issue becomes germane in view of the fact that electoral violence as experienced in Kenya in 2007 and in Nigeria in 2011 arose from perceived injustice emanating from social divisions. Significantly, it is this feeling of exclusion that gave fillip to situations of conflict experienced during the April 11th 2015, governorship elections as candidates and their parties came into the election with the mind-set of winning at all costs because of the „winner takes all‟ syndrome characteristic of our politics. To change this mind-set and ensure properly managed elections political parties should desist from having a strangle hold on their candidates seeking political office.

5.4 Recommendation

  1. Incorporating civil society organizations into ICCES will help to confer more credibility on the committee
  2. INEC‟s initiative with the ICCES is laudable but should be enlarged to incorporate other stakeholders and replicated at the community levels.
  3. Funding has always been a problem in election management and this is fundamental to credible elections. Therefore government should provide adequate funding for INEC and if possible independent of the civil service.
  4. Government should walk the talk by providing adequate funding to all its institutions especially the police to insulate its personnel from corruption.
  5. Where electronic devices are used in the electoral process the fidelity of such devices must be guaranteed by INEC by ensuring that its staff are trained on the use of such devices ahead of elections.
  6. Finally, sanctions must be applied promptly whenever there is a security breach during elections to deter potential criminals as justice delayed is justice denied.

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