The Impact Of Electoral Malpractices On Democratic Process In Nigeria

Project and Seminar Material for Political Science

The Impact Of Electoral Malpractices On Democratic Process In Nigeria


Abstract


By its very nature, electoral malpractice is a subversion of the constitution and the democratic form of government instituted by the Constitution of any given country. Election is one of the most important pillars of democracy. Indeed, it is a necessary condition for democracy because it provides the medium for the expression of the core principles and purposes of democracy such as the sovereignty of the citizens; freedom, choice and accountability of political leaders. In order to serve these purposes of democracy, elections must be free and fair void of manipulation, violence and fraud as well as impartiality of election management authority and effective participation by the electorate at all stages of the electoral process. This research work analyzed the interface of electoral malpractice in Nigeria with specific focus on the 2003, 2007 and just concluded 2011 elections.


Chapter One


Introduction

1.1 Background to the Study

The major challenge of Nigeria’s democratic process is electoral malpractice. Electrical malpractices are usually committed by the politicians with the connivance of political parties, national electoral body, security agencies etc. This collaboration often supports manipulation of electrical results for selfish interest.

Electoral process in many respects can be seen as the lynchpin of democracy as it plays a key role in safeguarding the quality of elections in a democratic state. Democracy involves far more than holding of free and fair elections, yet if credible election are not a sufficient condition for democracy, they nevertheless remain a condition for any country to be considered democratic.

The Nigerian state is a victim of high level corruption, bad governance, political instability and a cyclical legitimacy crisis. National economic growth is retarded and the political environment is uncertain.

The countries authoritarian leadership faces a legitimacy crisis and political intrigues in an ethnically different polity where ethnic competition for resources drove much of the pervasive corruption and oligarchy thereby creating a room for political gladiators to constantly manipulate the people and political process to advance their own selfish agenda while the country remains pauperized and people wallowing in abject poverty thus, obstructing political and economic stability and its growth as well, this constantly leads to weak legitimacy as the citizens lack faith in their political leaders and as to the political system/structure.

Political culture was and is still low since the people perceived it as irrelevant to their lives and in the absence of support from the civil society, the effective power of government was eroded and the patron client relationship became the order of the day in time took a prime role over the formal aspect of politics such as the rule of law well functioning political party and credible electoral systems. In other to break this and bring back censured good governance, accountability and transparency must be guaranteed which in turn would promote political and economic growth of Nigeria.

Claud Ake (1995) locates the genre of these problems in the incumbents’ political and social conditions in developing counties which manifests in poor planning and implementation, lack of entrepreneurial abilities, the stiffening of market forces, falling of commodity price and unfavourable terms, poverty of ideas, the dependency syndrome, corruption and indiscipline. The lack of participation and consensus building which Mayer et al (1996) called lack of a sense of national community is a factor which hinders national political and economic growth.

Meaningful development and political stability require the collective identity of citizenry and where this is lacking, development programmes are regarded with suspicion indifference or even hostility and at best exploitation result, something to be taken advantage of rather than something to be committed to. Lack of accountability and transparency becomes the order of the day as corruption as an efficiency are concealed as observed with the spate of abandoned projects.

The African state which we know that Nigeria is not an exception in the words of Ayittey (2006) has evolved into a predatory monster or a gangster state that uses a corrupt system of regulation and control to pillage and rob the productive class (the peasantry). It is common knowledge that heads of States, ministers and highly placed African government officials, had the treasury and misuse their positions in government to extort commissions on foreign loan contract scheme, foreign aid and inflate contracts to cronies for kickbacks. These are the very people who are supposed to protect the peasants; are again engaged in institutionalized looting, this governance have produced a baneful structure in an environment that endangers growth in the political system as the people yearn for elusive dividend of good governance.

The history of Nigeria painted with the absence of moral and ethnic values in the conduct of ruling elites that has adversely affect political and economic growth because it gives the people the feeling of less security and bias judgement over the social structure or system.

As corruption ‘impacts negatively on economic growth, it is also politically destabilizing, corruption and abuse of power have long been features of Nigeria’s economic and political landscape. The National Planning Committee has identified systematic corruption which engenders low level of transparency and accountability as the major source of failure.

Scholars have described Nigeria as an unfinished state (Joseph et al 1996) and as truculent African in the midst of abundant human material resources which are propelled in virtuous cycle of poverty and autocracy.

With enormous wealth, from oil resources and enormous economic, political and social strength, Nigeria was qualified to be called Giant of Africa and Nigeria was brought to its knees by twenty years of corrupt military leadership, which left a legacy of executive dominance and political corruption in this hand of the so called god father and thus governance was viewed as an instrument of their enrichment.

From my point of view, I think electoral malpractices originated (started) because of social deprivation with violence as the only way to dominate power the ruling class with little or no knowledge of politics and economies seized power via electoral malpractices since powers or offices were gained without the vote of the masses office holders feel accountable to nobody but to themselves, they appoint ministers, commissioners and government parastatals who are either their brother or someone they can manipulate; since most times in the history of Nigeria government parastatals have no idea of what they have been appointed to do it in turn hampers the economic and political growth of the country since people see government as means of enriching themselves.

Kesselman et al (1996) blamed economic and political decline on three principal factors:

  1. Scarce resources
  2. Weak Legitimacy
  3. Patron Client

Which is commonly known as god fatherism politics a typical example is in the case of Chimaroke Mbadinuju and Chief Emeka Offor as his god father which in turn hampered the economic growth of Anamabra State, the civil servants were not paid and this resulted to a six months strike action and politically, it reduced participation of individuals, since they felt their vote were not needed. Again, the case between Andy Ubah and Chris Ngige is also another example of how electoral malpractices endanger the growth of the nation.

Since electoral malpractices (rigging of results) require a great deal of money, people who gain political posts via electoral malpractices would first want to gain what they have lost during elections and it is now a business, since gubernatorial and presidential elections or any other office in Nigeria which election is the only way to pick out its holder is now a business venture, what good could such office holder bring?, bearing in mind that he/she has to pay the godfather (if any) before attending to the state .


1.2 Statement of the Problem

The major challenge of Nigeria’s democratic process is electoral malpractice. Electrical malpractices are usually committed by the politicians with the connivance of political parties, national electoral body, security agencies etc. This collaboration often supports manipulation of electrical results for selfish interest.

Electoral process in many respects can be seen as the lynchpin of democracy as it plays a key role in safeguarding the quality of elections in a democratic state. Democracy involves far more than holding of free and fair elections, yet if credible elections are not a sufficient condition for democracy, they nevertheless remain a condition for any country to be considered democratic.

The Nigerian state is a victim of high level corruption, bad governance, political instability and a cyclical legitimacy crisis. National economic growth is retarded and the political environment is uncertain.

Electoral rigging and other fraudulent electoral practices frustrate the democratic aspirations of Nigerians who have voted or would have voted into office someone other than the eventual winner. The inability to conduct “free and fair” election has made the country the butt of bad jokes in the international community. The recent developments in the political scene are clear indications that there is no end in sight to the crisis and instability that characterised our nascent democracy. Why it that no improvement has been made in the way elections is conducted in the country?

The principal forms of rigging and fraud were perfected in the elections of 1964, 1965, 1979, 1983, 1999, 2003 and 2007 and presently 2011. The elections so far conducted by the various federal electoral bodies since independence, i.e. Federal Electoral Commission (FEDECO), National Electoral Commission (NEC) and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) have been marred by serious allegation of fraud and violence. Former President Olusegun Obasanjo famously declared that the election of 2007 was a “do or die affair,”.This calls for alarm because our politicians have made this a reality and will do anything to win elections.

Claud Ake (1995) locates the genre of these problems in the incumbents’ political and social conditions in developing counties which manifests in poor planning and implementation, lack of entrepreneurial abilities, the stiffening of market forces, falling of commodity price and unfavourable terms, poverty of ideas, the dependency syndrome, corruption and indiscipline. The lack of participation and consensus building which Mayer et al (1996) called lack of a sense of national community is a factor which hinders national political and economic growth.

Meaningful development and political stability require the collective identity of citizenry and where this is lacking, development programmes are regarded with suspicion indifference or even hostility and at best exploitation result, something to be taken advantage of rather than something to be committed to. Lack of accountability and transparency becomes the order of the day as corruption as an efficiency are concealed as observed with the spate of abandoned projects.

The African state which we know that Nigeria is not an exception in the words of Ayittey (2006) has evolved into a predatory monster or a gangster state that uses a corrupt system of regulation and control to pillage and rob the productive class (the peasantry). It is common knowledge that heads of States, ministers and highly placed African government officials, had the treasury and misuse their positions in government to extort commissions on foreign loan contract scheme, foreign aid and inflate contracts to cronies for kickbacks. These are the very people who are supposed to protect the peasants; are again engaged in institutionalized looting, this governance have produced a baneful structure in an environment that endangers growth in the political system as the people yearn for elusive dividend of good governance. The history of Nigeria is panted with the absence of moral and ethnic values in the conduct of ruling elites that has adversely affect political and economic growth because it gives the people the feeling of less security and bias judgement over the social structure or system.

As corruption ‘impacts negatively on economic growth, it is also politically destabilizing, corruption and abuse of power have long been features of Nigeria’s economic and political landscape. The National Planning Committee has identified systematic corruption which engenders low level of transparency and accountability as the major source of failure.

Scholars have described Nigeria as an unfinished state (Joseph et al 1996) and as truculent African in the midst of abundant human material resources which are propelled in virtuous cycle of poverty and autocracy.

With enormous wealth, from oil resources and enormous economic, political and social strength, Nigeria was qualified to be called Giant of Africa and Nigeria was brought to its knees by twenty years of corrupt military leadership, which left a legacy of executive dominance and political corruption in this hand of the so called god father and thus governance was viewed as an instrument of their enrichment.

From my point of view, I think electoral malpractices originated because of social deprivation with violence as the only way to dominate power the ruling class with little or no knowledge of politics and economies seized power via electoral malpractices since powers or offices were gained without the vote of the masses office holders feel accountable to nobody but to themselves, they appoint ministers, commissioners and government parastatals who are either their brother or someone the can manipulate; since most times in the history of Nigeria government parastatals have no idea of what they have been appointed to do it in turn hampers the economic and political growth of the country since people see government as means of enriching themselves.

Kesselman et al (1996) blamed economic and political decline on three principal factors:

  1. Scarce resources
  2. Weak Legitimacy
  3. Patron Client

Which is commonly known as godfatherism politics a typical example is in the case of Chimaroke Mbadinuju and Chief Emeka Offor as his god father which in turn hampered the economic growth of Anamabra State, the civil servants were not paid and this resulted to a six months strike action and politically, it reduced participation of individuals, since they felt their vote were not needed. Again, the case between Andy Ubah and Chris Ngige is also another example of how electoral malpractices endanger the growth of the nation.

Since electoral malpractices (rigging of results) require a great deal of money, people who gain political posts via electoral malpractices would first want to gain what they have lost during elections and it is now a business, since gubernatorial and presidential elections or any other office in Nigeria which election is the only way to pick out its holder is now a business venture, what good could such office holder bring?, bearing in mind that he/she has to pay the godfather (if any) before attending to the state.

Despite the glaring cases of fraud at the elections which necessitated the various nullifications and cancellations of these results, curious enough perpetrators are not apprehended or prosecuted. Worried by this development pundits are asking, is it that electoral crime is not a punishable offence? Are there no provisions in our law books on how to deal with those who commit crime during elections? Or are these criminals invisible? If the tribunals could affirm that the irregularities necessitating the nullification of these elections and the call for fresh elections were actually committed, can’t they also identify the perpetrators and met out punishment to them accordingly to serve as a deterrent? Even when such culprits are apprehended on election day they are quickly released when their masters-the politicians-step in to secure their release.

One of the celebrated cases was the one against Dr. Chris Ngige as governor of Anambra State after the 2003 election. Chris Uba confessed to subverting the will of the people, the election was nullified, but no one was punished. Scenarios like this makes one wonder if electoral malpractice can be truly curbed in Nigeria.


1.3 Objective of the Study

The general objective of the study is to analyses the impact of electoral malpractice on the democratic process in Nigeria.

Based on the general objectives, the study will accomplish the following specific objective:

  1. To identify problems associated with Nigeria’s electoral process
  2. To investigate how electoral malpractice hamper democratic process in Nigeria.
  3. To determine the role of the government and relevant stakeholders in curbing electoral malpractice in Nigeria.

1.4 Research Hypotheses

For the successful completion of the study, the following research hypotheses were formulated by the researcher;

  1. H0: there are no problems associated with Nigeria’s electoral process
    H1:there are problems associated with Nigeria’s electoral process
  2. H02: there is no role of the government and relevant stakeholders in curbing electoral malpractice in Nigeria
    H2:there is role of the government and relevant stakeholders in curbing electoral malpractice in Nigeria

1.5 Significance of the Study

This study has the potential of educating and enlightening the Nigerian masses on the menace of electoral malpractices. It is significant because apart from projecting academic learning and scholarship, it goes a long way to point out the importance of credible elections to the democratic sustenance of Nigeria.

The study also emphasizes the negative impact of electoral malpractices and appropriate measure that can be taken to address such problems in order for democracy to thrive in Nigeria.


1.6 Scope and Limitation of the Study

This study is limited in scope, to Nigeria from 2003-2011 general elections in the sense that it particularly points out electoral frauds committed by Nigerians in the quest for power during electoral process. This study is within this confinement (although other examples were cited) because election which took place within this period has been seriously criticized as a result of malpractices. The researcher encounters 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) Organizational Privacy:

Limited Access to the selected auditing firm makes it difficult to get all the necessary and required information concerning the activities


1.7 Operational Definition of Terms

The following terms were used in the study thus the relevant meanings are given below:

Democracy:

For the purpose of this research, the definition of Obiyan and Yamah will suffice. They defined democracy as a “representative government with a competitive electoral system” (Sat & Yamah, 2005)

Central to the idea of democracy, this research views democracy in the context of mass participation in governance, checks and balances, rule of law, and people oriented government that makes the welfare of the people the ultimate essence of the state. Thus, in the democratic setting, access to power depends on how much the electorates (the people) believe a particular person or group could advance their welfare. This confidence in a person’s ability to advance their welfare is expressed at regular intervals through the avenue of elections.

Elections:

Simply in this research, elections can be seen as democratic avenue through which the people or groups express their preference for a particular person or group whom they feel can best protect their welfare. It can thus be seen, that the election is the very soul of democracy. This is because it is the major avenue though which the people exercise their sovereign right to govern themselves by deciding who they want to govern them for a pre-determined period.

Electoral Malpractices:

For the purpose of this research, electoral malpractice simply refers to the manipulation of electoral processes and outcomes so as to substitute personal or partisan benefit for the public interest. These include any unapproved and unethical, actions, attitudes, behaviour that violate laid down electoral rules and regulations (i.e. violate Electoral act) which usually manifest during elections.

Electoral Process:

Often confused with election, the electoral process refers to all the activities and procedures involved in the election of representatives by the electorates (Akamere, 2001). Electoral process refers to all the pre and post election activities without which an election is either impossible or meaningless. These include the registration of political parties, review of voters’ register, delineation of constituencies, resolution of electoral disputes, return of elected representatives, swearing-in of elected representatives, etc. In addition to these, the term also refers to the rules that guide electoral conducts. Needless to say that election is merely one, albeit the most important, of the activities that make up an electoral process.

Free and Fair election:

The notion of free and fair election in this research expresses several conditions, including absence of manipulations, irregularities, violence and fraud as well as impartiality of election management authority and effective participation by the electorate at all stages of the electoral process


Chapter Five


Summary, Conclusion and Recommendation

5.1 Introduction

It is important to ascertain that the objective of this study was to ascertain the impact of electoral malpractice inn democratic 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 challenges of the electoral malpractice inn democratic process in Nigeria


5.3 Summary

This study was on the impact of electoral malpractice inn democratic process in Nigeria. Three objectives were raised which included: To identify problems associated with Nigeria’s electoral process, to investigate how electoral malpractice hamper democratic process in Nigeria, to determine the role of the government and relevant stakeholders in curbing electoral malpractice in Nigeria. In line with these objectives, two research hypotheses were formulated and two null hypotheses were posited. The total population for the study is 200 staff of INEC, Anambra state. The researcher used questionnaires as the instrument for the data collection. Descriptive Survey research design was adopted for this study. A total of 133 respondents made civil servants, men, women and youths were used for the study. The data collected were presented in tables and analyzed using simple percentages and frequencies


5.3 Conclusion

The progress of democratic consolidation in Nigeria is circuitous and dilatory with an indeterminate pattern, tainted with excessive personalism. This is because the rule of law is not institutionalized; human rights are sometimes brazenly, and sometimes subtly abused; even elections are not only violent, but are administered unfairly to the benefit of the party in power. It is however believed that Nigerians desire a true democracy and the best way to restore the people’s confidence in the electoral system and democracy is by creating an enabling environment for free and fair elections. To this, various stakeholders such as the independent national electoral commission (INEC), the judiciary and the politicians should rise to the challenges preventing democratic consolidation in the Nigeria. Also, the political leaders and the elite should respect the constitution of the country


5.4 Recommendation

This study suggests and recommends the need to combat godfatherism and incumbency, violence, corruption and impunity so as to enhance the electoral process. Thus unless the political leaders strictly adhered to the application of rule of law, constitutionalism and democratic values, the legitimacy of government and consolidation of democracy may not be sustained. It is suggested that further studies be carried out to focus on corruption as it challenges democratic consolidation in Nigeria’s fourth republic.


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