The Roles Of Elections In Maintaining Democracy In Nigeria

Project and Seminar Material for Political Science

The Roles Of Elections In Maintaining Democracy In Nigeria


Is there any hope for genuine democratic practice in Nigeria? This study was designed to examine the roles of elections in maintaining democracy in Nigeria. (A Case Study of 2007 General Elections).

The analysis of the questionnaire in which the descriptive types of analysis was used exhibits the clear responses of the respondents. Thereby discourage the null hypothesis of the findings.

Although, the recommendations were provided, so as to know how the roles of election could be improved.

Chapter One

1.0 Introduction

1.1 Background of the Study

Democracy has been described as the best form of government. Best defined as “Government of the people, for the people and by the people”, advocates of democracy as a form of government state that it is the most consistent with natural tendencies because, it allows humans the highest possible freedom of expression, Democracy, in practice, requires that leaders ate selected through free and fair elections; institutions, which to foster a shared distribution of political power; and the citizens have extensive opportunities to participate in political activities.

Three factors have been identified as reasons why democracy is a best way to generate sustainable prosperity for the vast majority which includes Shared Power, Openness and Adaptability.

Democracy is not just a set of constitutional rules and procedures that determines how a government functions but are most importantly premised on the facts that these rules are determined by the people or their elected representatives whom they have mandated through an electoral process.

Election represents such a fundamental and common features of political life that there is hardly any disputes about her meaning and actual or potential roles it play in, maintaining peaceful democracy in Nigeria.

Douse and Hughes (1972) define election as a procedure recognized by the rules of an organization, be it a state, club, voluntary organization or whatever, where all or some of the members choose a smaller number of persons to hold an office or offices of authority, within that organization. An election is also a formal decision making process which often leads to representatives’ government through democratic principles.

Elections play critical roles in democracy; that is from where the definition of “government of the people, by the people, for the people” derives. Not only does election give the citizens the ultimate power in the selection of their leaders, it makes it possible for corrupt and inefficient leaders to be replaced in non violent manner.

For any election into political office to be and be seen as free and fair, it must be predicated upon the existence of certain parameters. They include among others: Legal Framework System, Electoral watchdog, Right to Elect and be Elected, Voter Registration and Register, Political Parties and Candidates, Democratic Electoral Campaigns, Media Access and Freedom of Expression, Campaign Finance and Expenditure, Balloting, Vote Counting, Role of Representatives of Parties and Candidates, Election Observers, etc.

Democracy, in practice, requires that leaders are selected through free and fair elections. Within, the African Milieu (Ake 1992) argues that the only democracy that will appeal to the masses in the continent must be; a social democracy which goes beyond abstract political right and take concrete economic and social right seriously.

Nigeria experience with democracy has been epileptic since 1960 when she got her independence from British administration. 1999, will be the third attempt (if the third, republic is excluded as it was abolished with democratic, ethos). In each, practice widely accepted to be at variance with the spirit of true democracy was perceived to the major reasons for democracy demise in Nigeria such as violence, corruption, political association and very recently / godfatherism has not only undermined her democracy but has gone a long way to threaten its very maintenance.

Due to the way it’s been pursued, it has been alleged in many quarters that it can not be extricated or distinguished from dictatorial, regime. A regime when elections are conducted, citizens are not allowed to go pass the voting process in having a good share, in the elected government of the day (Adele, 2001).

The role of elections is not only strengthening but to also ensure maintenance becomes very imperatives. Although election, plays a vital role in a system of representatives, which to implement the principle of popular sovereignty.

Mackenzie (1967) posits the Nigeria is at a critical juncture in its political history. The country has been be-devilled with poor political leadership partly as a result of flawed elections. A good example is the famous June 12, 1993 election allegedly won by M.K.O Abiola though, it was adjudged as the freest election in Nigeria till date, it was annulled by the military leadership of Gen. Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida (IBB).

The electoral standards which contribute to uniformity, reliability, consistency, accuracy and overall professionalism in elections have been abandoned in the previous elections in Nigeria.

However, elections role in consolidating democracy in the Third world nations has been doubted because while the body responsible for ensuring that democratic transitions are successful, they lack what it takes to assure its continuation. But there is now a real possibility to ensure credible, free and fair election in Nigeria with the new electoral law and a credible, respected and radical leadership of INEC. In addition, all stakeholders including citizens must perform their roles to make this happen.

This research therefore, is very timely in that it will rigorously and systematically look at election to be of immense, help in consolidating democracy in Nigeria by overcoming the weaknesses.

1.2 Statement of the Problems

The lack of an effective and viable election has allowed questioning the maintenance of democracy in Nigeria. Therefore, this project work will examine the following respectively:

  1. The roles of election in ensuring effective continuation of democracy in Nigeria.
  2. Some of the problems that could mitigate against the emergence of successful free and fair election and
  3. How the strength of INEC could be enhanced,

1.3 Objective of the Study

The objectives of the study covers

  1. To ascertain the roles of election in maintaining democracy in Nigeria
  2. To ascertain the effects of multi-ethnics nature of Nigeria on free and fair election
  3. To ascertain the prevalent is flawed election in Nigeria democracy
  4. To ascertain the factors that prompt the occurrence of demise democratic system of government

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 roles of election in maintaining democracy in Nigeria
    H1: there are roles of election in maintaining democracy in Nigeria
  2. H02: there are no factors that prompt the occurrence of demise democratic system of government
    H2: there are factors that prompt the occurrence of demise democratic system of government

1.5 Significance of the Study

The significance of the study lies in the differences it is capable of making to the enhancement of democratic ethos in the Nigeria political system. It’s premises is that election have a great role to play in expanding Nigeria nascent democracy across it’s territorial boundaries.

Moreover, it will indeed help to maintain the fact that military is an aberration and abnormal rule that cannot aids or mid-wife democracy.

1.6 Scope and Limitation of the Study

The study will be restricted in scope of analysis to the geographical entity known as Nigeria and the role of INEC in its 2007 elections. These elections will be used as case studies from time to time as the circumstances demands. 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 Definition of Terms

Conceptual clarification is a major requirement for any scientific or empirical research. It lays the basis for outright understanding of major conception that is used this is because concepts are the building blocks. The following concept therefore, needs operational clarification.

1. Role:

The oxford English Advanced Learners Dictionary, sixth edition define the word “role” as the functions of position that something has to or is expect to have in organization, in society or in a relationship.

Hence from the above, the roles of election are the characteristics of a good democracy that will carry along the needs of Nigerians in a political society.

2. Election:

Alan Ball (1977) defines election as the process or means by which people choose and exercise some degree of control over their representatives.

In brief, elections are held frequently in the third world countries where citizen feel overwhelmed sometimes in all the electoral choices they are asked to make. However, making choice at all the polls is a responsibility of every citizen in a democracy (Gloria Cox: 1050).

3. Democracy:

The term democracy is an adjectival word, which originated from the Greeks root itself. Demos mean the people and Kratio, to rule.

According to the dictionary of contemporary English, (Longman). The concept democracy is defined as a country governed by its people or their representatives.

Adelope (1995) sees it as system of government under which the people exercised the governing power either directly or through representatives periodically elected by themselves.

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 (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.
  • Chapter two highlights the theoretical framework on which the study is based, thus the review of related literature.
  • Chapter three deals on the research design and methodology 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

Chapter Five

Summary, Conclusion and Recommendation

5.1 Introduction

It is important to ascertain that the objective of this study was to ascertain the roles of elections in maintaining democracy 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 roles of elections in maintaining democracy in Nigeria

5.2 Summary

This study was on the roles of elections in maintaining democracy in Nigeria. Four objectives were raised which included: To ascertain the roles of election in maintaining democracy in Nigerian, to ascertain the effects of multi-ethnics nature of Nigeria on free and fair election, to ascertain the prevalent is flawed election in Nigeria democracy, to ascertain the factors that prompt the occurrence of demise democratic system of government. 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, AkwaIbom 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 presiding officers, electoral officers, administrative staff and junior staff were used for the study. The data collected were presented in tables and analyzed using simple percentages and frequencies

5.3 Conclusion

Election has been recognized as one of the salient determinant of the quality of democratic government. Elections in Nigeria however continue to suffer wanton abuses and gross violation of its sanctity. While it has been argued that the roles of security agencies are very critical to the success of election as credible election requires among others high degree of neutrality, alertness, and commitment of security personnel to maintaining law and order, ensuring security of voters, candidates and election materials, the Nigerian Police is however not effective in carrying out the function of ensuring security of voters, candidates and election materials and peaceful elections as they are found to continuously show non-challant attitudes to stealing of ballot boxes and papers during elections in the country. In the 2011 general elections especially the Lagos, Ogun and Oyo states general elections, they were not neutral and vigilant but showed open support for candidates and connived with and aided party thugs and gangsters in their nefarious act of rigging, victimization and intimidation of political opponents during the election in the state. Because of their authority, power, and access to firearms, the Nigeria Police can intimidate and have on occasion intimidated the population. In extreme situations, they react violently to constitutionally protected rights and activities such as opposition campaigns or rallies. The findings of this study reveal that it is how security officers in Nigeria perform their roles of electoral security that needs attention and not the issue of whether these roles are being executed. There is no doubt about the fact that security agencies have great roles to play in electoral security in Nigeria, however, attention must be given to the way in which these roles are being executed by the security agencies especially the Nigeria Police. Nigerian government have been making frantic efforts at reforming the country’s electoral process, we however argue that any electoral reforms in that excludes reformation of the security agencies is an incomplete exercise. Furthermore effective collaboration among the various security agencies and with the INEC in the country and the way they manage confidential information and security reports is critical to election success in Nigeria.

5.4 Recommendation

The security agencies are responsible for general maintenance of law and order. They are expected to ensure security during voters’ registration, party congresses and conventions, political campaigns/meetings and rallies, voting and post-election events such as election tribunals and crises that may be fallout of elections. These are roles that traditionally belong to the police, but popular vigilance is inevitable for these functions to be carried out. Special training, orientation programmes prior elections should be conducted to sensitize the various security agencies in their roles in elections. This should be done to improve the role of police of during elections. Security Officers redeployed specifically for electoral responsibilities should be remunerated. This remuneration should be in the form of electoral allowance for the security officers paid differently from their normal salaries. This reward should be handsome enough to enable them stand their grand against being bribed by the desperate politicians. The role of the security agencies in electoral process is very crucial. However, there is no provision of such in the Nigeria Electoral Act of 2006 as amended in 2010. Although the 1999 Constitution and Nigeria Police Act elaborate the general functions of the Police, there is need for specific details of the role of the Nigeria police and other security agencies in relations to election. Therefore, the functions of the various security agencies during elections should be specified in the Nigeria Electoral Act. While local and international monitoring groups have been very keen at reporting cases of electoral conducts in Nigeria, often, the activities of the security agencies are not covered. A legislation that will enable them monitor the activities of the various security agencies during elections should be enacted. Civic vigilance is necessary in election. In the event that the police engage in compromising roles, people around should alert the media who investigates any such story and disseminates it: tender such as election tribunals if relevant as evidence. Police authorities should instantly punish their personnel involved in such acts. To mitigate violence in elections, there is need for adequate security planning between the election management body (INEC), police and other security agencies involved in the elections. Civil society organizations and the National Orientation Agency should embark on early civic education while political parties should educate their supporters on proper conducts all through the electioneering period.

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