ELECTORAL PROCESS AND DEMOCRATIC CONSOLIDATION IN NIGERIA: AN ASSESSMENT OF THE 2013 GUBERNATORIAL ELECTIONS IN ANAMBRA STATE
The centrality of election to the sustenance of democracy and development is encapsulated in the fundament al principles of democracy. The preference of democracy as a form of government above others is predicted on the unique opportunity it affords for popular participation. Despite the appreciation that only credible elect ions can consolidate and sustain Nigeria’s nascent democracy, its electoral process often result to confront at ions that continue to threat en the political stability, peace and the very existence of the nation Nigeria. Scholars have at tribute this problem of elect ion credibility in Nigeria t o t he weak institutionalization of the agencies of elect oral administration, particularly the independent National Electoral Commission, the political parties and security agencies in the country arguing that elect ions can only engender the consolidation of democracy in Nigeria if the electoral processes are reformed in ways that fundament ally entrances the capability of INEC to discharge its responsibilities effectively , and the security agencies showing a high degree of neutrality, alertness, and commitment to maintaining law and order in the electoral process. Observations revealed that the mode of involving security forces and how they carry out their duties while participating in the elect oral process in Nigeria are part of the sources of violence and insecurity during elect ions.
This study has adopted the Elite theory by Gaetaro Morcos, Vilfredo Parcto and Robert Michel as the frame work of analysis to assess the elect oral process and democratic consolidation in Nigeria with special reference to the 2013 gubernatorial elect ions in Anambra State. The data used for this study were collected through secondary source which was obtained from the review of related literatures; it also concluded that until Nigeria is unable to put in place a transparent and credible elect oral process, the country will continue to experience governance devoid of all fundamental trappings of a sustainable democracy .
Thus, the main thrust of this study is to examine the elect oral process and democratic consolidation in Nigeria, with particular reference to the 2013 gubernatorial elect ions in 2013 Anambra State.
1.1 Background of the Study
Election in post-colonial Nigeria and after independence have been vexed issues. This is because they have always been accompanied with acrimony, killing bitterness maiming among others. The last elections held in Nigeria under the British colonial rule were in December 1956. The election ushered in Nigeria’s independence of October 1, 1990. While the first post-colonial election took place in December 1964. As campaign for the elections started, the United Progressive Grand Alliance (UPGA) one of the parties that fought the elections, alleged intimidation, and denial of freedom to operate by the Nigerian National Alliance (NNA) against its candidates. The situation degenerated that (UPGA) decided to boycott the elections. There was tension in Nigeria, and as a way out of the crisis, a broad-based government was agreed upon. However, in less than one year, that is in November 1965 another election crisis engulfed Nigeria, this had to do with elections into the western Nigeria House of Assembly. The ruling party in that region, the Nigeria National Democratic Party (NNDP) made sure that many candidates of the opposition parties were unable to get their nomination forms, and ballot papers were not made available to its supporters. In addition, regulations that dealt with the counting and announcing of results were not adhered to. Eventually, the NNDP was declared winner of the elections consequently, the announcement unlashed reign violence on the region. “Operation we tie” that is spray fuel and set lives and properties ablaze.
As the violence continued, the Nigeria army on January 15, 1966 stepped in to stop further bloodshed and destruction. As part of efforts to disengage the junta from the political scene and return to the barracks, the army organized elections in 1979. There were allegations of election rigging, and other malpractices were also observed. As a result, the Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN), one of parties that took part in the elections, went to court to challenge the result. We are aware of this term “stolen presidency” which has since become part of Nigeria’s political vocabulary. In the 1983 general elections, the ruling party, the National Party of Nigeria (NPN) was returned to power. The UPN complained bitterly over rigging of election as was done in 1979. On the 31st of December 1983, the junta (boys in Khaki) intervened once more and took over the government. It is true to say that the presidential election of June, 12 1993, was also dogged by controversy. It was organized as the last phase of the timetable to end the military rule. The election believed to be the freest and fairest in Nigeria’s post-independence history, was also cancelled by the Army itself because a body, the Association for Better Nigeria (ABN), that alleged corruption in the nomination of Chief M.K.O Abiola had gone to court to obtain a ruling that the election be postponed and the electoral umpire, the National Election Commission (NEC) failed to abide by the ruling.
The 1999 general election that finally disengaged the military from the political scene was also rigged like previous elections in Nigeria. There were allegations of shortage of election materials at the polling centres, thumb printing of ballot paper outside polling centres, voting returns bearing little resemblance of the poor turn-out of voters e.t.c. The All Peoples Party (APP) Action for Democracy (AD) went to court to challenge the declaration of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate as the winner. In the 2003, 2007, 2011 elections, worse malpractices were even alleged to have taken place. It was alleged that ballot boxes were said to have been snatched from electoral officers and substituted by God or Allah whom knows. Double thumb printing and thereby voiding of votes cast for the opponent was alleged to have been carried out-in some centres, according to reports, electoral officials failed to turn up, and consequently there was no voting in such centres, in spite of this, results were later allegedly declared for them. In some others, results were allegedly “doctored and monitored” through corroboration between officials of the electoral body and party agents. It was further reported that a lot of eligible voters were disenfranchised. Nigeria struggles for sustainable democracy, good governance, and development have been so daunting, that all previous attempts at democratic transition have been futile. The collapse of the first (1960-66) and second (1979-83) republics, and the abortion of the third republic through the annulment of the June 12 1993 presidential election are very clear indications.
After prolonged military rule characterized by the wanton violation and repression of the political process, economic, and social rights of the people, the re-democratization process which began in 1999 elicited renewed expectations for the consolidation of democracy in the country (Osagbae 1999 4-25). At the heart of international review of social sciences and Humanities vol, 6. No 1 (2003) 19-34 21 these expectation lies the pertinent issues of elections.
Elections are meaningfully democratic if they are free, fair, participatory competitive, and legitimate. This is possible when they are administered by a neutral authority. When the electoral administration is sufficiently competent and resourceful to take specific precautions against fraud, when the police, military and courts treat competing candidates and parties impartially, when contenders all have access to the public media, when electoral distinct and rules do not grossly handicap the opposition; when the secret of the ballot is protected; when virtually all adults can vote; when procedures for organizing and counting the votes are widely known and followed, and when there are transparent and impartial procedures for resolving election complaints and disputes (Diamond, 2008:25)
The aftermath of voting or rigging by desperate political office contenders to office, manifest in bad governance: and extension of poverty. Often time, social and economic infrastructures development are neglected, there are lapses on security of lives and properties. The pseudo-capitalist hegemony continues to raise its ugly head to sustain masses economic deprivation and incure a bleak future for the masses. After fifty years of developmental retardation orchestrated by political servitude, Nigerians through April 2011 elections resolved to rescue the dying giant from its comatose. They voted for a change from unimpressive past and status-quo; to a new order that is expected to initiate a new dawn in the history of Nigeria and national development. The people who have for so long been eluded with good governance and its associated benefits stood to the rescue of the nation that suffers from the plaque of its leaders. In unity of action, the people turned out massively and voted for candidates of their choice, amidst political harassment and intimidation. They decided to salvage Nigeria’s deeming political relevance among the committee of nations. They sacked all the non performing political parasites and elected new leaders whom they authorized to exercise political power on their behalf for the next four years.
Elections in Nigeria a continue to elicit more than casual interest by Nigeria scholars due to the fact that despite the appreciation that only credible election can consolidate and sustain the country’s nascent democracy, over the years, Nigeria continues to witness with growing disappointments and apprehension the inability to conduct peaceful, free, and open elections whose results are widely accepted and respected across the country (Igbuzor, 2010; Osumah and Aghemelo, 2010, Ekweremade, 2011). All the elections that have been conducted in Nigeria since independence have generated increasingly bitter controversies and grievances on a national scale because of the twin problems of mass violence and fraud that have become central elements in the history of elections and of the electoral process in the country (Gberie, 2011).
Despite the marked improvement in the conduct of the 2011 elections, the process was not free from malpractices and violence (Bekoe, 2011, Gberie, 2011; National Democratic Institute, 2012). Thus over the years electoral processes in the history of Nigeria’s democratic government have continued to be marred by extraordinary displays of rigging, dodgy, “do or die” affair, ballot snatching at gun points, violence and acrimony, thuggery, boycotts, criminal manipulations and threats of voters, brazen falsification of election results, the use of security agencies against political opponents and the intimidation of voters (Omotola, 2010, Bekoe, 2011). In fact elections remain one of the leading notable sources of conflict which often results to confrontations that continue to threaten the political stability and peace of the nation. (Gueye & Hounkpe 2010, Idown, 2010).
Arguable, democratic culture or development is not sustainable on the conduct of credible elections alone. Other democratic virtues must be put in place and its efficiency must be ensured. Check and balances between the three arms of government, independent and incorruptible judiciary; viable fourth estate among others, are democracy sustaining tenets that should not be compromised. In a situation where the trust of the people is deflated by those entrusted to defend its sanctity, the masses should be irrepressible in their collective action to deal decisively with such betrayer of public confidence. Government whose actions and policies are inimical, and runs contrary to the expectations and total development of Nigeria should be legally run down. Civil disobedience, walk to rule, peaceful and coordinated mass protest by a legitimate trade union or organized labor are few examples of how anti-people’s government could be legally run down in order to sustain our fragile democracy, and hold the political leaders accountable.
Thus, the main thrust of this study is to examine the electoral process and democratic consolidation in Nigeria with particular reference to the 2013 gubernational elections in Anambra state.
1.2 Statement of Problem
Electoral process has been in existence in Nigeria since 1922, but from then till date, there have been transitional problem of government. Thus it has not been easy having a successful transition of government from one civilian government to another civilian government. According to history, concerning previous elections, from related literatures by different author, we observed that most of the transitions from civilian to another civilian government always ended up in a military coup detat. And the 2003 general election is a typical example which compelled many Nigerians to doubt if they would ever have a successful civilian to civilian transition of government in Nigeria. From reports and publications, and comments from social and political scientist, they are all of the opinion, that up to date, Nigeria has never recorded any successful election exercise.
Nigerian democracy aims to ensure political stability and promote fundamental human right. Elections in Nigeria which should have been a prelude for achieving stabilized government accompanied with people’s consent have contradicted these standards because of election rigging. This is a serious concern hence the stability and secured environment needed for the success of democracy have been severely jeopardized. Elections conducted since Nigeria’s independence have been played in a do or die affair, and this has made the peace-loving Nigerians to be dead scared of exercising their voting rights because of the suicidal nature of the political environment. Evidence has shown that the rate of citizen participation in elections these days have drastically reduced due to the limited choice, or lack of qualified candidates. Lack of candidates that are visionary, have made the electorates politically weak. Sometimes the electorates are disenfranchised, and the alienated political barons employ the use of force to seize power or what Ihonvbec (1989) painted in a general picture of Africa’s situation as rulership became pertinent, politics became Hobbessian, power was fought by all means, and the struggle for power became very worrying. Adekanye (1990:2) notes that because of the history of electoral fraud, elections in the country have often been associated with political tension, crisis, and violence. Actually, politics is seen as the only game in town, and it was played with dead seriousness, for the winner won everything, and the loser lost everything.
The quest to win election by all means has also claimed the lives of both the electorates and some popular candidates by some hoodlums who want to control the government by dubious means. As a result, those who have the interest of Nigeria at heart have resorted to shun politics for fear of facing sudden death in the process and this has posed a serious threat to Nigerian democracy and its consolidation. Worse still, electoral body which would have been neutral, and ensure a free and fair election have been biased, because in some cases, they are employed by some power brokers to serve as a rescue mission to some illegitimate candidates to the detriment of popular candidates and the Nigerian electorates, to ensure that their unpopular candidates emerged victorious in elections, they have seen election rigging as a way out against general wish of the popular candidate, electorates, and the good of Nigerian democracy. Kurfi (2005:101) has observed, rigging is almost synonymous with Nigeria elections. The main aim of election rigging or malpractice is to frustrate the democratic aspirations of citizen who have voted, or would have voted into office someone, instead of the victor. These days, votes don’t count because come rain; come shine, the electoral body must deliver and no one questions their decisions.
In fact, the elections conducted in Nigeria have been cruelly contested, that the success of the democratic order has been totally compromised. This ugly electoral malpractice and rigging have a negative effect on Nigeria’s democratic future because the trend is increasing instead of reducing. The trends have actually undermined the chances of successful elections and the consolidation of democracy in Nigeria. Thus, the main thrust of this study is to examine the electoral process and democratic consolidation in Nigeria with particular reference to the 2013 gubernatorial elections in Anambra state. The question that, study seeks to answer therefore include the following.
1. Was the INEC, and its officers effective in ensuring free and fair elections in the 2013 governorship elections in Anambra State?+
2. What are the challenges of democratic consolidation in Nigeria?
1.3 Research Hypothesis
1. That the INEC officers were not effective in ensuring free and fair elections in the 2013 governorship election in Anambra state.
2. That the incumbency factor and corruption among others are challenges of democratic consolidation in Nigeria.
1.4 Objective of the Study
The core objective of this study is to examine electoral Process and Democratic consolidation in Nigeria, with special attention to the 2013 Gubernatorial Elections in Anambra state, which the specific objectives are:
1. To determine if INEC Officers were effective in ensuring free and fair elections in the 2013 governorship elections in Anambra state.
2. To expose some major flaws in the administration of the 2013 governorship election in Anambra state, and make a case for strengthening INEC’s institutional capacity.
3. To provide useful data that could guide stake holder’s interventions in ensuring popular participation in the electoral process in Nigeria.
1.5 Significance of the Study
The significance of the study is one, the value or contribution which the research is going to make to already existing knowledge in terms of theoretical justification or relevance; and two, the solution the research is going to provide towards amelioration a practical problem of concern (Obasi, 1999).
A research can be justified because it is (i) timely, topical or auspicious (ii) closing an existing gap in knowledge or literature (iii) theoretically relevant (iv) practically relevant (v) In accordance with national priority (vi) in accordance with priorities set by research funding agency. (vii) Wider in scope in terms of issues covered or geographical areas covered, and (viii) Useful for confirming or accepting and rejecting existing findings.
It lists out the groups, institutions that are likely to benefit from the findings or discoveries of research. The research work is very relevant in the sense that it educates. By going through this work, one is compelled to learn and understand so many thing about electioneering activities as well as transition politics in the 2013 gubernatorial elections in Anambra state. It will also serve as an instrumental tool for Nigerian political leaders in their scramble for state powers.
The work also acknowledges those factors that have uncontrollably, put Nigeria in a state of socio-economic and political obfuscation and practical incongruity, characterizing themselves in a more obvious and glaring appearance, otherwise known as under development.
Furthermore, it observed and revealed the evils of past electioneering activities, and why democracy has not been consolidated after many years of independence.
Empirically, or practically, this study will be of immense benefits to politicians, international institutions, students, e.t.c. The study is timely, because it is ongoing.
1.6 The scope of the Study
A good research has to be delimited to a manageable scope. Delimitation of research refers to the definition of the scope (extent or boundary) covered by the research.
The scope of a research can be operationally defined in terms of (i) the issues covered; (ii) The period (time frame) covered; (iii) Subject of the study, such as people; (iv) Geographical private sectors.
Thus, the scope of this study is to examine Electoral Process and Democratic Consolidation in Nigeria with special attention to the 2013 Gubernatorial Election in Anambra state.
1.7 Limitations of the Study
Through successful, some factors has made the study so stressful, some of these factors are:
Lack of adequate fund, considering the present state of the economy of the country, the researcher finds it difficult and stressful financially to source out materials for this study from the internet, buying of newspaper and magazines, moving from one university library to another, travelling constantly to the state of study to gather the needed information and materials relevant for this study, photocopying the relevant materials, printing the relevant material entails a lot of finance. The researcher has to starve at times to fulfill some of these obligations.
Secondly another limitation of this study is coming across unfamiliar words which constitute a literary problem. Also coming across relevant materials but the sources cannot be acknowledged.
The researcher had to battle with his semester academic challenges as well as his research work, and other responsibilities, therefore had to battle with the time factor.
The research, however, takes responsibility for any inadequacy these limitations might bring to bear on the output of this research work, and asks for readers understanding.
1.8 Definition of Terms
Some key concepts are very relevant in carrying out this study, therefore it becomes imperative to clearly define these terms. They are:
i. Democracy: Looking at the term, there are various definitions to the term according to Schumpeter (194) democracy means that the people have the opportunity of accepting or refusing the men who are to govern them.
Rousseau and Rivero (2003) see democracy as the power of the people as it is manifest in ways of thinking, behaving, and organizing that enhances participation in, and influence over decisions that affects their everyday lives. Huntington (1991) sees democracy as a political system where in the most popular candidates are chosen through fair, honest, and periodic elections in which candidates are free to compete for votes, and which virtually all the adult population are qualified to vote.
From the above, the term democracy can be seen as a political system that is characterized of periodic elections in which politicians arrange into political parties that arrange themselves in competitive polls to ensure a standing government.
However, if democracy is all about to choose who should govern the people, then, election is one paramount way to select.
ii. Election Rigging: According to Nwabueze (2003) election rigging refers to election manipulations which are committed with a corrupt, fraudulent or sinister motive to influence an election in favour of a candidate (s) by way such as illegal voting, bribery undue influence intimidation and other forms of force exerted on the electorates, falsification of results, fraudulent announcement of a losing candidate as the winner e.t.c.
Election rigging connotes any form of undue authority or power that influence and manipulate election result in a way to protect a particular interest, against the generality of the interest of the masses.
Election rigging can therefore be seen as an act of dishonestly organizing an election to get a particular result. It is an electoral fraud and an interference with the electoral process irrespective of the wishes of the people.
iii. Election: This facilitates and shapes democracy. Democracy is regarded as the best form of government because its ideology promotes peoples will. According Dickson M. et al (1990) election is defined as a post mortem that investigates the record of office holder whose actual performance may have little to do with promises made when they were previously elected. Therefore an election can be defined or seen as a decision making process by which a population chooses an individual, or individual (s) to public office (s).
iv. Democratic consolidation: This simply implies a democracy that can last for the test of time. This can be assumed if those values that made democracy worthwhile are fully institutionalized. It is a process by which a new democracy matures, in a way that means it is unlikely to revert to authoritarianisms.
1.9 Research Methodology
This section of the research deals with the sources of data for the research, the method adopted in collection the data, as well as the data analysis method (s).
1.9.1 Data Source
The data used in writing this were collected from books, Journals, newspapers, magazines, statistical and policy documents, government publications, internet, and nongovernmental organizations. Inputs from my project supervisor, and other lecturers in the department were also very helpful.
1.9.2 Data Collection Method
The secondary methods of data collection were used. In this method, data will be collected from already existing literature which is relevant to the work.
1.9.3 Data Analysis Method
Content analysis method will be adopted in this work where the research will analyze data collected from the literature in line with the theoretical framework adopted in the work.