THE 2015 PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION AND DEMOCRACY IN NIGERIA: A CRITICAL ANALYSIS - Project Topics & Materials - Gross Archive
THE 2015 PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION AND DEMOCRACY IN NIGERIA: A CRITICAL ANALYSIS
1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
Nigeria’s 2015 presidential election was the fifth in a row since the military left the political scene in 1999. PDP which has been the ruling party since 1999 faced its toughest opposition in APC which was formed on February 6, 2013 with the merger of Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), All Nigeria People’s Party (ANPP) and a faction of the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) (The Nation, May 29, 2015). The March 28 presidential election was quite successful albeit, there were hitches in some polling units across the country due to late the arrival of electoral materials and the ineffectiveness of the Smart Card Readers. Former military ruler, General Muhammadu Buhari (retd) emerged as winner of the presidential election. The election was the fourth time that Buhari will be contesting as a presidential aspirant. Buhari won with a total number of 15,424,921 votes as against Goodluck Jonathan’s 12,853,162 votes (INEC website). Buhari’s historic victory marked the triumph of democracy as it was the first time that an opposition party will upstage the incumbent government in Nigeria through legitimate means.
The 2015 presidential election was unique in many ways. First, it marked an unprecedented uninterrupted 5th presidential election since return to democracy in 1999. The first Republic lasted only 6 years from 1960 to 1966, the second Republic lasted only 4 years from 1979 to 1984, while the third Republic was truncated after 4 years of expensive transition programmes between 1989 and 1993. Second, it was unique because for the first time, an incumbent president lost an election. Even though many incumbent governors have lost elections at the state level, the “power of incumbency” has always been potent at the federal level.
At the 2015 presidential poll, Jonathan (PDP) lost 8 states that it won in four years ago to Buhari (APC). The states include; Adamawa; Kwara; Kogi; Benue; Oyo; Ondo; Ogun and Lagos. Jonathan also lost in Osun as it happened in 2011. However, Ekiti was the only Southwestern state that Jonathan won in 2015. On the other hand, Buhari won massively in the 12 states he won in 2011 as the presidential candidate of CPC. The states include; Sokoto; Kebbi; Zamfara; Niger; Kaduna; Katsina; Kano; Jigawa; Bauchi; Gombe; Yobe and Borno. At the 2015 presidential election, Jonathan won 14 states and the FCT, a repeat of the 2011 election. The states include; Edo; Delta; Bayelsa; Rivers; Imo; Abia; Enugu; Ebonyi; Akwa Ibom; Anambra; Cross River; Plateau; Nasarawa and Taraba. Right from the first republic, ethnicity and religion have been key elements that influence voting patterns of Nigerians. Same goes for the 2015 presidential election. The Muslim dominated North voted massively for Buhari, a native of Daura in Katsina State, while the Christian dominated South-South and South-East regions voted massively for Jonathan who hails from Bayelsa, a state in the South-South. The South-Western states contributed to the victories of Jonathan in 2011 and Buhari in 2015 respectively. The Yoruba ethnic group was all out for Jonathan in 2011, but their voting pattern in 2015 favoured Buhari largely because of the merger that brought Yoruba dominated ACN and the Hausa/Fulani dominated CPC together in forming APC.
This research will give an in-depth and a critical analysis of the 2015 Presidential Election and Democracy in Nigeria with the aim of identifying its problems and proffer solutions on the indentified problems.
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
The attention of the global community was on Nigeria during her presidential election period. Right from the pre-independence era, elections in Nigeria have been characterized by political violence; gross electoral malpractices; government’s interference; money politics and the use of ethno-religious identities in shaping the voting patterns of the electorates. Nigeria with a population of over 170 million is fragmented into diverse ethnic groups. The country was conceived by the British Colonialists and till date Nigerians are yet to see themselves as one entity. The results of the 2015 Presidential Election led to political upheaval that truncated in previous presidential elections in Nigeria.
The 2015 Presidential election was one of the pregnant events in the history of Nigerian Democracy. The opposition party All Progressive Congress (APC) for once was set for delivery or miscarriage of Nigerian Democracy. This tensed situation produced fertile grounds for so many unanswered questions like, creation of additional polling units not known to other political parties, the faith of 12.4 million Nigerians who did not get their PVC before election, the huge amount of 125 billion naira largest sum ever spent on election in Africa, the failure of card readers, the question of underage voting in the North, and the demographic figure of disbursement of PVC in the North.
The perennial problem of lack of credible and democratic electoral process has been linked with the phenomenon of “failed, uncaring and unresponsive governance” in Nigeria. Inokoba and Kumokor (2011). No wonder, years of civil rule since 1999 has failed to deliver on good roads, functioning health amenities, quality education, uninterrupted power supply, living wages for workers, effective petroleum sector, genuine electoral reform, equitable distribution of wealth and so on. Hence, Nigeria’s democracy has been described as merely formalistic and devoid of substance. If credible elections are the barometer for measuring democratic consolidation, then we can say that Nigeria is maturing democratically if only the 2015 elections can be adjudged to be freer and fairer than previous elections.
Nigeria’s chequered political history is bedeviled with the gory tales of electoral malpractices which have significantly impacted negatively on the nation’s polity. Effective management of the electoral process has therefore, become an imperative political demand so as to ensure the sanctity, transparency and credibility of election results in the nation’s democratic setting (Akinboye, 2005).
A former U.S Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr. John Campbell is more prominently quoted to have insisted that the country would break up in 2015 because the elections will plunge Nigeria in crisis (Yaqub, 2015). Truly, had the result of the election turned otherwise, many believed that Campbell prediction may have been inevitable? Frankly, Nigerians have desired a change of the Goodluck Jonathan’s PDP administration which has been generally accused of inefficiency, corruption, contempt of the people, insecurity etc. Security was brazenly compromised as government security agencies, including the military conducted their responsibilities with clear partisan inclinations that left nobody in doubt that state apparatuses as important as security and military institutions became tools of political vendetta, electoral manipulations and subversion of democratic norms.
The conduct of the 2015 Presidential election in Nigeria recorded mixed outcomes. While fears in some quarters that Election Day would be marred by serious violence were allayed to a large extent, some instances of technical hitches, non-compliance with electoral regulations, vote buying and other forms of electoral manipulations were recorded in some states of the Federation. However, it did not appear that these electoral hitches were sufficient to alter the expected outcome of the election. Fayemi (2012) argued that it is difficult to “have democracy without democrats” because of the dominance of the political party hierarchy by retired military officers and civilians closely connected to the military elite who set the tone for a party formation that pays little attention to ideology.
By way of an empirical narrative, predicated on Marxist political economy approach, this tension and political upheavals necessitated the investigation of the 2015 Presidential Election and Democracy in Nigeria with the hope of proffering possible remedies to checkmating the trends in the electoral process and democratic consolidation in Nigeria.
1.3 OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
The broad objective of the study is to critically analyze the 2015 presidential election and democracy in Nigeria.
The specific objectives of the study include:
i. To determine the impact of the 2015 presidential election on democracy in Nigeria.
ii. To ascertain whether the 2015 presidential election was truly carried out based on democratic system.
iii. To identify the factors that constitute credible election in a democratic system.
iv. To determine whether the 2015 presidential election has shortcomings.
1.4 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
The following research questions guided the study:
i. Has 2015 presidential election impacted positively on Nigerian democracy?
ii. Was 2015 presidential election carried out based on democratic tenets?
iii. Is 2015 presidential election considered credible locally and internationally?
iv. Are there major shortcomings to the conduct of 2015 presidential election in Nigeria?
1.5 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
1. This research study will serve as an eye opener to every Nigerian as it will entrench the consciousness of democratic tenets among Nigerians.
2. The research study will serve as a reference material to both students and scholars who would want to carryout research study in this area of study and also make recommendations for further studies.
1.6 SCOPE OF THE STUDY
This research study is limited to the extent to which the 2015 presidential election has entrenched democratic tenets in Nigeria.
1.7 LIMITATIONS OF THE STUDY
The following constraints were encountered while carrying out the research.
Time: There was not enough time in carrying out the research as much time was devoted to academic work, and also the project work came up at the point when the researcher was preparing for her final year examination.
Financial Constraint: Inadequate finance has adverse effect on this research work due to the current situation of the economy which makes prices of things very high viz-avis the cost of transportation to obtain relevant materials to this research work were very expensive.
Attitude of respondents: The attitude of some of the respondents were not encouraging as they were not able to give all the necessary information needed to aid the research.
Dearth of Data: There is also a limitation to textbooks, Journals and other materials in the library which are relevant to the research work. I have to source for some materials outside the library.
Beside the above limitations, there is always solution to a problem and the problems were to some extent surmounted.
1.8 DEFINITION OF TERMS
Election: The formal process of choosing a person or group of people for a position, especially a political position.
Credible Election: Credible election refers to the ideal means and procedures in which elections are conducted which is free and fair. For elections to be credible, its processes must be secured and sufficiently transparent.
Electorates: These include group of people especially citizens who are eligible to cast their votes during elections.
Democracy: This is defined as the government of the people, by the people and for the people, especially as a form of government: either directly or through elected representatives.
Political Participation: Political participation entails the voluntary involvement of electorates in voting during election.
Election Rigging: The people in a country or state who have the right to vote n an election in that country or state.
Electoral Violence: is defined as that physical force used by a person, directly of though the use of weapon to hurt, harm or destroy a political opponent(s) during or after election.
This is simply the act of or process of been elected into public office.
This talks about group effort, the advantages and weakness of these various members of the group are been harnessed properly to make for efficient and effective achievement of goals.
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