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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.
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.
1.1 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,
1.2 OBJECTIVE OF THE STUDY
The aim and objective of this work is to critically evaluate the roles of election in Third world countries with particular reference to Nigeria and how such can effect positively or negatively to a sustainable democracy though this has been perceived too weak.
It is therefore, timely and pertinent to look into the issue and proposed a way forward despite the outlined weakness, democracy is till largely adjudged as the best form of government because of the freedom (bill of rights) it ensured in any given society.
1.3 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.
1.4 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
1. What are the effects of multi-ethnics nature of Nigeria on free and fair election?
2. How prevalent is flawed election in Nigeria democracy?
3. What are the factors that prompt the occurrence of demise democratic system of government?
1.5 RESEARCH HYPOTHESIS
The following hypothesis assumption would be of immense important in researching the above questions.
1. H1: Multi ethnic composition of Nigeria has no significant effects on the conduct of free and fair election.
2. H0: There is no significant relationship between the politicization of INEC and their perceived weakness in playing their role.
3. H0: There is no significant relationship between godfatherism and occurrence of democratic strangulation in Nigeria.
1.6 SCOPE 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. This elections will be used as case studies from time to time as the circumstances demands.
1.7 LIMITATION OF THE STUDY
As the case usually is, there are certain limitation the researcher will be faced with in the course of this work such as finance which might have a direct consequence on the quality of suitable materials and time frame. The study therefore, cannot be exhaustive in it’s entirely.
However, these constraints will be checkmated thoroughly and strongly believes that despite these, it’s effects on this research work will be minimal. Thus making the objective and significance of the study.
1.8 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.
i. INEC – Independent National Electoral Commission.
ii. EFCC – Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.
iii. ICPC – Independent Corrupt and other Practices Commission.
iv. DDC – Direct Data Capturing Machine.
v. NEEDS – National Economic Empowerment and Development Strategy.
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