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Free, fair and credible elections are central to electoral democracy and provide vital means of empowering citizens to hold their leaders accountable. In a multi-party democracy, it behoves both the elected and appointed government officials at all levels of the political system to render periodic account of their stewardship to the populace. However, accountability of public officials in Nigeria has been undermined by the fact that elections in the country are perennially fraught with irregularities. The democratization of politics has been unsuccessful in arresting electoral frauds perpetrated by different political parties and megalomaniac politicians. It has also been unable to address the administrative misconduct of officials of Nigeria’s Election Management Body (EMB) ― the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). The collapse of the First and Second Republics, and also the abortion of the Third Republic through the annulment of the June 12, 1993 Presidential Election are clear indicators of the failure of previous attempts to democratize elections in Nigeria. Elections are important elements of modern representative government. They typify the democratic process; hence, the abolition of elections is often interpreted as the abolition of democracy. General elections are elections conducted in the federation at large for federal and state elective positions (The Electoral Institute, 2019). The 2019 general election appears to be the most keenly contested in the history of elections in Nigeria because it was the first time about four major opposition parties came together to form a very strong party, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in order to challenge the dominance of the ruling party, All Progressive Congress (APC) in the polity. Indeed, according to Omotola (2013), the election became the only game in town, shaping and reshaping public discourse and political actions. During the last few years, the application of ICT has been deployed in most activities of life and has formed some integral part of us. The last election which is the 2019 election was done using the aid of ICT equipment’s. One of the real issues about the 2019 Elections in Nigeria was the use of innovative anti-rigging biometric devices. The administration of the elections witnessed the use of Smart Card Reader (SCR) for the authentication of biometric Permanent Voters’ Cards (PVCs) and the accreditation of voters. The introduction of these devices was necessitated by the fact that reliable voter register and identification mechanism are some of the preconditions for free, fair and credible elections. However, the legality of the device was questioned. Although Section 52 of the Electoral Act, 2010 (as amended) proscribes electronic voting (e-voting), the card reader is a form of identification, not a means of casting a ballot. The use of the card reader in some quarters experienced glitches in its functionality, thereby leading to manual accreditation of some voters. This attracted negative reactions which consequently fuelled the erroneous conclusion that the Nigerian electoral system is not ripe for the application of such technology. However, it emboldened many disenchanted voters to exercise their franchise because of the assurance and confidence that the new system brought. The prevalence of electoral irregularities in many transitional democracies, especially in Africa, has accentuated the clamour for and use of voting technologies for uncovering and reducing election frauds. According to Golden, Kramon & Ofosu (2014), “these technological solutions, such as electronic voting machines, polling station webcams and biometric identification equipment, offer the promise of rapid, accurate, and ostensibly tamper-proof innovations that are expected to reduce fraud in the processes of registration, voting or vote count aggregation”. Biometric identification machines authenticate the identity of voters using biometric markers, such as fingerprints, that are almost impossible to counterfeit. The technologies are particularly useful in settings where governments have not previously established reliable or complete paper-based identification systems for their populations (Gelb & Decker, 2012). These African fledgling democracies have persistent difficulties in registering their electors and establishing their identity. Following polemics about the quality of existing voter rolls, some of these countries have recently introduced reforms to their voter registration systems, such as the adoption of voter identities and of biometric technology. Gelb & Clark (2013) aver that biometric identification systems are already in widespread use for voter registration and as of early 2013, 34 of the world’s low- and middle-income countries had adopted biometric technology as part of their voter identification system. For instance, different kinds of biometric infrastructure have been used in some African States like Ghana, Mali, Kenya, Cameroon, Sierra Leone, Mozambique, Zambia, Malawi, Rwanda, Senegal and Mauritania, with varying degrees of success, to improve transparency in recent elections. The role of card reader in improving free, fair and credible elections has not attracted much attention in the literature, but has been widely acknowledged by officials of EMBs and pro-democracy activists and also the used of the electronic device in the 2019 general elections generated debate among election stakeholders before, during and after the elections. Consequently, this research focused on the roles and challenges of the card reader in the 2019 general elections. Furthermore, the paper critically analyzes the debate and impact of the card reader on the 2019 general elections; and also attempt to look at the way forward for the card reader in future elections in Nigeria. The paper however examines other selected issues around the election. It is believed that the research work will contribute to the ongoing debate on the use of technology in the electoral process especially in the underdeveloped and developing countries of Africa.



For over the years Nigeria is facing with the lingering problem of election rigging and manipulation from the politicians in which the people vote is not counted and this resulted to the serious crisis during the post-election period. Card reader was introduced during the 2015 general election in order to ensure credible free and fair election. Since the return of democracy in 1999, efforts has been made by the government on how to solve the problems of election rigging and other forms of election malpractice. Over 200 billion naira was spent from 1999 to 2015 on how to improve the electioneering process in Nigeria but this objective has not been achieved. Stakeholders in Nigeria engaged in all forms of electoral malpractices like multiple voting, impersonation, manipulation and falsification of results, electoral conflicts and violence which make government to established Election Tribunal in order to attend to issues of election irregularities. Electoral malpractices make the citizens to lose confidence in the electoral process; and lack of confidence by the citizenry in the democratic process is an impediment in deepening electoral democracy because if the citizenry does not believe in the fairness, accuracy, openness, and basic integrity of the election process, the very basis of any democratic society might be threatened. However, the researcher is out to examine the effect of card readers on the election credibility in Nigeria.


The main objective of the study is to examine the effect of card readers on election credibility in Nigeria. The specific objectives of the study include;

To examine the reliability of the card reader during the electoral process
To examine the nature and functions of card readers
To examine the effect of card reader on the credibility of elections in Nigeria
To examine the operational challenges in the use of the card reader for elections in Nigeria
To examine the relationship between card reader and election credibility in Nigeria
To suggest solutions to the challenges in the use of card reader during electoral process.


What is the reliability of the card reader during the electoral process?
How is the nature and functions of card readers?
What is the effect of card reader on the credibility of elections in Nigeria?
What are the operational challenges in the use of the card reader for elections in Nigeria?
What is the relationship between card reader and election credibility in Nigeria?
What are the solutions to the challenges in the use of card reader during electoral process?


Hypothesis 1

H0: There is no significant effect of card reader on the credibility of elections in Nigeria

H1: There is a significant effect of card reader on the credibility of elections in Nigeria

Hypothesis 2

Ho: There is no significant relationship between card reader and election credibility in Nigeria.

H1: There is a significant relationship between card reader and election credibility in Nigeria.


The study shall proffer relevant information on the effectiveness of card readers election credibility in Nigeria, with a case study of the 2019 general election. It shall serve useful purpose to policy makers and political analyst.


The study focuses on the effect of card readers on election credibility in Nigeria, a case study of 2019 governorship election in Benue state.


Financial constraint- Insufficient fund tends to impede the efficiency of the researcher in sourcing for the relevant materials, literature or information and in the process of data collection (internet, questionnaire and interview).

Time constraint- The researcher will simultaneously engage in this study with other academic work. This consequently will cut down on the time devoted for the research work.


Electoral Fraud: Electoral fraud which involves the manipulation of election and rigging of votes is an illegal interference with the election process as a means to favour a particular party or candidate and sometimes both. 

Ballot Stuffing: The submission of multiple ballots during the process of voting.

Mis-recording of Votes: The recording of elector’s vote differently from their intentions.

Vote Buying: This involves the buying of votes from the voters in a coming election.

Voter Intimidation Defined: The influence exacted on a voter or group of voters to vote in a particular direction.

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