ROLE OF INDEPENDENT ELECTORAL COMMISSION ON ELECTION ADMINISTRATION IN NIGERIA (AN ANALYSIS)

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ABSTRACT

The study was aimed at investigating the role of INEC on election administration in Nigeria. The survey research was used in this study to sample the opinion of respondents. This method involved random selection of respondent who were administered with questionnaires. The target population of the study comprised politicians of selected political parties in Lagos state. The questionnaire administered was one hundred and ten (110) copies and one hundred copies retrieved which constitute the sample size. The descriptive and analytical approach was adopted using Chi-square to test and analyze the hypotheses earlier stated. The findings revealed that there is a significant role of independent electoral commission on election administration in Nigeria and that INEC has a role to play by monitoring political party campaigns and administering the election processes. It was therefore concluded from the findings that the democratic environment in Nigeria needs to be reformed because, generally, Nigerians do not have much confidence in the elections, umpired by an Electoral Management Body that is in the pocket of the ruling political party. There has to be an attitudinal change amongst political stakeholders. It was recommended that INEC should realise that it is the institution charged with supervising Nigeria’s elections and should start planning early, in order to forestall a repeat of the previous lapses.

 

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION


BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY

The electoral process is one of the bulwarks of democracy. If the people lo se confidence in the process, democracy becomes a sham. The aim of an electoral process should be free and fair election where the candidate with the highest votes wins. Elections are the technical means of ensuring popular participation in government. Elections are means of building support and selection of leaders and policies. Elections are the specific methods of realising government of, by and for the people. It makes government to be both responsible and responsive, to the needs of the people because a bad government can be voted out of power during elections. It is the only way to establish majority rule and legitimacy of government. As Graf has succinctly put it, “Elections are thus one of the most important means of establishing legitimate government and exercising popular control over the nation’s leaders··”. It is also a means of policy selection as put out in party manifestos during elections. Furthermore, elections bring to light the strength and weakness of political institutions in society as a whole.Whether elections are conducted by an independent body, a ministry of government or by a mixed election administration system, the election management body (EMB) must be perceived as being neutral for the stabilization of a democratic regime. Indeed, this reality is at the centre of liberal democratic theory. However, the election administration system in many new democracies has generated a lot of controversy – arising from the level of independence of election management bodies, their professionalism and the acceptability of the elections they conduct.

In Nigeria, the election administration process since independence has always resulted in controversy and crisis arising mostly in part from the perceived collaboration of EMB’s with the respective ruling military or civilian regimes. The implication as noted by Ajayi is that the history of electoral administration in Nigeria has been a “history of controversy engendered by electoral malpractices” (2015:142). It is in realization of the controversial and problematic nature of election administration in Nigeria; that an Electoral Reform Committee (ERC) was set up in 2015 to: “examine the entire electoral process with a view to ensuring that we raise the quality and standard of our general elections and thereby deepen our democracy” (The report of the Electoral Reform Committee- ERC: 2008).INEC alone cannot resolve all the challenges facing the electoral and political system. A lot will depend on the collaboration and support of other key stakeholders in the electoral process, including political parties, security agencies, media, and civil society organizations. Rather unfortunately, INEC does not have control over these actors. The political parties, for example, hardly respect their own regulations governing party conventions/congresses and primary elections. These party activities often produce parallel executives and candidates. Internal mechanisms for redress are ineffective leading to a plethora of litigations over intra-party elections and nominations. Apart from the unnecessary distraction such lawsuits impose on INEC, they clog the courts with numerous cases arising from political disputes, which further exposes the judiciary to immense political pressures.

In the developing nations generally and Nigeria in particular, the conduct of elections has been one of the major snags of the democratization course. Nigeria’s recurrent efforts at endurable democracy have not been successful because of its inability to conduct free, fair and transparent elections and this has hindered its effective democratic development. After lengthened military regimes (1983-1999) characterized by repression and violation of the people’s political, social and economic rights, the hopes of democratization begun in 1999, with citizens’ expectations of sustained democratic practice in the country.

Elections are very central to the principle and practice of democracy anywhere in the world and the management of elections by any election management body is significant to the electoral process and by implication, the consolidation of democracy in any country. The electoral process involves competition and it creates an avenue for competitive party politics which Schumpeter (1975) opines, entails competition among the different political parties – each competing for the votes of the electorate, which is expressed through the ballot box. For Odoziobodo (2013), if the electoral process involves competition, the implication is that there must be an umpire. As in the game of football, there is a referee who conducts the match according to laid down rules and regulations; he manages the game, ensures that all players obey the rules of the game; the referee or umpire also determines the results of the contest. A mistake or indiscretion on his or her part can ruin the contest and bring the game to disrepute. The same thing is applicable to an election. In every democracy, there is always set up by law an election management institution which acts as an umpire in the electoral contest and whose mandate is always and as ever, in any circumstance or country to conduct free, fair and credible election whose outcome will be acceptable to all parties concerned.

The focal point of the study is on the role of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on election administration in Nigeria. The study engages these questions and concludes that democratic qualities of Nigerian elections have been trifling because of weak institutionalization of INEC. These weaknesses include lack of independence and professionalism, political interference, lack of respect for rule of law, etc. This forms the basis for political instability, electoral crisis and poor election organization in Nigeria as well as questionable electoral outcomes.

1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM

The performance of Electoral Management Bodies (EMBs) has generally received much less academic and public attention than other public service organizations such as schools, hospitals and the police. But EMBs also provide important public services and poor quality management can lead to effective disenfranchisement of individuals or whole geographical areas if their ballots are not processed effectively or unnecessary barriers are faced in front of the much along queues. Poor management can cause delays in the publication of results that can lead to political and economic instability. In extreme cases it can also lead to the wrong candidate or party winning. This always results into citizens being dissatisfied and confidence in the electoral process can be shaken (Global Commission on Elections, 2012). Designing a credible and inclusive electoral regime is a necessary enterprise in all democracies whether transitional or consolidated. Consolidating Nigerian democracy through the conduct of credible elections has remained an albatross (Jega, 2013). The history of Nigeria’s democratic experiments demonstrates that elections and electoral politics have generated so much animosity which has in some cases threatened the corporate existence of the country. Nigeria elections have been characterized by lack of credibility in declaring official results of elections leading to the rejection of such results by a sizeable portion the Nigeria voting public. Voting is the mechanism by which citizens are able to express their participation in elections. exercise their interests and needs to their leaders. It is about the only one act through which many people would ever participate in the political process. Nigerians had had opportunities of elections and voting since 1922 but it is doubtful if Nigerians had developed enviable electoral culture. The last elections by a civilian government occurred in 1983. Nigeria had never had crisis-free and fair elections from civilian to civilian transition in a democratic government. During any general election every eye is always focused on the electoral Ombudsman (INEC) whose responsibility is to ensure a free and fair election. The basic infrastructures such as voters registration, polling booths, party registration are not always put in place by INEC earlier enough. It is now common ‘knowledge that one of the reasons for the demise of the first and second Republics was partly Nigerians’ inability to conduct a free and fair elections during the general elections. Although the political class and their agents were mainly responsible for these failures the electoral commission has always shared in the blame. The conduct of elections in Nigeria had remained the nemesis of otherwise, credible and hardworking people. Based on this antecedent, many Nigerians are sceptical whether the commission (INEC) leaders are always capable of taking Nigeria through to the “promise land” in the next general elections. This study, therefore, is proposed to examine the role of independent electoral commission on election administration in Nigeria.

1.3 AIMS OF THE STUDY

The major purpose of this study is to examine the role of INEC on election administration in Nigeria. Other general objectives of the study are:







To provide a critical analysis of the role INEC played at the state and federal levels in previous general elections; determine its strengths and shortcomings, so as to proffer an appropriate solution to the country’s electoral problems.
To examine INEC as an institution in the context of its independence, impartiality, transparency, and accountability.
To examine the institutional weakness of Nigeria’s electoral processes and the legal framework for the conduct of elections as they relate to INEC.
To establish the fact that the institution that is charged with managing the conduct of elections has a vital role to play in the growth and development of the nation’s democracy.
To proffer recommendations as to how INEC can conduct transparent and credible elections, so as to improve political stability and good governance in Nigeria.
To provide a guide for INEC or any other future electoral body.

1.4 RESEARCH QUESTIONS







What is the role INEC played at the state and federal levels in previous year’s elections; looking at its strengths and shortcomings?
What is INEC as an institution in the context of its independence, impartiality, transparency, and accountability?
How is the institutional weakness of Nigeria’s electoral processes and the legal framework for the conduct of elections as they relate to INEC?
How is INEC charged with managing the conduct of elections has a vital role to play in the growth and development of the nation’s democracy?
What are the recommendations as to how INEC can conduct transparent and credible elections, so as to improve political stability and good governance in Nigeria?
What will be the guide for INEC or any other future electoral body?

1.5 RESEARCH HYPOTHESIS

H0: There is no significant role of independent electoral commission on election administration in Nigeria.

H1: There is a significant role of independent electoral commission on election administration in Nigeria.

1.6 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY

This study is necessitated by the urge and the need for the research, reader and organizations in general to understand the role of INEC on election administration in Nigeria.

The following are the significance of study to the researcher:

1.      To serve as a reference materials for students who will wish to conduct similar studies on this topic.

2.      To serve as guide to corporate individuals, organization in furtherance to their research on the subject matter.

1.7    SCOPE OF THE STUDY 

The study is based on role of independent electoral commission on election administration in Nigeria, an analysis.

1.8 LIMITATION OF STUDY

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.

1.9 DEFINITION OF TERMS

POLITICAL PARTY: This is an organization of people which seeks to achieve goals common to its members through the acquisition and exercise of political power.

ELECTION: An election is a formal decision-making process by which a population chooses an individual to hold public office.

Democracy: This is government by the people; rule of the majority; a government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised by them directly or indirectly. Democracy is a human right, as such; it is included in a number of the most important international human rights standards.

Voting: This is the simplest form of democratic participation and it is the most formal act of political participation, but not the exclusive form of citizens’ involvement in the political system.

Electoral Commission: It is an impartial administrator, with an independent body, being available to adjudicate in electoral disputes, re-engineer the political process, conduct elections and implement the various regulations devised to prevent every imaginable form of election misconduct. A neutral electoral commission is thus one of the fundamental pre-requisites for a truly free and fair election and the establishment of true democracy in any nation.


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