ELECTION RIGGING AND POLITICAL INSTABILITY IN NIGERIA (A CASE STUDY OF 2019 GENERAL ELECTION IN EKEREMOR LOCAL GOVERNMENT AREA, BAYELSA STATE)
1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
In Nigerian democracy, election is the best option to change government periodically and it does not only promote leadership change, but it also encourages accountability in leadership. It allows for participation and it helps to reside power to the people. Those whose responsibility is to exercise political authorities in a society perform it with the explicit consent and genuine mandate expressed at periodic intervals by the electorate through an open, free and fair electoral process (Ojie, 2006). This implies that democracy must be a system of government where the people dictate the pace with the general consent of the governed. Unfortunately, Nigeria’s elections have so far thwarted the foundation upon which democracy is built due to election rigging. Election riggings in Nigeria were evident in all the general elections. Between 1999 and 2019, election riggings have accompanied with bloodshed and this has claimed the lives of so many Nigerians, especially popular contestants, and these political killings are executed by hired assassins from wicked politicians who want power by all means. The contemporary political barons in Nigeria impose gullible electoral officers who employ various tricks to win the election for their employers to the detriment of the masses and popular candidates. One of the most intractable social problems of the developing countries has been political instability. Instability is used here to refer to a situation or process whereby society is steeped in overt and covert conflicts which in turn pose serious threats to its social fabric. It should be emphasized from the onset that conflicts, in and of themselves, may have a positive and dynamizing effect on social change. Put differently, not all types of conflict are undesirable for social change. However, if conflicts are not well-managed and ultimately translate into violent confrontation among various political actors, then instability sets in. Instability creates a climate whereby both state and non-state actors end up devoting an enormous amount of energy and resources either escalating or containing conflict situations. Consequently, economic development is sacrificed on the silver platter of political expediency. As economic development fails, poverty becomes acute. Under conditions of poverty, various types of conflict multiply and become uncontrollable. A combination of political and economic conflicts has clearly marked the phenomenal incidence of instability in developing societies. In this sense, it is easy to locate the direct correlation between political instability and poverty in most of these societies. Nigeria, as one of the developing societies, is no exception to the general trend of instability which is generated by multivariate conflicts. Nigerian democratic election aims to ensure political stability and promote fundamental human rights. Elections in Nigeria which should have been a prelude for achieving a stabilize government accompanied by 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 be dead scared in exercising their voting rights hence the suicidal nature of the politics. Evident 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. Lacks of candidates with vision have made the electorates politically weak. This quest to win the 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 Nigerians at heart have resorted to shunning politics for fear of facing a sudden death in the process and this has posed a serious threat to Nigerian democracy and its consolidation. Worse still, the electoral body which would have been neutral, and ensure free and fair elections 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 Nigerian electorates. To ensure that their unpopular candidates emerged victorious in elections, they have seen election rigging as a way out against the general wish of the popular candidates, electorates and the good of Nigerian democracy. Kurfi (2005) has observed, rigging is almost synonymous with Nigerian elections. This ugly electoral malpractice and rigging have a negative effect on Nigeria’s democratic future because the trend is increasing instead of reducing. These trends have actually undermined the chances of successful elections and the consolidation of democracy in Nigeria. The main aim of this study will be to examine election rigging and its disastrous threat to political instability in Nigeria. Today it is seen that the concept “election rigging’ is perceived to be once successfully employed by a political party to get itself into power; the tendency is for the party rather than giving up and thereby risk defeat in further elections perfect its forms and techniques to a point where it becomes entrenched as part of the political culture” thereby excluding altogether the chances of an election ever being conducted in a free and fair manner, however, this act of election rigging has so much be demonstrated and becomes part of our cities, that hegemonies by that phenomenon rigging. Thus, this struggle led to serious competition among political parties an actor which invariably boils down to election rigging. Election rigging comes in the following form, stealing of ballot boxes, inflate of voter’s numbers, ghost voting control, voting of unregistered voters using of political thugs to mount pools bribery of electoral official’s intimidation by the dominant party against its opponents, manipulation of election outcome through the body conducting the election. Evidence shows that the Nigerian electoral process has always been characterized by such electoral vices. To buttress the above analysis election rigging in Nigeria is a product of the guest of political actors of perpetuates themselves in power and thereby using rigging as an instrument of main training the status quo.
1.2 STATEMENT OF PROBLEM
Globally, electoral process is an important role in shaping the political stability in any given country. Violating the stipulated code of conduct of the electoral process is dangerous to both the economy and the political stability of a country. This is potential in situations where polls are subject to manipulation or conducted by a biased source hence distortion of poll results. It is well recognized under international law that any limitation placed on freedom of expression must remain within strictly-defined parameters. Election rigging as an economic and political factor has threatened the stability of the Nigeria political system. Our problem of concern in this researchwork is to examine the effect of election rigging on our political system, also, our inability as a nation to conduct free and fair elections at the national, and sub national level over the years.The history of elections and electoral process in Nigeria has been one that is characterized by electoral malpractice which enables political actors to perpetuate themselves in power thereby, elections being mere rituals instead of representing the popular will of the Nigeria voters.To what extent has election rigging threatened the political stability in Nigeria? In the light of this, the need to undertake this research arose.
1.3AIMS OF STUDY
The major purpose of this study is to examine election rigging and political instability in Nigeria. Other general objectives of the study are:
To examine how election rigging has affected the electoral process in Nigeria
To examine the impact of election rigging on political stability in Nigeria.
To examine the causes of election rigging in Nigeria
To examine the relationship between election rigging and political stability in Nigeria
To examine the economic, social and political effect, election rigging, has caused on the Nigeria populace.
To examine how to eradicate election rigging in Nigeria.
1.4 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
How has election rigging affected the electoral process in Nigeria?
What is the impact of election rigging on political stability in Nigeria?
What are thecauses of election rigging in Nigeria?
What is the relationship between election rigging and political stability in Nigeria?
What are the social economic and political effects of election rigging in the sustenance of democracy in Nigeria?
How can we eradicate election rigging in Nigeria?
1.5 RESEARCH HYPOTHESIS
There is no significant impact of election rigging on political stability in Nigeria.
There is a significant impact of election rigging on political stability in Nigeria.
H0:There is no significant relationship between election rigging and political stability in Nigeria
H1:There is a significant relationship between election rigging and political stability in Nigeria.
1.6 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
The most significance aspect of this study is to bring to the fore the risks, fraud and violence inherent in election rigging and how Nigeria can eradicate election rigging to bring about political stability and invariably economic stability by urgently addressing the issues of poverty, corruption, inequality, infrastructural decay and more during the electoral process. Also, the finding and recommendations of the study will be of theoretical importance to policy makers, administrators, political elites and opinion makers in Nigeria. Thus this study will help the Nigerian government and students in further research.
1.7 SCOPE OF THE STUDY
The study is based on election rigging and political instability in Nigeria, a case study of 2019 general election in Ekeremor Local Government Area, Bayelsa state.
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 CONCEPTS
Democracy: Democracy may be defined as a system of government in which all qualified adult citizens share the supreme power directly or through their elected representatives. “Democracy is a system of government which is derived from public opinion and is accountable to it” Abraham Lincoln, whose definition of democracy has become axiomatic, defined it as “the government of the people, by the people, and for the people”. Democracy is also described as “government by consent of the governed” i.e. government with the approval of the people being governed. The fusion of the two Greek works Demos (people) and kratia (rule or government) gave birth to the word democracy.
Election: It can be defined as an act of choosing or selecting candidates who will represent the people of a country in the parliament and in other positions in the government. Election is also said to be a contest between competing political parties or groups for government power. Elections became imperative as a result of impossibility of direct representation in the modern states.
Rigging: A major form of pervasion of the electoral processes in the rigging of outcomes polls usually by the financially strong parties and political privileged citizens in the party. Rigging entails multiple ballot boxes falsification of some specific popular political party or candidates.
Instability: This is the situation whereby the smooth running of either the government or the political system in jeopardy, due to expression of dissatisfaction shown by the populace through series of demonstration of notes.
Election Rigging: This refers to electoral malpractice committed with corrupt, fraudulent or sinister intention to influence an election in favour of a candidate by such means as illegal voting, bribery, threats, undue influence intimidation and other acts of coercion exerted on voters, intimidation and other acts of coercion exerted on voters, falsification of results and fraudulent announcement of a defeated candidate as winner without altering the results.