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ELECTORAL MALPRACTICE AND DEMOCRATIC CONSOLIDATION IN NIGERIA. A STUDY OF FOURTH REPUBLIC
The focus of this study is to examine electoral malpractices on democratic consolidation in the fourth republic. The researchers adopted historical and descriptive methods. Information was sourced from secondary data collated from journals, articles, library materials and internet sources which are related to the study. Findings from the study revealed that electoral malpractice in Nigeria Fourth Republic have resulted into the imposition of corrupt and illegitimate leaders who have no regard to the principles of democracy which are off-shoots for good governance, rule of law, constitutionalism and fundamental human rights. The study therefore recommends the need to combat power of incumbency, violence, corruption and impunity so as to enhance the electoral process. Moreso the electoral commission should be granted autonomy and devoid of manipulations from political stakeholders. Finally The judiciary in their decisions of elections cases and petition should endeavour to insulate themselves and resist all attempts to drag their personnel into the murky waters of partisan politics, but still maintain their independence, honesty and integrity in their judgement while Political leaders should strictly adhered to the application of rule of law, constitutionalism and democratic values, the legitimacy of government and consolidation of democracy in their quest for power.
1.1 Background of the study
Elections have not only become an instrument for the demise of authoritarianism or a transition to democracy but the credibility of electoral process has equally become the instrument for determining the integrity and legitimacy of a democratic regime. Credible election is the general acceptance of its conduct as free and fair by citizens and international community. It means one thing to conduct an election and make a transition to democracy or even conduct regular elections for years after transition. It also means another thing to have credible election that is generally accepted as free and fair by citizens and international community. Acceptability of election results by stakeholders would therefore increases the chances of consolidation of democracy.
Democracy is the system of government that promotes the participation of the masses in government and the accountability of elected representatives to the electorate. The representatives are public office holders who are voted into office by the people through an electoral process; their principal duty being to promote the interest of the electorate in the government.
Election on the other hand is the life-wire of democracy. It is the fulcrum around which democracy revolves. According to Osumah and Aghemelo (2010),“election is a process through which the people choose their leaders and indicate their policies and program preference and consequently invest a government with authority to rule.”“It is the procedure through which qualified adult voters elect their politically preferred representatives to parliament legislature of a county (or any other public positions) for the purpose of framing and running the government of the country, Ozor (2010).” The trust in this mechanism is that it allows the people to determine who and who should wield political power viz-a-viz their various interest by providing the ballot as an outlet for the expression of voter preference based on their judgement about the integrity of candidates and reliability of candidate’s party manifesto.
In Nigeria’s fourth republic the crisis of democratization has been anchored upon the challenges of election malpractice. Aside from the longer years of colonial domination and post-independence military expedition that ended with the fourth republic, elections in the country has been inundated with spiraling malpractices in the electoral process as confirmed by domestic and external election monitoring bodies during the elections of the fourth republic.The phenomenon of election malpractice has been a clog in the wheels of democratization in the country even as the country staggers with many other challenges such as corruption, factionalism, insurgency, unemployment, poverty, illiteracy and ethno-religious disharmony. It is upon this premise that this study seeks to examine electoral malpractice and democratic consolidation using the fourth republic as case study
1.2 Statement of the problem
After a decade and half of democratic experiment yet, efforts towards democratic consolidation in Nigeria’s fourth republic have been facing the challenges electoral malpractices. The crisis of democratic consolidation as a result of the challenges of electoral malpractices manifest in form of corruption, insecurity and weak democratic institutions. The significance of democratic consolidation in Nigeria like in other new democracies depends largely on the conduct of free, fair and credible election. A constant goal in the fourth republic governments of Nigeria beginning from 1999 has been the consolidation of the country’s democracy and democratic institutions in order to improve her socio-economic stature as much as her international image. However, this goal has met a range of nagging obstacles including corruption, factionalism, ethno-religious disharmony, insurgency, poverty and electoral malpractice. Paramount of these obstacles is election malpractice which affects the very roots of democracy election.In response to this, this study aims at investigating how these factors contribute to the disease of electoral malpractice in Nigeria’s fourth republic as it affects the country’s democracy.
1.3 Objective of the study
The main focus of this study is to examine electoral malpractice and the consolidation of democracy in the fourth republic. Specifically the study seeks
1. To examine the nature of electoral malpractice acclamatized in Nigeria Election
2. To examine whether the lack of INEC autonomy contributed to election malpractice in 2015 general elections in Nigeria.
3. To examine the implication of electoral malpractice on Nigeria Democracy.
1.4 Research Hypothesis
HO1: Lack of INEC autonomy contributed to election malpractice in 2015 general elections in Nigeria.
4. HO2: There are no implication of electoral malpractice on consolidation of democracy in Nigerias’ fourth republic
1.5 Significance of the study
This research is significant in such a way that it examines the phenomenon of election malpractice and how it threatens the efforts at democratization in Nigeria’s fourth republic. It also x-rays the fundamental factors associated with election malpractice ad ultimately recommends ways for obviating them. It will serve as an eye opener to researchers, government officials and general readers who truly intend to understand the impediment to democratic consolidation in Nigeria. Again, it will serve to sensitize the public and create awareness as to the destructive potentials of election malpractice towards the aspiration for democratization in Nigeria.
1.6 Scope of the Study
The scope of this study borders on the implication of electoral malpractice on the democratic consolidation of Nigeria. The study is therefore limited to fourth republic with emphasis to 2015 general Elections.
1.7 Limitations of the study
During the course of this research, the following factors are proposed to be a limitation.
Financial constraints: Financial constraints tend to impede the researcher's efficiency in locating relevant materials, literature, or information, as well as in data collection (internet, questionnaire, and interview).
Time constraint– The researcher will simultaneously engage in this study with other academic work. As a result, the amount of time spent on research is reduced.
1.8 Research Methodology
Research methodology is the specific procedures or techniques used to identify, select, process, and analyze information about a topic. Mainly qualitative secondary data is used in this content to describe the challenges of electoral malpractices in Nigeria’s fourth republic and the critical ways of overcoming the challenges. It focuses on the complex and nuanced process of the creation and maintenance of meanings that cannot be easily provided by other methods (Creswell, 2007). It is considered suitable for understanding experiences such as conduct of elections in Nigeria. It is how people make sense of their lives, experiences, and their structures of the world (Ateno, 2009).