ELECTION RIGGING AND POLITICAL INSTABILITY IN NIGERIA: A CASE STUDY OF THE FOURTH REPUBLIC
This research work, election rigging and political instability in Nigeria fourth republic, is aimed at examining the occurring phenomenon at election rigging in the political development of Nigeria with special focus on its disastrous consequences to democracy.
In chapter one of this project, a brief history will be examined in enumerating the genesis of election rigging with reference to the first, second and third republic general election and how such anti democratic tenets has manifested in the electoral process of the fourth republic (2003 and 2007 general election). This chapter will also look into the problems associated with election rigging.
Chapter two will lay emphasis on existing literature to buttress empirical factors to the course of study.
Chapter three highlights the cases of election rigging in the fourth republic general elections. Also, the disastrous consequences of election rigging poses to democracy.
Chapter four presents possible solution and recommendation to the problem of election rigging in Nigeria.
1.1 BRIEF HISTORICAL BACKGROUND
THE CONCEPT OF ELECTION
In a democracy, election is a fundamental ingredient and a utmost test of political participation it is defined as a process of selecting officers and representatives of an organization by votes of its qualified members. The process gives the citizens the right to vote at regular intervals among competing leaders and policies (Bedlolman 1993).
Also, election has been defined as a process in which electorates chose government officials using a voting system. This is the mechanism by which a democracy fills elective offices in the legislature, and perhaps the executive and judiciary.
The most common election methods or electoral systems can be categorized as either proportional or majoritarin. Among the former are party-list proportional representation and additional member system. Among the latter are first past the post (relative majority), and absolute majority many countries have growing electoral reform movements, which advocate systems such as approval voting, single transferable vote, instant runoff voting or a condoicet method.
The rules by which an elections is conducted (especially the voting system used) can have wide ranging effects on the character and outcome of the election.
Election rigging 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.
Election rigging is a subversion of the constitution and democratic forms of government instituted by the constitution. It is the theft of people’s mandate. The common methods of election rigging in Nigeria include dumping of ballot boxes stuffed with pre-thumb-printed ballot papers, falsification of results by increasing a candidate’s votes and decreasing those of his opponents, fraudulent announcement of losing candidate and so on (Ologbenia 2003).
Political stability in any form of government has to involve the stable realization of political essence of that form of government. Political stability of a communal gerontocracy in villages and small towns headed by elders under an age grade system, means the continuation of the exerciser of power by those who have reached the appropriate age at various levels of the system.
Political stability of the type of democracy provided for in our constitution means the continuation of the exercise of power by those freely elected by the people of this country for specific periods with definite mandates which conform with the fundamental objectives and directive principles of state policy clearly defined in chapter 11 of the constitution.
Political process as an economic political factor have threatened the stability of the Nigerian political system which is most cases has given rise or cause a set back to the smooth running of the transition to democratic programm. Considering the first republic (1960) the effects of that election rigging in the western region led to the January 15th 1966 military intervention in Nigeria politics. Thus anti-democratic norm was also experienced in the second republic where the ruling party national party of Nigeria (NPN) swept the general poll. The general trend of circulation of the election process during the 1983. General election was of greater dimension than the 1979 elections.
Historical evidence exist in abundance to buttress the point that what we know today as election rigging has been in existence since the 1965 western region election. The blatant rigging of the western region election by Chief Samuel Akintola’s Nigeria National Democratic Party (NNDP) the party in power in the region then, the enormity of that coup against democracy erupted the election violence between the Nigeria National Democratic Party (NNDP) and the Action Group (AG) supporters which led the army to strike in 1996. Also the October 1965 elections into the region government of the west were not still smooth. Although the people clearly rejected the Akintola’s government at the polls and voted massively for the Action Group, the opposition party, the Akintola government publicly (interfere) with the result of the election. In many cases, A.G candidate who held certificates that they lose duly elected in their constituencies later heard their names mentioned as defeated candidates through government news media.
These development including the summering TIV revolt in the middle belt, the political impasse at the centre the resulting mass revolt in the western region by the people who felt rightly that they had been cheated at the polls set the stage for the first military coup of January 15th 1966.
Again in 1983, the ruling National Party of Nigerian (NPN) under the leadership of Alhaji Shehu Shagari perpetrated all sort of electoral atrocities. The voting process, voter’s registration and actual votes cast were all grossly distorted. To produce the so called band wagon efforts, the order of election was reversed and voters registers inflated for example where as the order of elections provider that the presidential elections be held last, the NPN government decided that these election would come first.
The National Party of Nigeria (NPN) won the election with “moon slide” negating all forms of democratic norms and values as a result from the election rigging democracy was once again aborted due to the military intervention in 1983. History repeated itself again in the forth republic, 2003 general election of 2004 was conducted under the Obasanjo government, these elections (including the various party primaries) will go down in history as the most fraudulent and equal only to a coup d’ etal against the people. All commentaries on the 2003 and 2004 election except those from the PDP government in power are unanimous in their verdict that all aspect of the election was fraudulent.
He observed that the political space was not properly defined. Though more political parties were enlisted. The powerful party among the parties. People democratic party (PDP) took reins of government by storm some schools of thought believes that the struggle for power in fourth republic was based on zero tolerance strategy.
In this study the main focus will be to examine election rigging and it’s disastrous threat to political instability in Nigeria. Today it is early 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 become entrenched as part of the political culture” thereby excluding altogether the chances of 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 a serious competition among political parties an actor which invariably boils down to election rigging.
Election rigging may assume 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 officials intimidation by dominant party against it’s opponents, manipulation of election outcome through the body conducting election. Evidence bound that the Nigeria electoral process has always been characterized with such electoral vices.
To buttress the above analysis election rigging in Nigeria is a product of the guest of political actors of perpetuate, themselves in power and thereby using rigging as instrument of main training the statuesque.
1.2 STATEMENT OF PROBLEM
Election rigging as an economic and political factor have threatened the stability of the Nigeria political system. Our problem of concern in this research, 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.
1.3 OBJECTIVE OF STUDY
- To explore the extent to which election rigging has on the political stability in Nigeria.
- To expose the mechanism of election rigging
- To examine the economic, social and political effect, election rigging, has caused on the Nigeria populace.
1.4 THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK
Theories are employed in helping the researchers to understand and explain political phenomenon. The theoretical framework chosen for this research is the elite theory. According to elite theory, man can never be liberated from the subjugation of an elite structure. The term elite refers to those who excel the classical elite theorists identify the governing elite in terms of superior personal qualities of those who exercise power.
In their view power is always exercised by a small cohesive group of the elite. Elite theory argues that all societies are divided into two main groups a ruling minority and the ruled, this situation is inevitable. All political system are usually stratified unto ruling elite and those that are ruled. the most significant aspect of the political system is the political elite since they are major group which posses the higher degree of political power and which make or influence the most important political decision in the society.
The behaviour of the elite can make or the level of development in a political state. Since the elite basically, are concerned with self-perpetuation and preservation, the policies and programmes they enunciate are geared towards the attainment of their goals. The effort to preserve and maintain themselves in power usually contradicts the development effort of the general populace.
On the basis of this theory analysis we try to clarify the dominance intimidation and party politics that has characterized the electoral process in Nigeria.
In this research work, in order to attain the above stated objectives the researcher intends to use the following methods as a means of collecting information relating to this project. Data shall be collected from magazines, newspapers, journals, textbooks, and websites and most importantly, through personal observation. This method is chosen because it will afford them to acquire detailed information from various source to the above problem which is being researched into and will enable them to have a better understanding of the effects of election rigging and it’s disastrous consequences to democracy.
1.6 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.
1.7 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
- How has election rigging affected the electoral process in Nigeria?
- What are the social economic and political effects of election rigging in the sustenance of democracy in Nigeria?
- Who are those involved in election rigging in Nigeria?
- How are the rights of citizens affected/denied through election rigging?
- How can we restructure the political system to make it effective?
- How can we eradicate election rigging in Nigeria.