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CONDUCT OF ELECTIONS IN NIGERIA: IMPLICATIONS ON NATIONAL SECURITY
This research is about the conduct of elections and its effect on national security. The study was geared at determining 4 distinct objectives. These are to establish the relationship between conduct of election and national security. Thereafter, the nature of Nigeria electoral process would be examined. The implications of electoral process on the national security were then established. Finally ways of enhancing the conduct of elections in Nigeria were proffered.
The descriptive research method was used for the study. The research revealed that conduct of elections is a means to achieving national security. It was further discovered that Nigeria’s electoral process the FPTP system has an inherent shortfall in the area of under-representation of minority groups. This often leads to disenchantment and violence. Furthermore, the study revealed the need for a review of the aspect of the constitution relating to the appointment and removal of chairman and membership of INEC. In the same vein, the study stressed the pitfall on the reliance of the electoral management body (EMB) on the executive for the approval of its financial budget.
To this end, adopting the Proportional Representatives Electoral system and the funding of INEC from established consolidated revenue is considered expedient. Also, the imperatives of labour and civil societies playing a key role in constituting members of EMB were highlighted.
BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY
Globally elections, follow processes which differ from nation to nation. These processes may include the selection of candidates, the registration of voters and the voting procedures amongst others. These procedures are unique and differ from one country to another. For example, in USA, the National Government established federal electoral requirements, which many of the states adopt to reduce cost and avoid the complexity of having two different systems.5
In Africa electoral processes are confronted by several challenges especially in countries emerging from oppressive regimes or long periods of dictatorship. This is because the electoral processes in nascent democracies involve fragmented political parties with weak political base. These political parties depend on few notable personalities or a shared ethnic identity and affinity.6 In such instances, reason and competence of the candidates are sacrificed for religion, ethnicity or parochial cleavages. Regrettably, national development efforts suffer setbacks due to leadership incompetence.7
Several scholars have argued that the greatest problem confronting African countries are the prevailing political condition in the conduct of elections. The right people are rarely elected and seldom opportune to steer the affairs state. Sunil in agreement, observed that one of the greatest challenges to confronting national development among African is political leadership.8 Nigeria is no exception in this regard.
Nigeria has conducted several elections since independence. These elections include the 1965, 1983 and 1979 general elections. Others are the 1999, 2003 and the 2007 general elections. These elections have been fraught with malpractice and violence giving the perception that it does not reflect the will of the people.9 When an electoral process is perceived as unfair, unresponsive or corrupt, its political legitimacy is compromised and violence can ensue. Also, notwithstanding the credibility of an election, a desperate loser candidate can at times precipitate violence. In such an instance, resources which could have been used for developmental projects are channeled to mitigating violence or rebuilding destroyed infrastructure.
Bob Dewar, the former British High Commissioner to Nigeria observed that the conduct of credible elections in Nigeria would lead to national development.10 To underscore the seeming importance of credible elections to the development of Nigeria, the present administration has used every opportunity to reiterate its preparedness to ensure credible elections in 2011. In order to ensure this, the Federal Government (FG) released the sum of 84.7 billion to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for the procurement of Direct Data Capturing (DDC) machines. 11
In Nigeria, the recurring incidences of civil unrest and disturbances following the conduct of elections have continued to pose security concerns. Examples of these crises are disturbances sequel to the 1983 and 1993 general elections as well as the on-going Jos crises. 12 In most of these instances lives are lost and properties worth millions of Naira are destroyed. Also, emerging security threats such as kidnapping, use of improvised explosive devices (IEDs), political assassinations among others further deepen these challenges. These threats represent a clear and present danger to the image of Nigeria in particular and peaceful coexistence of the country in general. The need to conceive and design an effective means of conducting credible elections as well as the inadequacies observed in previous elections are issues that motivated the choice of this topic by this researcher.
STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
In Nigeria, periods of elections often generate apprehension among politicians, electorate and security agencies due to the level of violence that occur within this period. These violence often result from unwillingness of political parties and their members to accept defeat, level of malpractice observed during this period among others.
The conduct of credible elections avails the electorate the opportunity to choose leaders who are accountable and who owe their mandate to the people. On the other hand, electoral malpractice leads to the emergence of leaders who are insensitive to the plight of the electorate and whose ascension to office are not dependant on the mandate of the people. This often affects the growth and development of the country and in some instance leads to political instability. The general elections of 1979 and 1983 were characterised by malpractices that triggered violence in many parts of the country. Similarly,
the 1992, 1999,2003 and 2007 general elections were fraught with irregularities and violence posing security concerns.13
Based on the foregoing, this study seeks to proffer answers to the following:
OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
The purpose of this study is to assess the impact of conduct of elections on Nigeria’s national security. The specific objectives are:
SIGNIFICANCE OF STUDY
The importance of this study is to contribute to the advancement of knowledge on the conduct of elections in Nigeria. Its findings would enable appropriate government agencies to appreciate the relevance of conduct of elections on national development. Additionally, it would serve as a suggestive solution to the problems affecting Nigeria’s electoral process.
It is hoped that the study will add to existing literatures and body of knowledge on the impact of election to national development. Additionally, this research work would provide material for future studies on this topic.
The ultimate pursuit of any nation is the search for stability, peace and security without which development would be impossible. In its quests for security, nations have a misplaced notion that security problem is exclusively a problem of security agencies. However, a secured nation is a nation with a viable economic and stable political system. This could be achieved by conducting credible elections that would lead to the emergence of good leaders.
Election in Nigeria has not been a worthwhile experience. It is hypothesized that the conduct of elections in Nigeria can contribute to national security. Furthermore, conducting of credible elections would lead to the emergence of a leader who has the capacity to lead the nation to growth and development
SCOPE OF STUDY
The conduct of elections has been a source of concern to most African countries as it determines the quality of political leadership. Nigeria is no exception in this regard. This study will look at the conduct of elections in Nigeria and its implications on national security. Similarly, it will examine Nigeria’s electoral process and establish the relationship between conduct of elections and national security.
The methodology employed in this study is descriptive and analytical. The various steps used to carry out this study is discussed below:
This study had some limitations. The major limitation of this study is the use of data generated only from the South-East and South- South geopolitical zones of the country. The purpose for this was based on the assumption that the political behaviour of politicians and tactics for attaining political power are the same nationwide. Also, in the course of data gathering it was observed that some few respondents introduced some elements of bias, falsehood and emotions into their responses which gave some extra ordinary results in few isolated cases.
Further, the writer was unable to interview key officials of INEC. In this regard, none of the State Independent National Electoral Commission (SIEC) officials could be interviewed. Furthermore, the current INEC Chairman, Prof Attahiru Jega could not be interviewed. Also, the study covers the period 1993 and 2007. In Nigerian electoral history, this period might not be significant; nonetheless it is relevant to the subject of study. To overcome these limitations information collected were cross marched and carefully analysed so as to provide authentic result. Therefore, the reliability of the research findings was not compromised.
This study was based on 1993, 1999, 2003 and 2007 general election. The 2003 and 2007 general elections were the main focus of this study because they were the most recent elections in Nigeria.
The conduct of elections in 1993, 1999, 2003 and 2007 are distinct in several ways. However, the researcher assumed that the findings from the selected elections during the period are adequate to give an appraisal of basic tenets of conduct of elections in Nigeria.
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