2015 ELECTIONS AND DEMOCRATIC consolidation IN NIGERIAN FOURTH REPUBLIC
2015 ELECTIONS AND DEMOCRATIC CONSOLIDATION IN NIGERIAN FOURTH REPUBLIC
1.11.1 – Background of the Study
The British colonial authority organised and conducted elections in Nigeria for the first time in 1922 in response to nationalist pressure for greater participation in colonial administration (Enojo, 2010). Following the elections, Nigerians were given the first opportunity to hold specific political positions.
Though the suffrage was restricted and representation was limited, it was a victory for nationalists who were fighting for the establishment of a democratic order as a prerequisite for wider public engagement in the government process.
Following 1922, numerous other elections were held around the country to elect leaders at the national, regional, and municipal levels. However, the 1959 General Elections opened the ground for Nigeria's independence.
Since then, other elections have been held, either to transition from one civilian government to another or from military governments to civilian governance.
Elections in Nigeria are essentially classified into three types: those organised by the colonial authority in 1922, 1951, and 1959; those organised by military regimes in 1979, 1991, 1993, and 1999; and those organised by civilian governments in 1964, 1983, 2003, 2007, 2011, and 2015.
Among the three groups, civilian regime-organized elections looked to be more crisis-ridden than the others. The obvious reason for the paradox is that both military and colonial authorities exerted excessive power in coercing civilians to follow existing laws and decrees (Odo, 2015).
Nigeria has held five general elections since the Fourth Republic's inception on May 29, 1999, in addition to many re-run elections and local government votes. Only the 2015 general election passed both local and international standards. However, the alarming tendency is that each general election was worse than the one before it (2003 was worse than 1999, and 2007 was worse than 2003).
This tendency demonstrates that our country is doing very poorly with each passing election, as nobody can talk about cementing democracy in such a climate. This is because the leaders appear to have forgotten that holding a free and fair election is critical to the growth and development of any democratic process.
Furthermore, the normal Nigerian voter is eager in quick monetary or material advantages and will readily barter off his votes if properly encouraged.
This can be explained by the people's crushing poverty in the absence of government provision of fundamental necessities for a decent life, as well as their reasonable suspicion of political leaders (Ebegbulem, 2011).
The 2015 general elections are significant in Nigeria's political history. They mark the first time an opposition party has successfully removed the incumbent party from office at the federal level, especially in a less contentious and calm process. Clearly, this exciting trend contrasts with the bleak image painted by many pundits during the pre-election period.
For many, the aftermath of the elections may signal the end of Nigeria as a nation, causing escalating tensions in the country. Their arguments are founded on the following compelling points: first, the country experienced for the first time in its post-democratic transition history the emergence of a strong opposition party which had the capacity to displace the incumbent party that was strongly resisted by the incumbent using state machinery;
second, there was growing public perception of poor preparation by the Electoral Management Body (EMB) – the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) – following problems experienced in the voter registration process which influenced beliefs that the elections might be another charade;
third, the electoral process was characterized by a heated campaign process which was anchored on ethnic and religious sloganeering which did not only divide the potential voters along religious and ethnic lines but also potentially prepared the grounds for another ethno-religious violence;
fourth, the suspicious process that surrounded the sudden postponement of the elections for six weeks (February 14 to March 28) also increased public distrust of the electoral process (International Crisis Group, 2015; Onapajo, 2015).
Nigeria's seventeen years of uninterrupted democratic experience cannot be compared to that of the United States, which is over two centuries old, or Britain, which is over 300 years old. This is because anti-democratic activities continue to occur, particularly in the domains of election procedures, the rule of law, and constitutionalism (Kwasau 2013).
Also related to this issue is the fact that electoral malpractices frequently result in a legitimacy crisis, which eventually undermines democratic values and impedes democratic consolidation in the country.
As a result, the purpose of this research is to look into the 2015 elections and the consolidation of democracy in Nigeria's Fourth Republic.
1.2 Statement of Problem
Prior to the 2015 general elections, Nigeria was known for its terrible election management. Because of the volume and severity of irregularities observed during the 2007 and 2011 general elections, the trust of the country's electoral process suffered significantly.
Election cheating has posed a significant threat to Nigeria's democratic consolidation. Unfortunately, the politicians who committed this heinous deed have escaped punishment.
As long as politicians are not held accountable for their earlier manipulations of elections, future politicians will continue to re-strategize manipulations for upcoming elections, making election rigging inevitable in Nigerian politics.
The persistent problem of a lack of credible and democratic electoral processes has been linked to Nigeria's “failed, uncaring, and unresponsive governance” (Inokoba and Kumokor, 2011:139).
It's no surprise that years of civil government since 1999 have failed to deliver on good roads, functional health facilities, quality education, uninterrupted electricity supply, living salaries for workers, an effective petroleum industry,
meaningful democratic reform, equitable wealth distribution, and other promises. As a result, Nigeria's democracy has been characterised as purely formalistic and lacking of consolidation.
Consolidating democracy in Nigeria as a whole through the holding of legitimate elections has remained a burden. The history of Nigeria's democratic experiments demonstrates that elections and electoral politics have sparked such animosity that,
in some cases, threatened the country's corporate existence (as happened after the annulment of the June 12, 1993 presidential election) and, in others, prompted military intervention into political governance, most notably in 1966 and 1983.
At the heart of Nigeria's electoral dilemma is a lack of credibility for official election results, which has led to a significant section of the Nigerian voting population rejecting such outcomes. Against this backdrop, this paper examines the 2015 elections and democratic consolidation in Nigeria's fourth republic.
1.3 Objectives of the Study
The primary goal of this research is to investigate the 2015 elections and democratic consolidation in Nigeria's fourth republic. The precise aims include:
§ Determine the impact of voting anomalies on democratic consolidation in Nigeria.
§ Investigate the impact of electoral rigging on the survival of democracy in Nigeria's Fourth Republic.
§ Examine how the electoral crisis affects Nigeria's electoral process.
The study aimed to determine if electoral legitimacy predicted the 2015 Nigerian elections' outcomes.
1.4 Research Questions.
This study will be done with the following research questions:
i. How do electoral irregularities affect Nigeria's democratic consolidation?
ii. How does electoral rigging affect the survival of democracy in Nigeria's Fourth Republic?
iii. How has the electoral crisis affected Nigeria's electoral process?
iv. How did electoral credibility influence the results of Nigeria's 2015 elections?
1.5 Significance of the Study
The study's findings will be a valuable resource for scholars who wish to do additional research in this area. It would also be valuable for political scientists. The study would be significant for policymakers and implementers in general,
since the study's findings and recommendations would be extremely valuable in changing the election process in order to support democratic consolidation in Nigeria's Fourth Republic.
1.6 Scope of Study
This study examines the impact of the 2015 elections on democratic consolidation in Nigeria's fourth republic, with a focus on electoral irregularities, electoral rigging, and electoral credibility.
1.7 Research Methodology.
The process of collecting data for a research project is referred to as research methodology. It is a blueprint for data collection, measurement, and analysis in order to meet the research project's objectives.
The research was conducted utilising a qualitative approach. The qualitative research design is ideal for collecting, organising, and describing the occurrence of an event or phenomenon. It has been utilised since the study attempted to describe and investigate the influence of the 2015 elections on democratic consolidation in Nigeria's fourth republic,
with no attempt to control or alter the study's results. Secondary data was acquired from a variety of sources, including the internet, journals, textbooks, newspapers, and seminar papers from library archives such as the Lagos State University (LASU) library and the University of Lagos Library. Content analysis was therefore used.
Limitations of the Study (1.81.8)
The researcher encounters a number of problems while doing this research project, one of which is a lack of enough funding, indicating that the researcher is not yet earning money and instead relies on family support.
Furthermore, additional public-sector organisations would have been included in the analysis, making it more comprehensive. This was owing to financial constraints and a lack of time.
Another aspect that nearly derailed the study's success was the time factor. The researcher's requirement to go to the field and libraries, as well as compose and submit the report on time, posed a significant restraint on the researcher's study.
Overall, academic stress exacerbated the challenges, but the researcher made every attempt to maximise the available resources and information without allowing the restrictions to cloud the researcher's vision of the ultimate product's excellence. In essence, these restrictions do not undermine the validity of this work.
1.9 Theoretical Framework for Elite Theory
To ensure a systematic and logical exposition of the topic matter, a theoretical anchoring is required to lead this research inquiry. In this regard, this study uses “Elite Theory” as its theoretical framework.
The elite thesis emphasises the consolidation of political power in the hands of a limited group that, according to Mosca (1947:133), “performs all political functions, monopolises power, and enjoys the advantages that power brings.”
Elite theorists frequently highlight inequalities in intrinsic ability as the genesis of elites. All people are not created equal: some are stronger, more smarter, more artistic, and so on; those with the greatest amount of a certain ability form a sort of elite. Of course, not all abilities result in economic prosperity or political influence.
However, individuals with the most of the specific qualities that a community values become the elites. In some societies, having a flair for corruption may be required to join the elite. Abilities are distributed continuously; that is, there is no clear distinction between individuals at the top of a certain ability and those at the bottom.
Pareto (1939:114), an elite theorist, argued that abilities followed a smooth curve similar to the distribution of money. In his works on elites, he split society into two distinct groups: elites and masses. This cannot be explained by his assessment of ability. Other issues arise when an analysis is focused on ability differences.
It is difficult to assess abilities, and even when they are measured, it is difficult to demonstrate how people with the greatest ability rise to the top. Often, entire ethnic, racial, or sexual groups are excluded from elite positions.
If one accepts that ability determines participation in the elite, the only way to explain this is to argue that the excluded groups are intrinsically inferior.
The Elite theory is used to define certain fundamental elements or organised social life in all civilizations, whether simple or complicated. Politics or industry require authority within the system as well as spokespeople and agents who uphold their beliefs (Mannhein, 1940; Agbo, 2007:22).
The fundamental assumptions of elite theory are:
– Society is divided between the few who wield authority and the many who do not.
– Only a small number of people set values for society.
– The few who govern do not represent the majority of the governed.
– The elite are disproportionately drawn from the higher socioeconomic levels of society.
– Non-elite positions must shift slowly and steadily to maintain stability and avoid revolution.
– Only non-elites who have embraced the basic elite consensus can get access to governing circles.
– Elites agree on the fundamental values of the social system as well as its preservation (status quo).
– Public policy reflects elite values rather than grassroots desires.
– Apathetic masses exert little direct influence on active elites.
– Elites have a greater impact over the people than the populace have on them (Sambo, 1999:13; Dye, 1987:22).
Applied within the context of this study, it is possible to note that the crisis of free and fair elections in Nigeria throughout the years appears to represent the inherent excesses of the elites who appear to influence the political process for their own selfish goals.
This minority social group thus governs the community; while the group frequently sails democratic kites, its operationalization is diametrically opposed to their pilot. Thus, their oligarchical conspiracy restricts their lauded democratic competition, reducing political choice and options (Adeyemi, 2004:41).
The above scenario portrays the backdrop in Nigeria, where elite activities appear to be a hindrance to free and fair elections and democratic consolidation.
This has been proved by incidents such as electoral violence, moneybags, godfatherism, clientelism, and so on, all of which undermine the value of conducting free and fair elections in Nigeria.
Elite theory was chosen for this study because of its ability to provide a systematic explanation of the main factors under investigation. However, some scholars have criticised the elite idea for being overly conspiratorial and inflammatory (Sambo, 1999; Orluwene, 2008).
It is conspiratorial because it implies functional consensus among members of the elite group; nonetheless, it is provocative since it relegates the people to the margins of society. Despite these shortcomings, the theory is still deemed very relevant for the purposes of analysis in this work.