DEMOCRATIC CONSOLIDATION AND ANALYSIS OF THE ROLE OF FOREIGN OBSERVERS IN NIGERIAN ELECTORAL PROCESS
1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
Nigeria, like most post-independent African states, is mired in the crisis of underdevelopment. The crisis manifested itself in economic, social, and political terms. The nation’s politics has become characterized by a winner takes all attitude resulting in violence, corruption, and the entertainment of what is known or called anti-development politics. Agreed that military and successive civilian administrations have contributed to this parlous state of affairs, yet the behaviour of Nigerian politicians leaves much to be desired (Babatunde, 2015).
Indeed, it can be emphatically asserted that between 1999 and 2019, there has been an absence of the politics of relevance in Nigeria. That is, politics geared towards the development of the nation and improvement in the material well-being of the generality of the people. This led to clarion call for change instead of continuity of the Peoples’ Democracy Party that ruled the country for sixteen years.
The change can only come about through free and fair election under the watchful eyes of local and international observers. The general election in Nigeria is very important because of the global ramification which will be discussed in the cause of this essay. It is interesting to know that elections which normally is a scheduled routine event in which citizens select those who take decisions on their behalf, have become almost the defining events in the Nigeria national life.
That is, elections in Nigeria today are defined in terms such as do –or die, the capture of offices by all means. Yet, this is not unique to Nigeria. Globally, elections have acquired an iconic character and elections have become one of the most visible occupations across the global village (Jega, 2011). Neutral, independent and conscientious observation of the electoral process has become an important element of the democratic process.
It contributes to the credibility and impartiality of elections by providing information about the electoral process. Election observation and monitoring build voter confidence in the integrity of the process as well as the integrity of the election management body.
The presence of observers and monitors may discourage or expose violence or intimidation and cheating or manipulation of the vote or the results (Pastor 1998; Hyde 2015; McFaul 2015; Kelley 2010). International election observers’ criss-cross the world today and increasingly intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations are actively engaging in election activities.
The need to study the electoral process in Nigeria is important because of the position the country occupies in Africa and the interest and respect which the international community have for the state. Also there is need to ascertain whether independent national electoral commission has improved on the lapses that occurred during general elections.
The 2011 election provoked massive anger, condemnations and allegation of electoral fraud of the polls. The study of general election is very vital in the sense that, it is proper to know whether the measures like card readers machines, permanent voters card, and computerized voters registered list (updated) actually reduced the incidence of electoral fraud in Nigeria.
And to what extend the election was free and fair and conforms to the international standard as adjudge by the international observers and above all, role, action and assistances which the international observers rendered toward the success or failure of the election. Nigerian democracy 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 with 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 to 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. Sometimes, the electorates are disenfranchised and the alienated political barons employ the use of coercion to seize power or what Ihonvbere (2013) painted in a general picture of Africa’s situation as, ruler-ship became permanent, politics became Hobbesian: power was fought by all means and the struggle for power became the overriding worry.
According to Adekanye (2015) the history of electoral fraud, elections in the country have often been associated with political tension, crisis, and even violence. Actually, politics is seen as the only game in town, and it was played with deadly seriousness for the winner won everything and the loser lost everything.
One of the primary aims of election observers in the world, whether domestic or international, is to strengthen and expand democratic values worldwide. They also provide practical assistances, to political leaders, institutions, internal democracy and nations in advancing in their democratic values and cultures. They help either in commending elections or exposing election flaw(s).
They advocate for free and fair elections in line with global norms. They also advice for electoral body, security, judicial, and media neutralities in an electoral process. These observers safeguard elections by encouraging openness, periodic elections, citizen participation, and accountability. They condemn imposition of candidates, insecurity, political thuggery, and lack of internal democracy among others.
The study examined voter’s confidence transparency and acceptability of International Election Observers in the electoral process and will examine the monitoring and observation process and also review some of the reports of international observers and examines the extent to which they reflected the quality of the elections.
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
The challenges of incredibility rocking the conduct of elections in many countries of the world necessitated for International Election Observers. These challenges not only hampered free and fair elections but puts doubt in the mind of the electorates.
The International Election Observers in bid to promote democratic values and strengthen the electoral processes ,observer elections with the major aims to support the democratic process of the country, to deter fraud and expose the electoral irregularities, enhance the public confidence and determine the level of implementation of rule of law.
These will ensure the general acceptability, voters’ confidence and transparency of the election to the domestic and international community. Article 19, rights to hold opinion without interference; Article 21, the right for peaceful Assembly; Article 22, right to freedom of Association/collective entitlement for free and fair elections etc. These provided legal basis for a representative government.
Article 25, Universal Declaration of Human Rights (ICCPR,) of 1966, also added ‘reasonableness’ of political rights standard in the matter concerning voting, candidature, conflict of interest, election and constituency limitations (HRC, 2011).
The recommendation of improved electoral frame work, genuine election effective time preparation and election administration, education campaign, equal level ground for political actors, enabling environment for voters exercise of their franchise, democracy to ensure elections without undue influence or coercion of any kind which distort or inhibit the free expression of the electors
will- Voters should be able to form independently, free of violence or threat of violence, compulsion, inducement or manipulative interference of any kind over the years were based on the general reform of the process to reflect the International standard appropriate for conduct for free and fair stated by the theory of International norms for appropriateness.
The study is poised to investigate and access the acceptability, voters confidence transparency of the elections vis-a-vis the efforts of the international election observers promote democratic process, freedom, fairness, and stability of electoral process in con: with global standard and electoral norms in Nigeria.
1.3. AIMS AND OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
The major aim of the study is to evaluate democratic consolidation and analysis of the role of foreign observers in Nigerian electoral process. Other specific objectives are as follows;
1. To identify the major internal factors that affected the outcome of foreign election monitoring and observation in Nigeria.
2. To examine the contributions made by foreign Election Observers in promoting electoral process in Nigeria.
3. To examine the impacts of international election monitoring and observation on electoral process and democratic governance in Nigeria.
4. To identify and analyze the activities of international election observers in Nigeria.
5. To examine the factors in the political discourse that analysts do contribute to democratic consolidation in Nigeria.
6. To recommend ways of improving on the concept of credible election in Nigeria.
1.4. RESEARCH QUESTIONS
1. What are the major internal factors that affected the outcome of foreign election monitoring and observation in Nigeria?
2. What are the contributions made by foreign Election Observers in promoting electoral process in Nigeria?
3. What are the impacts of international election monitoring and observation on electoral process and democratic governance in Nigeria?
4. What are the activities of international election observers in Nigeria?
5. What the factors in the political discourse that analysts do contribute to the democratic consolidation in Nigeria.
6. What are the recommended ways of improving on the concept of credible election in Nigeria?
1.5. RESEARCH HYPOTHESIS
H0: There is no impact of international election monitoring and observation on electoral process and democratic governance in Nigeria.
H1: There is a significant impact of international election monitoring and observation on electoral process and democratic governance in Nigeria.
1.6. SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
Election is a process by which the masses choose those who will represent their interests during the decision making. In order to ensure free, fair and credible election in a country, the election observers contributed to the exercise, particularly in Nigeria. Therefore, the role of the election monitoring group or observers has been perceived differently by many towards the democratic consolidation in Nigeria.
The finding of this research will help both the Nigerian society and the foreign election monitoring group on how best the conduct of election in the continent can be more strengthen in order to allow for peaceful transfer of power from one civilian administration to another.
The study will help highlight the impact of the nature and character of the Nigerian State as well as the ruling elite on the electoral process and democratic consolidation in Nigeria. The study will enlighten the general public on the inextricable link between free and fair elections and consolidation of democratic practice, as well as the centrality of openness and transparency if free and fair election is to be achieved.
Academically, this study explored the efforts of the Federal Government through the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in permanently addressing the endemic problems that are associated with the conduct of credible elections and transition to civil rule in Nigeria.
Hence, by evaluating the nature and character of the Nigerian State and the ruling elite vis-à-vis the perpetration of electoral fraud in elections in Nigeria as well as the relevant sections of our legal and constitutional frameworks that assisted in the perpetration of electoral fraud in any of the elections in Nigeria,
the study will not only synchronize with existing enquiries to form a dependable pool of literature in this area, but will also serve as a convenient starting point for further studies in the analysis of the interface between Electoral reforms and consolidation of democracy in Nigeria.
1.7. SCOPE OF THE STUDY
The study is restricted to democratic consolidation and analysis of the foreign observers in Nigerian electoral process.
1.8 LIMITATION OF THE 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 TERMS
Democratic consolidation: Is the process by which a new democracy matures, in a way that means it is unlikely to revert to authoritarianism without an external shock.
Democracy: Is a system of government where the citizens exercise power by voting. In a direct democracy, the citizens as a whole form a governing body and vote directly on each issue. In a representative democracy the citizens elect representatives from among themselves.
Political Party: Is defined as an organised group of people with at least roughly similar political aims and opinions that seeks to influence public policy by getting its candidates elected to public office.
International Election Observers: These are official delegation from other countries who are invited by the government of the host country to monitor election. As argued by Hyde (2011), the international election observers “are official delegations of foreigners who are invited by the host government to observe and report on the electoral process”.
The international election observers are mostly sponsored by the international organizations such as the United Nations (UN), European Union (EU) among others. Similarly, Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) also sponsored international election observers to countries. These NGOs include the National Democratic Institute, International Republican Institute among others.
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