ELECTIONS AND DEMOCRATIC SUSTENANCE IN NIGERIAN fourth REPUBLIC
ELECTIONS AND DEMOCRATIC SUSTENANCE IN NIGERIAN FOURTH REPUBLIC
BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
Democracy has been defined as governments in which individuals are freely chosen by and accountable to the governed (Gana, 1996:12). A democratic system is one in which rulers are held accountable to the ruled through various political arrangements.
Competitive multiparty elections held at regular intervals are examples of such arrangements (Oronsage, 1995:1). The essential feature of democracy,
however, is that persons in political office do not have automatic security of tenure, but can be questioned and even ousted in line with the will of the people through a variety of institutional mechanisms (Howel, 1991).
Thus, one of the most significant tools for achieving the goals of democratisation is the conduct of accepted free and fair elections, which is one of the most critical and salient elements of any genuine democratic process anywhere in the world.
According to Unoi (1990:4), it has become so inextricably linked to the emergence and development of democratic political order that it is now widely regarded as the single most crucial indication of the presence or absence of democratic administration. Elections are thus a symbol of democracy.
However, the conduct of elections in nigeria since independence in 1960 has been problematic due to political strife. The 1959 general elections were the first direct elections, ushering in an independent Nigeria's constitutional settlement.
Although the colonial overlords controlled and handled the confrontations that arose as a result of the elections. The desire to seize power from the colonial masters tempered the emergence of conflicts as a result of the fifth elections, notwithstanding various irregularities in the conduct and outcome of the elections. Mudashin (Mudashin 2005:476).
The 1964 general elections were marred by significant manipulation, dispute, and political bloodshed, culminating in a military takeover of power in 1966. In a similar spirit, the 1979 election, which took place after several years of military control,
became a carryover of the 1964 General Election, as most of the performers had also taken part in the 1964 General Election. As a result, the animosities of the 1964 elections continued over into the 1979 election.
By extension, the 1983 General Elections demonstrated the parochialism in our body polity, leading to the military coup of December 31, 1983. Since that time, attempts to foster democratic rule through electoral processes have been characterised by ferocious and thus political conflicts as a result of electoral frauds.
The experience of the country's election on June 12, 1993 lingers in the minds of Nigerians. Needless to say, this divides the country practically along ethnic lines.
The political struggle sparked by the 1993 elections culminated in Abascha's autocratic reign and later General Abulsalam Abubakar's ten-month rule. The 1999 General Elections were held in a hurried climate, with no constitutional backing and numerous irregularities.
However, democracy in Nigeria has a flawed history that has manifested itself as a crippling cycle of political renewal and degeneration. Except for the present, liberal democracy has failed twice in the country's political history after initial and popular excitement about the prospects of democratic rule.
During Nigeria's previous attempts at civil democracy during the first and second republics, the military intervened and succeeded crises-ridden, dysfunctional, and unwise administrations that were thoroughly disfigured and discredited by massive political insensitivity, open corruption, electoral malpractices, thuggery, and general social indiscipline.
It is crucial to note here that Nigerian democracy has had a stormy history. Because of a variety of factors. To begin with, the poor fortune that characterises democratic government in the country was traced back to the nature of Nigeria's colonial experience under Britain throughout the first and second republics.
This was the time when the groundwork for Nigeria's democratic setting was laid. Even with the faulty foundation laid for them by the crystallite colonial masters, Nigeria's leaders prior to and since independence have failed miserably,
exhibiting a lack of foresight, little commitment to national growth, low patriotic zeal, and a trenchant ethnic outlook as opposed to progressive national cohesion.
The military's constant intrusions into political issues have further suffocated democracy in Nigeria. Though they began as corrective regimes to repair the wrongs done to nations by inept civilian leadership, the military quickly became worse than the politicians they replaced.
This rendered all of their claims to national interest and constitutional protection ineffective.
According to the foregoing, Nigeria's route to democracy has been a difficult one. The process has been filled with entrenched restrictions, portraying democracy as ironic (Alualgbu, 2007). Despite this, Nigeria returned to the fold of a democratic nation in 1999.
However, as O, Donell (1992:18) correctly observes, there are two stages of transition in the processes leading to a country's ultimate democratisation. The first is the transition from an authoritarian military regime to the establishment of a democratic government.
The move from this method of government to the successful operation of a democratic system is the second stage. In other words, democracy in Nigeria has succeeded in passing the first step, but the second stage has proven troublesome.
The return to democratic governance in 1999 was marked by tumultuous political events, including general elections. According to the Guardian of May 28th (2004), the 1999 election was marred by electoral malpractice, which led in numerous electoral cases by some political parties. Similarly, Pudley (1973) claims that the 2003 election saw Boycotts in several parts of the country.
Similarly, the run-up to the 2007 general election featured worrisome levels of violence. Thus, the comeback of democracy in Nigeria, which dispelled citizen disillusionment and reawakened Nigerians' optimism for a better future, is gradually giving way to apprehension and melancholy. Against this setting, this study will look at election and democracy sustainability in Nigeria's fourth republic.
STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
Elections, which are an important element of the democratic process in Nigeria, have lost their intrinsic values and have devolved into a means of political manipulation.
As a result, elections no longer provide voters with the freedom of choice and the ability to hold elected officials accountable. As a result, there is widespread scepticism about the long-term viability of democracy in Nigeria.
The successful functioning of democracy in Nigeria has proven to be difficult. Rising corruption among elected public office holders, falling living standards, a nagging economic downturn, misdeeds of the political elite leading to uncertainty in the political arena,
rising insecurity in the country, and other factors all point to Nigeria relapsing into political abyss as it did in the 1980s.Given the foregoing, can the country's current democratisation process be sustained and consolidated?
OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
The study's overarching goal is to critically assess elections and democratic sustainability in Nigeria's fourth republic. The precise goals are as follows:
To investigate the progress of elections and the democratic process in Nigeria.
The purpose of this study is to look at the influence of elections and democratic consolidation in Nigeria's fourth republic.
To investigate the issue of democratic sustainability in Nigeria's fourth republic.
The study will be guided by the research questions listed below.
How did Nigeria's election and democratic processes evolve?
What effect have elections had on democratic consolidation in Nigeria's Fourth Republic?
What are the challenges to democratic survival under Nigeria's Fourth Republic?
OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
From 1999 to 2010, the study focuses on elections and democratic sustainability in Nigeria. The emphasis is on the impact of elections during the time on Nigeria's democratic consolidation. An attempt will be made to examine the forerunners of Nigeria's democratic experiment.
SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
The majority of the literature on Nigerian democracy focused on the context of the country's democratic experience. As a result, significant work has not been done to objectively examine the influence of elections on democratic consolidation in Nigeria's Fourth Republic. As a result, the focus of this paper is on analysing the challenges to democratic consolidation in Nigeria.
As a result, the study is relevant for the following reasons. For starters, it will highlight the effects of elections on Nigeria's democratic sustainability.
Second, the study will include recommendations on how to address the hurdles to democratic sustainability caused by election fallout. Third, these research will add to the existing literature on Nigerian elections and democracy.
The historical technique was used for this study's investigation. The study will rely on secondary data sources such as books, periodicals, journals, newspapers, magazines,
and other relevant material on Nigerian elections and democratic consolidation. The use of this strategy is predicated on the ability to provide a logical explanation and conclusion.
LIMITATIONS OF THE STUDY
There is no human activity without constraints, therefore the researcher was constrained by various circumstances during the course of the research. The limitations of this endeavour include the lack of funds and the deliberate hoarding of beneficial knowledge and supplies.
Another issue was time constraints, as well as official engagement. These, among other things, served as constraints on the research endeavour.
However, the researcher made an effort to decrease the impact of these circumstances on the content validity of the research activity, and financial support was provided by family members and loved ones.
DEFINITION OF TERMS
Because of the abundance of ideas with comparable meanings in social science. It became necessary to operationally define certain concepts within the context of their usage in order to eliminate any ambiguity about their meaning. As a result, the following ideas are defined in the context of their use in this study.
Election – An election is the constitutional framework or process of transferring power and authority to a country's elected administration.
Again, election can be defined as a process of selecting, or better still, a method by which legitimate inhabitants of a country choose among other aspirants to represent their interests in the government of their country.
Democracy encompasses a plethora of concerns such as freedom of choice, rule of law, fundamental human rights, popular participation in decision-making processes, accommodation of different viewpoints, respect for minority rights, openness, transparency, and accountability.
Democratic Consolidation – A post-inauguration stage of the democratisation process. The ultimate purpose of democratic consolidation is to strengthen newly created democracies and protect them against authoritarian relapse.