ROLE OF POLITICAL PARTIES IN ISSUES OF FREE AND FAIR ELECTION IN NIGERIA
1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
The history of elections in Nigeria can be traced back to 1922, when the British Colonial authority held elections in response to nationalist pressures for greater participation in colonial administration. As a result, Nigerians were given the first opportunity to hold key governmental positions.
Though the franchise was limited and representation was limited, it was a triumph for nationalists who were fighting for the establishment of democratic order as a prerequisite for wider public engagement in the government process.
Following 1922, numerous further elections were held in various sections of the country to elect leaders at the national, regional, and local levels.
However, it was the 1959 General Elections that cleared the road for Nigeria's independence. Several elections have been held since then, either in transition from one civilian government to another or in transition from military regimes to civilian governance.
Organising free and fair elections in an emerging democracy like Nigeria has been viewed as a difficult process that requires functional input from democratic bodies like political parties, electoral bodies, electorates, and political entities whose activities are geared towards controlling government machinery (Omodia, 2011a).
Elections that are free and fair have also been considered as a mechanism that lubricates the democratic process, allowing for democratic stability and maturity (Ibodje and Dode 2007; Omodia 2011a). From the standpoint of this paper, relating the first concept of free and fair elections to the latter as stated above demonstrates that,
while functional inputs are required from political elites, the electoral body, electorates, political parties, and, to a large extent, security agents in the Nigerian environment, it is important to note that the structure, pattern, and functioning of political parties tend to affect the institutions mentioned above.
According to Omodia (2009), the structure of political parties: masses, elitist/cadre, and mass-elite could have a significant impact on the freeness and fairness of the electoral process in the following ways:
an elitist-dominated process would result in excessive monetization of the electoral process, manipulation of the masses by political elites for selfish and class benefits, ineffective and restrictive political mobilisation of the citizenry for voter registration, and enh
As a result, it is critical to emphasise that the role of political parties in a competitive climate is critical to maintaining free and fair elections. This is because parties are obliged to regulate their members' activities by ensuring that they follow the regulations given by the electoral body for hygienic contest.
This is in addition to other functions such as political mobilisation and electorate education, instilling confidence in the electoral process through open and transparent party primaries, ensuring that parties are represented at polling booths and collation centres by party agents, and so on.
A free and fair election is an embodiment of a collaborative process in which the people are the driving force and determinant of political representation or the outcome of the electoral process.
In other words, the concept here is not only for free and fair inter-party elections, particularly in newly democratic African states, but also for electoral activities to be centred on the people in such a way that it would aid the emergence of political leaders at the intra-party level, informed political decisions at the polling booth, and where the people's choice would be the major determinant of electoral contest.
To accomplish the foregoing, political parties are expected to effectively perform the function of political education, political candidates or parties are not expected to be restricted to access to mass media or any other functional means of political campaigning,
a candidate or party is not expected to be unduly financially favoured through the use of state funds, and the electoral body is also expected to be independent in such a way that it can effectively discharge the function of electoral administration.
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
Nigeria, a country with many ethnic groupings and a variety of political goals ranging from the individual to political parties. The threat to the Nigeria electioneering process is the wheel to be on power at all costs, regardless of the interests of the people.
Every political party in power wants to retain power for their selfish interests, and while doing so, they map out strategies that will enable them to rig the election either by crook or hook. This is not unique to the Nigeria system, but is common due to the fact that most leaders openly defy the system.
Political malpractice has taken on a new form in Nigerian history, with most of the country's religious leaders now singing politicians' praises, ignoring their vows and responsibilities to the people by preaching the gospel, which prefers to shower praise on politicians who come to their congregation for thanksgiving to God.
Instead of religious leaders acting as lords over these politicians, chastising any doubtful person who warrants such in order to clear the society of evil eggs.
Thus, the purpose of this research is to uncover the role of political parties in enhancing free and fair elections in Nigeria, with a particular emphasis on the Kogi State Gubernatorial Election of 2011.
1.3 OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
The only purpose of this research is to explore the role of political parties in concerns of free and fair elections in Nigeria. During the course of the study, the researcher intends to address the following sub objectives;
i) To investigate the contributions of political parties to the maintenance of a free and fair election in Kogi state.
ii) Examine INEC's performance in managing and conducting the 2011 general elections in Kogi state.
iii) To investigate the amount of success attained by political parties at the conclusion of the Kogi state elections.
iv) To ascertain the difficulties connected with holding a free and fair election in Kogi state.
v) To provide solutions to the problems and challenges impeding free and fair elections in Nigeria.
1.4 RESEARCH HYPOTHESES
To guide the study, the researcher developed the following null and alternate hypotheses:
H0: In Kogi State, there is no major association between political parties and the conduct of free and fair elections.
H1:In Kogi State, there is a considerable relationship between political parties and the conduct of free and fair elections.
H0:INEC plays no management role in ensuring a free and fair election in Kogi state.
H2:INEC manages the conduct of a free and fair election in Kogi state.
H0: There was no free and fair election in Kogi state during the 2011 gubernatorial election.
H3:During the 2011 gubernatorial election in Kogi state, there was a free and fair election.
1.5 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
The following are the significances that will be obtained upon completion of the study:
This study will educate the general public on political party activities, with a specific focus on the management role of the 2011 general election in the state, with the goal of determining the success and challenges connected with free and fair elections.
It will serve as a mirror of reflection for political party leaders and members on the need to represent rather than impose representatives on the populace. The importance of holding a credible election in which all votes cast can be counted even in the near future.
This study will contribute to the body of literature on the effect of personality traits on student academic achievement, forming the empirical literature for future research in the field.
1.6 SCOPE AND LIMITATIONS OF THE STUDY
This research is limited to the role of political parties in organising a free and fair election, with a focus on the 2011 general elections in Kogi State. It will also discuss the state's general election triumphs and difficulties in 2011.
The researcher experienced the following constraint over the course of the study:
Financial constraint- A lack of funds tends to restrict the researcher's efficiency in locating relevant materials, literature, or information, as well as in the data collection procedure (internet, questionnaire, and interview).
Time constraint- The researcher will conduct this investigation alongside other academic activities. As a result, the amount of time spent on research will be reduced.
1.7 DEFINITIONS OF TERMS
Political parties: A political party is a group of people who band together to run for office and control the government. The party agrees on some proposed policies and programmes with the goal of advancing the common good or furthering the interests of their supporters.
While there is considerable international uniformity in the way political parties are recognised and operate, there are often major variances.
PDP is an abbreviation for the Peoples Democratic Party of Nigeria.
APC stands for the All Progressives Congress in Nigeria.
INEC: autonomous National Electoral Commission is an autonomous authority in Nigeria charged with voter registration and election administration.
An election is a formal decision-making process in which a population choose a person to hold public office. Since the 17th century, elections have been the standard mechanism through which contemporary representative democracy has functioned.
Elections may be held to fill positions in the legislature, the executive and judiciary, and in regional and municipal government. This procedure is also utilised in a variety of other private and business organisations, ranging from clubs to non-profit organisations and businesses.
Genuine elections establish the legitimacy of democratic government in significant part, and they are much more than what happens on Election Day. A genuine electoral process necessitates an open pre-election environment in which citizens can participate freely;
political parties, candidates, and the media can operate freely; an independent judiciary can function fairly and expeditiously; and electoral authorities can operate impartially. Since its inception, NDI has collaborated with partners all around the world to ensure that elections reflect the will of the people.
1.8 ORGANISATION OF THE STUDY
This research paper is divided into five chapters for easy comprehension. The first chapter is concerned with the introduction, which includes the (background of the investigation), issue statement, aims of the study, research questions, research hypotheses, significance of the study, scope of the study, and so on.
The second chapter, a survey of related literature, offers the theoretical framework, conceptual framework, and other areas linked to the subject matter. The third chapter is a research methodology chapter that discusses the research strategy and methodologies used in the study.
The fourth chapter focuses on data gathering, analysis, and presenting of findings. The study's summary, conclusion, and suggestions are presented in Chapter 5.