ROLES OF ELECTIONS IN MAINTAINING DEMOCRACY IN NIGERIA
Is there any hope for genuine democratic practices in Nigeria? The purpose of this study was to look into the role of elections in maintaining democracy in Nigeria. (A Case Study on the 2007 General Election).
The questionnaire study, which used descriptive methods of analysis, shows that the respondents provided clear responses. This discourages the null hypothesis of the findings.
However, proposals were offered to determine how the duties of election may be enhanced.
Democracy has been regarded as the best type of government. Best stated as “Government of the people, for the people, and by the people,” supporters of democracy as a form of governance argue that it is the most consistent with natural tendencies since it enables humans the greatest potential freedom of expression.
In practice, democracy necessitates the selection of leaders through free and fair elections, the establishment of institutions that promote a shared distribution of political power, and the availability of numerous opportunities for citizens to participate in political activity.
Three aspects have been cited as reasons why democracy is the best approach to achieve long-term prosperity for the vast majority, including shared power, openness, and adaptability.
Democracy is more than just a set of constitutional rules and procedures that regulate how a government operates; it is also predicated on the fact that these rules are defined by the people or their elected representatives, whom they have chosen via an electoral process.
Elections are such fundamental and ubiquitous parts of political life that there are few disagreements on their significance and the real or potential roles they play in sustaining peaceful democracy in Nigeria.
Douse and Hughes (1972) describe election as a mechanism recognised by the norms of an organisation, whether a state, club, volunteer organisation, or whatever, in which all or some of the members select a smaller number of people to hold an office or offices of power within that organisation.
An election is also a formal decision-making process that typically results in representative governance based on democratic values.
Elections play an important part in democracy; this is where the phrase “government of the people, by the people, for the people” originated. Elections not only provide voters ultimate control over the choosing of their leaders, but they also allow corrupt and inefficient leaders to be dismissed in a nonviolent manner.
Any election to political office must be based on specific characteristics in order to be considered free and fair. They include, among other things, the Legal Framework System, an electoral watchdog, the right to elect and be elected, voter registration and registration,
political parties and candidates, democratic electoral campaigns, media access and freedom of expression, campaign finance and expenditure, balloting, vote counting, the role of party and candidate representatives, election observers, and so on.
In practice, democracy requires leaders to be chosen through free and fair elections. According to the African Milieu (Ake 1992), the only democracy that would appeal to the continent's masses is a social democracy that goes beyond abstract political rights and seriously considers tangible economic and social rights.
Nigeria's experience with democracy has been epileptic since 1960, when she gained independence from British rule. 1999 will be the third try (republic is excluded because it was abolished with democratic ethos).
In each, practice widely accepted to be at variance with the spirit of true democracy was perceived to be one of the major reasons for the demise of democracy in Nigeria,
such as violence, corruption, political association, and, most recently, godfatherism, which has not only undermined her democracy but has gone so far as to threaten its very existence.
Because of the manner in which it has been pursued, many have claimed that it is indistinguishable from totalitarian regimes. When elections are held, citizens are not permitted to vote in order to have a fair portion of the chosen government of the day (Adele, 2001).
Elections play an important role in not just strengthening, but also ensuring maintenance. Although elections play an important role in a representative government designed to implement the principle of popular sovereignty.
Mackenzie (1967) contends that Nigeria is at a watershed moment in its political history. The country has suffered from bad political leadership, which can be attributed in part to botched elections.
A noteworthy example is the historic June 12, 1993 election, which was deemed to be the most free election in Nigeria to date, but was invalidated by Gen. Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida's (IBB) military administration.
Previous Nigerian elections did not adhere to electoral standards that promote uniformity, reliability, consistency, correctness, and general professionalism.
However, the function of elections in consolidating democracy in Third World countries has been called into question since, while they are responsible for guaranteeing the success of democratic transitions, they lack the resources to ensure their continuation.
However, with the new electoral legislation and INEC's credible, respected, and radical leadership, it is now possible to assure credible, free, and fair elections in Nigeria. Furthermore, all stakeholders, including people, must do their part to make this happen.
This research is therefore particularly topical in that it will look at elections carefully and systematically in order to assist consolidate democracy in Nigeria by overcoming its shortcomings.
1.1 Statement of the Problems
The failure to have an effective and credible election has called into doubt Nigeria's commitment to democracy. As a result, this project will look into the following:
1. The role of elections in guaranteeing the successful continuation of democracy in Nigeria.
2. Some of the problems that could mitigate against the formation of successful free and fair elections.
3. How could the strength of INEC be enhanced?
1.2 Objective of the Study
The aim and objective of this study is to critically assess the roles of elections in Third World nations, with a focus on Nigeria, and how they might contribute positively or negatively to a sustainable democracy, despite the fact that this has been viewed as too weak.
It is therefore important and pertinent to investigate the issue and provide a solution. Despite the described flaws, democracy is still widely regarded as the finest form of government due to the freedom (bill of rights) it provides in every given community.
1.3 Significance of the Study
The study's significance stems from the contributions it may make to improving the democratic spirit in Nigeria's political system. Its idea is that elections play an important role in expanding Nigeria's embryonic democracy beyond its territorial bounds.
Furthermore, it will serve to retain the notion that the military is an aberration and abnormal rule that cannot help or support democracy.
1.4 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
1. How does Nigeria's multiethnic nature affect free and fair elections?
2. How widespread are faulty elections in Nigeria's democracy?
3. What causes lead to the death of a democratic system of government?
1.5 Research Hypothesis
The following hypothesis assumption would be quite useful in exploring the above questions.
1. Hypothesis 1: Nigeria's multiethnic composition has no substantial impact on the conduct of free and fair elections.
2. H0: There is no substantial association between INEC's politicisation and perceived weakness in performing their function.
3. H0: There is no significant link between godfatherism and the incidence of democratic strangulation in Nigeria.
1.6 Scope of the Study
The study's area of analysis will be limited to Nigeria and the role of INEC in the 2007 elections. This election will be used as a case study from time to time if the circumstances warrant.
1.7 Limitations of the Study
As is customary, the researcher will face some limitations over the course of this task, such as financial constraints, which may have a direct impact on the quality of relevant materials and time period. As a result, the study cannot be completely exhaustive.
However, these limits will be thoroughly examined, and it is highly believed that their impact on this research would be modest. As a result, the study's goal and significance become clear.
1.8 Definition of Terms
Conceptual clarification is essential for any scientific or empirical inquiry. It lays the groundwork for a complete comprehension of the major concepts that are used. This is because concepts are the foundational elements. The following concept requires operational elucidation.
1. Role: According to the Oxford English Advanced Learners Dictionary, sixth edition, the term “role” refers to the functions of position that something has or is expected to have in an organisation, society, or relationship.
As a result of the foregoing, election roles are features of a good democracy that would move Nigerians' needs in a democratic society forward.
2. Election: According to Alan Ball (1977), an election is the process or mechanism by which people choose and exert some control over their representatives.
In short, elections are held regularly in third-world nations, and citizens may feel overwhelmed by the number of electoral choices they are required to make. However, in a democracy, every citizen is responsible for making a choice at every poll (Gloria Cox: 1050).
3. Democracy: The term “democracy” is an adjective derived from the Greek root. Demos refers to the people, whereas Kratio means to reign.
According to Longman's Dictionary of Contemporary English. The concept of democracy is described as a country ruled by its citizens or representatives.
According to Adelope (1995), it is a system of governance in which the people exercised ruling power directly or through representatives elected by themselves on a periodic basis.
i. INEC: Independent National Electoral Commission.
ii. EFCC (Economic and Financial Crimes Commission).
iii. ICPC (Independent Corrupt and Other Practices Commission).
IV. DDC – Direct Data Capture Machine.
v. NEEDS: National Economic Empowerment and Development Strategy.