The existence of electoral bodies in Nigeria dates back to the period before Independence when the Electoral Commission of Nigeria (ECN) was set up by the British colonialists to conduct the 1959 elections. By the time Nigeria became politically independent in 1960, the Federal Electoral Commission (F.E.C.) was established and conducted elections of 1964 and 1965. The military coup détat of 1966 led to its dissolution.
In 1978, the then General Olusegun Obasanjo’s military administration established another Federal Electoral Commission (FEDECO) which conducted elections in 1979 and general elections of 1983. Again, another coup; d’état in December 1983 terminated the commission. In 1987, the Babangida military government set up the National Electoral Commission (NEC) which conducted election in 1987, 1990, 1991, and 1993. The activities of NEC reached its zenith in 1993 with the conduct of the controversial Presidential election which was later annulled by then military junta. NEC was dissolved in 17th November, 1993 with the coming into power of General Abacha whose
administration in 1995 established the National Electoral Commission of Nigeria (NECON) and National Assembly Elections.
With the death of Gen. Sani Abacha in 1998, NECON was again dissolved by the new Government led by General Abdulsalami Abubakar and the present Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) came into being in August, 1998. Thus, the current electoral body in Nigeria is a successor to those electoral bodies which existed before and after independence.
Retrospectively, the following Chairmen spearheaded the affairs of all the electoral bodies till date. They are
- Chief Eyo Esua (1964-1966)
- Chief Michael Ani (1978-80)
- Justice Victor Ovie Whisky (1980-1983)
- Professor Eme Awa (1987-1989)
- Professor Humphrey Nwosu (1989-1993)
- Okon Uya (1993-1994)
- Sumner Dagogo Jack (1994-1998)
- Justice Ephraim Akpata (1998-2000)
- Abel Guobadia (2000-2005)
- Professor Maurice Iwuh (2005-2010)
- Professor Attahiru Jega (2010-data)
Since 1999, when the military was shoved aside and civilians took over power, election took place severally which has put to test the democracy Nigeria claims to be practicing. In the first election held in 1999, three parties contested for all the slots in the State and Local governments while the presidential seat was contested by two parties. The parties then were; Alliance for Democracy, (AD), All Peoples Party (APP) and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
For the presidential seat, AD and APP filled joint presidential candidate, Chief Olu Falae with Dr. Umaru Shinkafi deputising him. The PDP was represented by Chief Olusegun Obasanjo while Alhaji Atiku Abubakar was the deputy. After the elections, the PDP was declared winner by INEC. AD and APP Joint candidate Chief Olu Falae cried blue murder. Irregularities and several defects marred the election. Through pressure and persuasion, Chief Olu Falae accepted the defeat and the military relinquished power and Chief Obasanjo was sworn-in- on May 29th, 1999.
In the year 2003, another election took place. This
time, the political space has been widened and several
parties joined the fray. After elections of April, 2003, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) clinched the presidential seat and had majority both in National House of Assemblies. It also had two-third of the 36 States Assemblies and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.
In the year 2007, another election took place, INEC conducted election that was adjudged to be flawed. Wikipedia (2007) reported the observation by the European Union as “the worst election they had ever seen anywhere in the world with rampant vote rigging, violence, theft of ballot boxes and intimidation”. Even local observers concurred with the international observers on the conduct of the election.
For the 2011 general elections, a different scenario occurred. INEC headed by Professor Attahiru Jega rose to the occasion and organized fairly acceptable election. At least, significant proportion of the electorate voted and their votes did count. There were some isolated irregularities across the country. For 2011 general elections, the sad occurrences of 1999, 2003 and 2007 were considerably abridged. At least, materials for voting arrived at the designated polling centres, people voted, votes counted and results announced. The three other elections witnessed wanton and brazen abuse of the rights of the citizens.
For instance, many were disenfranchised in 2003 and
2007 general elections. This shows poor administrative role of INEC in the whole election issue.
1.2 Statement of the Problem:
In three out of the four elections conducted by INEC since 1999, it has continued to record a lot of problems. Some of the problems were; firstly, there was multiple registration of voters. Sometimes, registration officers and politicians collide which resulted in multiple registration of voters. In addition to the above, in some cases, registration cards are not enough to go round even though it has been issued to the officials for the duration of the exercise. According to Daily Sun of February 16, 2006, the tabloid reported that registration officials sold most of the cards or booklets and very few will remain that would be used for the exercise. On the strength of this ugly development, many registration cards will not go round.
Thus artificial scarcity is created as multiple registrations ensue unabated.
Secondly, during elections proper, logistics of distributing materials to centres all over Nigeria becomes a problem. Nigeria is a vast country with a total geographical area of 923,788 Square kilometers. So, the production and distribution of materials within a time-frame has been a problem. Election malpractice like multiple voting has been identified as one of the problems during an election in Nigeria. In addition to the above, violence aimed at disrupting either voters in an opponent’s strongholds or collation of results has also been a common feature in a typical election day in Nigeria.
Sunday Vanguard, April 15, 2007 pp. 5-7, titled: “Violence mars polls, 52 killed”. Also, Saturday Vanguard, April 7, 2007, titled “7 Days to Election: Rising wave of political violence, a threat to polls – ANPP, AC, Others”. Violence in Election Day cuts across the length and breadth of the country.
In another sphere, vote counting is still manual. This type of counting is prone to rigging as officials do collude with politicians to perfect the act. In some occasions, the counting process is
delayed when voters have gone and it is this time that the real rigging takes place. In the rural areas, there is non-availability of means of communicating the results to the people from the State headquarters. For instance, some areas of the country lack viable means of transportation; and accessibility to those areas is always difficult. For instance, places like the Niger-Delta region, the desert areas of Jigawa State, Kano, Bornu and Sokoto states, where Carmel is used to transport election materials and results to the state headquarters poses a serious credibility problem of the entire process.
For 2011 general elections, several reports from national dailies has it that corpers were killed and raped, all in the name of election. So many Churches were burnt especially in Sokoto were it was garnered that 65 Churches were set ablaze. In one of the newspaper reports, Sunday Sun, April, 24, pp. 5-7 to be precise, CAC Pastor decried how he lost everything. This scenario has persisted in almost all elections, held in Nigeria. In Ondo and Oyo States, several people were killed through violence that erupted between two rival political parties – Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN) and National Party of Nigeria (NPN) in the Second Republic (1983). The poor handling of election process by electoral bodies in Nigeria has led to so many carnage destruction of lives and properties and image battering of the country’s democratic process.
In the light of the forgoing, the following research questions agitate the mind of the researcher.
- What causes INEC to print multiple registration cards?
- What causes INEC officials to collude with politicians to create artificial scarcity of registration cards or booklets?
- Why has logistics and distribution of electoral materials been a problem to INEC all the time?
- When will it be possible for INEC to use electronic counting of votes?
- Is there any way to conduct elections that will ensure free, fair and credible polls?
- Objectives of the Study:
The general objective of this study is to ascertain the
administrative role of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in the conduct of elections in Nigeria.
The specific objectives are as follows:
- To ascertain the causes of INEC in printing multiple registration cards.
- To identify reasons why INEC officials collude with politicians to create artificial scarcity of registration cards or booklets.
- To examine the causes of logistics and distribution of problems by INEC in the conduct of polls.
- To proffer solutions to the conduct of free, fair and credible polls in Nigeria.
- Significance of the Study:
Theoretical Significance of this study is drawn from the
Social Contract theory of John Locke and Thomas Hobbes. The two authors almost operated from the same perspective. However, there is slight difference in other postulations. Firstly, John Locke in his theory noted that people were originally observing their life in their natural state. According to him, life was brutish, nasty and harsh. In order to escape from the harsh realities of life, people surrendered their rights to the leviathan with the hope that the leviathan (government will guarantee them the required protection and rights which nature denied them. If the leviathan fails to protect these rights and privileges, they are at liberty to withdraw it.
For Thomas Hobbes, people surrendered their rights and privileges to the leviathan (i.e. government) due to harsh and intolerable state of nature that prevail then. The reason being that the leviathan will be better placed to protect, guide and provide those things that nature failed to provide. In recognition of the view of these authors on man’s involvement in formal government, we conclude that people participate in vote-casting in an election for the sole purpose that those whom they are casting the votes for will cater, provide and ensure for their welfare whenever they assume power. This implies that should people refuse to elect their leaders through participation in an election, they are bound to remain in the same state of nature which was brutish, nasty and harsh. Alternatively, people can withdraw their support from those whom they elected through another form of election.
This study is a contribution to the issue of administrative role of independent national electoral commission (INEC) in the sustenance of democratic governance in Nigeria. Since 1999, there has been an election in Nigeria which has been marred by violence, rigging and other acts that are inimical to the sustenance of democracy in Nigeria. It is the duty or constitutional role of INEC to organize, conduct and administer election into various tiers of government. Should the exercise not conducted in a free and fair manner, sustenance of democracy will be in doubt. In the light of the above, this study is a contribution to the plethora of literature on election and democracy in Nigeria. This study is significant because future researchers will utilize the literature available as point of take offer. It will assist them tremendously in their own research exercise.
- Scope and Limitations of the Study:
The scope of this study covers 1999 and 2011 general elections in Enugu State. During the period, Nigeria returned to civil rule and four elections have taken place. Just as elections took place in other parts of the country, Enugu State was not an exception.
In the study, the following factors acted as constraints to it. They are, dearth of relevant data needed for the study, domestic and academic demands on the researcher. Finally, the study was constrained by the recalcitrant attitude of the officials of INEC towards releasing vital information needed for the research. Inspite of these hiccups, the researcher was able to scrape through and produced the work presented here.
The limitations of the study are as follows: Firstly, the study is limited by dearth of relevant data especially on the activities of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in the State since 1999. Secondly, the study is limited by academic and domestic commitments of the researcher. In fact, the two factors drew huge time from the research exercise. Thirdly, this study is limited by the uncompromising attitude of INEC officials in Enugu. Vital information needed for the study is not easily accessible. In fact, INEC officials calls the data within them classified information or data. This invariably affected the study in greater ways. In spite of the hiccups, the researcher was able to gather information that was used for the study.