BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
The structure of democracy in Nigeria posits political parties and elections as the blood vessels of the system, while the Constitution of a sovereign democratic state is the heart pumping political blood into the system to re-enforce/energize the components for effective performance. Election is described as the pillar of democracy. Election is the back born of democracy and there is no democracy in the absent of election (Nnoli, O. 2006). Nigeria is a country with a long history of military rule while democracy is seen as the most desirable and best system of government. Election in Nigeria is characterized by multi-party system of politics and systematic institutional arrangement. An understanding of the system of Nigeria elections, it needs a synergy provided by the link against the background of the previous election in Nigeria. Among the many factors critical for a properly functioning democracy, few have been as widely debated as election financing. Money in politics serves as an expression of free speech and an effective instrument for informing voters and building an inclusive democracy for some people while for others, the non controlled use of money in politics can erode the proper functioning of democracy as it can lead to excessive campaigning, unequal access to power, and politicians who are beholden to special interest groups. Despite the existing or large adoption of spending limits, our understanding of how they impact the political process is limited. As we show theoretically, spending limits can affect both who enters politics and who gets elected thereby making the electoral process not to be free, fair and transparent. However, because the decision to run for office depends not only on a candidate’s own characteristics, but those of his opponents, the effects of spending limits can be ambiguous. Empirically, to estimate the effects of spending limits on political behaviour presents some difficult challenges. Money needed for democracy because much of its political activity simply could not take place without it. Political process cannot do without money; campaigns cost money, as political office aspirants need funds to properly remunerate their staff. Fox (2010) pointed out that money is needed to prints brochures, pamphlets, radio and television adverts, renting space for campaign offices. However, when explaining its costs and benefits one should stress that the misuse of money in politics can create some major problems for a political regime. Nigeria has a history of poor governance characterized by corruption, social injustice and political instability. It discovered and argued that money in Nigeria politics’ being an acceptable means of electoral financing, shifted to vote buying in the year 1960s during the second republic and later become pervasive and more wide domination; especially since 1999. However decades of military rule distorted democratic social values and undermine democratic institution. Corruption has become pervasive in all cycle of public and private lives. It is pertinent to observe that it is not in any way being suggested that the use of money by political parties, any person or group of persons in politics has inherent corruption influence (Davies 2006). The truth is that money is needed for sundry services and logistics such as mobilization for political campaigns and rallies, printing of posters and manifestoes, production of party emblems and other symbols etc. The only worry however, is the noticeable corrupting influence of money and vote buying in election and their negative impact on electoral process in Nigeria.
1.2 STATEMENT OF PROBLEM
Democracy is considered a viable system of government controlled by the people on equal footing. Practically, unequal access to resources to foot political bills, and unregulated campaign financing has created uneven political playing ground in Nigeria. Excess access of funds jeopardizes the tenets of democracy, gives undue advantage to wealthiest parties and their imposed candidates over others who are financially weak to execute their political projects. In Nigeria, money speaks louder than promising service-oriented, viable and competent contenders, it makes swift changes, and guarantees the holder success in the party primaries and the general poll. The poor are easily influenced with a pinch of salt or a grain of rice to change their political behaviour. Incredible range of discrepancies in levels of funding parties and individual candidates, disenfranchise many of the financially weak opponents, and frustrates the efforts of challengers in the political competition. Most often, government apparatuses (law enforcement agencies and state finances) are being deployed by incumbent state officials as readily available political tools to intimidate and overrun opponents. The abuse of state resources threatens Nigeria’s effective governance and its inclusive democracy. Financial involvement in obtaining political nomination forms for elective public offices is astronomically higher and beyond the reach of average political aspirant. This high bid system of financing is a systemic instrument being used to ward-off financially weak-based politicians. Sourcing money for political party business beyond the approved limit has derailed politics and weakened the course of democracy. There is ongoing debate on the theme that excessive illicit financing of political parties and massively corrupt financial support of individual candidates on electoral competitions constitute serious threat to the process, and negatively influence the development of politics and consolidation of democracy in developing countries. Against this background, the objective of the study is to investigate whether political parties are excessively financed; and to ascertain whether unregulated sponsorship of individual candidates by political entrepreneurs undermines consolidation of democracy in Nigeria.
1.3. AIMS OF THE STUDY
The major purpose of this study is to examine election spending limits and implications for free, fair and transparent election in Nigerian. Other general objectives of the study are:
1. To examine the forms of election spending limits in Nigeria.
2. To examine the role of money in electoral process in Nigeria.
3. To examine the impact of election spending limits on free, fair and transparency of election in Nigeria.
4. To examine the problems of election spending in Nigeria.
5. To examine the relationship between money politics and electoral process in Nigeria.
6. To suggest ways of improving Nigerian political system towards a sustained democracy.
1.4 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
1. What are the forms of election spending limits in Nigeria?
2. What is the role of money in electoral process in Nigeria?
3. What are the impacts of election spending limits on free, fair and transparency of election in Nigeria?
4. What are the problems of election spending in Nigeria?
5. What is the relationship between money politics and electoral process in Nigeria?
6. What are the ways of improving Nigerian political system towards a sustained democracy?
1.5 RESEARCH HYPOTHESES
1.6 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
The study is therefore significant for the following reason. First, it will bring to the fore the impacts of election spending limits on democratic sustenance in Nigeria. Secondly, the study will provide suggestions on how these impediments to free, fair and transparent electoral process as a result of the fall-out from vote buying can be tackled. Thirdly, these studies will contribute to existing literature on election spending limits and electoral process in Nigeria. Finally, the findings of this research will be of importance because it will serve as a reference point for both present and future researchers who intend to carry on similar study.
1.7 SCOPE OF THE STUDY
The study is based on election spending limits and implications for free, fair and transparent election in Nigerian.
1.8 LIMITATION OF 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.
1.8 DEFINITION OF TERMS
Election spending limits: The amount a candidate or a party can spend during an election is limited by the election financing act in two ways: Total Election Expenses – the total value of election expenses incurred during an election period cannot exceed a predetermined amount.
Election: Is represented as a process by which the electorates of a country vote directly to elect their leaders in either legislative or executive arm of government, or choice of selecting a leader by people vote. (Nnaemeka A.A, 2015). Democracy entails the notion of election as the means of selecting political decision makers. Election is described as the pillar of democracy. Election is the back born of democracy and there is no democracy without election (Nnoli, O. 2006).
Money politics: Can be define as the event in the electoral process whereby the contenders for elective position use money as an inducement to mobilize and get support of the electorates which is not based on persuading the electorate to vote according to their whish and conviction but on the force of money that change their thinking (Ovwasa,2003).
Electoral Commissions: According to Wikipedia online dictionary, it is in theory a non-partisan body that determines election procedures and district boundaries and oversees the conduct of elections. It is also an impartial administrator, with an independent body, being available to adjudicate in electoral disputes, re-engineer the political process, conduct elections and implement the various regulations devised to prevent every imaginable form of election misconduct (Derbyshire and Debyshire 1993). A neutral electoral commission is thus one of the fundamental pre-requisites for a truly free and fair election and the establishment of true democracy in any nation.
Vote Buying: Any reward given to a person for voting in a particular way or for not voting can be called vote buying. Vote buying is a corrupt election practice. A vote buying bribe is that having a monetary value.
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