1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
Since 1999, the conduct of electoral processes in Nigeria democratic practices has been a major problem that undermines the true democratic system of governance. This has adversely paved way for military in governance for several years. The political and electoral practices of Nigeria end up in destruction of lives and properties, ethnic affiliations, agitations and clashes, religious crises, mass unemployment, deprivation, corrupt practices, money laundering, infrastructural decays and pipeline vandalisation, militancy, laxity in constitutional define, bad governance, insecurity, etc. Meanwhile, electoral processes are conceived as a means of peaceful leadership changes. It is a paradigm of actualising the true democratic system of governance that exposes electorates and aspirants to an experience competitive power or leadership changes through balloting.
In other words, the electoral process empowers citizens to choose among the contestants their true representatives and promotes or encourages a participatory government. But mis-conduct of electoral system in Nigeria disrupts a peaceful process and creates dissent among the stakeholders. The country transited from military rule to civilian rule in 1999 without a genuine constitutional framework and public debate on how the country should be governed. The citizens cast their ballots without knowing the kind of power that their elected representatives would exercise, or how various levels of government would interact and share power, or better still, knowing how long their elected officials would serve in their various offices. Right from the voters registration, parties registration, screening of political aspirants, party congresses and conventions, political campaigns and rallies, elections, etc; the candidate’s credentials or manifestos did not matter. Rather, it is the aspirants’ veracity for deployment of thugs, powerful associates and perpetration of electoral violence and fraud that did matter. This has been so endemic that electorates have found it difficult to vote for their candidates on merit. The implications of these are illegal arms and weapons in the hands of unauthorised persons who used them for political/electoral violence and criminal activities. That is, the available resources that are meant for development projects are spent on electoral and political violence. Albert (2001:1) states that
Nigeria transited from military dictatorship to multiparty democracy on 29 May, 1999. The country has been bedevilled by various forms of violent social conflict since then. Thousands of people were maimed, lost their lives and displaced from their communities as a result of these problems. Some of the conflict had their roots in the past historical circumstances of the concerned communities; some others were “manufactured” by elite, seeking to stretch the liberty inherent in the new democratic process in Nigeria, so as to a break, if not absurd. All these conflict have continued to constitute a recurrent destabilising factor and a serious impediment to the survival of democratic transition and constitute insecurity in the country.
During the electoral processes in Nigeria, voters’ registration has always been logistically problematic and hampered the process and efforts of electorates. Shortages of materials, delays in the opening of registration centres, poorly trained officers, and attempts by political party agents to manipulate the process have been among the problems. The official registered voters most times exceed the reliable estimated eligible voters. Such poor registration exercise creates opportunities for fraud. Nigeria’s politicians seem not believe in the concept and context of oath, mandate and the rule of law. To them, elections mark the end of the role people have to play in politics. After all, the elected representatives are the leviathans to which the people have mortgaged their freedom and rights. The elected politicians urge the people to shut up. Some of the politicians claim that they bought their votes; therefore, they are not liable or accountable to anybody. Ethnic and personal loyalty rather than commitment to the people take control. Governance is therefore business, and a complex or medium for recouping money spent during the elections and for enrichment of the politicians. Paden (2007) asserts that “the low voters’ turnout in the national elections occurred primarily due to the violence and discouragement that many Nigerians experienced after the state elections”. Candidates invest large amounts of money on elections; in other words, only the people investing large amounts of money are usually favoured. This largely influences who wins the elections. The electoral laws governing how parties secure and spend their funds are yet to be known or available, or have been ineffective, as there is a lack of knowledge about them. Obe (2007) states that
I have witnessed the erosion of democratic institutions during both the state and national elections. Both elections lacked organisation, and demonstrated coercive practices and lack of transparency.
That was why, in the years following the end of military rule, Nigeria witness recurrent incidents of ethnic clashes, ethno-religious crises, communal clashes, ethnic agitations and hatred, kidnapping, oil bunkering and pipeline vandalisation, and political violence; many of which manifested from electoral mis-conduct, constitutional flaws, and kleptomaniacs in government. Nigeria has had different histories of messy and undemocratic national elections. Its 1999, 2003 and 2007 state and national elections were dogged by accusations of ballot snatching and brazen electoral rigging by domestic and international election observers. Both elections resulted in lengthy litigations by aggrieved losing candidates. Few of the losing candidates in gubernatorial and parliamentary elections won their mandate back through the judicial process. Organised electoral and political violence, ethnic and religious militancy threaten the corporation of Nigerians, which are traceable to a widely held belief that the past elections have neither been free nor fair.
Admittedly, the recruiting and training of ad hoc electoral officers to manage polling stations throughout the country is not an easy task in a country where basic infrastructure is in short supply. However, voters’ registration in Nigeria nascent democracy for over 11years has been a shambolic fraudulent exercise; it is a struggle in Nigeria to register for vote. It is also one thing to struggle to get registered to vote, and another thing for someone's name to remain in the voters' register. Even when the names in a voter register are valid, it is not uncommon for names to get missing during the election. Elections in Nigeria represent a do or die affair, either at the local, state and national level. Nigerians remain mired in the hard-scrabble poverty. An average Nigerian is largely concerned about how to feed his/her immediate family and provide upkeep for his extended family. The daily struggle for survival makes it difficult for grassroots to organise and advocate for grassroots developments. The Nigeria politicians enjoy a rare luxury in politics; due to lack of reprisal for wrongdoing. That was why Clark (2007) stated that “the conduct of elections was dramatically flaw, most striking issues were false assertions by the independent national electoral commission. The use of ballots that lack serial numbers, or disqualification of leading candidates and falsifications of voter’s turnout are fundamental problems.
Electoral security challenges have been a major problem to the conduct of free, fair and credible elections in Akwa Ibom state since the return to democracy in 1999.This has taken several dimensions including shootings in elections, resurgence of armed gangs, carting away of ballot boxes, buying of votes, arms race in the electoral process, ganstarism, thuggery and hooliganism (Olurode,2013).Some of the most critical challenges of electoral insecurity include the killing of people (Fischer, 2002;Human Rights Watch,2004;Aniekwe and Kushie,2011).The Niger Delta according to recent data has been confronted with this growing electoral security problem which threatens peaceful coexistence and social harmony( Human Rights Watch,2007). Several studies have pointed out the persistent insecurity threats posed by these activities associated with elections such as ballot box snuffling. Thus, election tensions have exacerbated in Akwa Ibom state taking several dimensions which tend to degenerate into palpable anxiety in relation to pre-existing community conflicts, which are common in several parts of the state.
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
One of the greatest threats to Nigerian states is security challenge posed by electoral conflict. It is a major source of democratic instability with palpable threats of deconsolidation. This is complicated by the absence/paucity of democrats, with democratic mindset, to play the game of politics according to established rules. This has tended to aggravate the security issue facing the country. It has threatened the prospects of democratic stability and consolidation. Most recent examples includes disputed and violent elections across the country during the party primaries across the states (APC, PDP, APGA) etc where the attendant search for redress through official and unofficial responses has, altogether, been largely trapped in deepening contradictions. There were manifestations of electoral conflict that have assumed an unprecedented magnitude and changing form and character with negative implications on security issues of the nation. The elections of 1999, 2003 and 2007 have been accused of unprecedented widespread conflict. In the 2011, 2015 and 2019 general elections, there were cases of electoral violence across the six geopolitical zones. The electoral conflict started with ruinous campaigns as violent clashes ensued among supporters of different political parties which led to the demise of several people while many sustained injuries of various degrees (Abah & Nwokwu, 2015). Therefore this study will examine the electoral process and insecurity in Nigeria looking at 2019 general elections in Akwa Ibom state as the case study.
1.3 AIMS OF THE STUDY
The major purpose of this study is to examine the electoral process and insecurity in Nigeria. Other general objectives of the study are:
1.4 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
1.5 RESEARCH HYPOTHESES
H0: There is no significant impact of electoral process on Nigeria’s security challenge during 2019 general elections in Akwa Ibom state.
H1: There is a significant impact of electoral process on Nigeria’s security challenge during 2019 general elections in Akwa Ibom state.
H0: There is no significant relationship between electoral process and insecurity in Nigeria during 2019 general elections in Akwa Ibom state.
H1: There is a significant relationship between electoral process and insecurity in Nigeria during 2019 general elections in Akwa Ibom state.
1.6 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
This study is necessitated by the urge and the need for the research, reader and organizations in general to understand the electoral process and insecurity in Nigeria.
The following are the significance of study to the researcher:
1. To serve as a reference materials for students who will wish to conduct similar studies on this topic.
2. To serve as guide to corporate individuals, organization in furtherance to their research on the subject matter.
1.7 SCOPE OF THE STUDY
The study is based on the electoral process and insecurity in Nigeria, a case study of 2019 general elections in Akwa Ibom state.
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.
1.9 DEFINITION OF TERMS
POLITICAL PARTY: This is an organization of people which seeks to achieve goals common to its members through the acquisition and exercise of political power.
ELECTORAL PROCESS:It is a set of legal process which is outlined very briefly for candidates and the public to follow during election.
INSECURITY: The state of being insecure or unsafe; liability to give way, be lost, or become unsafe or fraught with danger. It is a feeling of general unease or nervousness that may be triggered by perceiving of oneself to be vulnerable or inferior in some way, or a sense of vulnerability or instability which threatens one's self-image or ego.
ELECTION: An election is a formal decision-making process by which a population chooses an individual to hold public office.
Democracy: This is government by the people; rule of the majority; a government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised by them directly or indirectly. Democracy is a human right, as such; it is included in a number of the most important international human rights standards.
Voting: This is the simplest form of democratic participation and it is the most formal act of political participation, but not the exclusive form of citizens’ involvement in the political system.
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