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Keywords:AN ASSESSMENT OF INEC AND MANAGEMENT OF 2015 GENERAL ELECTIONS IN NIGERIA
1.1 Background to the study
A prominent feature of popular participation in recent years, is the fact that democracy has become inescapably linked to representation and the electoral process (Aderemi , 2005). In most contemporary political systems, representation through the electoral process is largely facilitated by statutory institutional mechanisms or bodies with the responsibility for organizing or managing elections. For much of Nigeria’s democratic experience, the task of managing election has been constitutionally assigned to electoral commissions (Biereenu-Nnabugwu, 2003). As provided for in section 153 and 197 of the 1999 constitution of Nigeria, Independent Electoral Commission, INEC, and various State Independent Electoral Commissions, SIECs, are the bodies statutorily mandated to organize elections into legislative and executive arms of government in Nigeria (Biereenu-Nnabugwu, 2006).
After fifty seven years of independence and many flawed elections in Nigeria, the 2015 general elections provided the INEC opportunity to organize the fifth election into state and federal legislative and executive arms of government under the 1999 constitutional provision. The electoral body response to its constitutionally assigned duties vis-.-vis its prime role in the realization of free and fair in 2015 elections and what the commission did differently from past elections conducted (Chukwu, 2005; Akinboye, 2005).
Carson(2012) stated that previous elections in Nigeria have been characterized by poor management and electoral violence which has become norms in the previous elections conducted in the country. Electoral mis-management in Nigeria has resulted into violence which propels the study that focus on the assessment of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the management of 2015 general election in Nigeria.
The conduct of the previous election in 2011 elections changed the election management mechanism, both in content and character. The results of the elections to some extent reflected the wishes of the people, despite the fact that the aftermath violence tainted the credibility of the elections. The post-election analysis gave impetus to additional precautions to be applied in future election management.
However, 2015 general elections witnessed tremendous improvements and was a significant departure from the earlier debacles. Most fundamentally, the election recorded the defeat of a sitting president by opposition candidate for the first time in Nigeria’s history. Besides being adjudged free and fair; the President (GoodluckEbele Jonathan) conceded defeat and congratulated his rival, General MuhammaduBuhari, even before the results of the election was officially declared by INEC. It fundamentally sets the tone for a change in our democratic values and electoral process.
The landmark elections conducted by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) were in 2015. In significant ways, the elections demonstrated the willingness of the governing elites to lay formidable foundation for sustainable growth in our democratic practice. However, by the published election timetable, the national and states elections had earlier been scheduled to take place on the
14th and 28th February, 2015 but were rescheduled as a result of security challenges. The Presidential election was contested by 14 political parties but the Peoples Democratic Party and the All Progressive Congress (APC) were the visible ones. The Peoples Democratic Party nominated the then incumbent President, Goodluck Jonathan and his vice Namadi Sambo while the All Progressive
Congress, had General MuhammaduBuhari as its candidate and YemiOsibanjo, as his running mate. Presidential, National Assembly and State House of Assembly elections were held in all the 36 state, while gubernatorial elections were held in 29 states. The Presidential and National Assembly elections held on March 28th; while Governorship and State Assembly elections held on April 11th.
Even though the Chairman of INEC, Prof. Jega was applauded for conducting a seemingly free and fair election, some commentators denounce him for skewing the election in favour of General MuhammaduBuhari a Northern candidate. Femi Aribisala in a media article, titled: “How Jega Executed Jonathan’s Fall,” asserts vehemently, that Buhari prevailed as a result of a deliberate disenfranchisement of the Igbo by INEC through the manipulation of the PVC distribution and the failure of the Card Reader in the South-East and the South-South zones of the country (Citizens’ Advocate, April 19, 2015:11).
According to the report, INEC ensuredthat, far more disproportionately and relative to other geopolitical zones, millions of South-East voters disappeared from the voters’ register, between 2011 and 2015 to pave way for the emergence of a Northern presidential candidate (Aribisala, 2015). It cites as an example the failed attempt to create 29,000 additional polling units; allocating 21,000 of these to the north and only 8,000 to the entire south. It notes that had this arrangement succeeded, it would have meant that more additional polling units were allocated to Abuja alone than the entire South-East. The failure of the polling unit’s proposal however, gave rise to another alternative game plan evidenced in the bogus and lopsided, distribution of the PVCs, apparently skewed against the south where only 7.6 million were registered and 5.6 million PVCs collected, comparable to the war-torn North-East with 9.1 million registered voters and 7.4 million PVCs collected (Aribisala, 2015).
However, the most outrageous were the figures recorded in the North-West, where 17.6 million registrations took place and 15.1million PVCs collection was recorded, much more than the entire South-East and South-South combined. The implications of all these is the disenfranchisement of voters in the South in favour of the North.
1.2 Statement of the problem
Even though the conduct of the 2015 general elections was given a pass mark by both local and international observers, it is important to assess the performance of the electoral body, in the overall management before, during and after 2015 general election. Some of the main failings of INEC include, poor preparations for elections, poor respect for the rule of law, failure to create a level playing field for all parties and candidates, among others. Another problem is that of gross lack of independence of INEC, given its composition and funding by the presidency. The overall management of 2015 general elections by INEC was characterized by technical hitches, which necessitated this study which focus on the assessment of Independent National Electoral Commission and the management of 2015 general elections in Nigeria.
1.3 Objectives of the study
The objectives of this study are as follows:
- To determine the level of INEC’s preparation prior to the conduct of 2015 general elections in Nigeria.
- To examine theelectoral management capabilities of the electoral body in the 2015 general elections in Nigeria.
- To access the conduct of the electoral body and the level of success attainedin the course of 2015 general elections in Nigeria
- To determine the challenges faced by the electoral body in the conduct andmanagement of 2015 general elections in Nigeria.
- How prepared was INEC prior to the conduct of 2015 general elections in Nigeria.
- How capable was the electoral body in electoral management in the 2015 general elections in Nigeria?
- Was the electoral body successful in the conduct of 2015 general elections in Nigeria?
- What are the challenges faced by the electoral body in the conduct and management of 2015 general elections in Nigeria?
- Significance of the study
The significance of this study is enormous as it will to a large extent educate the general public on the electoral management capabilities of the electoral body (INEC) in Nigeria. The study will also helpto ascertain therecurrentchallengesthat comes withelectoral management and how INEC as the electoral body has been able to tackle these challenges so far. Furthermore, this study will be of immense contribution to literature reviews in the area of electoral management in Nigeria.
1.6 Scope of the study
This scope of this study is the management of the 2015 general elections only. The study will further more examine the success attained and challenges faced by the INEC as a result of 2015 general election in Nigeria.
1.7 Research Methodology
This study is basically a contemporary assessment of INEC and management of 2015 general elections in Nigeria. The study therefore adopts one of the traditional methods of gathering information, i.e. both primary and secondary sources. The primary sources used is descriptive analysis (archival materials). A sizeable percentage of secondary sources that is used came from published and unpublished works which include materials extracted from: Archives, Newspapers on 2015 general elections, discussions, Conference papers, Magazines, Internets, Books, Articles in journals e.t.c.
Keywords: AN ASSESSMENT OF INEC AND MANAGEMENT OF 2015 GENERAL ELECTIONS IN NIGERIA
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