Elections in Nigeria are nothing but dramatised rituals that seek to legitimate the power structure of the ruling class By
NGOVE, PETER PEVER
Being an M. Sc seminar presentation in the department of Political Science, Benue State University, Makurdi.
The concept of election has been defined in this work as the process by which the people choose their leaders. Nigeria’s democratic experience has been faced with the question of credibility of our electoral process and elections. In other words, our elections have been challenged as not been free and fair. This has posed serious legitimacy question for our leaders .This paper has briefly assessed elections in Nigeria with particular emphasis on the recent ones(i.e 2003 and 2007) and has identified: massive rigging, violence, manipulation of election materials and records, lack of transparency on the part of electoral officials, delay of voting time, deliberate denial of funds for INEC, suspension and expulsion of party members for so-called anti party activities, among others as perpetual characteristic of Nigeria’s electoral processes. The ruling class in their desperate motive to perpetuate themselves or their cronies in power masterminds these ills. The way forward suggested is that, all the stakeholders must do the right things for Nigeria’s electoral process to be truly democratic so that power will revert to the electorates. INEC should sign onto the political parties and of course all contestants, code of conduct which must be observed throughout the preparation and conduct of every election in the country. The new electoral law provides for direct funding of the Electoral Commission (INEC) from the federation account. This should be made to work so as to guard against unholy situations where Executive heads starve the commission of funds in order to whip the management into conformity.
In an emerging democracy like Nigeria’s, election is considered a cornerstone for the efficiency of the democratic process. Olaitan in Onu & Momoh (2005, p.43) opines that election is important for the existence of democracy even where there are doubts about the real nature of both the election and the entire democratic process, the real contribution it (election) makes towards the process, and the extent to which it could be relied upon to give an insight into the workings of democracy. This insight is particularly essential in our case, given the problem of credibility of elections, which has become a perpetual characteristic of our country – Nigeria’s electoral processes.
Elections are very important in modern democratic rule. Given the vast number of people populating political entities in modern times (e.g more than 140 million in Nigeria)-making it impossible for people to participate in government at the same time, elections come in handy to represent the defining characteristic of modern democracy; so that representatives of people could be legitimately chosen.
Supporting the position that election is one of the fundamental pillars in democratic governance, Omelle in Onu & Momoh (2005, p.69) writes that it is a means of checkmating man’s inordinate disposition to acquire and exercise absolute political power, which is the major bane of national territorial sovereignty. This explains why electoral laws, norms and values for sharing state powers and apparatuses that accompany them have gained global currency in the contemporary liberal democratic dispensation across the globe. In the proceeding section, the concept of election will be defined while the functions of elections and conditions for functional elections will equally be x-rayed. This will place me in a more defining position to assess whether elections in Nigeria truly reflect those requirements or are mere rituals to legitimate the power structure of the ruling class or not. 1.1
Election may be...
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