Free And Fair Election In Nigeria Politics Essay

An election is a process of getting opinion in order to select a head for the group or population .election will be held to collect the votes and will check the counting for each competitor and then majority will wins. Free and fair elections allow people living in a representative democracy to determine the political make-up and future policy direction of their nation’s government. Free and fair elections increase the likelihood of a peaceful transfer of power. They help to ensure that losing candidates will accept the validity of the elections result and cede power to the new government. Radical democratic theory never tires of claiming that democracy means something deeper and wider than mere elections, that to have real substance, democracy must embody social and economic equality. So indeed it is. But it is mistaken to think that the deeper sense of democracy is necessarily opposed to or obfuscated by its other, narrow political meaning. A real and tangible connection exists in Nigeria between elections and, if not equality of wealth and income, at least equality of status. I believe Nigeria’s next coming elections, coming next month are much more problematic, and will have wide impact not only for Nigeria but also for regions. Both Nigeria and international commentators have praised the leadership of election commissioner Professor Attahiru Jega a distinguish educator and pro-democracy advocate, and there will be unprecedented levels of monitoring by Nigeria civil society activist, as access to mobile phones and to the internet have both grown significally since the last election. But the prospect for fraud and violence are still substantial.

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Nigeria was granted full independence in October 1960, as a federation of three regions (northern, western, and eastern) under a constitution that provided for a parliamentary form of government. Under the constitution, each of the three regions retained a substantial measure of self-government. The federal government was given exclusive powers in defense and security, foreign relations, and commercial and fiscal policies. The British Monarch was still head of state, but legislative power was vested in a bicameral parliament, executive power in a prime minister and cabinet and judicial authority in a Federal Supreme Court. Political parties, however, tended to reflect the make-up of the three main ethnic groups. The NPC, (Nigerian people’s Congress), represented conservative, Muslim, largely Hausa interests, and dominated the Northern Region. The NCNC (National Convention of Nigerian Citizens), was Igbo and Christian dominated, ruling in the Eastern Region, and the AG (Action Group) was a left-leaning party that controlled the Yoruba west. The first post-independence National Government was formed by a conservative alliance of the NCNC and the NPC, with Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, a Hausa, becoming Nigeria’s first Prime Minister. The Yoruba-dominated AG became the opposition, under its charismatic leader, Chief Obafemi Awolowo. Electoral rigging in Nigeria is the illegal manipulation of election procedures through fraud related to ballot fixing and connivance between electoral officials and party agents to influence the results of an election. It has become malignantly a progressive phenomenon in the Nigerian democratic process and a means to ensure electoral success while subverting contemporary notions of ‘credible’, ‘free and fair’, democratic standard, or a minimum, regular, honest conduct of elections in the selection candidates between choices. During the 1983 elections, the federal government under Shagari made use of the policing institution to foment electoral rigging after a close relationship had developed between the institution and the federal government which was keen on keeping law and order and also keeping the military in check. After 12 years of a failed attempt to fully democratize the country, the election of 1999 that brought president Obasanjo to power also had its share of electoral rigging and accusations of rigging mostly coming from the opposition figure who accused his opponents of stuffing ballot boxes. However, his case was dismissed by Justice Dahiru Mustapha. A coalition of election watchers under the banner of the Transition Monitoring Group reported instances of collusion between electoral officers and party agents to commit electoral malpractices. The 2007 election was also without its share of rigging especially the governorship and state assembly elections in opposition strongholds where many complained of lack of electoral materials and lack of presence of electoral officers in their wards.

Free and fair elections increase the likelihood of a peaceful transfer of power. They help to ensure that losing candidates will accept the validity of the election’s results and cede power to the new government.

Free and fair elections allow people living in a representative democracy to determine the political makeup and future policy direction of their nation’s government.

They are many unresolved problems in Nigeria but the issue of corruption includes purchase of voters with money, promises or special favors, coercism intimidation and interference with freedom of election { Nigeria is a good example where this practice is common}. Votes are bought, people are killed or maimed in the name of election, loses end up as the winners in the election, voters turn up in areas where votes are not cast, corruption in offices involves sales of legislative votes, administrative, judicial decision or government appointment.

Political corruption takes place at the highest levels of political authority. It occurs when the politicians and political decision makers who are entitled to formulate, establish and implement the laws in the name of the people who are also corrupt. It also takes place when policy and legislation is tailored to benefit politicians and legislators.

Political corruption is sometimes seen as similar to corruption of greed as it affects the manner in which decisions are made, as it manipulates political institutions, rules of procedure, and distorts the institutions of government (NORAD, ch.4, Jan. 2000; The Encyclopedia Americana,1999)

INEC should not use ad-hoc staff anymore for elections, since for their facelessness they cannot be accountable and responsible enough.

Surveillance, spying and recording the election processes with video cameras / mobile phones which would be used as evidence against anyone / groups that engage in rigging or any related election malpractices.

One man One vote; to achieve this electronic Voting System is recommended (a voter’s card that is similar to ATM card with password or finger print) whereby every eligible voter will be automatically counted in every polling station across the country which will in-turn show sincerity on the part of the electoral bodies. If the time is deemed too short to achieve this, we recommend that this should be the goal and there should be concrete steps and actions that demonstrate that Nigeria is working towards this goal.

In conclusion now more than ever, citizens around the world participate in elections to hold their governments accountable, and more governments than ever recognize democratic elections as essential to establishing their legitimate authority. Yet one democratic election does not change the political culture of a society overnight. Long-term efforts are necessary to build an inclusive democratic society that respects human rights and laws, administers justice fairly, and encourages full citizen participation in government.