AN EVALUATION OF INDEPENDENT NATIONAL ELECTORAL COMMISSION (INEC AND ITS ROLE IN GENERAL ELECTION)
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This study evaluate the role of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in general elections in Nigeria. In a developing democracy like Nigeria, the power of the electoral management body to determine the outcome of elections cannot be overemphasized. The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) was hailed as the deciding factor in producing elections that were largely viewed as credible and fair in 2011. However, the 2015 elections produced elections that, though largely considered free and fair, have been more determinedly contested by political actors in the post-election era. The study recommends amongst others; that INEC needs to be truly independent in all ramifications to discharge its duties impartially so as to ensure credible elections and enthrone sustainable democracy in the country; the new government should tackle the issues of corruption, security, unemployment and poverty frontally. Instead of dissipating energies chasing those who have defrauded the country in the past, the administration should embark on aggressive reconciliation, reconstruction and rehabilitation of hitherto aggrieved factions; ensure institutional and human capacity development because, development itself, would raise its own armies to fight corruption. Keywords: INEC, PDP, APC, Election, Challenges, Sustainable democracy.
1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
The electoral commission has always been an essential component of suggestions for democratic improvement in Nigeria, and in other democratising African countries. The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is Nigeria’s national Election Management Body (EMB) established in both the Nigerian Constitution of 1999 and the Electoral Act 2010. INEC is responsible for organizing referendums and elections for president, vice president, state governors and deputy governors, and the Nigerian Senate and House of Representatives. The INEC also has power to register political parties and monitor their organization and operations, including auditing their finances and publishing reports for public consumption. It also has power to conduct voter registration, monitor political campaigns and undertake other functions that may be assigned by the National Assembly. The commission is composed of a chairman, who serves as the chief executive officer, and 12 members known as national electoral commissioners; the secretary to the commission is selected from the rank of bureaucrats within the institution. The constitution also provides for a resident electoral commissioner for each state of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT); it maintains administrative offices in all 36 states, the FCT and in all the local governments in the country.
The commission also has a training and research arm known as the Electoral Institute. While there are no special provisions for the physically impaired or quotas for women in the INEC’s management, it currently has three female commissioners. Though relatively autonomous in terms of operational and financial control, the INEC lacks the autonomy to act to ensure the integrity of the electoral process. In the course of electoral administration and management in Nigeria, poor management and electoral violence has become a norm looking at past elections conducted in the country such as 1964, 1979, 1993, 1999, 2003, 2007, 2011 elections. Hence the need for this study on the assessment of INEC with respect to the management of 2015 general election in Nigeria.
However, the INEC faces some institutional challenges in the discharge of its responsibilities, including its dependence on (and inadequate control over) ad hoc staff, for which it lacks a nationwide database for recruitment; bureaucratic ‘red-tapism’ and staff attitude; poor delegation of responsibilities and overlapping functions (INEC 2012). These problems often result in late preparations for elections, a lack of teamwork and low-level interdepartmental cooperation and communication gaps. Structural deficiencies, an absence of proper career progression, poor record management, inadequate communication between the commission headquarters and its state offices and the over-centralization of planning also negatively affect the commission’s work (INEC 2012).
The 2015 general elections which was the fourth in the series of election in the Fourth Republic was unique in that it was the first democratic election held that will unseat an incumbent president. The elections were conducted under the auspices of Professor Attahiru Jega who also conducted the 2011 general elections. One of the key points in the preparation for the elections was the distribution of permanent voters‟ card (PVC) and continuous voters Registration (CVR). Another important area of preparation was the use of card Reader which was used to authenticate the validity of PVC and to make sure that a prospective voter is originally registered and has his or her name in the INEC voters‟ database. In preparation for the general elections the electoral body had to contend with security challenges. The elections took place in a period when the country was waging war against general insecurity majorly occasioned by the Boko Haram insurgency. All the aforementioned issues posed serious challenges to the conduct of the 2015 general elections. In surmounting these challenges the Independent National Electoral Commission declared that as at 27th of February, 2015 it has distributed 54,377,747 (Fifty-four Million, Three Hundred and Seventy-Seven Thousand, Seven Hundred and Forty Seven) PVCs to persons registered for the general elections. This represented 78.93 percent of the total number of voters registered by INEC (Hassan, 2015). The election was conducted and Mohammadu Buhari of APC having satisfied the requirement of the law, and scored the highest number of votes was declared the winner and returned elected.
Prior to the announcement of the presidential election results there were insinuations from all quarters that there will be a likely occurrence of post election violence. People stayed back at home and preferred to watch the proceedings on air. The various election observer missions observed the elections and unanimously described the elections as peaceful and credible (Adamu, 2015). In giving the general impression of its Election Observer Mission the head of the Commonwealth Observer Group, Dr. Bakili Muluzi commented that the 28th March 2015 election elections marked an important step forward for democracy in Africa’s most populous country and a key member of the commonwealth.“ He said despite the organization and technical deficiencies, the conduct of the Presidential and National Assembly elections were generally peaceful and transparent (Muluzi, 2015). He further emphasized that though there were technical hitches but was optimistic that there is room for improvement. He however gave credence of the peaceful conduct of the polls to all the people of Nigeria for demonstrating patience and maturity (Muluzi, 2015).
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
General election constitute an essential part of democracy and its management a defining component of its integrity, determining its impartiality cannot be overlooked (Birch, 2008 & 2011; Elklit & Reynolds, 2002 & 2005; Gazibo, 2006; Hartlyn, McCoy, & Mustillo, 2008; IDEA, 2006; Mozaffar, 2002; Mozaffar & Schedler, 2002). Defining an autonomous electoral commission remains problematic in comparative politics, but some patterns are becoming crystal clear. Thus, we operationalized an autonomous electoral commission by way of looking at its institutional setup capability, operational efficiency in terms of electoral and financial endowment. This conception is not a total rejection of the existing efforts in particular of INEC but a highlight of the relevance of electoral governance in determining election’s quality. Other unavoidable challenges the most serious had been slow manner with which the Commission printed and distributed the PVCs. It is clear that some states of the federation could not get their cards as and when due, just as some did received cards that do not belong to the receiving state. This is possible considering the challenges of logistics. With this and other challenges facing presidential elections, the research intends to investigate the role of INEC in presidential elections with a case study of the 2015 election.
The 2015 general elections however, have been described as depicting a major turning point in Nigeria’s political history. The elections attracted audience from most part of the world. Observers both local and international described the election as a success. It is however, important to note that even though the conduct of the elections have been given a pass mark it is imperative to assess the performance of the electoral body so as to detect areas of challenges with the aim of improving on them for future elections hence, the need for this study on the assessment of independent national electoral commission INEC and the management of 2015 general elections in Nigeria.
1.3 OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
The following are the objectives of this study:
- To determine the nature and role of INEC in the conduct of the 2015 election.
- To determine the nature of the 2015 presidential election
- To examine the level of success recorded by the INEC in the management of 2015 general elections in Nigeria
- To determine the problems associated with the conduct and management of 2015 general elections in Nigeria.
1.4 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
- Was the 2015 general election conducted by INEC a success?
2 Did INEC play any major role in reducing electoral violence during the 2015 general election?
- Was the 2015 general election result released by INEC generally accepted by Nigeria?
- What is the nature and role of INEC in the conduct of the 2015 election?
1.5 RESEARCH HYPOTHESES
H0: The impact of the role of INEC in the 2015 presidential election was low
H1: The impact of the role of INEC in the 2015 presidential election was high
H0: INEC did not performs management role in the conduct of 2015 general elections in Nigeria
H2: INEC record a significant level of success in the management and conduct of 2015 general elections in Nigeria
1.6 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
The following are the significance of this study:
This study will educate the general public on the activities of INEC with specific focus on the evaluation of Independent National Electoral Commission of 2015 general election in Nigeria with a view of ascertaining the success and problems associated with the management of the election.
This research will be a contribution to the body of literature in the area of the effect of personality trait on student’s academic performance, thereby constituting the empirical literature for future research in the subject area
1.7 SCOPE/LIMITATIONS OF THE STUDY
This study is limited to the role of INEC in the 2015 general elections. It will also cover the successes and challenges associated with the 2015 general election in Nigeria.
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
Evaluation: Evaluation is a systematic determination of a subject’s merit, worth and significance, using criteria governed by a set of standards. It can assist an organization, program, project or any other intervention or initiative to assess any aim, realisable concept/proposal, or any alternative, to help in decision-making; or to ascertain the degree of achievement or value in regard to the aim and objectives and results of any such action that has been completed.
INEC: independent national electoral commission is an independent body that is saddle with the responsibility of voter’s registration and conduction of elections in Nigeria.
Election: An election is a formal decision-making process by which a population chooses an individual to hold public office. Elections have been the usual mechanism by which modern representative democracy has operated since the 17th century. Elections may fill offices in the legislature, sometimes in the executive and judiciary, and for regional and local government. This process is also used in many other private and business organizations, from clubs to voluntary associations and corporations
Credible election: The legitimacy of democratic government is established, in large measure, by genuine elections, and they are much more than what happens on Election Day. A genuine electoral process requires an open pre-election environment in which citizens can participate without fear or obstruction; political parties, candidates and the media can operate freely; an independent judiciary functions fairly and expeditiously; and electoral authorities operate impartially. Since its earliest days, NDI has been working with partners around the world to help ensure that elections reflect the will of the people.
1.9 ORGANIZATION OF THE STUDY
This research work is organized in five chapters, for easy understanding, as follows. Chapter one is concern with the introduction, which consist of the (background of the study), statement of the problem, objectives of the study, research questions, research hypotheses, significance of the study, scope of the study etc. Chapter two being the review of the related literature presents the theoretical framework, conceptual framework and other areas concerning the subject matter. Chapter three is a research methodology covers deals on the research design and methods adopted in the study. Chapter four concentrate on the data collection and analysis and presentation of finding. Chapter five gives summary, conclusion, and recommendations made of the study.
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