POLITICAL VIOLENCE AND THE ELECTORAL PROCESS IN NIGERIA AN OVERVIEW OF THE 2015 PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION
Nigeria’s 2015 presidential election has been a landmark in the country’s political history. As the fifth round of elections since the restoration of constitutional rule in 1999, it not only resulted in an alternation of power for the first time in the democratic history of Africa’s largest democracy, but its outcome is widely acknowledged as substantially reflecting the wishes of the electorate. This paper reviews the 2015 presidential contest in Nigeria. It observes that, while the election conferred broad legitimacy on the post- election regime, the expectations that accompany the electoral outcome are a huge challenge for the Buhari administration. The paper identifies some factors that may challenge the aspirations of the new government. It also identifies useful lessons that can be drawn from the outcome of the election. These lessons have implications not only for the management of future elections but, more importantly, for efforts at deepening democratic rule in Nigeria
1.1 BACKGROUND OF STUDY
Between March and April 2015, Nigerians went to the polls to cast their ballot in national and state elections. These elections were the fifth round of general elections since the country’s democratic rebirth in 1999, in which constitutional rule was restored after a military dictatorship that lasted 15 consecutive years. The intense anxiety that preceded the 2015 elections, the global interest they generated, and the alternation of power which the presidential vote engendered, all combined to make the election a landmark in the chequered political history of Nigeria.
Through the elections, Nigerians had the opportunity either to choose ‘continuity’, as represented by the incumbent President Dr Goodluck Jonathan and his ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP), or to embrace ‘change’, as symbolised by the opposition candidate, General Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress (APC). These two leading candidates in the 2015 challenge had also encountered each other at the ballot in the 2011 presidential contest, although at that time General Buhari was running on the ticket of the defunct Congress for Progressive Change (CPC).
Analysts believe that the peaceful, transparent and credible manner in which the elections were organised, and the regime change which the presidential election produced, have launched Nigeria onto the path of democratic sustenance. The winner of the presidential election, General Buhari, has taken up the presidency with discipline, honesty, reliability and doggedness – rare attributes among the current crop of Nigerian leaders. Such qualities are urgently needed to confront the daunting challenges facing the oil-rich nation.
These rare personal attributes of the General may be put to the test as he faces the task of national rebuilding, a task thrust on him by the historic mandate he secured at the historic election. Nigerians expect him to chart an entirely new course for the country that will usher in a new beginning in the nation’s troubled 55 years of formal independence.
This paper reviews the 2015 presidential election in Nigeria. It examines the fluid and volatile environment in which the election was conducted, the electoral strength of competing parties, and the character of the election campaigns. The paper discusses the regime change that accompanied the presidential vote, the historical significance of the governmental turnover, and the inherent rising expectations within the polity. Lessons drawn from the election and their implications for democratic sustenance in Nigeria are also discussed.
1.2 STATEMENT OF PROBLEM
The issue of electoral malpractices has always been of serious concern to so many patriotic and well-meaning Nigerians because of the destabilizing effects it has on the national body polity.
A Cursory look at the annuals of the history reveals that Nigerian elections have become so afflicted with this ailment that one is forced to albeit uneasily come to grapple with the fact that this country as an entity might not after all survive for long. With the knowledge of elections having a common pattern of violence and malpractices in the third world countries is easy to locate and situate the problem of democratic transition through popular elections within the context of the electoral malpractice.
1.3 OBJECTIVE OF STUDY
Given that all elections in Nigeria have always had a common pattern of being characterized by malpractice it becomes clear that the objective of this study is to conduct a survey of general native of electoral malpractice in the election so far had in this country showing how these malpractice have affected the Nigeria political system. The study aims amongst other thing to;
- To examine the Pre-Election Anxiety And Spectre Of Violence: Basis And Impact On Polling
- To determine the Politico-Economic Context Of The 2015 Polls
- To investigate the Competing Parties And Prospects Of Accessing Power nature Of Campaigns As A Warning Signal Of Violence
- To analyze The Vote And The Regime Change
- To determine The Triumph, The Expectations And The Challenges of 2015 elections
1.4 SIGNIFICANCE OF STUDY
Elections are watershed in the political development of any country to the extent that political stability of a country depends on the integrity development.
The significance of this study lies in the ability to highlight constraints which electoral system and the political system in general as a matter of fact a study of the factors which made these elections rough will contributed to better understanding of the problems posed by malpractices in free and fair elections in the new nations.
In regard, this, the study will go a long way to educate and, inculcate or teach Nigerian electorates on the ills of election malpractices, it is believed that this research will not only add its quota to already existing literatures on elections and electoral malpractices but will serve as a guide in planning and conducting subsequent elections in this country.
1.5 SCOPE OF THE STUDY
The scope in this research will deal mainly on electoral malpractices in Nigeria and its causes, the study also tries to determine the possible solution to the electoral malpractice problems.
1.6 LIMITATION OF THE STUDY
Limitations to this research are the lack of sufficient literature on the key theoretical concepts.
Materials on electoral malpractice are not quite easy to source hence reliance on magazines, journals and similar papers etc.
1.7 DEFINITION OF TERMS
- ELECTION: Is a process by which the populace selects their leaders by voting. It is a process through which the electorate chooses its representatives into government position.
- ELECTION MALPRACTICE: This refers to service of actions that are taken during election periods which bring about political corruption into the government.
- POLITICAL VIOLENCE: Is a contriving threat to any political system, it is also a criminal act which is irrational and self defeating since majority of the casualties of the riots are either dead or seriously injured.
- POLITICAL PARTY: A party is a group of person united by a common political interest or ideology and engages in power struggle for the purpose of controlling the machinery of government and public politics