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THE ROLE OF CREDIBLE ELECTIONS ON THE CONSOLIDATION OF DEMOCRACY


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Abstract

 

The study examined the link between credible elections and the consolidation of democracy in Nigeria, with focus on the 2003 gubernatorial elections in Anambra state. Specifically, the study evaluated the political and other settings for the 2003 gubernatorial elections in Anambra state. It also examined the political, legal, economic and other problems created by the 2003 gubernatorial elections in Anambra State. Utilizing the theory of post colonial state which, focusing on the Nigeria State as a creation of imperialism and as such, has followed a development strategy dictated by the interest of imperialism and its local allies, highlights the inability of the Nigeria State, as it is presently constituted, to mediate political conflicts in form of conducting credible elections, resolving peacefully post-election disputes and above all consolidating democracy in the country. Relying on observational technique, relevant qualitative data were generated for the study. These were analyzed using qualitative descriptive analysis. On the basis of this, the study unraveled that the conduct of the 2003 gubernatorial election in Anambra State and the events thereafter threw up a number of legal, economic, political and other problems. The study also exposed that political crises that engulfed Anambra state in the aftermath of the 2003 gubernatorial elections in the state posed some implications for the emergence and sustenance of democracy in Nigeria.  In view of this the study maintained that power and all resources should be decentralized away from the central/federal apparatus to the constituent governments and ethnic segments. The study also argued that INEC should be granted fiscal autonomy; its funding, rather than being channeled through the presidency, should be charged to the consolidated revenue fund. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                                                       Table of Contents          

Title Page…………………….……………………………………….……….i

Certification ………………………………………………………………….ii

Approval Page…………………………………………….…….……….……iii

Dedication………………………………………….……………………........iv Acknowledgements……………………………….…………………………...v

Table of Contents……………………………………………………..….......vii

Abstract …………………………………………………….……………........ix

 

CHAPTER ONE       

INTRODUCTION

1.1 Background of the study……………………………….……………… 1

1.2 Statement of problem………………………………………………….      8 

1.3 Objectives of study……………………………………………………. 13

1.4   Significance of the study…………………………………………….      14

1.5   Scope of the study……………………………………………………      17

 

CHAPTER TWO 

RESEARCH PROCEDURE

 2.1 Literature Review ………………………………………………………..         19

2.2 Theoretical Perspective ………………………………………………      33

2.3 Hypothesis……………………………………………………………        37

2.4 Methodology…………………………………………………………        38

2.5 Operational Definitions………………………………………………       40

 

CHAPTER THREE

THE POLITICAL AND OTHER SETTINGS FOR THE 2003

GUBERNATORIAL ELECTIONS

3.1 Brief History of Anambra…………………………………………………         42

3.2 Setting of Anambra State ………………………………………………..          44

3.3 The Peculiarities of Anambra  State ……………………………….          53

3.4 Anambra State before the conduct of the 2003 Gubernatorial Election.. 57

3.5 INEC Before the conduct of the 2003 General Elections………………. 63

 

CHAPTER FOUR

PROBLEMS CREATED BY THE 2003 GUBERNATORIAL 

ELECTIONS IN ANAMBRA STATE 

4.1 Political Problems……………………………………………………………. 66

4.2 Legal Problems………………………………………………………………. 72

4.3 Economic Problems …………………………………………………………. 80

 4.4 Other Problems …………………………………………………………. 84

 4.5 Problems within the INEC ……………………………………………. 86

   

CHAPTER FIVE

SUMMARY AND RECOMMENDATIONS

 5.1 Summary……………………………………………………………... 97

5.2 Findings of the Study……………………………...……………………100

5.3 Recommendations………………………………………………………103

Bibliography

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

1:1 Background of the Study

Modern democracies, the world over, take electoral practice as one of the major fundamental pillars in democratic governance. This is simply because flawed electoral practice has the capacity to mar democratic process. Again, man‟s capacityp for political fraud, intrigues and display of authoritarian/totalitarian political behaviour makes also open or transparently competitive electoral exercise for the purpose of constituting a government extremely inevitable, if society is to experience relative political and socioeconomic equity based on the principle of collective accommodation of public will.

 Therefore, to checkmate man’s inordinate disposition to acquire and exercise absolute political power, which is a major bane of national/territorial sovereignty, democratic framework and sustainable development. It is imperative that electoral contests be made open and transparent especially now that periodic elections have gained global acceptance in the contemporary liberal democratic dispensation (Omelle, 2005:69).      

 With respect to Nigeria, however, the popular struggle for direct political representation and rejection of the monopolization of the state power predates the political independence of 1960. Prior to the exit of the colonial masters, the struggle by the people was basically against colonial subjugation, intimidation, domination, exploitation and monopolization of the state power and other paraphernalia of government by foreign rulers and their affiliated local agents. The struggle was also directed towards further demand that the economic products of the country be directly used for the ultimate benefits of the indigenous population rather than utilizing them to meet the needs of the foreign capital (Joseph, 1987: 4). Thus, government through popular representation was central in the anti-colonial struggles.

 Regrettably, however, this principle of popular representation or what is normally called representative democracy though enthroned at the twilight of colonial rule in Nigeria, has been so much abused since independence by indigenous regimes that unfulfilled demand for a free and fair democratic process together with the reversal of the equitable sharing of public wealth in Nigeria has continued to render, of great relevance in Nigeria, free and fair democratic theory and practice.

 Meanwhile, despite the advantages inherent in democratization and enthronement of democratic principles, the presence of ethnic as well as religious blocs in Nigeria has continuously and consistently made electoral contests fiercely competitive, and sometimes violent. The contest is often complicated by divergences in language, religion and level of economic attainment. All these have coalesced to reinforce the problems besetting the Nigerian State. Thus, the dominant pattern of political behaviour in Nigeria can be defined in terms of endless pressure on the state power.

 These pressures on the state power have effectively hampered transparent and crisis-free transition to democratic rule. More often than not, the nature of such transitions are not only from above but at times even follow periods of actual regime collapse due to incessant political, social and economic crisis they often left in their trails. The first and second Republics, for instance, were consumed by the inferno ignited by the 1965 elections and the 1983 general elections respectively. Hence, the character of transitions are such that one finds an element of continuity in terms of elite circulation and re-circulation with little turnover but for the marginalization and exclusion of those identified as the hardliners. It is this authoritarian elite that control the vital aspects of the transition and even the democratization process itself, hence ensuring a behavioural and even institutional continuity with a varied authoritarianism (Transition Monitoring Group /TMG, 2003: 20).

 In line with the foregoing, Nigeria‟s history of democratization especially under the military has largely been attempts at bequeathing democracy from above. In fact, aside the Murtala/Obasanjo successful handover to civilian rule in 1979, the transition which brought Alhaji Shehu Shagari to power, other attempts at political transition thereafter especially that organized by General Ibrahim Babangida can best be termed transaction. This was due to the obvious intention of the military regime not to conduct democratic transition in an open and transparent manner, but rather to create crisis situation and through that way pursue and actualize the perpetuation of authoritarian rule. Unfortunately, the agitation led by civil society and other democratic groups led to the forceful exit of the Babangida administration.

 The attempt at transition by General Abacha, Babangida‟s successor, was not quite different from that of Babangida in terms of objective. The ontological reality of Abacha‟s 1995 Constitution and transition programme was nothing but the attempt to formalize the rule of one man, that is, General Abacha as an individual, stabilize him, and civilize him (Transition Monitoring Group, 2003: 21). The sudden death of Abacha brought General Abdulsalami Abubakar who from all indications was ready to carry out transition process that differed markedly from his predecessor. His short transition witnessed the reconstruction of electoral body, emergence of relatively free and independent political parties and above all, elections into all levels of government and the ultimate swearingin of an elected president in the person of General (later Chief) Olusegun Obasanjo on May 29, 1999.

 Chief Olusegun Obasanjo picked issues with the growing deterioration in the quality of governance, weakening of public institutions, and citizens‟ distrust in government, corruption, recklessness and the growing bitterness among distinct communities that hitherto lived in peace with each other due to actions or inactions of government (Transition Monitoring Group, 2003: 22) 

A credible and transparent transition to civilian administration or democratic form of government was therefore perceived by many including the

Obasanjo‟s administration as one way of dealing effectively with some of the above enumerated problems besetting the Nigerian State which, in the main, were associated with religious crisis or excessive religiosity and value confusion. Thus, democracy was seen by all to provide an opening and a space for the expression of discontent and amicable harmonization of divergent

interest.

 Meanwhile, despite this express commitment to promoting democratic governance, the action of the government with the Electoral Act was tended towards constitutional authoritarianism. Prior to the 2003 General Elections, allegation was rife that the president, in connivance with the Senate President and the Speaker of House of Representative, inserted an illegal clause into an already passed Bill which was basically designed to give them undue advantages. Though there were denials and counter denials by those accused of perpetrating such act, and the alleged nullification of the inserted clause, this single act whether real or alleged was seen as a fraud and an attempt to rig the electoral law. So the confusion created by this act of the ruling party did not subside before the conduct of the 2003 General Elections. Thus, not a few political actors went into the elections with the mindset that the ruling party had perfected plans to rig the elections.

 In spite of the above, Nigerians demonstrated a lot of resilience and love for democracy. Their conviction probably derived from the intersection between citizen‟s participation and establishment of a democratic government: citizens usually depend on democracy for their freedom just as democracy depends on the participation of the citizens. In this context, there was also the belief that the struggle for democracy is never won in a single day; rather it involves a continuous and consistent imbibing of democratic ideals. Therefore, despite accusations of rigging arising from the conduct of the 1999 General Elections and the obvious exhibition of acts of totalitarianism by the Obasanjo‟s administration, the people had hoped that the practice of democracy would improve as the government assimilated democratic principles. However, this was not to be as the conduct of the 2003 elections amply demonstrated that those in the corridors of power were bent on retaining and consolidating their positions through undemocratic means. Transition Monitoring Group (2003:

173) aptly articulates the foregoing scenario. According to the document:

Although the democratic environment which the present elections (2003 Elections) are being held ought to have a clear advantage, this benefit has not been fully realized for a number of reasons. The first reason is that the vast majority of the present office holders within the Executive at the Federal and state levels as well as within the legislature at both levels have exhibited desperation to remain in office for a second term at all cost. This desperation to remain in office for a second term has resulted in the heating up of the political process particularly as office holders have sought to use their incumbency to intimidate any opposition and are deploying state apparatus and resources to further their desires. Part of the strategies for maintaining their hold on power was initially to foreclose the avenues for other people with political ambitions to contest against them by preventing the registration of more political parties. The process that led to the registration of additional political parties was therefore highly manipulated and had to be bitterly fought through the judicial process before the political associations were registered (Transition Monitoring Group, 2003: 173-174).             

  Meanwhile, while the above scenario applied to virtually to all the office holders in both federal and state governments, in Anambra State, it was a different thing entirely. The attempts by Dr Chinwoke Mbadinuju (the Governor of Anambra State from 1999-2003) to remain in office for a second term were effectively scuttled by Chief Chris Ubah whom the governor had earlier brought in to assist him overcome the influence of his sponsor, Sir Emeka Offor.

 Not long after, Ubah‟s relationship with Mbadinuju went sour and the former went shopping for an alternative governorship candidate who would protect his interest. He found such candidate in the person of Dr Chris Ngige and wasted no time in drafting him into the governorship race not minding that Ngige- a soft spoken medical doctor of moderate means was only content to vie for a seat in the senate (Uka, 2005: 5).

 Having drafted Dr Chris Ngige into the gubernatorial race in Anambra State, Chief Chris Ubah employed everything in his disposal to ensure that he stopped Mbadinuju‟s second term bid on the one hand, and at the same time delivered Chris Ngige as the governor on the other. As planned by Ubah, Ngige won the governorship election under the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in a manner redolent of massive rigging and electoral fraud.  No sooner was Ngige sworn-in than the whole deal between the godfather and his protégé came to limelight. There were allegations and counter allegations between Chris Ubah and Chris Ngige. Bizarre agreements were alleged to have been signed and waiting to be delivered. Strange tales of visit to shrines and most unbelievable absurdities were told. In the heat of these allegations and counter allegations, the governor was abducted to enforce his alleged resignation. When Ngige managed to survive his removal from office, he suspended the Irrevocable Standing Payment Order (ISPO) by which Uba was being paid for contracts he was said to have executed in the state having suspected him (Chris Uba) of being responsible for his attempted removal. Thus, this set the stage for the battle and later, political violence that engulfed Anambra State until the removal of Ngige in 2006. For Ubah, it was a battle to discipline and remove from office a recalcitrant and ungrateful godson, and for Ngige, it was a battle to subdue and eliminate a selfish and inconsiderate godfather. 

 The study, therefore, interrogates the role of credible elections in the consolidation of democracy in Nigeria. It specifically focuses on the role of the nature and character of the Nigerian State and the ruling elite in the conduct of the flawed elections of 2003. It also examines the impact of the political crises arising from the flawed elections on the process of democratization in Anambra State as well as the place of legal and constitutional frameworks in the perpetration of electoral fraud in Anambra State in 2003. 

      

1.2 Statement of Problem 

 Almost everywhere, the enlightened self-interest of the ruling class dictated that autocracy be replaced first by the classical form of democracy and the next, the classical form itself be replaced by its liberal form especially within the context of representative democracy. The practice of liberal democracy has even undergone some changes particularly with the coming up of the bourgeois society not only produced struggles that altered and re-defined the meaning and practice of democracy but has also made the quest for democratization a permanent feature of the modern nation-state. This is why, from the bourgeois point of view, it is argued that democracy ensures:   

… extensive competition among individuals and organized groups (especially political parties) either directly or indirectly for the major positions of governmental power, a „highly inclusive‟ level of political participation in the selection of leaders and polices, least through regular and fair elections, such that no major (adult) is excluded, and a level of civil and political liberties-freedom of expression, freedom of the press, freedom to form and join organizations sufficient to ensure the integrity of political competition and participation…(Diamond, 1998: 4). 

 

 From the above explication, it can be seen that the concept of elections lies at the heart of a system of representative democracy. The other elements, also crucial to representative democracy, include the guarantee of civil and political liberties as well as the existence of an institutional arrangement whose function is principal to maintain the above stated elements through the rule of law.

 It is evident, at this point, that elections play a crucial role in the bourgeois conception of democracy. This implies that the stability of the bourgeois order is premised upon the credibility of its elections. As Okoye

(2003) puts it, “elections are a complex set of activities with different variables that act and feed on one another”. It can be defined as a “formal act of collective decision that occurs in a stream of connected antecedent and subsequent behaviour. It involves the participation of the people in the act of electing their leaders and their own participation in governance”, (Okoye, 2003: vii). In the light of the foregoing, one is not in doubt as to whether elections and electoral practices shape the fate of the modern state. The reason for this is not difficult to discern. Elections provide the medium through which different interest groups within the modern state can stake and harmonize their claims to power through peaceful means. To this effect, elections determine the manner and methods by which changes in the social order may be effected. If this method or approach fails, it then means that individuals and groups may be left on their own design (irrespective of how violent and unlawful) to press their claims to power. This indisputable fact alone makes the subject of elections and electoral practices in Nigeria very crucial.      

 However, a survey of the past elections and electoral practices in Nigeria indicates that there are common features shared by these attempts at transition to civilian rule. As articulated by Iyayi (2004: 10), these characteristics include one; they have been particularly hallmarked by massive frauds, the intimidation of political opponents and controversy. The governments in power have used the instruments of the state in perpetrating electoral brigandage, thuggery, violence and warfare. Two, there has been continuity in violence and warfare without the concomitant continuity in the political organizations through which both violence and warfare have been conducted. Each period has thus produced new political formations reflecting the penchant for lack of principle and commitment to the ideals of democracy. Three, there has not been any pattern to the way in which members of the ruling class change their political allegiance. This implies that, over the years, there has been no tradition of party building among members of the ruling class. Finally, there has been increasing materialization of politics. Each succeeding election brings with it such enormous financial commitments on the part of those standing for election that only those who have previously exercised state power or worked in close collaboration with the state in the process of the primitive accumulation of capital are able to back their political claims. 

There is agreement at least among those that objectively analyzed the conduct of the 2003 elections that in addition to exhibiting the above features, the conduct of the 2003 elections particularly in Anambra State where the incumbent governor had to compete with an entirely new godfather who was bent on installing his protégé, was characterized with electoral fraud not only unprecedented in the history of elections and electoral practices in Nigeria but also equal only to a coup d‟état against the people.

In the light of the foregoing, there is no doubt as to whether considerate efforts have been made by scholars and analysts, in the recent times, to examine the impact of the 2003 elections on the democratization process in Anambra

State. Notwithstanding these inquiries, the existing body of literature has suffered from important shortcomings because research in this area has not satisfactorily addressed the effect of the nature and character of the Nigerian State as well as the ruling elite on the flawed election of the 2003 on the one hand, and the impact of political crisis arising from the conduct of the said election on democratic consolidation in Anambra State on the other.

Generally, studies in this area have essentially dwelled on elections and politics of democratic transition (Arowosegbe, 2005: 248), electoral violence and the prospects of democratic consolidation (Ogundiya and Baba, 2005: 369), political conflict and the 2003 general elections (Mudashiru, 2005: 476), election, the making and unmaking of democracy (Olaitan, 2003 : 43) and so

on.  

Against this background, therefore, attempt is made to critically examine the contribution of the nature and character of the Nigerian State and the ruling elite in the conduct of the 2003 elections in Anambra State as well as the impact of the political crisis arising from the election on the consolidation of democracy in Anambra State. Thus, in order to actualize the foregoing, the understated research questions are raised for investigation and empirical

validation.  

1.     Is the nature and character of the Nigerian State and the ruling elite responsible for the flawed 2003 gubernatorial election in Anambra State which resulted in the political crisis that engulfed the State from 2003 to

2006?

 

2.     Did the political crisis arising from the conduct of 2003 gubernatorial elections in Anambra State undermine the consolidation of democracy in the State?

3.     Is there any positive relationship between the legal and constitutional frameworks, the 2003 electoral fraud and the consequent political crisis in Anambra State?

 

1.3 Objectives of the Study

Elections inarguably are the core institution of democratic as well as representative government. This is true because in a democracy, the authority of the government to govern derives entirely from the consent of the citizens. The cardinal mechanism for translating the consent of the governed into governmental authority is by conducting open, transparent and free and fair elections. Free and fair elections held at regular intervals are crucial if democratic transitions are to be achieved.

For democracy to flourish, election must reflect the collective will of the people. And for elections to reflect the general will of the people, the citizens must perceive that they are free to exercise their rights and have confidence that the electoral process will accurately reflect their choice. But free and fair elections can only take place in an environment conducive to clean and honest electoral contest. Again, for elections to be free and fair, they must be governed  by rules and regulations. The rules and regulations form the constitutional and legal frameworks for assessing the genuiness and otherwise of elections and the process and procedures of declaring the winners and losers of elections.

In view of this, the study, generally examines the role of credible elections in the consolidation of democracy in Nigeria, focusing on Anambra State from 2003 to 2006, the study is poised to achieve the following specific objectives.   

1.     To find out whether the nature and character of the Nigerian State as well as the ruling elite is responsible for the flawed gubernatorial election in Anambra State which resulted in the political crisis that engulfed the State from 2003 to 2006.

2.     To examine whether political crisis arising from the conduct of 2003 gubernatorial elections in Anambra State undermine the consolidation of democracy in the State.

3.     To ascertain if there is any positive relationship between the legal and constitutional frameworks, the 2003 electoral fraud and the consequent political crisis in Anambra State.

 

1.4 Significance of the Study

 Civilian government tends to guarantee social welfare and security to life more than military government and to that extent adjudged a better form of  government than military regime. This explains why virtually every nation consciously attempt to introduce and institutionalize civilian government.

 Meanwhile, since Nigeria‟s political independence, efforts have been variously made to establish and sustain civilian governments. These efforts, however, have more or less ended in alternation of civilian governments with military regimes. It is not surprising, therefore, that the military has virtually appropriated twenty-nine years out of our forty-nine years of self-rule. This has resulted in monumental abuse of fundamental human rights and widespread incidence of misrule.

 As a result of this, there was frenzy among the civilian populace, especially the politicians, as soon as General Abdulsalami Abubakar brought out a transition to civil rule time-table shortly after the death of General Sani Abacha, not so much to capture and exercise power, but most importantly, to wrest it from the military cabals. The calculations then was that if political power is retrieved from the military, the nation would plan and conduct free and fair election come 2003. Regrettably, this was not to be as the electoral fraud that characterized the 2003 elections was not only worse than the 1999 elections but also unprecedented in the annals of elections in the country. 

 The significance of this timely and topical study is two fold: practical and academic. Practically, this study will be of paramount importance to the elections management bodies in Nigeria especially the Independent National  Electoral Commission (INEC), the registered political parties, authorities of the non-governmental organizations especially the Transition Monitoring Group (TMG), the national and state governments as well as the general public for the following reasons:

      The study will help highlight the impact of the nature and character of the Nigerian State as well as the ruling elite on the electoral process and democratic consolidation in Nigeria. 

      The study will help publicize the actors that were involved in the 2003 electoral fraud in Nigeria especially in Anambra State and the consequent political crisis the fraud left in its wake in the state.

      The study will bring into limelight also the aspect(s) of our legal and constitutional frameworks that aided the perpetration of electoral fraud in the 2003 elections in Anambra State and the resulting political violence.

      The study will enlighten the general public on the inextricable link between free and fair elections and consolidation of democratic practice, as well as the centrality of openness and transparency if free and fair election is to be achieved.

      With this study, it is intended that the Federal Government through, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) will be galvanized to carry out a vigorous appraisal of the 2003 elections especially in view of the electoral fraud committed by the ruling party, overhaul the relevant  sections of the legal and constitutional frameworks pertaining to the conduct of elections with a view to removing all hiccups that pre-disposed the 2003 election to fraud, and by so-doing put the necessary machineries in place to enable the body conduct free and fair elections come 2011 and beyond.             

 Academically, this study explored the efforts of the Federal Government through the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in permanently addressing the endemic problems that are associated with the conduct of credible elections and transition to civil rule in Nigeria. Hence, by evaluating the nature and character of the Nigerian State and the ruling elite vis-à-vis the perpetration of electoral fraud in the 2003 elections in Anambra State as well as the relevant sections of our legal and constitutional frameworks that assisted in the perpetration of electoral fraud in the 2003 election in Anambra State, the study will not only synchronize with existing enquiries to form a dependable pool of literature in this area, but will also serve as a convenient starting point for further studies in the analysis of the interface between credible elections and consolidation of democracy.

 

1.5 Scope of the Study

The major focus of this enquiry is on election and consolidation of democracy in Nigeria. Within this embrace, the study politically appraises the conduct of the 2003 gubernatorial elections in Anambra State and the consequent political, economic and legal crisis engendered by the exercise and its impact on the process of consolidating and institutionalizing democracy in the State. The study equally examines the geographical and political settings of the State as well as the activities of the Election Management body especially the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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