THE CONDUCT OF 2019 GENERAL ELECTIONS PROBLEMS AND PROSPECTS
The study was to assess the problems and prospects of free, fair and credible election in Nigeria conducted election for contestants into various elective posts in 2019. The 2019 general elections characterize free, fair and credible even though there were some states with violence before, during and after the election. The violence that took place especially after the presidential election was unique in the history of the Nigerian politics. The paper aims to consider the challenges of elections and identified the past mistakes of the electoral body in the previous elections and proffered solutions to avoid the future occurrence. The INEC as the electoral body has major functions to perform so also the party stakeholders as the major political actors in the electoral procedure have important roles to play in assuring violence free elections in Nigeria.
The researcher used secondary source of data collection that is using documentaries and INEC annual reports. The study found out that in all the elections organized and conducted in Nigeria; it was only 2019 presidential election that was a free, fair, credible and acceptable election to some extend in the history of Nigerian politics. The presidential election of 2019 was a race between two powerful political parties themega opposition party,
All Progressive Congress (APC) and People’s Democratic Party (PDP). To explain this study, the researcher used system theory and structural functionalism theory. To overcome the occurrence of future elections violence in Nigeria, the government and party stakeholders must focus on these issues: such as ethnicity, religious attitudes regionalization of the political parties, political thugs and power incumbency that are an obstacle to free, fair and credible election in the Nigerian that are used in heating up the political institution and jeopardize free, fair and credible elections. To resolve these problems, the study suggested that the INEC should have full autonomy to discharge their duties without fear or favor. The paper concluded that if the recommended measures in the study are taken into consideration and implemented effectively, Nigeria can have free, fear and credible in subsequent elections.
1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
The practice of democracy in Nigeria over a decade ago has not yielded much needed good governance. This is because democracy is practiced in such a way that responsible and competent people are scared away. Scholars and keen observers have attempted at unraveling the factors militating against translating democracy into good conduct of elections. However, Nigeria recently held both presidential and gubernatorial elections in the span of a few weeks. The elections were replete with logistical failures and delays, misconduct, voting irregularities, and violences, (Atunga, 2005).
Okoh, 2008 opined that authority and civil society groups are now seeking to determine how credible the results of the elections were and how and whom to hold accountable for any misconduct questions which have significant bearing on Nigeria’s democracy in the coming years. Given the fact that elections are the major pillar of leadership selection and governance legitimation in liberal democracies, therefore constant and un-seizing effort for the reformation of the electoral process is an imperative in all countries that are democratizing. In addition, it is especially necessary in countries in transition to democracy, such as Nigeria, where there is a long history of badly conducted elections; where elections have been bastardized, and where many voters have become despondent and have virtually given up hope of their votes counting in choosing their elected executives or representatives in legislatures.(Okoh, 2008).
However, State-APC-spokesman of Kwara state, Mr Lafiagi, in his interview with some journalists about the internal dispute that occurred in the state stated that “the stakes of getting election accountability right are high. If these processes fail, the credibility of Nigeria’s democracy could be undermined, possibly contributing to a more volatile political security environment through to the 2023 elections. Moreover, the governorship elections in particular exposed cracks in Nigeria’s electoral democracy that will need to be addressed to restore faith in the process, and steps must be taken to prevent these issues from re-emerging in 2023. The violence and misconduct witnessed during the 2019 general elections exposed the stakes of maintaining power, and the political shift from north to south in the 2023 elections will likely bring additional challenges as new networks and centers of power emerge”, he said.
Nigeria’s civil society groups set the groundwork for ensuring electoral accountability by deploying thousands of observers across the country to observe and report on the conduct of the 2019 general elections. Now, it is up to the government to investigate and hold individuals accountable for loss of life, voter disenfranchisement, and efforts to manipulate election results. For Nigerian voters, the accessibility and fairness of the process may be as important as the credibility of the results. Violence, intimidation, and harassment increases fears around voting, and evidence of misconduct that goes unpunished may lead citizens to decide that voting is more trouble than it’s worth, (Adamu, 2019).
Moreover, according to Adamu, 2019, some of the major challenges faced in during the conduct of the 2019 general elections relate to the cynicism and skepticism of the Nigerian voters and citizens generally; the peculiar attitudes and mindset of the typical Nigerian politician; those associated with the use of technology in our infrastructure-challenged environment; the constraints imposed by the extant legal framework and those emanating from the prevalence of the phenomenon of weak institutions and other systemic peculiarities of the Nigerian polity. Therefore, the interest of this study will to find a Lee way out of this problematic in Nigeria for proper subsequent elections.
THE CONDUCT OF 2019 GENERAL ELECTIONS PROBLEMS AND PROSPECTS