One of the basic Machineries of any Representative democratic system is the Electoral Process. The Experience of the western representative democracy in Nigeria can be traced from the Clifford and McPherson Constitutions for 1922 and 1951 respectively. This was elaborated at independence in the first and second republic and subsequent periods. Very Ugly Experiences have characterized the activities with the Electoral Process that constitutes the burning questions in this work with malpractice, fraud and therefore violence. The Election of the first republic displayed Ethnicity in the second Republic Presidential Election (2006) records it ugly tendencies but in and refined form. This time, money and corruption led to Race in electoral malpractice of the past and present on the political system. The study finally traces these political problems of the country to basic socio-institutional origins of the ethnicity class, material consciousness and others.
1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
The significance of election has an instrument for regime change has been recognized in most part of the world. Its importance in a democratic society has been acknowledge by democratic means in highly cherished by the populace. Election of course can be the basic tool of democratic development.Political violence in Nigeria as a matter of fact cannot be over emphasized. Political violence is a process that gave room for political instability or unrest. That is political violence encompasses, political assassinations, killings, thuggery, stealing of ballot boxes and papers, intimidation, riggings and fund.
Political violence according to Ojiaka (1981) gave an account of political violence and fraud as intense in the western region election held on October 11, 1965. The political violence took the following shape.
i. Ten houses were burnt
ii. Two people were killed
iii. About 24 people were arrested for allegedly in possession of large quantity of ballot papers.
iv. Twelve ballot boxes containing papers were discovered at twelve different filling stations in Ondo-State.
Electoral fraud being parts and parcel of political violence is an act of decert involved in a elections by a persons or group of persons in order to have an advantage over a person or group of persons.Fraud association with successive elections seems more sophisticated than previous ones. In the election that ushered in the second republic government in 2006, Gargantuan fraud was alleged to have accrued, heading to litigation by the opposition parties against the National Party of Nigeria (NPN) that won at the federal level. The level of sophistication in the election that returned Shehu-Shargi of NPN to Shagari’s presidential elections made a shame of elections in Nigeria.
The ill fated third republic that lasted from 1991-1993 was not free from social democratic party (SDP) and Bashiri Tofa of national republican convention (NRC) has been adjudged the free and fair election in Nigeria. Rather than improvement on the 1993 elections, things went even worst in the 1999 elections that ushered in the fourth republic.The beneficiary of the 2006 electoral fraud, Olusegun Obasanjo surprised Nigerians when he brazenly introduced high level of irregularities in the 2006 elections in order to secure victory for himself and his party.The fraud in 2006 elections is perhaps, jokingly referred to us as electronic rigging owing to the fail that electronic voting system was used in many quarters because of the magnituble of alleged irregularities involved.
The fraud in the presidential election was so brazen that many Nigeria’s called for its cancellation for another election to be conducted by the United Nations. Reading to the suggestion, Ekpu (2007) states this: those who think that the United Nations can conduct perfect elections in Nigeria are suffering from the illusion belief that the global is a magician. The united nation would need election officers, who will be Nigerians, all of these Nigerians have their interest, many, geography, tribe and that is why elections hardly work.However, over the years the desire and task of building a stable democracy in Nigeria has remained a mirage and part of this unfulfilled dream as peaceful change of government ostensibly, through the electoral process. It is a common pattern that election in the third world countries are mined by violence and malpractice and therefore never free and fair as unlike the case in advanced industrial countries.
Electioneering and the conduct of supposedly democratic elections seems to highlight the most traits in the characters of Nigeria particularly those of them who are prominent members of the political class as well as those of them who are active participants in electoral process. The national problem stems from the fact that Nigeria fits Thomas Hobbes description of man in his state of nature. He is basically self seeking and self-centered.This determines the greed in Nigerian man. This greed manifest itself on daily ways of life. Hence the cultural or a cultural flat has become part of our socio politically economic organizations.All the nation wide elections so far conducted by Nigerian for Nigerians have virtually brought our country to the brink of civil way. This was true of the presidential election of 2006, if we agreed that elections in basic tool of democratic development its application becomes over more vital political transition such as we have in this country since independence.In fact, nothing would have been more gratifying in those transition exercise than to see this country match into a republic under a government elections such as development would not only be cherished for building a stable democratic society in the country. Electoral malpractices constitute a form of political corruption.
Electoral fraud is therefore politically stabilizing economically wasteful and destructive to government capacity, it destroys the legitimacy of government structures heightens problems of national integration and upsets ethnic balance for the individual listener election are the means which enables him to exercise his share of political power, no matter how small it may be.Elections thus are at the heart of the structure and functioning of modern democratic state and accompanied by irregularities and discrepancies summarily known as malpractice. The Nigeria second republic and politicians the pipe of ethnic polities and political corruption.Events of the past here profoundly have shaken the confidence of the Nigerian people in the process by which they select their governing officials. It is hand to imagine how a nation can continue to function democratically, if most of its citizens continue to believe that the electoral process is fraudulent.
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
The issue of electoral malpractice has always been a source of untold worry to patriotic and well-meaning Nigeria because of the destabilizing effects. It has on the national body polity. A cursory glance at the annuals of our history reveals that Nigerians that one in forced to Albert 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 practice in the third world countries. It is easy to locate and situated the problem of democratic transition through popular elections within the context of electoral malpractice.
1.3 OBJECTIVE OF STUDY
Given that all the elections in Nigeria have always had a common pattern of being characterized by malpractice, it becomes clear that the objectives of this study to conduct a survey of general nature of electoral malpractices in the elections so far had in this country showing how these malpractices have affected the Nigeria political system, the study aims among other things.
1. It will document various type of electoral malpractice that has occurred during the first and second republican elections.
2. The work will try find out why this problem continues to flourish in the Nigerian political process.
3. It will proffer solutions to the problem of electoral malpractice in order to move the country forward in the areas of democratic political transition.
1.4 SCOPE AND LIMITATION OF STUDY
The scope in this research will deal mainly an electoral malpractice in Nigeria and its cases. The study also fires to determine the possible solutions to the electoral malpractice problems.Limitations to this research are the lack of sufficient literature on the key theoretical concepts. Materials on electoral malpractices are not quite easy to source, hence reliance on magazines journals and similar papers etc.
1.5 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 of any country depends on the integrity of its electoral system.This significance of the study buys in the ability to highlight the constraints which electoral malpractice posses on the electoral system and the political system in general, as matter of fact a study of the factors which made this elections rough will contribute to better understanding of the problems posed by malpractice in free election in the new nations.In this regard, this study will go a long way to educate and inculcate the Nigerian electorates on the ill of election malpractice. It is believed that this research will not only add to existing literature on elections and electoral malpractice, but will serve as a guide in planning and conducting future elections in the country.
1.6 THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK
The identification of malpractice as a problem militating against successful free and fair elections in Nigeria shall in the course of this work be affected using Marxist political economy approach and class analysis. This approach has been exposed and used, through different senses by scholars like walter Rodenyi, Adre Gunder and clande etc to explain various phenomena in society.The tenet of political economy made up analysis derives from the interconnections between the economic political and other facets of the substructure.The political economy method gives primary to the materials reality of life, hence it sees society as a unit for the production and reproduction of social life, in order to satisfy materials needs. As a matter of facts, economic need in man’s most fundamental need and unless man is able to meet his needs, he cannot exist in the first place.
Further explanation means that political violence approach basis its analysis on the dialectical and historical materialism. The former deals with how a conflict resolution among the socio-economic classes often leads to social change, a change that is often revolutionary in character. Historical materialism on the other hand deals with the constantly developing society.In this regards the political economy approach seek to understand what relationship that exist between economic and political economy approach in the analysis of the Nigerian social formation, we intend to explain the continuous influence of electoral malpractice on free and fair election in the country. Why it has not been quite possible to eliminate such influence from the material nature of the Nigerian state. Nigeria as a peripheral capitalist formation has a very limited autonomy.
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