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IMPACT OF TECHNOLOGY ON ELECTORAL PROCESS IN NIGERIA: 2015-2023

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IMPACT OF TECHNOLOGY ON ELECTORAL PROCESS IN NIGERIA: 2015-2023

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

  1. Background of the study

The most significant feature that accords any nation a democratic statute is the concept of periodic elections, as no political entity can be described as democratic if it is devoid of elections. Among other things, elections create a channel for competitiveness that allows public offices to be keenly contested for by qualified candidates with a view to rendering selfless services to the people. The populace are thus empowered by the political system to determine who represents their political and socio-economic interests in public offices (Piccolino 2016). Elections have therefore become vital tools by which the people, who constitute the electorate, periodically assess the capability and credibility of individuals who contest for leadership positions. It becomes imperative to assert that the electoral system of any given polity is a decision making process that empowers the populace to choose the most qualified leaders to administer the political, social, and economic affairs of the nation. In recent times, Nigeria, as well as other nations across the globe, has included technology in their electoral processes. In lieu of this, it becomes imperative to assess the extent to which technology affected the 2015 general elections in the country. This is with a view to determining the best electoral process, and enhancing the growth and development that suits Nigeria as a political entity.

Since her independence in 1960, Nigeria as a political entity has been enmeshed with electoral violence. According to Nwafor (2015), this factor is deeply embedded in the inability of the electoral system of the country to organize and conduct free, fair and credible elections since it attained self rule. The early elections conducted in her post-colonial era, such as in the first republic, were marred by diverse irregularities “which ranged from manipulations of election results among the key members of the political elite, systemic disenfranchisement of eligible voters, election rigging and use of political thugs even to snatch ballot boxes from electoral officers, multiple registration of voters, multiple voting, killing or maiming of political opponents to intimidate supporters, under-aged voting, buying of voters’ cards for unregulated and unsupervised voting, hiring of machinery voters from neighbouring countries, to post-election litigations, among many voters” (Nwagwu, 2011). All these has culminated in political instability and politically related crisis such as the January 1966 military coup and counter coup of July 1966 and a follow-up pogrom meted out against the Eastern Nigeria that birthed the declaration of the sovereign state of Biafra in 1967 by Odumegwu Ojukwu of the Eastern region of Nigeria and the bloody 30 months Nigeria/Biafra civil war (Nwagwu, 2011). To prevent the resurgence of these electoral vices that has dire effects on the socio-economic and political development of the nation, a new political paradigm, the use of information and communication technology (ICT), which was first introduced by Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in 2003 to register eligible voters and compile credible voters register with a view to consolidating the nascent democracy, became highly imperative (Nnamani, Nduba, Onyebuchi & Nwanolue, 2022).

. These reforms contributed largely to the success of the 2011 elections, yet the risk of flaws affecting Nigerian elections still remains. Part of the reforms lead to the introduction of card reading machine in the conduct of 2015 general election. The use of ICT in election management became imperative to the elimination of multiple registrations, which had remained one of the most vital political weapons for rigging elections by unscrupulous and savage elements. This unique technique was employed to capture mass involvement in governance and empowerment of the teeming electorates to participate in electoral processes.

    1. Statement of the problem

Past elections in Nigeria had witnessed the desperate bid for political power by many stakeholders with vested interests in the Nigerian electoral process. Some of these stakeholders engaged in all forms of electoral malpractices including multiple voting, impersonation, manipulation and falsification of results which had led to legal actions, electoral conflicts and violence. Electoral malpractices make the citizens lose trust in electoral processes; and lack of confidence by the citizens in the democratic process obstructs the deepening of electoral democracy because if the citizens do not believe in the fairness, accuracy, openness, and basic integrity of the election process, the very basis of any democratic society might be threatened (IRI 2015).

In view of the negative impacts of electoral malpractices, global attention is now focusing on how to mitigate this undemocratic behaviour and improve the electoral process. One of such strategies to combat electoral malpractices is the introduction of information and communication technology into the electoral process. Although the use of technology in elections is not an end in itself, it assists in the various aspects of electoral administration (IFES 2015). It is against this background that an electronic technologically based device, the smart card reader was introduced into the Nigerian electoral process in 2015 to help improve and deepen electoral democracy. The use of the card reader for the 2015 general elections was also criticized on the premise that card reader must have been programmed to assist a pre-determined winner of the election by ensuring that so many persons would discriminately be disenfranchised to deny other parties of favourable votes thereby ensuring the winning of an INEC preferred or pre-determined party. These alarm raised by the public on the credibility of election influenced INEC to propose the use of modern technology, particularly the Bimodal Voter Registration System (BVAS) and the Election Result Viewing Portal (IReV). The technology is important to bequeath transparency and by extension, credibility to the crucial presidential election in February 2023. Upon this premise the researcher seeks to investigate the impact of technology devices on Nigeria election

    1. Objective of the study

The broad objective of this study is focused on Impact of technology on electoral process in Nigeria: a reference of 2015-2023 elections. Other specific obejetives includes:

  1. To investigated the feasibility of ICT implementation in Nigeria

  2. To assess the extent to which technology affected the 2015 general elections in the country.

  3. To establish whether technology has drastically reduced incidences of electoral malpractice.

  4. To determine if the incorporation of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in Nigeria electoral process has influenced partipatory democracy.

  1. Research Questions

  1. Has ICT implementation be feasible in Nigeria electoral process?

  2. What is the extent to which technology affected the 2015 general elections in the country?

  3. Has technology drastically reduced incidences of electoral malpractice?

  4. Does the incorporation of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in Nigeria electoral process has influenced partipatory democracy?

    1. Significance of the study

Across the world, the introduction of electoral technologies has attracted contestations and controversies driven mainly by its propensity to enhance election credibility and undermine public trust in elections at the same especially when electoral technologies are compromised. Most importantly, electoral technologies ensure efficiency in election administration and limit human interference with the electoral process. Findings of this study will be relevant to policy mkakers and stakeholders in other to establish appropriate framework for ICT implemention in Nigeria electoral process with in vreiw of the upcoming 2023 geneal elections. Empirically the study will add to the general body of knowledge and serve as a reference material to scholars and student who wishes to conduct further studies on related field.

1.6 Scope of the study

The scope of thiss study borders on the impact of technology on electoral process in Nigeria: a reference of 2015-2023 elections. The study will further investigated the feasibility of ICT implementation in Nigeria, assess the extent to which technology affected the 2015 general elections in the country, establish whether technology has drastically reduced incidences of electoral malpractice and determine if the incorporation of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in Nigeria electoral process has influenced partipatory democracy.The study is delimited to INEC staff in Abuja.

1.7 Limitation of the study

Like in every human endeavour, the researchers encountered slight constraints while carrying out the study. The significant constraint was the scanty literature on the subject owing that it is a new discourse thus the researcher incurred more financial expenses and much time was required in sourcing for the relevant materials, literature, or information and in the process of data collection, which is why the researcher resorted to a limited choice of sample size. Additionally, the researcher will simultaneously engage in this study with other academic work. However in spite of the constraint all these constraint were downplayed to give the best.

1.8 Acronyms

EVR: Electronic Voters Register

AFIS: Automatic Finger prints Identification System

SCR: Smart Card Reader

BWAS: Bimodal Voter Accreditation System

IReV: INEC Election Result Viewing Portal


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