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AN EVALUATION OF ELECTORAL FRAUD ISSUES AS AN IMPEDIMENT TO DEMOCRATIC CONSOLIDATION IN NIGERIA

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AN EVALUATION OF ELECTORAL FRAUD ISSUES AS AN IMPEDIMENT TO DEMOCRATIC CONSOLIDATION IN NIGERIA

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

1.1 Background of the Study

Election fraud has the potential to reduce public confidence in political leaders and institutions. Consolidating democratic norms and principles becomes more challenging when people experience violence related to elections and lose faith in the democratic process. Nonetheless, elections and democracy are regarded as necessary components of growth in every contemporary civilization.

A country can be described as consolidated when the current democratic system becomes “the only game in town” (Kuwama, 2019), meaning no one in the country is trying to act outside of the set institutions. This is the case when: no significant political group seriously attempts to overthrow the democratic regime, the democratic system is regarded as the most appropriate way to govern by the vast majority of the public, and all political actors are accustomed to the fact that conflicts are resolved through established political and constitutional rules.

In conceptual sense, the term fraud refers to a person intended to deceive others, typically by unjustifiably claiming or being credited with accomplishments or qualities. However, the enduring legacy of electoral fraud, criminality, and the godfatherism syndrome has emerged as a pervasive challenge not only in the South East states, Nigeria but also throughout the broader Nigerian political landscape. When unethical practices go unchallenged over an extended period, they transform into accepted norms, entrenched cultures, and established traditions.

According to Obasi (2019), highlights that the alarming, unethical, immoral, and manipulative electoral processes in Nigeria, if unaddressed, are at risk of evolving into traditions and cultures. In this scenario, individuals would seek public office through flawed, manipulative, and dubious processes, justifying their actions through deceptive, minimal, and sporadic achievements or through political settlements. Such a norm, culture, and tradition would institutionalize injustice and foster the belief that the end justifies the means, resulting in a complete collapse of anything civil, legal, ethical, and just. Politically, it would cultivate a perception of a populace devoid of values and morality.

Additionally, the criminality, audacity, desperation, and relentless pursuit of power by any means have significantly damaged Nigeria's reputation internationally and have the potential to permanently stain the country's national image. Obasi (2019) argues that the tolerance of numerous evil and debasing electoral fraud over an extended period has remained unchecked, posing a serious threat to national unity, peace, and stability. Similarly, this issue of electoral fraud is a national problem, there is no geo-political zone in the country where this problem is more insidious or deeply rooted than in the South East States, with Anambra State being the most affected. Since the inception of the fourth republic, Anambra state, and at times Abia, Enugu, Ebonyi, and Imo State, have been subject to political turmoil caused by the figures imposed at the federal level by the compromised democratic system.

Additionally, there is a chance that electoral fraud will have a detrimental effect on the economy, which may affect the consolidation of democracy(Alabi, 2019). Also, Avraham (2019) asserts that electoral fraud can impede economic activity, discourage foreign investment, and exacerbate poverty—all of which can jeopardize the stability required for the consolidation of democracy . Therefore, a survey will be conducted in order to evaluate electoral fraud issues as an impediment to democratic consolidation in Nigeria.

1.2 Statement of the Problem

The Nigerian land, climate, bureaucracy, political ideology, public policy, and other aspects are not inherently problematic. The issue lies in the "Nigeria factor," encompassing challenges such as corruption, deficient policy implementation, unbalanced federalism, ethnicity, and the reluctance or incapacity of leaders to fulfill their responsibilities. Particularly troubling is the compromise of the electoral institution (INEC) in conducting elections (Ibeogu, 2018).

However, the array of issues is extensive, but the most pressing one requiring attention is godfatherism and the manipulation of the electoral will by the electoral commission (INEC). Godfatherism in form of electoral fraud has distorted the transfer of political power and the effective functioning of bureaucracy, especially in recruitment in South East States.

Furthermore, many governors, elected representatives, and political office holders owe their positions to godfathers. These proteges employ various administrative and political concepts, such as triangular equilibrium, quota system, senior technical assistants, and personal assistants, to overpopulate the civil service and political system. Also, a significant portion of these appointees lacks education but is instrumental in perpetrating electoral fraud (Ugwu, 2018; Ibeogu, 2019).

Similarly, the practice of appointing godsons as political leaders and placing mediocres in charge of the civil service has led to imbalances in public affairs management. This has fostered mediocrity, subpar performance, and deficient service delivery across all levels of governance (Ibeogu, 2019). Therefore, it is in the light of these that the study seeks to evaluate electoral fraud issues as an impediment to democratic consolidation in Nigeria.

1.3 Objectives of the Study

The main purpose of this study is on an evaluation of electoral fraud issues as an impediment to democratic consolidation in Nigeria. Specifically, the study will;

  1. Determine the prevalence of electoral fraud in Nigeria.

  2. Investigate underlying factors that may contribute to the occurrence of electoral fraud in Nigeria.

  3. Find out the forms of electoral fraud practices prevalent in Nigeria

  4. Ascertain how electoral fraud impedes democratic consolidation in Nigeria.

1.4 Research Questions

The following questions have been prepared for the study:

  1. What is the extent of electoral fraud prevalence in Nigeria?

  2. What are the underlying factors that may contribute to the occurrence of electoral fraud in Nigeria?

  3. What forms of electoral fraud practices are prevalent in Nigeria?

  4. How does electoral fraud hinder the process of democratic consolidation in Nigeria?

1.5 Significant of the Study

An evaluation of electoral fraud issues as an impediment to democratic consolidation in Nigeria will be revealed to the government at various levels, policymaker, politicians, strategists, the electorate, election managers, journalists and residents in this study. It will provide journalists with valuable information for investigative reporting, ensuring that citizens are well-informed about the challenges and potential solutions related to electoral integrity. Also, it will inform policymakers of the development of legislation and policies aimed at preventing, detecting, and addressing fraudulent practices.

Further more, the study will be revealed to the electorate as the information gathered will strengthen their levels of interaction and political participation processes. Additionally, subsequent researchers will use it as a literature review. This means that other students who may decide to conduct studies in this area will have the opportunity to use this study as available literature that can be subjected to critical review. Invariably, the result of the study contributes immensely to the body of academic knowledge with regard to an evaluation of electoral fraud issues as an impediment to democratic consolidation in Nigeria.

1.6 Scope of the study

The scope of this study is boarded on an evaluation of electoral fraud issues as an impediment to democratic consolidation in Nigeria. Theoretically, this study will determine the prevalence of electoral fraud in Nigeria, investigate underlying factors that may contribute to the occurrence of electoral fraud in Nigeria, find out the forms of electoral fraud practices prevalent in Nigeria and ascertain how electoral fraud impedes democratic consolidation in Nigeria.

Geographically, the study will be delimited to residents of Abia state,Nigeria

1.7 Limitation of the study

In the course of carrying out this study, the researcher experienced some constraints, which included time constraints, financial constraints, language barriers, and the attitude of the respondents. In addition, there was the element of researcher bias. Here, the researcher possessed some biases that may have been reflected in the way the data was collected, the type of people interviewed or sampled, and how the data gathered was interpreted thereafter. The potential for all this to influence the findings and conclusions could not be downplayed.

More so, the findings of this study are limited to the sample population in the study area, hence they may not be suitable for use in comparison to other schools, local governments, states, and other countries in the world.

1.8 Definition of Terms

Electoral Fraud: This refers to situation where elections fell far short of basic international and regional standards for an ideal democratic system.

Democracy: a system of government in which laws, policies, leadership, and major undertakings of a state or other polity are directly or indirectly decided by the “people.

Consolidation: is the process by which a new democracy matures, in a way that it becomes unlikely to revert to authoritarianism without an external shock, and is regarded as the only available system of government within a country (Andreas, 2018) .




This material content is developed to serve as a GUIDE for students to conduct academic research



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