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ROLE OF INDEPENDENT OBSERVERS DURING THE 2023 GENERAL ELECTIONS IN NIGERIA.

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ROLE OF INDEPENDENT OBSERVERS DURING THE 2023 GENERAL ELECTIONS IN NIGERIA.

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

  1. Background of the Study

In both well-established democracies and transitional nations alike, instances of electoral fraud and corruption are undermining the legitimacy of the vote-counting process (Darnolf, 2023). There is very little chance of finding a region anywhere in the world that can boast having voting procedures that are perfect. Elections in the vast majority of African nations, and particularly in Nigeria, continue to be contentious, and the competition is characterized by corrupt elections and a lack of openness that is required (Jinadu, 2020; Akinboye, 2022; Ogundiya & Baba, 2021; Eme et al, 2015; Udu, 2019). The persistent skepticism, apprehensions, and rancorous conditions that often accompany elections in Nigeria have piqued the interest of the international community in the polls. This attention has been drawn in part by the results of the polls. As a direct consequence of this, there will be international observers present during the election periods. The monitoring of elections has developed into a sophisticated political instrument that is subject to stringent controls and is modeled after the most successful procedures that are utilized on a global scale. Election observation is an essential component of the electoral process because it increases public trust, increases the legitimacy of the vote, and, most importantly, has the capability to unearth instances of fraud and other irregularities. On the other hand, it would appear that the function of foreign election observers is limited, and their influence is rarely noticeable in the actual operation of elections. This is due to the fact that their presence is not required for an election to take place. The question then arises as to whether or not their continuous presence throughout the election process and the reports on how elections were carried out might in fact prevent electoral malfeasance and assure openness.

In the Fourth Republic of Nigeria, the presence of electoral observers has had essentially no effect on either the process or the results of elections. This is the case for both the process and the outcomes. Based on the findings of two innovative natural experiments that Hyde (2019) carried out, he came to the realization that "even for the best-intention observers, evaluating election quality remains a serious challenge." This is especially the case when, as was stated in the prior sentence, "pseudo-democrats work to manipulate elections covertly, without attracting observer criticism." In a similar vein, Lynge-Mangueira (2022) argued that even if IEO missions are extended or expanded, they will not be able to detect or deter electoral irregularities. This is the case even if the missions are extended or expanded. The electoral fraud that occurred in Nigeria's general elections in 1999, 2003, 2007, 2011, and 2015 brought to light the shortcomings of election observation in the country's still-emerging democracy. It is a fact that cannot be disputed that the presence of the observers was not sufficient to prevent the majority of the electoral manipulations that took place during those eras. This is an indisputable fact. Some academics, such as Kew (2019), who had been to Nigeria on multiple occasions and witnessed a variety of elections, came to the conclusion that some observers were not objective in their evaluations based on the field reports that they had gathered from their experiences. This conclusion was reached on the basis of the information that they had obtained from their time spent in Nigeria. A number of them have participated in conduct that displays partisanship, bias, and a lack of independence. This behavior has been shown by their actions. "neither the impartiality nor the independence of IEO groups ought to be presumed; they, too, have an agenda," as Larry (2022) argues (LyngeMangueira, 2022). (LyngeMangueira, 2022). A number of states in the South-South geopolitical zone recorded between 95% and 100% voters' turnout on Election Day, with the majority of voters voting for a single political party. Despite the presence of some observers in the election, these observers failed to raise a red alarm, which was an appropriate demonstration of Jason's postulation, which was aptly demonstrated in the general elections of 2011. (Adebisi & Loremikan, 2020). (Adebisi & Loremikan, 2020). Campbell (2015) also pointed out that ballot box stuffing was still a problem in the 2011 presidential election, and that Nigerian civil organizations (election observers) saw electoral fraud at the collation centers, but they largely played it down for unknown reasons. This was one of the things that Campbell noted. During the elections in 2011, a number of political parties in Nigeria made accusations that were quite similar to those made against the INEC. It is easy to see why Lynge-Mangueira (2022) came to the conclusion that "although training could educate election observers how to behave impartially, it will not assure that election observers in fact act impartially when deployed" (while training might teach election observers how to act impartially). Therefore this study will examine the role of independent observers during the 2023 general elections in Nigeria.

    1. Statement of the Problem

Identifying fraudulent voting practices and, if at all possible, discouraging their use is one of the primary goals of international election monitoring. In several nations, election observers have been instrumental in bringing to light instances of voter fraud (Eme, 2015). Election monitors not only make fraudulent voting practices public, but they also often work to stop them. It is possible that political leaders may abandon their efforts to rig elections out of fear of being discovered by observers from other countries. Obviously, very few officials from other countries would easily admit to having such preparations, which is one reason why it is difficult to evaluate the exact deterrent impact that election surveillance has. Yet, the significance of that influence should not be overlooked. In point of fact, the capacity of many observer missions to identify fraud that goes beyond the obvious stuffing of ballots is rather limited. Observation efforts that are very well designed and mounted by experienced organizations (with extensive pre-election coverage, close coordination with domestic monitors, and a parallel vote count) do have a chance of catching the more subtle forms of electoral misconduct, such as the manipulation of voter-registration lists, strategic ballot-tampering, and small but significant distortions in vote tabulation (Udu, 2019). On the other hand, the countless teams of novice observers who just remain for a short period of time around election day are not likely to detect much beyond the obvious. Hence, the study seeks to examine the role of independent observers during the 2023 general elections in Nigeria.

    1. Objective of the Study

The broad objective of the study is to examine the role of independent observers during the 2023 general elections in Nigeria.

  1. To examine the function of independent electoral observers during the 2023 general elections.

  2. To find out the challenges encountered by independent electoral observers during the 2023 general elections in Nigeria.

  3. To investigate the impact of independent election observers on the conduct of 2023 general elections in the Nigeria.

    1. Research Questions

The following questions have been prepared for the study:

  1. What are the function of independent electoral observers during the 2023 general elections?

  2. What are the challenges encountered by independent electoral observers during the 2023 general elections in Nigeria?

  3. What is the impact of independent election observers on the conduct of 2023 general elections in the Nigeria?

    1. Significance of the Study

The study is significant because a global movement of nonpartisan citizen election monitoring has collectively mobilized millions of citizens around the world as  credible and impartial observers can strengthen Nigeria's electoral process by reassuring voters they can safely and secretly cast their ballots.

The study is also significant to the academic community as it will contribute to the existing literature.

    1. Scope of the Study

The scope of this study borders on the role of independent observers during the 2023 general elections in Nigeria. Empirically, the study will examine the function of independent electoral observers, the challenges encountered by independent electoral observers, and the impact of election observers on the conduct of elections in the Nigeria.

    1. Limitation of the Study

Like in every human endeavour, the researchers encountered slight constraints while carrying out the study. Insufficient funds tend to impede the efficiency of the researcher in sourcing for the relevant materials, literature, or information and in the process of data collection (internet, questionnaire, and interview), which is why the researcher resorted to a moderate choice of sample size. More so, the researcher will simultaneously engage in this study with other academic work. As a result, the amount of time spent on research will be reduced.

    1. Definition of Terms

Independent observers: a representative from a community or organization

Elections: a formal and organized choice by vote of a person for a political office or other position.


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