This study compares the election management bodies and electoral administration in Nigeria and Ghana, between 2003 and 2012. Utilizing the Marxist theory of the state, ex-post-facto research design, unstructured elite interview, qualitative method of data collection and qualitative descriptive analysis, the study investigates the link between the nature of the framework for the conduct of elections and electoral violence; the limited autonomy of election management bodies and organizational lapses in the electoral process; and the election management bodies’ operational political environment and their performance in electoral administration. The study found the nature of the framework for the conduct of
elections and the limited autonomy of election management bodies to account for electoral violence and organizational lapses in the electoral process more in Nigeria than Ghana. The study also sees the election management bodies’ operational political environment to undermine their performance in electoral administration more in Nigeria than Ghana. The study argues that the limited autonomy and operational political environment account for ineffectiveness of election management body in electoral administration more in Nigeria than in Ghana. It, therefore, upholds the view that on account of the character of the Nigerian state, the performance of electoral management bodies in electoral administration was less
susceptible to political manipulations and interferences and, by implication, commanded higher public confidence in Ghana than in Nigeria. Among others, the study recommends that the reports of the previous committees on re-structuring the Independent Electoral Commission should be implemented without further delay so as to structurally and institutionally reposition the Commission to conduct free, fair and credible elections in Nigeria.
1.1. Background of the Study
The experience of post-independence Africa has shown that democracy is central to the quest for development and political stability (Ibeanu & Egwu, 2007). At least in its thriving liberal acceptance, credible and periodic elections constitute a fundamental criterion for democracy and a key component for facilitating political succession, enhancing the legitimacy of a government and strengthening the social contract between citizens and their governments (International Peace Institute, 2012). Elections that are administered in a peaceful, transparent, consistent, and fair manner are more likely to be successful. On the contrary, elections, when wrongly administered, can increase the salience of ethnic, religious, and other societal differences and, desperate political actors often exploit these differences for partisan purposes thereby triggering unpleasant activities that not only undermine democratic consolidation but
also erode people’s faith in the democratic process. A broad consensus, therefore, appears to evolve on the idea that, in order to prevent violence and instability in the polity, elections should be viewed as a process rather than an event. In other words, an election cannot be viewed as an end in itself, but must be part of a larger and longer-term process of democratization (International Peace Institute, 2012), and effective electoral administration is very critical in this regard. Election management occupies a significant position in electoral process and consolidation of democracy (Gyekye-Jandoh, 2013). To achieve effective electoral administration, the existence of an impartial election management body is imperative.
Electoral management bodies (EMBs) are important institutions for democracy and democratic consolidation because they deal directly with the organization of multi-party elections and indirectly with governance and the rule of law. More importantly, they serve as institutional anchors that assist in the development of free, fair and accurate elections (López- Pintor, 2000). Although, specific duties of EMBs differ across countries, typically they are involved in all aspects of elections, including “registering candidates, regulating campaign finance, monitoring political party activities, maintaining voter registration databases, polling place operations, publishing official election results and resolving many types of election-related disputes” (López-Pintor, 2000, p.18). In emerging democracies with unstable democratic institutions, there has been an increasing trend to establish independent EMBs as an important step in building a tradition of independence and impartiality as well as building the confidence of the electorate and political parties in the electoral process. Ultimately, electoral management bodies (EMBs) can promote or undermine the credibility of electoral process and the government itself, depending on their perceived legitimacy (Kerevel, 2009). Since lack of credibility in electoral process has serious implications for democratization and legitimacy of a government, building the capacity of election management bodies for effective and credible electoral administration as recommended by the Praia Declaration, is quite essential (International Peace Institute, 2012).
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