A critical appraisal of inconclusive elections in Nigeria A case study of 1993 general elections


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Stefan (2006) posits that official participatory choosing of leaders in form of formal government organized elections started in Africa in 1848; the first elections to legislative councils in former British colonies such as Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone and Zambia took place in the 1920s. Therefore, elections are not novel to the Nigerian State and her citizens. Nigeria has passed the ―founding elections‖ stage. From the pre-colonial era to date the Nigerian people have been conducting some forms of elections at all levels—in the families, communities and in different types of cultural, economic and political associations.
Consequently, Nigeria can be safely regarded as an ―election country because virtually all largely unknown and as well as known associations such as the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG), Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN), etc. conduct elections to get there executive members. It is a fact that all the students’ unions in tertiary institutions in Nigeria conduct major elections every two years. Election is not merely a condition for democracy; it is a necessity and necessary process for democracy, development, peace, unity and the achievement of purely economic-related goals such as the MDGs. Since independence, elections for legislators and chief executives in Nigeria have always been marred by irregularities because of so many factors that are now well-known. However, successive governments have claimed to either tackled or promise to tackle these challenges with the help of electronic devices, information technology or others. Of recent, a new phenomenon has evolved in the Nigerian electioneering practice, which is the phenomenon of inconclusive elections. To this end this study seeks to demystify and unravel fads, facts and fallacies about inconclusive elections in Nigeria by empirically diagnosing the cause and effect, and also proffering workable solutions that will nip the issue in the bud.
According to Collier, P. and Lisa, C (2008) Elections in Nigeria have been associated with irregularities and violence since 4th Republic. With inconclusive election becoming a trend setter, a new vintage point has been unearthed in the Nigerian electoral landscape. The term “Inconclusive election” has attained the status of a new lexicography of electoral trite and clichés in Nigeria. Idike, (2016) surmises that the imbroglio surrounding “Inconclusive election” as a pervasive buzz word is that it lacks any scholastic cum academic definitions due to the fact that it has not been subjected to such rigors. But in an attempt to display remarkable scholarship and irrepressible ingenuity I will employ a legalistic approach at defining the seemingly ambiguous compound-concept.
Apropos to the Nigerian Constitution an “Inconclusive election” would occur when no candidate meet the condition for the declaration of a winner of the election after polls. Simply put, “He or she must satisfy all legal requirements, score the majority of lawful votes cast at the election in which all eligible voters have been given the opportunity to exercise their franchise. Where no candidate satisfies this requirement, the election is said to be inconclusive,’’
It is key assert that Section 26 of the Electoral Act provides that where an election is scheduled, but there is likely to be a serious breach of the peace or it is impossible to continue with the election, INEC should postpone the election.
Quoting Sub-Section 26 (2) of the Electoral Act, “there shall be no return for the election until polling has taken place in the area or areas affected.’’ Sub-Section 4 of Section 26 stipulated a proviso that a declaration might be made if the result in the affected areas would not affect the overall outcome of the election.
“In Section 53 (2) citing other reasons why an election can be declared “Inconclusive”- is Over voting, when the votes cast at an election in any polling unit exceeds the number of registered voters in that polling unit, the result of the election for that polling unit shall be declared void by the Commission. To this end another election may be conducted at a date to be fixed by the commission where the result at that poling unit may affect the overall result in the constituency.
It is therefore pertinent to posit that from the statutory provisions, inconclusive elections could also arise out of natural disaster or other emergency such as violence, threats or breakdown of law and order and over voting, among others. In other words the 1999 Constitution (as amended) recognized that elections could be inconclusive and made provision for what should happen in such cases.
Oni, Chidozie, and Agbude et al (2013) opines that where the polemics lie, is on the impact of inconclusive elections in Nigeria, can we allude that inconclusive elections have strengthened the Nigerian electoral praxis as put forward by the apologist of INEC or has inconclusive election endangered our electoral sanctity as argued by its traducers and polemicist? Can we attribute the high frequency of inconclusive elections to the lack of grit and doggedness by the present leadership of INEC or could it linked to ineffective electoral laws that govern our electoral matrix?
It is in lieu of the above questions that this proposed research work would seek to conduct an esoteric prognosis the factors that leads to inconclusive election. The study would also carry out a critical appraisal of the consequences of inconclusive elections to Nigeria’s democratic process.
1. To study the salient and undercurrent factors that lead to inconclusive election in Nigeria
2. To ascertain the impact of inconclusive election on Nigeria’s democratic experience
3. To explore ways by which the phenomenon of inconclusive election can be assuaged
1. Inconclusive election is caused by the ineptitude of the leadership of INEC
2. Inconclusive election is caused by the ineffective electoral laws that govern our electoral matrix
3. Inconclusive election is triggered by the unscrupulous comportment Nigerian politicians
The study seeks to conduct a critical appraisal of inconclusive elections in Nigeria, with a focus on the 1993 General Elections. Essentially, this study is an exploration into the causes of inconclusive elections in Nigeria. Therefore, the principal significance of the study is to make a valuable contribution in the area of electioneering and electoral management in Nigeria. It will also seek to highlight key practical suggestions for improving the overall conduct of elections in Nigeria. In this respect, this study is expected to be of interest to both a national and an international audience which includes academic researchers, lecturers and fellow scholars in the field of political science, public administration, strategic studies and organizational management. In addition, the implications of the empirical work will be of particular interest to policy makers, sponsors and those involved in electioneering process.
In the course of this research, secondary sources of data will be used for the analysis of data, such as written books, journals, magazines, internet etc. Furthermore, this study shall adopt the qualitative research design which is descriptive and analytic in its approach. In using this method of inquiry, we analyze the causes and effects of inconclusive elections on Nigerian democratic experience and the way out.
This study is delimited to Nigeria. In addition, the study focuses only on assessing the major causes of inconclusive election in Nigeria. This study will also seek to proffer solutions to the problem of inconclusive in Nigeria. In another parlance, the scope of this study is Nigeria and it is primed on exhaustively analyzing inconclusive elections.
1. Chapter One: contains the introduction of the research study. It is the “what” of the study i.e. this chapter outlined what the researcher intend to study. It is made up of background of study, research aim and objectives, research questions, hypotheses of the study. It also contained the definition of concepts, significance of the study and research methodology.
2. Chapter Two: deals with the literature review of the study. It is also known as the “why” and the “how” of the study. This chapter reviewed the work of past researchers on the same area of discourse which this research studied. It also presents the theoretical framework.
3. Chapter Three: The researcher will carefully look into the history of elections in Nigeria and in particular the genesiology cum trends that shaped the emergence of inconclusive elections in Nigeria.
4. Chapter Four: In this chapter, the hypotheses would be also tested and the result would be discussed in this chapter.
5. Chapter Five: This is the last chapter of the research work. The summary, findings of the research, recommendations, and conclusion of the study were done in this chapter. Suggestions for further study were also stated by the researcher in this chapter.

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