The purpose of this research is to look into the impact of electoral fraud on democratic consolidation in the fourth republic. The researchers used both historical and descriptive methodologies in their investigation. Secondary data was collected from journals, publications, library resources, and online sources that were relevant to the study.
The study’s findings found that electoral malpractice in Nigeria’s Fourth Republic has resulted in the installation of corrupt and illegitimate leaders who disregard democratic values such as good governance, rule of law, constitutionalism, and fundamental human rights. As a result, the study suggests that in order to improve the electoral process, it is necessary to resist incumbency, violence, corruption, and impunity. The electoral commission, in particular, should be given autonomy and be free of political influence. Finally, in their decisions on election cases and petitions, the judiciary should strive to insulate themselves and resist all attempts to drag their personnel into the murky waters of partisan politics, while maintaining their independence, honesty, and integrity in their decisions, while political leaders should strictly adhere to the application of the rule of law, constitutionalism, and democratic values, the legitimacy of government, and the consolidation of democracy in their respective countries.
BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
Elections have not only been a tool for ending authoritarianism or transitioning to democracy, but the credibility of the electoral process has also become a tool for judging a democratic regime’s integrity and legitimacy. Citizens and the international world must recognize the election’s conduct as free and fair in order for it to be considered credible. It’s one thing to hold an election and make the transition to democracy, and it’s another to hold regular elections for years following the transition. It also entails having credible elections that are widely regarded as free and fair by citizens and the international community. As a result, the likelihood of democracy consolidation increases if election results are accepted by stakeholders.
Democracy is a form of government that encourages citizen engagement in government and holds elected officials accountable to the voters. Representatives are public officials elected by the people through an electoral process, and their primary responsibility is to advance the interests of the electorate in government.
Elections, on the other hand, are democracy’s lifeblood. Democracy revolves around it as the fulcrum. According to Osumah and Aghemelo (2010), “election is a process by which the people choose their leaders and express their preferences for policies and programs, so endowing a government with the power to rule.” The issues of electoral misconduct have grounded Nigeria’s fourth republic’s democratic crisis. Apart from the longer years of colonial dominance and post-independence military expedition that ended with the fourth republic, the country’s elections have been plagued by spiraling electoral malpractices, as confirmed by domestic and international election monitoring bodies during the fourth republic’s elections. Election malpractice has slowed the country’s progress toward democracy, even as it grapples with a slew of other issues, including corruption, factionalism, insurgency, unemployment, poverty, illiteracy, and ethno-religious strife. Using the fourth republic as a case study, this paper aims to investigate election misconduct and democratic consolidation.
STATEMENT OF PROBLEM
Efforts to consolidate democracy in Nigeria’s fourth republic have been hampered by electoral malpractices after a decade and a half of democratic experimentation. The issues of electoral malpractices have resulted in a democratic consolidation crisis shown in the form of corruption, instability, and weak democratic institutions. The success of democratic consolidation in Nigeria, like in other nascent democracies, is mainly dependent on the holding of free, fair, and credible elections. Beginning in 1999, a consistent goal of Nigeria’s fourth republic governments has been to consolidate the country’s democracy and democratic institutions in order to improve the country’s socioeconomic status as well as its foreign image. However, a number of stumbling blocks have arisen, including corruption, factionalism, ethno-religious strife, insurgency, poverty, and electoral fraud. The most significant of these impediments is election fraud, which has a negative impact on the very foundations of democracy. As a result, the purpose of this research is to see how these elements contribute to the sickness of electoral fraud in Nigeria’s fourth republic, and how it impacts the country’s democracy.
OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
The study’s major objective is to look into electoral fraud and the development of democracy in the fourth republic. The study aims to find out more about
1. To investigate the nature of electoral misconduct in Nigerian elections.
2. To see if INEC’s lack of autonomy contributed to electoral fraud in Nigeria’s general elections in 2015.
3. To investigate the impact of electoral fraud on Nigerian democracy.
HO1: Election misconduct in Nigeria’s 2015 general elections was exacerbated by INEC’s lack of autonomy.
4. HO2: Electoral misconduct has had no impact on the consolidation of democracy in Nigeria’s fourth republic.
SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
This study is essential because it investigates the phenomena of election cheating and how it threatens Nigeria’s fourth republic’s efforts at democratization. It also examines the fundamental issues that contribute to election fraud and suggests solutions to avoid them. It will act as a wake-up call to researchers, government officials, and general readers who are serious about understanding Nigeria’s democratic consolidation challenges. It will once again serve to educate the public and raise awareness about the negative consequences of election fraud on Nigeria’s democratic aspirations.
SCOPE OF THE STUDY
The subject of this research is limited to the impact of electoral fraud on Nigeria’s democratic consolidation. As a result, the research is limited to the fourth republic, with a focus on the general elections of 2015.
LIMITATION OF THE STUDY
The following variables were mentioned as a constraint during the course of this study.
Financial restrictions: Financial limits might make it difficult for a researcher to find appropriate resources, literature, or information, as well as collect data (internet, questionnaire, and interview).
Time constraint– The researcher will be working on this subject while also doing other academic tasks. As a result, the time spent on research is cut in half.
The procedures or strategies used to find, select, process, and analyze information about a topic are referred to as research methodology. This article primarily uses qualitative secondary data to describe the issues of electoral malpractices in Nigeria’s fourth republic and the important approaches to overcome them. It focuses on the intricate and delicate process of creating and maintaining meanings, which is difficult to achieve using conventional methods (Creswell, 2007). It is thought to be appropriate for comprehending events such as the conduct of elections in Nigeria. It is the process by which humans make sense of their lives, experiences, and world structures (Ateno, 2009).