INEC AND THE 2019 PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION IN NIGERIA: A PROGNOSTICATION
The INEC, as an instrument of processing democratic ideals and structures, is hopefully, expected to be a truly independent body that personifies the ideals of transparency, impartiality, accountability and responsiveness. This worldwide trend known as democratization has made the issue of election a crucial political imperative. Nigeria’s experience with electoral politics has over the years been characterized by high incidence of electoral malaise manifesting in the prevalence of electoral rigging, violence and other forms of malpractices which tend to erode established electoral standards and defy the prospects of free, fair and credible elections in the country. The methodology and procedures used for this research is basically in description of the study areas, types and sources of data used in gathering information on the subject matter, techniques or instruments of data collection, sampling procedures as well as method of data analysis. The findings, of this research agreed with assumptions upon which this study was premised that INEC and some political office holders in Nigeria engender circumstances which make the realization of free, and fair elections problematic, the character of people in government in Nigeria’s electoral politics detracts from democratic essence and merit as well as political office holders impacted negatively to predict whether INEC will conduct free, fair and credible elections in 2019. Lastly, the study was conducted to predict whether INEC will conduct free, fair and credible elections in 2019 with reference to the outcome of two elections which took place this 2018 in in Ekiti and Osun state. On the basis of the findings of this research, the following recommendations are proposed which will help to address some of the issues raised in the course of the research undertaking. Politicians in Nigeria should imbibe genuine democratic culture and learn to relegate their personal interests to supreme national interest which is peace, political stability and economic development by allowing popular expression to decide who should be in control of political leadership during conduct of elections.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), is the institutionalized governmental body established, through the instrumentality of law, to manage the nation’s electoral process. The INEC, as an instrument of processing democratic ideals and structures, is hopefully, expected to be a truly independent body that personifies the ideals of transparency, impartiality, accountability and responsiveness (Udu, 2015). This perhaps, informed the popular perception that the body is insulated from partisan politics, and that, it is fully empowered to discharge its avowed duties devoid of any influence whatsoever (Nkwede et al., 2014).
Violence in elections, which is a major bane of politics in Nigeria, has become a basis for arriving at inconclusive results. Election-related casualties and communal violence in northern part of Nigeria sequel to the April 2011 presidential elections resulted in over 800 deaths according to the Human Rights Watch even when the poll was adjudged as one of the freest and fairest in the country. Soon after the presidential election, supposed supporters of president Mohammadu Buhari the then presidential candidate in the election, began demonstrations in most part of the north.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is an institution empowered by the 1999 constitution to conduct election in Nigeria and as an umpire, the institution is supposed to be truly independent in other to conduct a free and fair election. However, the commission over the years has shown to the public that is not capable of conducting a free and fair election and this is manifested in the series of election held in the forth republic. INEC has always jilted the electorates by playing the script of its employer. The commission cannot hold a credible election in the present circumstance if the mode of appointments and their funding is not changed.
Most of the problems we have with INEC is that, these people are members of the ruling party and their mandate is for them to protect the interest of their political party according to their party constitution and on the other hand to build confidence of loyalty to those who appointed them as members of the commission, nothing good can come out of a corrupt mind and as it were, a spade is always a spade.
The 2019 presidential elections in Nigeria will be the country’s sixth since 1999, when it shifted to democracy after a long period of military rule. Most of these elections have been tarnished by acts of violence – including attacks on politicians – and vote rigging that often influences the results.
In Nigeria, the issue of election has been a problematic endeavor over the years. Ironically, election in Nigeria has been bereft of democratic ideals, much as it has been characterized by untoward circumstances. According to Ibeanu, (2007:3);
The Electoral process as currently constituted in Nigeria is psychologically alienating for the vast majority of the people who are largely outsiders and are only periodically inserted in the process when they cast votes. At the same time this alienation is underscored by the fact that even when these vote casters have completed the ritual of voting, the outcome bears little semblance to what they chose in their ballots.
Besides, there have been problems of electoral violence and fraud, bulk of which may arise from the excesses of the politicians in their desperate bid to consolidate, capture or control state power. In the face of this therefore, electoral experiences in Nigeria so far have left much to be desired. It is against the above that this research work is focusing on the INEC and the 2019 Presidential elections.