AN INVESTIGATION STUDY ON CORRUPTION AND CREDIBLE ELECTORAL PROCESS IN NIGERIA 2007-2015
1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
The louts of sovereignty by various polities that dotted Nigerian landscape at the beginning of the twentieth century and the subsequent amalgamation of 1914 that tried to create a nation out of the multi-cultural and political institutions, the evolution of acceptable government at the centre most especially through free and fair election has been a matter of concern. This has become a matter of debate for individuals, groups, professionals, politicians, academia, and opinion leaders in and outside the country. This stem from the nature and outcome of elections and subsequent collapse of the First Republic (1960 – 1966) and the Second Republic (1979 – 1983), the abortion of the Third Republic and the outcry that has followed the birth of Fourth Republic (1999) and the subsequent elections of 2003 , 2007 and 2011. The outcry, violence and the collapse that greeted electioneering in Nigeria since independence was due to inability of elections to produce outcomes mutually agreeable to all competing social groups which are politically active within a given polity.(V. Egwemi and E.K Enojo, 2011 p.116)
In a democratic setting, periodic elections if carefully, freely and fairly undertaken gives legitimacy to the government and holds the promise of stabilizing political institutions most especially in a multi-ethnic nation like Nigeria (M.L Salahu, 2003, p22). Election thus became the major acceptable means of getting to power or losing it if properly conducted and votes count. Thus king observed that; Election may provide means of selecting between competing alternatives and thus make for the smooth transfer or transition of political power from one set of power holder to another.(M.C King 1988 p.106) Despite elections being very fundamental in installation, transition and consolidation of democratic government, it does not guaranty sustainable democratic transition and consolidation. This is so when elections are conducted but peoples’ vote does not count, or people have no choice in their representatives and leaders due to subversion or manipulation of the entire electoral process. The subversion or manipulation of electoral process either by individuals, groups, political parties or institutions amount to political corruption or rather electoral corruption. Corruption means many things to many people depending on one’s position and perception. In this paper the position of Saliu and Aremu is adopted as “a violation of the moral ethos to confer personal advantage on self or acquaintances.”(H.A. Saliv and F.A Aremu) Electoral corruption can therefore be infer as all actions or in action of individuals, groups or institutions in aiding, abating and subversion of electoral process either by use of words, media (print or not), thugs, violence, money and state apparatus to confer undue advantage on oneself, acquaintance or political party.
As corruption has the influencing power of diminishing state capacity to meet its material and welfare obligations to the citizenry, electoral corruption succinctly installed, sustained and consolidates bad governance through electoral fraud. This has characterized Nigeria system from independence, hence, this research seeks to discuss on corruption and credible electoral process in Nigeria in its electoral system using a period of 8 years from 2007 to 2015.
Corruption constitutes one of the greatest challenges and threats to the democrat consolidation in Nigeria Fourth Republic. The incidence of corruption in the country reached a crescendo in 2004 when a German based non-governmental organization called Transparency International in its 2004 Corruption Perception Index(CPI), report projected Nigeria as the 2nd most corrupt country in the world(132nd out of 133 countries surveyed)
Since the emergency of the fourth republic, with specific attention to 2007-2015,Election and democratic practice in Nigeria has been more of a force than a serious fact. Admittedly, Nigeria registered and voted at the elections that brought the ruling class into power, the candidate presented to them for selection were chosen not by them but by the political elites. Voting as observed became for Nigerians a matter of ritual performances than discharge of bounden duty.
It can be argued that elections and democratic practice in fourth republic characterized by electoral malpractices, political intolerance, economic mismanagement, using political office as gateway to personal enrichment, political thuggery, lack of intra party democracy, insecurity, manipulation of religion and ethnicity to achieve selfish political ambitions and other countless misdemeanors were order of the day.The consequence of this is that the poor masses are easily brainwashed and their right of choice terribly manipulated making an objective choice seldom to consideration.