ELECTORAL FRAUD/CRISIS IN NIGERIA.
Electoral fraud and crisis has always been a mile stone for Nigeria to cross. Since voting commenced in the country in 1923, there has never been one form of electoral crisis or the other due to alleged rigging and intimidations. The most recent could be traced from 1999 when the country returns to full democracy. Then the 2003 and 2007 elections were far more worst that each previous ones. Now the 2011 general elections are near and we have been promise a free credible elections were each persons vote will count. Below is the summary of electoral crisis and fraud in Nigeria and how it all begins. . .
Federal elections of 1964;
The political parties then merges to formed gigantic mega alliances, with the NCNC, what was left of AG, and the northern progressive front(NPF) made up of NEPU and the united middle belt congress(UMBC) joined together to form the united progressive grand alliance(UPGA) under the leadership of Dr. M.I. okpara on June 3, 1964.
On august 20, 1964, the NPC,NNDP, the mid-western democratic front MDF, the Niger delta congress,NDC and the dynamic party formed the Nigerian national alliance,NNA under the leadership of the premier of northern region, sir Ahmed bello.
As the electioneering campaign commenced all sorts of crude and obnoxious methods were employed as campaign strategies. Irregular methods of nominating candidates for the election were alleged when the federal electoral commission declared the nomination of candidates’ open. When the election started on December 20th 1964 as scheduled the UPGA boycotted it. While voting did not take place in the eastern region, polling took place in the northern and western regions, in some parts of mid-western region and only in one ward in Lagos. When the votes were counted, the NNA won a comfortable margin of seats.
Western Nigeria elections of 1965:
Before the elections, NNDP was the party in power in the western house of assembly. They represent the NNA alliance while UPGA was the opposition led by Alhaji D.S. Adegbenro. Elections took place on October 11 1965 in a tensed atmosphere was characterized by many electoral malpractices such as smuggling of ballot papers into ballot boxes, burning opponent ballot boxes and unfair counting of votes. at the end of election and counting of votes, it was announced that NNDP won 88 out of the 98 seats contested. In a counter-reaction, Alhaji Adegbenro summoned a press conference at Ibadan in the house of jailed chief Awolowo in which he announced that UPGA won 68 out the 98 seats. He pronounced himself the premier of the region and appointed eight ministers of his cabinet. With two different governments in the same region, the stage was therefore set for a serious political crisis. At last, chief Akintola was sworn in as the premier of the region while adegbenro was arrested. As a result of all these, heavens were let loose for violent demonstrations, chaos, and complete breakdown of law and order in the western region. It was reported the about 1000 people lost their lives and about 5,000 houses burnt down while the newly sworn-in premier took to his clean heels and went into hiding. The political cataclysm in the region which gave-rise to the famous “operation wet e” which could not be quelled continued until the January 15, 1966 coup d’etat that put it to the stop.
General elections of 1979:
The 1979 general elections were unique because they took place under the newly introduced presidential system of government. The elections that ushered in Nigeria’s second republic after 13 solid years of military interregnum were aimed mainly at electing the first executive president, governors, and other functionaries. Prior to the elections, the federal electoral commission (FEDECO) headed by chief Michael Ani had registered five political parties out of about 52 political associations that emerged when the ban on political activities were lifted. The registered political parties were,
1. National party of Nigeria (NPN)
2. Unity party of Nigeria (UPN)
3. Nigeria people’s party (NPP)
4. Great Nigerian people’s party (GNPP)
5. People’s redemption party (PRP)
Five different elections took place between July 7 and august 18, 1979 on different five Saturdays for the senate July 7, House of Representatives July 14, state assemblies July 21, governorship July 28 and presidential august 11, 1979. The elections were mar by various forms of rigging, smuggling and other electoral violence. Perhaps the most controversial elections were the presidential elections. The controversy arose as a result of the fact that none of the candidates was able to win 25% in two-thirds of the states of the federations. Alhaji Shehu Shagari who was eventually declared the winner won 25% of the votes cast in 12 states of the federation. The mathematical riddle that arose was what should be 2/3 of 19? The NPN formular of 12 2/3 was accepted by FEDECO and Alhaji Shehu Shagari was declared the winner. Chief Awolowo who came second took the matter to the presidential elections tribunal headed by justice B.O. kazeem and later to the Supreme Court presided over by the then chief justice of the federation, justice Atanda Williams and all declared that the election of alhaji Shehu Shagari was in order.
General elections of 1983:
The general elections of 1983 in Nigeria were of historical importance to the country. In the first place, unlike the 1979 elections that was conducted under the watchful eyes of the military, the 1983 elections were the first to be organized and held solely by the civilians after the 13 years of military rule. It was the 1983 elections that ushered in the military once again into our political system. Before the elections were held, the FEDECO chaired by justice ovie whisky registered one more political party; the Nigerian advance party (NAP) formed by Lagos lawyer Mr. Tunji Braithwaite, thereby making the parties to be six in all. All the five political parties that contested the 1979 elections did not make changes in the candidates fielded for the 1983 elections.
The NPN presidential candidate, alhaji Shehu Shagari was declared as the winner in the face of allegations of rigging. The most controversial of all the elections was the gubernatorial election in which NPN was said to have won in 10 states. The large scale rigging that characterized the elections sparked of violent rioting, arson, hooliganism, looting, etc, especially in Ondo and Oyo states. Though the Supreme Court reversed the ondo state gubernatorial election result, what happened when NPN candidate was declared the winner was reminiscent of the 1965 western regional election episode. The NPN much vaunted land slide victory was replaced with “military-slide” coup d’etat on December 31, 1983.
The 1993 General elections:
Following the long stay of the military in Nigerian politics, two major political parties were introduced by the then military ‘president’ General Ibrahim Babaginda (rtd). They were ….
1. National republican convention. (NRC) and
2. Social democratic party. (SDP)
Elections were conducted at all levels and what seems and came to be Nigerian first true credible election hit the walls when General Babaginda(rtd) annulled the results of the elections widely believed to have been won by late chief M.K.O Abiola. Violent demonstrations and unrest ensure and the nation was in dilemma. After much pressure and consultations, General Babaginda (rtd) resigns from office and handed power to an interim national government headed by Chief Ernest Shonekon, a move the “general’ claimed he only ‘step aside’. The new administration only live for two months as it was swept out of office by what history books call ‘palace coup’ on November 17, 1993 by late general Sani Abacha. Though no recorded cases of electoral fraud was visible in the 1993 general elections, the aftermath and cancellations of the elections results to series of crisis.
The 1999 General elections:
With the death of General Sani Abacha, General Abdusalami Abubakar (rtd) was sworn in as the new leader and promises to conduct quick general elections in order to pass on power to the civilian populace. Regrettably, Chief M.K.O Abiola, the acclaimed winner of the June 12, 1993 presidential elections died in prison. Nevertheless, three political parties contested the elections. They were…
1. All people’s party
2. Alliance for democracy
3. People’s Democratic Party
The presidential candidate of the people’s Democratic Party, PDP chief Olusegun Obasanjo won the 1999 presidential elections amidst widespread cheating, rigging and smuggling of ballot boxes.
The 2003 General elections:
Chief Olusegun Obasanjo of the PDP changes the polity of political campaigns in Nigeria when he introduced his infamous ‘do or die’ politics. Every machinery of government was employed to aid the total rigging of the re-election bid of the incumbent as well as other PDP party faithful. Smuggling and snatching of ballot boxes, multiple tomb printing as well as intimidation and harassment of opposition parties went on full wide scale. The ruling PDP won majority seats in the federal houses, states assemblies, local council areas as well as the presidential elections. A total of 50 political parties participated in the elections.
The 2007 General elections:
When Nigerians thought the nightmares of the 2003 rigged elections has come and gone, little did they know that the 2007 general elections would be much worst in terms of tools and new methodology in areas of violence, rigging, intimidations, snatching and smuggling of ballot papers. Never in the history of Nigeria’s general elections genealogy has any elections come close to the level of rigging and ballot paper snatching that characterized the 2007 elections been seen. 62 political parties contested the elections. The newly sworn in administration of late President Musa Yar Adua admitted to some flaws in the outcome of the elections and promise to correct same in 2011. The cold hand of death never allowed him to fulfill that promise and the vice president Goodluck Jonathan becomes the new president. Numerous changes and process were carried out to ensure we get it right in 2011. The present administration has tolled on similar line to give Nigerians free, credible elections where every vote will count. Few days from now, history will be formed and Nigerians will be going to the polls again. are we going to get it right this time again or they will be marred again by the old same stories of rigging, ballot paper snatching, intimidation of the opposition,etc, the new INEC boss prof Attahiru Jega has promise Nigeria a free, fair and credible elections come April 2011, only time will tell.