THE EFFECT OF POLITICAL INSTITUTIONS ON FREE AND FAIR ELECTIONS
1.0 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
“Any Democratic Government properly enthroned through
Free and Fair Elections cannot be Selfish’’ (Aristotle)
Free and fair elections is a term which has gain wider currency in the nation political discourse having been popularized through it’s discriminate and lugubrious use by the most vocal sections of the Nigeria elite. The concept gains more popularity because of the drive by many nations especially the nations of Africa to embrace democracy as their form of government. The nature of politics in Nigeria since the country returned to democracy in May 29, 1999 also has provided impetus for scholars and stake holders to bare their mind on the concept of free and fair election. Though, Nigeria had had cases of electoral malpractices, violence and other problems that have marred elections since independence, the worst scenario were witnessed in the three major elections of 1999, 2003 and 2007 according to analyst.
In the 1999 election for instance, there were only 10 cases filed before the election tribunal. The 2003 recorded 506 cases and in 2007, the volume of cases increased to 1,700 before the election tribunal. Opadokun (2009). This is opposed to what obtained in the post aparthied South-Africa where only six cases were recorded after election. This is not to mention other irregularities like rigging, violence, thuggery, stuffing of ballot boxes etc. This in the view of observers is not a conducive signal for the emerging Nigeria democracy.
President Musa Yar’Adua himself admitted that the election that brought him to power was not free and fair. On assumption of office therefore, he set up an electoral reform committee. The intent was to shop for a way to attain free fair and credible election in Nigeria. A free and fair election is the cornerstone of every democracy and is the primary mechanism for exercising the principle of...