AN ASSESMENT OF ELECTIONEERING PROCESS AND DEMOCRATIC GROWTH
- Background to the Study
No doubt, election and electioneering processes are core components of democratic government. Hence, democracy is often associated with elections. Mackenzie (2000)
The concept of democracy is a nebulous concept. Its ambiguity is largely as a result of varying definitions and interpretations from scholars and political discussants alike. Taken together, these deferring interpretations have produced profound disagreements, some of which can be traced to the permanent tension between democracy as an ideal, on the one hand, and as a set of actual public institutions on the others.
For instance, the Black’s Law Dictionary, (2006) defines democracy as “the form of government in which the sovereignty power resides in and is exercised by the whole body of free citizen directly through a system of representation as distinguished from a monarchy, aristocracy or oligarchy”. The Chambers Dictionary (2000) views the concept as “a form of government in which supreme power is vested in the people collectively and administered by them or by officials appointed by them; the common people; a state of society characterize by recognition of the equality of rights and privileges for all people, political, social or legal equality”.
Abraham Lincoln, a onetime President of the United State of America, in a simplistic manner, defined democracy as “the government of the people, by the people and for the people”. (Lincoln.1809-1865). Akintola (2010) associates democracy with civilian government based on the practice of struggle between political parties for the capture of the instruments of political power within a nation state. Nevertheless, in spite of this apparent disagreement and contestation among scholars, there are certain basic features of democracy which serve as a benchmark to ascertain which government is democratic and vice versa. Some of these features include:
- the conduct of elections, representative form of governance and freedom of choice;
- respect for the rule of law and equality before the law
- An independent judiciary.
- decentralization or delegation of power and;
- Authority between all tiers of government among others. (Miedder 1999:112).
The conduct of elections, representative form of government through participatory process vis – a – vis freedom of choice is a major backbone of democracy and it can only be assured under a true democratic dispensation. The extent to which a given polity guarantee or protects the right definitely indicates the level or degree of its commitment to the principles of democracy. In other words, there is a fundamental link between the conduct of elections and democracy. The conduct of election can only be considerably guaranteed in a democratic setting, while the struggle for the protection of the citizenry right to elect those that are to represents them in a government form the basis for the establishment of an enduring democratic culture.
Thus, the thrust of this study is to examine various electioneering process that have taken place in Ekiti State from 1998-2014 and see how it has promoted or retarded democratic governance. This is with the view to ascertain the reasons why the state had many elections conducted than any state in the country during the period under review.
1.2 Statement of Research Problems
Interestingly, the general outcome of election is dependent and mainly determined by the conduct and management of the electoral processes. Thus, election is more often than not, more of a process and procedures that simply events. To this extent, the process that guarantees democracy in as much important as election that births it.
This implies that the credibility of elections and fairness of electoral process is an essential element in deepening Nigeria’s nascent democratic project, and particularly, democratic governance in Ekiti state. (Akingbade, 2011:265).
Literature is replete on the electioneering process and democratic growth in Nigeria. For example, Ekeh (1989:116) posits that, Nigeria has been faced with the challenges of free and fair election right from the elective principle introduced by the 1922 Clifford constitution that paved way for the first election held in 1923 up to the independence election held in 1959. The elections held after independence were in no way better off, as they have been dominated by violence emanating from electoral malpractices and all forms of vices that eventually led to the collapse of the previous republics. Egbewole (2006) explain furthers that the present democratic dispensation in Nigeria have not failed to throw up its own challenges as issues such as ballot snatching, under age voting, electoral violence, rigging and a host of electoral malpractices which has turned the winning of election into a “do or die affair”. However, none of these studies substantially investigate the relationship between electioneering process and democratic growth in Ekiti state during the period under review. While the study does not claim exhaustive examination of the issue, it among others, will fill the identified gaps.