1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
One of the fundamental problems of the democratization process in Nigeria is the conduct of free, fair and acceptable elections. Virtually all the elections conducted in the history of Nigerian politics have been characterized by one form of electoral problem or another. The 1959 election was widely condemned as unacceptable by most of the opposition parties (Post 2015; Ojigbo 2009; Dudley 2014). The 1963/64 election was also beset with problems and serious challenges, especially in the Western region and the middle belt, which crisis led to the collapse of the First Republic (Ingham 1997; Diamond 2015; Anifowose 2006); the opposition contested the results of the 1979 election, creating a crisis which led to the military takeover of the government (Joseph 2015). The 2010 elections adjudged the freest and fairest were annulled by the military government of Ibrahim Babangida. The 2015 elections left the Nigerian people with no choice – the president who emerged was the product of the military. The 2013 elections were widely acclaimed to be massively fraudulent (Catholic Secretariat 2013), while those in 2007 were regarded as the worst ever conducted, at least partly because of the move from votes allocated by the electoral body to direct rigging. Among the problems associated with the conduct of elections in Nigeria are the electoral body, the electoral system and the electoral process. Nigeria has never had a truly independent electoral commission – the process of establishing them makes them part of the executive arm. For example, the 2015 Constitution vested in the hands of the president the responsibility for appointing the officers of the ‘Independent’ National Electoral Commission (INEC), which gives him the opportunity to appoint party loyalists. Hence, the general perception is that the INEC is a federal agency, rather than a federalising institution. The electoral system itself cannot be said to meet the demands of Nigerians. The first-past-the-post (FPTP) system and the secret ballot allow for all manner of irregularities and prevent adequate representation, which robs citizens of their right to elect credible politicians. In other words, both the FPTP and the secret ballot lead to ballot wastage, as only the winners (who often win a minority of votes) are allowed to rule. In addition, the secret voting system allows for the manipulation of votes by the political elite and electoral institutions. The electoral process is also marred by irregularities ranging from the deliberate exclusion by the electoral agency, often in collusion with the ruling party, of eligible voters from the voters’ register to the conduct of elections involving all manner of ballot manipulation for favoured candidates or parties. In all this, the votes of the electorate do not count. One of the major forms of irregularity is vote buying and vote selling. The development and sustenance of true democracy in Nigeria depends, to a large extent, on the electoral system. The confidence of the citizens in the electoral system and their participation in the electoral process are requisites for the enthronement of responsible and democratic leaders. The success of the 2015 Nigeria general election requires transparent electoral process and mass participation of the electorates. The major focus of this study, therefore, is vote buying and democratic sustenance, especially as it featured in and affected the 2015 general elections.
1.2 STATEMENT OF PROBLEM
The major problem faced by the sustenance of democracy is the existence of electoral violence and vote buying. This negates peaceful co-existence, law and order in addition to security concerns; it militates against the consolidation of democracy. This in turn impact on the social and economic well being of the nation and creates imbalances or instances of structural violence that could lead to escalated conflict as was the cause with the Biafran war. Critical scholars and political commentators like Kolewale (1988), & Duley (1979) have tenaciously observed that the history of electoral politics in Nigeria have not been encouraging. Electoral politics has always been a source of unrestrained resentment, irrational actions and political instability. In other words, elections have also invariably been accompanied by breakdown of political regime. Furthermore, often mention among these challenges is the negative and devastating affects that came out from this electoral violence which equally affects sustainability of democracy. Since the attainment of independence, electoral fraud has remained a knotty issue. The first three attempts at democratic experiments were truncated on account of electoral fraud and poor election management. Also, the 2015 general elections that heralded the current democratic dispensation were reportedly characterized by widespread and monumental electoral malpractices, and irregularities. In particular, the seriousness of the electoral malpractices and irregularities that marred the presidential election resulted in the rejection of the election result by the opposition party’s presidential candidate, Chief Olu Falae, and subsequently called for the establishment of Government of National Unity. The opposition party, the All Peoples Party (APP) later went to court to question the sanctity of the presidential election (Hohnert and Dirk, 2014).
1.3 AIMS OF THE STUDY
The major purpose of this study is to examine vote buying and democratic sustenance. Other general objectives of the study are:
1. To examine the causes of vote buying in Nigeria.
2. To examine the major forms of vote buying politics and related threat to democratic governance.
3. To examine effect of vote buying politics on democratic sustenance.
4. To examine the problems of democratic sustenance in Nigeria.
5. To examine the relationship between vote buying and democratic sustenance.
6. To suggest ways of improving our political system.
1.4 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
1. To examine the causes of vote buying in Nigeria.
2. What are the major forms of vote buying politics and related threat to democratic governance?
3. What are the effects of vote buying politics on democratic sustenance?
4. What are the implications of rigging election on democratic sustenance?
5. What is the relationship between vote buying and democratic sustenance?
6. What are the suggested ways of improving our political system?
1.5 RESEARCH HYPOTHESES
H01: There is no significant effect of vote buying on democratic sustenance in Nigeria.
H02: There is no significant relationship between vote buying and democratic sustenance in Nigeria.
1.6 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
The study is therefore significant for the following reason. First, it will bring to the fore the impacts of vote buying on democratic sustenance in Nigeria. Secondly, the study will provide suggestions on how these impediments to democratic sustenance as a result of the fall-out from vote buying can be tackled. Thirdly, these studies will contribute to existing literature on vote buying and democracy sustenance in Nigeria.
1.7SCOPE OF THE STUDY
The study is based on vote buying and democratic sustenance: case study of Benue State 2015 election.
1.8 LIMITATION OF STUDY
Financial constraint- Insufficient fund tends to impede the efficiency of the researcher in sourcing for the relevant materials, literature or information and in the process of data collection (internet, questionnaire and interview).
Time constraint- The researcher will simultaneously engage in this study with other academic work. This consequently will cut down on the time devoted for the research work.
1.8 DEFINITION OF TERMS
Vote Buying: Any reward given to a person for voting in a particular way or for not voting can be called vote buying. Vote buying is a corrupt election practice. A vote buying bribe is that having a monetary value.
Democratic: It entails manifold issues of freedom o choice rule of law, fundamental human right, popular participation in decision making processes, accommodation of opposing views, respect for minority rights, openness transparency and accountability.
Election: An election is the constitutional framework or process of handling over of power and the authority to govern to an elected government in a country. Again, election can also be articulated to mean a method of choosing or better still a means whereby legitimate citizens of a country select among other aspirant. Those to represent their interest in the governance of their country.