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The many phases of electoral process, the case of Anambra State 2014

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The many phases of electoral process, the case of Anambra State 2014

                                        BY GODSON AZU

There are many phases to the electoral process: in an election, for example, these include the design and drafting of legislation, the recruitment and training of electoral staff, electoral planning, voter registration, the registration of political parties, the nomination of parties and candidates, the electoral campaign, polling, counting, the tabulation of results, the declaration of results, the resolution of electoral disputes, reporting, auditing and archiving. After the end of one electoral process, it is desirable for work on the next to begin: the whole process can be described as the electoral cycle

Description: Electoral Cycle

The concept of election: The importance of election to the emergence, growth and consolidation of democracy cannot be ignored nor over emphasized. As it is argued, elections are rituals of choice their binding character being derived from the participation of the individual as a chooser in a social act which confers legitimate authority on the person chosen. As, Mackenzie rightfully pointed on the uniqueness of what he calls a free election. A free election as defined by Mackenzie in is one with ‘a sentiment of popular consent and participation in public affairs which allows for the peaceful transfer of authority to new rulers when the time comes for the old rulers to go’. This implies that not all elections are free. According to Mackenzie, there are four conditions that must be in place before an election will be called free:

First an independent judiciary to interpret electoral law; secondly an honest competent, non-partisan electoral commission to run elections; thirdly; a formidable political parties that is well enough organized to put forward their policies, core values and party  candidates before the electorate as alternatives between which they could make choices; fourthly, a general acceptance of the electoral ground rule throughout the political spectrum, were by reducing the level of struggle for power because of some unspoken sentiment that if the rules are not observed more or less faithfully the game itself will amid the wreckage of the whole system.

In another argument, Nnoli defined an election as the process of choice agreed upon by a group of people. It enables them to select one or few people out of many to occupy one or a number of authority positions. This process of choice usually involves rules and regulation designed to ensure a certain degree of fairness and justice to all concerned. Nnoli also believes that election are so fundamentally tied to the survival of democracy that they remain the important indicator of the presence or absence of democracy. Nnoli like Nohlen also believes that elections can take place in different political system. He lists bourgeois and proletarian democracies as the different political systems in which the nature of election varies. In Bourgeois democracies, the electoral process permits opposing forces to attempt to dispose and replace current office holders. While in proletarian democracies, the electoral process does not permit opposition parties. What happens is that the election is used as a tool for mobilizing the people and providing legitimacy for the incumbent regime.

According to Nnoli, certain basic elements must be present whenever there is an election irrespective of the context of the election. These basic elements are:

• An element of choice that is the electors must have an option to choose from
• The independence of electors in making their choice
• A selection must take place

Also important here are the various functions of elections:

• Elections serve the function of political recruitment
• Elections ensure that popular influence and state power coexist
• Elections provide opportunities to the citizenry at large to renew its faith in and the commitment to democracy
• Elections act as a conduit through which the people can hold their elected representatives accountable
• Elections provide both ruler and the ruled an opportunity to take stock of political leadership and policy-making through a critical assessment electoral platforms and manifests

The concept of political behavior: The concept of political behavior is coined form two words namely politics and behavior. It refers as often to a set of methods or research perspectives namely the scientific study of politics as to a subject of study that is built around human behavior in a political context. Political behavior as a methodological approach to the study of politics effectively emerged after the Second World War as a kind of protest movement by some political scientist based mainly in the United States of America against the historical-philosophical and descriptive institutional orientation of traditional political studies. The political behavior approach basically introduced two major elements to the study of politics. First was the emphasis on the political behavior of the individual person as the central and crucial unit of political analysis and the basic building block of scientific study of political science. Second was the emphasis on the scientific study of politics which allows for empirical verification through the use of sophisticated research methods.

As could be seen from this study, political behavior is a subject of study that unravels the mystery of why and how we do what we do in politics that is human behavior in a political context. Thus studies in political behavior sets out to unravel certain fundamental questions such as: why do citizens participate in elections? What reasons are behind the formation of political parties and pressure groups which provides the platform for political participation and socialization? Why also do some citizens abstain from voting during elections? Why do people participate in politics? In attempt to find answers to such questions, the behavioral approach is concerned with the building of sophisticated analytical models, the use of quantitative techniques or statistical models and the collection of large empirical data sets.

Stemming from the foregoing, it should be noted that most of the above questions serve as the guide in the attempt to capture the political behaviors of Anambra citizens during the 2010 gubernatorial election. They are also well reflected in the methodology.

The study covered the entire state which is made of 21 local governments and three senatorial districts namely: Anambra North, Anambra South and Anambra Central. A sample size of four hundred was originally selected. The choice of 400 as sample size is informed by the Consideration of some human and financial factors. Also considering the homogenous composition of the state, the belief is that a sample of 400 is large, representative and reliable enough to allow us make generalization.

At the second stage to easily reach the respondents the study adopted the purposive sampling technique and selected one major town from each of the senatorial districts. So Onitsha was picked from Anambra North, Nnewi from Anambra South and Awka from Anambra Central. The choice of these major towns is also based on two major reasons. First, there seems to be a high concentration of people in these towns. Secondly, they occupy important positions in the socio economic and political setting of the state.

At the third stage in each of the selected towns, the systematic sampling technique was adopted. We concentrated in the major areas and picked the respondents from there. In each street we started with the first house skipped a number of houses and settled on the 10th house. We continued thus until got all the required respondents from the central areas.

The presentation and analysis of data were carried out using both descriptive qualitative and quantitative methods. While qualitative analysis was merely descriptive and theoretical, the quantitative method employed appropriate statistical tools particularly frequency distribution and simple percentages.

The liberation of Anambra state form the political and electoral defaults of the past eight years, begins now, been a state that is viewed as a political mind-field in Nigerian democratic transition.

Problem statement, objectives and justifications: Anambra state is one of the thirty six constituent units of the Nigerian Federation. It is located at the South-Eastern part of the country. The State which has a total population of four million, one hundred and eight two thousand and thirty two persons according to the results of the last 2006 controversial national population census is divided into 31 local government areas and three senatorial districts. Electoral politics in the state since Nigeria returned to democratic rule in May 29, 1999 has attracted attention for various reasons. Prominent among them is the politics of god-fatherism or machine politics which before now appeared to have taken over the power of the electorate to participate in politics. Between 1999 and early 2006, the citizens of Anambra had witnessed the erosion of the principles of democracy and the rule of law by a few cabal of political elites. Specifically, the events of the battle for supremacy and control of government between elected governors and their erstwhile godfathers is worth recalling. As Governor Chinwoke Mbadinuju struggled with Chief Emeka Ofor as a result of Mbadinuju’s refusal to keep to the terms of their agreement before producing him as Governor, primary schools were shut down for close to 1 year, pensioners were not paid, infrastructural development was neglected and civil service was dis-functional as a result of unpaid salaries. Between 2004 and 2006, the state was again thrown into confusion as Governor Chris Ngige struggled with his estranged godfather Chief Chris Ubah following the refusal of his Excellency DR. Chris. Ngige to keep to the terms of their agreement before producing him as governor. At a stage in the political imbroglio, Chief Chris Ubah  himself boasted of how he single handily funded the campaign of DR. Chris Ngige for Governor and that of all members of the House of Assembly and also got them elected into office. These events as has pointed out significantly contributed to the devaluation of the votes. It was against this background that MR. Peter Obi the rightful winner of the April 2003 gubernatorial election assumed office on March 17, 2006 after struggling for three to regain his mandate. Mr. Peter Obi’s inauguration as Governor also met serious opposition from reactionary forces in Anambra politics. As it was reported by Nov 2006, MR. Peter Obi was impeached in the wee hours of one morning by a depleted state House of Assembly that suspended most of its members and gave a new mathematical twist to the two-third majority needed to impeach a Governor. The events surrounding MR. Peter Obi’s impeachment brought to fore the class interest of a few political elite in the state. It was after the court declared the impeachment unconstitutional and Obi assumed office that majority of the people got disenchanted with the interplay of power and interest existing in the state. People now appear to be interested in the affairs of the government and to demand for their right to participate in politics. This was the atmosphere that ushered in the 2010 gubernatorial election. The behavioral change manifested clearly in the events leading to the election. This was evidenced in the massive turnout of citizens in the campaigns of the different parties, the level of political awareness and the high turnout of individuals contesting for the election. Although, the election was marred with irregularities such as the late arrival of voting materials in some areas and the inability of large percentage of the electorate to find their names in the voters register, the election was said to be peaceful and has been adjudged free and fair by many independent observers both local and international. We would be using the research founding and information collected at the last concluded 2010 election to evaluate the very out-come of the Nov. 2013 election. In the context of the above issues, the study would be guided by two basic research questions: what is the level of political participation in the process of the Feb 6, 2010 gubernatorial election? What factors were behind the behavior of the electorate during the election? Pursuant to the above, the study is premised on the assumptions that:

• There was popular participation by the electorate in the election
• Despite the rhetoric of the campaigns by the political parties and the forces of machine politics, the electorate was guided mainly by issues in their choice of candidates during the election

Flowing from the foregoing, the study examined the level of participation in Anambra state during the electoral process and also identified the factors that influenced the behaviour of the electorate.

Although a lot has been said about the elections especially in the mass media, yet we believe that a scientific evaluation of the election is worthwhile because it provides an ample opportunity to understand the political behavior of the people. This further provides insight to discovering and interpreting political behavior in the south-eastern part of Nigeria. More specifically, the study contributes to the on-going discussions on elections and democratic consolidation in Nigeria. Evidently, the study reveals how a vibrant electorate could put a stop to the phenomenon of machine politics which seems to stand in the way of democratic consolidation in Nigeria. These underscore the justifications of the study. In the next section an attempt is made to clarify the central concepts of elections and political behavior.

Understanding the Feb 2010 gubernatorial election: The election was unique in two main respects. It was the first time in the history of the State that a sitting Governor was re-elected into office. Secondly, the election marked a fundamental turning point in Nigeria’s electoral history in the sense that it was the first time a state within the federation held its gubernatorial election outside the nation’s general electoral timetable.

To place the election in the right perspective which is what this study sets out to achieve, a few points has to be repeated. The entire electoral process starting from the registration of voters; through to the conduct of primaries by the different political parties; to the conduct of the election itself left much to be desired.

Public perception of 2010 electoral process

There were serious allegations of an institutionalized process of manipulation which manifested in the appearance of factitious names in the voters register and the diversion of electoral materials meant for the election.

Many of the party primaries were also said to have taken place in non-transparent processes. Yet despite all these complaints, the prevailing political culture in the state could arguably be described as participant in nature.

There were several forums for debates for the parties and their candidates. There was massive turnout of voters on the Election Day even though many could not vote because of lack of accurate voters list. The election was also a strong contest among the political parties as twenty five out of the fifty three in Nigeria all presented candidates for the election.