Democracy and the Spectre Poor Elections in Nigeria (Part 1)

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Introduction

Democracy was once defined by Abraham Lincoln in his 19th November, 1863, Gettysburg speech as “government of the people, for the people and by the people”.

The Introduction paragraph of the Mohammed Uwais Electoral Reform Committee Report set up in 2007 by late President Musa Yar’Adua, Umaru resolved as follows:

“Free and fair elections are the cornerstone of every democracy, and the primary mechanism for exercising the principle of sovereignty of the people. Through such elections, citizens participate in the governance of their country by choosing those who govern, in the quest for development. By their choices, the citizens confer legitimacy and authority on those who govern, making it easier for them to mobilise public support and cooperation, for the implementation of development programmes. Free, fair and credible elections are therefore, a crucial requirement for good governance in any democracy.”

Nigeria has a corrupt, fraudulent and bloody electioneering history. As a matter of fact, successive Nigerian elections from pre- independence days, have been characterised by one form of malpractice or the other. While a flawless electioneering process is almost impossible in Nigeria, it is important to note that elections should at least, conform to minimum standards of global best practices. To this end, elections should be conducted in a peaceful atmosphere, devoid of the usual violence that has come to characterise elections in Nigeria. Elections should also be conducted, in a manner that reflects the wishes and choices of the electorate. Voters must not only must be counted; they must be allowed to count.