Preventing Nigeria from becoming a “failed nation” – Part 4
Electoral integrity refers to a situation where the choice by the voters were made freely and in contexts where nothing interfered with their ability to freely make their choices. When done with high electoral integrity, elections serve many purposes and not just leadership selection.
As Pippa Norris, Thomas Wynter and Sarah Cameron have pointed out correctly, elections provide the opportunities for citizens to participate in politics, and hold leaders to account. When they work well, elections can deepen civic engagement, inform public debate, stimulate party competition, strengthen government responsiveness, and allow the peaceful resolution of conflicts.
The importance of an election tends to be terribly undermined when electoral frauds are committed in the process.
Election fraud can be defined, as any illegal interference with process of an election, either by increasing the vote share of the favoured candidate, depressing the vote share of the rival candidate, or both. What exactly constitutes electoral fraud varies from country to country.
In real life, what constitutes an illegal electoral act or electoral fraud is defined by the electoral law as well as what has generally been encoded in the laws of the land as criminal activities.
To ascertain whether an electoral fraud has been committed, one has to examine the entire electoral cycle.
This is quite extensive and include electoral stages such as the formulation and passage of electoral Acts, recruitment and training of electoral staff, electoral planning, composition of Electoral Tribunals by the Judiciary, voter registration, the registration of political parties, nomination of parties and candidates, electoral campaigns, polling, counting, tabulation of results, the declaration of results, reporting, auditing the results, and archiving.
to be paid mainly to the last stages of voting, counting and declaration of results. This is not enough. This is because electoral fraud can occur at any of the stages in the electoral cycle.
To ascertain the Perception of Election Index (PEI) or determine the level of electoral integrity of an election, one has to carefully and meticulously investigate the transparency and integrity of all the activities within the electoral cycle, as we listed above.
But as the discussion of national security and electoral integrity above has shown, there is a high correlation between good governance, national security and electoral integrity. Where directives are given for votes to be allocated to candidates by the leaders, this is an open fraud.
In short, to be able to conduct elections with integrity, Election Commissions must be given autonomy and independence from political control and manipulation from any quarters.
IV Internal Security Operations and Electoral Integrity
To give a sense of what we are discussing here, it is perhaps necessary to state some of these military involvements in internal security operations, with the other Security Agencies. These various operations involve huge deployment of military assets and manpower. They are also being prosecuted simultaneously at a period of dwindling national revenue and protracted war against terrorism and insurgency that has lasted over eight years, thereby stretching the military too thin. Yet, without them, Nigeria can easily slip into a “failed State”.
At the moment, there are different types of insurgencies that Nigerian Military and the other security agencies are actively engaged in battle with. These include:
The religious insurgency, especially in the North East zone of Nigeria, the Boko Haram insurgency. This is already spreading its tentacles to other parts of Northern Nigeria.
This insurgency is targeted at taking over Northern Nigeria, and subsequently, the whole country and imposing sharia law on the Nation. It is basically a terrorist group carrying out a Jihad to convert by conquest all other worshipers of other religions, which they see as “infidels” – that is non-believers.
Understandably, religious insurgencies are the most difficult to deal with. This is because those engaged in these types of terrorist acts believe that they are on divine assignment.
In which case their “god” or “gods” will reward them handsomely, even when they die in the process. Hence, this is a terrible threat to national security and electoral integrity which has to be dealt with, with all seriousness and commitment by the Federal Government.
The State Government where these insurgencies are taking place are totally powerless. This is because State Governments in Nigeria, are prevented by the 1999 Constitution, even from having a Police Force. This needs to be looked into.
Hence, it is left only to the Federal Government to defeat these terrorists and restore peace and order in the affected States and regions.
The Economic Conquest Insurgency. This type of insurgency is aimed at conquering valued resources, especially lands, from their native owners. It employs a heartless extermination policy targeted at killing off the original inhabitants on the lands, (children, women, men) and taking the lands over permanently.
This is what the herdsmen killing all over the country, but most especially in the North Central (Middle Belt States), were and are aimed at achieving.
Hence, the local inhabitants are forced to move to other areas or into Internally Displace Camps (IDPs) set up for them, or be massacred and their properties completely destroyed to give room for the insurgents to take over their lands and properties.
Once again, the Segmentary National Security Architecture being currently used by the Nigerian military and other security agencies, has proved ineffective.
Hence, the killings by these herdsmen of defenseless villagers, burning of their houses and destruction of their farms and other properties, are still going on as we write.
Once again, these developments, if not tackled early, will definitely affect the 2019 general elections and electoral integrity, when held in such dangerous conditions.
Political insurgency. This type of insurgency aims at declaring the area of interest into a separate State from existing Nations. It is basically a separatist movement.
At the moment, the most politically active insurgents or separatist movements are those by the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and the O’duaPeoples Congress (OPC). The former aims to create the “Independent nation” to be known as the Republic of Biafra, in the South Eastern Zone of Nigeria; while the later is targeted at creating “The Oduduwa Peoples’ Republic in the South Western Region of Nigeria. In fact, they are threatening that they will disrupt the 2019 general elections, especially the IPOB insurgency group. Needless to say that this will affect the general elections negatively, undermine electoral integrity and national security as well as good governance of Nigeria, as a whole.
Economic Protectionist Insurgency. Nigeria also is being challenged with economic protectionist insurgency in the South-South Zone. This is being pursued by the people of the Niger Delta. There are very different groups, including the Niger Delta Volunteer Force. But their overriding goal is “Resource Control”. Their main target is to stop the exploitation of the resources within their zone, by other Zones in Nigeria and by the Federal Government.
Their target is basically to control their resources and use them to develop exclusively their zone. These resources are mainly crude oil, gas and related products. The insurgency by the Niger Delta people is one of the oldest in Nigeria, even though new groups or splitter groups keep coming out or being formed, now and again.
There is no question that all these insurgency groups, if not stopped or curtained, will very adversely affect not just the 2019 general elections, and electoral integrity, but also national security and good governance in Nigeria, as a whole.
VI. National Security and Electoral Integrity: Policy Recommendations
This paper has tried to examine closely national security and electoral integrity in Nigeria. It shows that there are growing pressures from the citizens world-wide, including those in Nigeria, to have not just the form of democracy, but also the real substance of it. This, they believe, can be achieved when favourable conditions or avenues are created for their participation in the affairs of Nigeria, especially through transparent elections that promote electoral integrity under a secure environment. These pressures, when not fully tackled, through good governance, can lead any Nation to becoming a “failed State”. Unfortunately, Nigeria is on the brick of it right now!
However, the paper argues that regardless of how one defines or conceives national security, good governance and electoral integrity, policies dealing with these issues must cater for the welfare of the majority of the citizens, if they are to stand the test of time and be sustained. This, the paper shows, is what States or Governments, especially democratic ones, are all about.
Thus, electoral integrity to enable them elect competent leaders to bring about good governance is suffering in the process and others are now forced to be calling for constitutional amendments and restructuring. They are looking for ways out of these current dilemmas in Nigeria. Still others, especially the youths, have become impatient with the government and leaders. They are engaging in self-help efforts, which include militancy and violence. Others are seeking illegal means and moving to other continents and nations, especially to Western Europe. To help address these security problems and electoral integrity challenges, we offer the following policy recommendations:
The Government must ensure that the Federal Character Clause in the Constitution is strictly followed in making appointments into the Public Service. This is particularly more so in the Military and other Security Agencies. The Principle of Federal Character must also be applied strictly in the appointment of Electoral Commissioners and Chairman, not only the Chairman and the Electoral Commissioners, must be subjected to this Principle, but the recruitment of Officers and other staff to work with and in the Commission must also reflect Federal Character.
This way, electoral integrity will start to be fully protected right from the beginning. It creates a sense of justice and equity thereby promoting nation building and patriotism in the citizens. It also guarantees that the elections to be conducted by the Commission, namely the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), will not be compromised right from the start.
The training and preparation of the staff for their electoral jobs must also be comprehensive and thorough. Even where the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) are to be recruited and used as temporary staff during the elections, they should also be properly vetted and trained. Those known to be card carrying members of political parties should not be accepted for recruitment in the Commission.
The INEC must be truly Independent. It must have the authority and autonomy to carry on with their jobs completely insulated from political control by the Executive Arm of the Government, especially the Presidency or any other. The Uwais Committee Report has good recommendations of how this could be done. It talks of how they are to be appointed, financed, and disciplined, where they violate their codes of conduct and the ethics of their jobs. This Report should be fully implemented by the Federal Government of Nigeria.
The welfare and working conditions of INEC staff should be properly guaranteed. The situation where they are proceeding on their electoral assignments and they are not paid their basic travelling and accommodation allowances, should be stopped so as not to expose them to temptations from the political parties or those contesting in the elections.
Just like in building an upstairs, the type of security architecture is very important. When security challenges are at their highest, only an Integral National Security System (INSS) or Architecture can be appropriate in dealing with them.
The nature of the economic, political, social and other policies – in short good governance – is critical to facilitating the Military and other Security Agencies in doing their work. It is also necessary to support electoral integrity. Nigerians must know that the foundations for effective and efficient policing, begins with the national security system, good governance and the level of electoral integrity the Government is promoting. Good governance is positively correlated to national security and electoral integrity.
Government must ensure that the Armed Forces and other National Security Agencies carry out their mandates and assignments or operations in a professional manner. So also, the Officers and Staff of INEC. They must not be “captured” by a particular social cleavage or a set of social cleavages be they of ethnic, regional, religious, language, gender, class or even caste. They should also not be captured by a political party or parties. A situation where they are captured and hijacked by any of these cleavages to serve their parochial interests is too dangerous. It damages electoral integrity and precipitates more problems than solving them. It also affects the transparency and legitimacy of the electoral results.
Subordinate groups, classes and other social cleavages hitherto very docile when Nigeria was under military rule, have suddenly sprang up, with agitations for participation in the affairs of their nations and societies. There is clearly a “participation revolution” going on throughout the world, Nigeria inclusive. These agitations are mostly for poverty eradication, socio-political justice, electoral integrity, and inclusive growth. If avenues are not quickly created by the Nigerian Government to allow them opportunities to participate in the electoral and developmental processes, this could be grounds for political, social and economic instability that will further threaten our corporate existence and development.
It is regrettable that ever since the National Poverty Eradication Programme (NAPEP) was scrapped against the advise of the Orasanye Committee a few years ago, there is still no Federal Government Ministry or Agency that is dealing, on a massive scale, with the challenges of poverty and social exclusion in Nigeria. The Social Investment Programme in the Presidency is rather too small in scope, coverage and the number of employees, to make a serious impact on these conditions. In a Nation of about 185 million people, where 71% of them are living below the poverty line of one dollar a day, according to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), a more comprehensive poverty eradication and social security system is needed. Electoral frauds of vote selling and buying and even recruitment as tugs for the Political Parties and Candidates to engage in electoral violence or Ballot Box snatching; in the hope of being paid money to take care of their basic needs, becomes rather attractive. This should be discouraged. Government must devise more efficient and effective means of taking care of the basic needs of the poor and economically excluded in our society.
There is therefore, the great need for the Federal Government to create a Federal Ministry of Poverty Eradication and Social Inclusion or at least a National Poverty Eradication and Equal Opportunity Commission or Agency, to deal with these matters. With seventy-one per cent (71%) of the population of Nigeria in poverty and unemployment, such a Federal Ministry or Commission is not just desirable, but even an imperative.
There is need to also promote the Coordination, Monitoring and Evaluation of Government policies and programmes in Nigeria, especially in INEC, to promote good governance. It is not enough to make budgets and allocate money to the Ministries, Departments and Agencies of Government. They must be closely coordinated, monitored and evaluated. Appropriate monitoring structures must be put in place.
As was suggested by the Vice-President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, GCON, SAN, recently and approved by the National Assembly, there is urgent need to review the Federal Constitution of Nigeria, and permit States to have their own Police Force, in addition to the Federal Police Force. This will help States to address more speedily their internal security challenges and support INEC during elections by providing them with enough security. We also support the calls for Constitutional Review or Restructuring in our polity. However, we recommend that this should be the task to be conducted or at least mid-wife by the National Assembly.
Every nation must strive to reward hard work and merit as they promote development and electoral integrity. This is certainly not incompatible with the Federal Character Clause. In every social cleavages, qualified individuals (men and women) exist. Security Agencies must fish them out for appointment, reward and national honours. When mediocrity, nepotism, sectionalism and favouritism, become the accepted norm of governmental behaviour or public policy action, such a nation is doomed. It can never develop, neither can it enjoy good governance, electoral integrity, effective national security or continuous nation building.
The Nigerian Police Force is clearly understaff, under paid, under nourished, under equipped, under trained and so forth. These issues must all be looked into. No one can ever say they are not important. A lot of what the military is doing in internal security operations now, could be left for the Police – State and Federal – if well trained and equipped. The recommendation being made here is that these are all supplementary to a good national security architecture, good governance and increased electoral integrity. When a good national security architecture is in place, good governance exists, electoral integrity, effective and inclusive policing becomes easier to accomplish.
(xi) To have a truly “inclusive approach” to policing, national security and electoral matters, the Nigerian Police Force and the other Security Agencies, must mobilise the citizens as part of their strategy, especially under the policy of community policing and inclusive security. It is especially important that the Traditional Rulers must be coopted into it. The Traditional Institutions in Nigeria, have a fundamental role to play, not just in community policing; but also in other security matters and in promoting electoral integrity within their domains. They can effectively be involved in building a united, peaceful and prosperous country. They can also help to prevent some of the electoral frauds we are discussing here among their subjects, thereby helping to promote electoral integrity.
The British Colonialists used them under the “Indirect Rule Policy”. The Nigerian Police, the other Security Agencies and INEC can do the same at this time by giving them a key role in community policing security and election watch. They will help improve the peace, security as well as the integrity of elections held within their communities. Most of their subjects listen to them in their localities, tremendously.
In this paper, we have attempted to deal with the question of national security and electoral integrity. We argued that without good governance that will guarantee security and electoral integrity where effective, competent and visionary leaders could be elected to provide such good governance, Nigeria is already heading to join the league of “failed States”. We believe this should not be allowed to happen.
Hence, we made policy recommendations that will help address the challenges. We predict strongly that if the recommendations made in this paper are implemented, Nigeria will be restored to the possibility of becoming the true African Giant, which we believe is her destiny, in our life time.
DR. DAN MOU Executive Chairman, Centre for Poverty Eradication, Development and Equal Opportunity (CEPEDEO), Maitama. Being a Paper Presented at the Conference on the Theme: Sustaining the Integrity of 2019 General Elections in Nigeria: Sub-Theme: National Security and Electoral Integrity organised by AFRICAN ELECTORAL INTEGRITY INITIATIVE (AE2i), in collaboration with other International and Local Organisations, at Transcorp Hilton, Abuja