The Effectiveness Of Card Reader In Reducing Electoral Malpractice In Nigeria (A Case Study Of 2019 Presidential Election)
This study was on the effectiveness of card reader in reducing electoral malpractice in Nigeria. A case study of 2019 presidential election. The total population for the study is 200 staff of INEC, Akwa Ibom state. The researcher used questionnaires as the instrument for the data collection. Descriptive Survey research design was adopted for this study. A total of 133 respondents made presiding officers, electoral officers, administrative staff and junior staff were used for the study. The data collected were presented in tables and analyzed using simple percentages and frequencies.
- Background of the study
Electoral process is no doubt an institutionalized procedure for the choosing of political Office Holders by qualified adults’ members of a society. Hence, electioneering process exists to· provide the electorate the opportunity and right to choose their representative and maintain contact with them. Therefore, for an electoral system to be democratic, it should allow the electorate the leverage to make real and meaningful choice devoid of coercion or intimidation (Eminue, 2005). Nigeria’s political history have been challenged with the gory tales of electoral malpractices; a feat that has negatively affected the nation’s polity. Hence, effective management of the electoral process has become an imperative political demand so as to ensure the sanctity, transparency and credibility of election results in the nation’s democratic setting especially since the inception of the Fourth Republic (Akinboye, 2005).
The Electoral Management Body-Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is the institution charged with the responsibility of ensuring a transparent, impartial, and participatory electoral process in the Fourth Republic (Larry, 2015). However, elections so far conducted in the country since 1999 have been anything but transparent. This assessment is based on reports from local as well as international election observers (Larry, 2015). For instance, the 2003 general elections was adjudged by electoral observers to have been riddled with high level of malpractices which ranged from buying of votes and harassment of electorates by security operatives as well as political thugs loyal to the ruling party (Akinboye, 2005). The Transition Monitoring Group (TMG) stated that the Presidential and Gubernatorial elections in some states fell short of international and regional standards and did not reflect the voting pattern of the Nigerian people (TMG, 2003). Their opinions and observations however did not prevent the inauguration of President Olusegun Obasanjo for a second term in office; thereby raising questions on the impartiality and transparency of INEC (Larry, 2015). Though the 2003 elections were condemned for falling below international standards, those of 2007 were described as the worst in the history of elections in Nigeria (Larry, 2015). According to Human Rights Watch:
The polls marked a dramatic step backwards, even when measured against the dismal standard set by the 2003 election. Electoral officials alongside the very government agencies charged with ensuring the credibility of the polls were accused of reducing the elections to a violent and fraud ridden farce (Human Rights Watch, 2007).
Having admitted that the elections that brought him to power were less than perfect, the Umar Musa Yar‘Adua administration on the 28th of August, 2007 set up an Electoral Reform Committee (ERC) to examine the electoral process and recommend ways of reforming it. The 22 member committee headed by Retired Justice Mohammed Uwais came up with several recommendations aimed at ensuring free, fair and credible elections, one that will conform to internationally standards. Amongst these recommendations include: establishing electoral tribunals to deal with electoral offenses; constituency delimitation; proportional representation in elections to Federal and State legislatures and local government councils as well as removing the power of appointing the INEC chairman from the President and vesting it on the Judiciary (Kwagha and Tarfa, 2015).
Election fraud has constituted one of the greatest challenges facing the electoral process in Nigeria. Electoral fraud which involves the manipulation of election and rigging of votes is an illegal interference with the election process as a means to favour a particular party or candidate and sometimes both (Alvarez, Michael; Hall, Thad; Hyde, Susan, 2008). The consequence is always a damaging effect on the democratic institution of the country and loss of voters’ confidence. The Independent Electoral Commission in an effort to eliminate electoral fraud introduced the use of card readers. The card reader is used during the election process to verify the voter’s card before allowing the voter to cast the vote. This is to eliminate impersonation and double voting which in previous elections was a rigging strategy. This process replaces the manual process of paper work which can be easily manipulated and error prone. It was believed that this development will facilitate free and fair election in Nigeria, but recent development involving the non-functionality of many of the card readers in some parts of the country during election processes raise questions as to the credibility and ability of these card readers to achieve the purpose for which they were introduced. This poses another challenge if the Nigerian electoral process is ripe for the application of this technology. The study seeks to investigate the effectiveness of card readers in reducing electoral malpractice in Nigeria with a case study of the 2019 presidential election.
Statement of the problem
Electoral fraud is the illegal interference with the election process as a means to favour a particular party or candidate and sometimes both through, the rigging of votes and manipulation of election. The consequence is always a damaging effect on the democratic institution of the country and loss of voters’ confidence. Consequently, the real reason for the introduction of card readers in the Nigerian electoral process was to eliminate electoral malpractices but, recent development involving the non-functionality of the card readers in many parts of the country poses a great question as to the credibility and capacity of the device to achieve the intended purpose.
Objective of the study
The objectives of the study are;
- To determine the nature and functions of card readers.
- To appraise the effectiveness of card readers in reducing electoral malpractice in Nigeria.
- To determine the effectiveness of card readers in reducing electoral malpractice in the 2019 presidential elections.
For the successful completion of the study, the following research hypotheses were formulated by the researcher;
H0: there are no nature and functions of card readers.
H1: there are nature and functions of card readers.
H02: there is no effectiveness of card readers in reducing electoral malpractice in the 2019 presidential elections
H2: there is effectiveness of card readers in reducing electoral malpractice in the 2019 presidential elections
Significance of the study
This research will add to the body of existing knowledge and literature on the role of smart card reader during elections in Nigeria and also educate the general public on the benefits and major challenges of the Smart Card Reader and other electoral technological innovations to enhance credibility of elections aimed at consolidating democracy in Nigeria. The study shall proffer relevant information on the effectiveness of card readers in reducing electoral malpractice in Nigeria, with a case study of the 2019 presidential election.
It shall serve useful purpose to policy makers and political analyst.
Scope and limitation of the study
The scope of the study covers the effectiveness of card reader in reducing electoral malpractice in Nigeria. A case study of 2019 general election
The researcher encounters some constrain which limited the scope of the study;
- a) AVAILABILITY OF RESEARCH MATERIAL: The research material available to the researcher is insufficient, thereby limiting the study
- b) TIME: The time frame allocated to the study does not enhance wider coverage as the researcher has to combine other academic activities and examinations with the 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).
DEFINITION OF TERMS
ELECTORAL FRAUD DEFINED
Electoral fraud which involves the manipulation of election and rigging of votes is an illegal interference with the election process as a means to favour a particular party or candidate and sometimes both.
BALLOT STUFFING DEFINED
The submission of multiple ballots during the process of voting.
MISRECORDING OF VOTES
The recording of elector’s vote differently from their intentions.
This involves the buying of votes from the voters in a coming election.
VOTER INTIMIDATION DEFINED
The influence exacted on a voter or group of voters to vote in a particular direction.