May 29, 1999 marked a watershed in Nigeria's political annals. It was the dawn of the Fourth Republic, a return to democratic rule after several years under the yoke of military misrule which was marked by much suffering, infrastructure decay, and institutionalized corruption. The hope of the common man for a just and an egalitarian society became rekindled with the institution of a democratic government. Nigerians greeted the return to democratic rule with widespread jubilation and optimism as they looked forward to a new era of stability, peace, and prosperity. However, sixteen (16) years after, Nigerians are still anxious to see and enjoy “democracy dividends” – social welfare, justice, equity, and equal access to resources andpower.
Nigeria’s chequered political history is bedeviled with the gory tales of electoral malpractices which have significantly impacted negatively on the nation’s polity. Effective management of the electoral process has therefore, become an imperative political demand so as to ensure the sanctity, transparency and credibility of election results in the nation’s democratic setting (Akinboye, 2005). The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is the institutionalized governmental body established, through the instrumentality of law, to manage the nation’s electoral process. The INEC, as an instrument of processing democratic ideals and structures, is hopefully, expected to be a truly independent body that personifies the ideals of transparency, impartiality, accountability and responsiveness. This perhaps, informed the popular perception that the body is insulated from partisan politics, and that, it is fully empowered to discharge its avowed duties devoid of any influence whatsoever (Udu, Nkwede et.al 2014).
In reality, there are empirical evidences over the years, that the INEC has not been fully autonomous and non-partisan; neither does it appear to be sufficiently empowered to carry out its assigned duties and responsibilities impartially. However, in the 2015 General elections in Nigeria, despite some pockets of irregularities evidenced in late arrival or non-availability of electoral materials, falsification of election results in some areas, failure of the Card Reader Machines and collusion with politicians and security personnels to subvert the process, the outcome of the 2015 general elections has been generally accepted to be transparent and indeed, an improvement on past elections in the country. Indeed, foreign intelligence and diplomatic sources had been quoted severally since 2011 to have predicted the end of Nigeria as a country, consequent upon the outcome of the 2015 elections.
A former U.S Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr. John Campbell is more prominently quoted to have insisted that the country would break up in 2015 because the elections will plunge Nigeria in crisis (Yaqub, 2015). Truly, had the result of the election turned otherwise, many believed that Campbell prediction may have been inevitable. Frankly, Nigerians have desired a change of the Goodluck Jonathan’s PDP administration which has been generally accused of inefficiency, corruption, contempt of the people, insecurity etc. Security was brazenly compromised as government security agencies, including the military conducted their responsibilities with clear partisan inclinations that left nobody in doubt that state apparatuses as important as security and military institutions became tools of political vendetta, electoral manipulations and subversion of democratic norms.