1.1 Background of the Study
In a statement on the 2015 Nigerian
General Elections the Freedom House (2015a) congratulated Nigerians for
an election that ―appears to be one of the smoothest and least violent
in Nigeria‘s history,‖ and, hoped that ―the democratic transition occurs
peacefully and with respect for human rights of all.‖ Yet, despite the
positive remarks Nigeria was categorized as ―partly free‖ using ratings
from political and civil rights enjoyed by the citizens.1 In fact the
Organization (2015b) placed most African states in the same category as
Nigeria stating that the continent ―saw overall if uneven progress
toward democratization during the 1990s and the early 2000s. However,
recent years have seen backsliding among both the top performers, such
as South Africa, and the more repressive countries, such as The Gambia
and Ethiopia.‖ Why is this assessment important and what do elections
and voter turnout have to do with it? The democratization project
concerns primarily the guaranteeing and enjoyments of civil and
political rights for citizens. Democracies make these rights possible
through citizen participation in elections and governance. A major
difference between countries where democracy is consolidated
(established democracies), and countries undertaking democratic
transitions and consolidation (democratizing countries), is the extent
to which these rights are guaranteed or restrained. It should be born in
mind however, that measures of countries which are ―free‖ or ―partly
free,‖ and why, may be controversial but these have been explained and
represent, approximately, the situation in the countries (Freedom House,
1.2 Statement of the Problem
Based on these observations, this study
argues that it is too soon and misplaced to claim that the successful
2015 General elections represent the consolidation of democracy in
Nigeria. (The Guardian newspaper (Editorial: 28/04/2014) for example
concluded that ―in spite of some challenges, a new culture has evolved
for the entrenchment of democracy in Nigeria.‖ We can posit at best,
that the result and outcome of the elections offered a great chance for
Nigeria to embark on democratic consolidation. New policies and reform
of institutions which are required for consolidation of democracy do not
exist which theorists have identified as prerequisites although they
have failed to equally analyze the requirements which make such reforms
possible or difficult especially for countries in Africa, that is, level
of popular support and legitimacy which enables regimes to successfully
initiate the reforms needed for democratic consolidation.
1.3 Objectives of the Study
The study sought to know the impact of voters’ turnout in conducting free and fair election. Specifically, the study sought to;
- To determine the requirements for a democratic consolidation.
- To know the voter turnout and voting behavior in the 2015 Nigerian General Elections.
- To identify the regional ethnic pattern of voting.
- What are the implications for democratic consolidation under the incoming regime
1.3 Research Questions
The questions for investigation include the following:
- What are the requirements for democratic consolidation?
- What was the voter turnout and voting behavior in the 2015 Nigerian General Elections?
- What was the regional ethnic pattern of voting?
- What are the implications for democratic consolidation under the incoming regime?
Answers to these questions will help us
determine the likelihood or otherwise of democratic consolidation under
the incoming regime.
1.5 Research Hypotheses
Ho: Voter turnout and voting behavior in the 2015 Nigerian General Election was discouraging.
Hi: Voter turnout and voting behavior in the 2015 Nigerian General Election was encouraging.
1.6 Significance of the Study
This study therefore attempts to
contribute to the theory of democratization in Africa by examining the
amount of support an incoming regime must have in order to successfully
carry out needed reforms for democratic consolidation using data from
the 2015 General elections in Nigeria. It will be argued that the voter
turnout and the voting behavior in the elections offer a clue to whether
the incoming regime of President Muhammadu Buhari (PMB) has the initial
support to successfully embark on the process of democratic
consolidation. The premise of the study is that the concepts of voter
turnout and voting behavior can contribute to theories of
democratization and suggest ways in which a synthesis of the concepts
could increase our understanding of the process of democratic
consolidation with particular reference to Africa. Knowing the initial
support regimes have at inception, they can work to increase popular
participation for further legitimacy.
1.7 Scope/Limitations of the Study
This study is on the impact of voters’ turnout in conduction free and fair election.
Limitations of study
- 1. 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).
- 2. Time constraint- The
researcher will simultaneously engage in this study with other academic
work. This consequently will cut down on the time devoted for the
1.8 Definition of Terms
Election: is a formal decision-making process by which a population chooses an individual to hold public office.
is the percentage of eligible voters
cast a ballot in an election. (Who is eligible varies by country, and
should not be confused with the total adult population. For example,
some countries discriminate based on sex, race, and/or religion. Age and
citizenship are usually among the criteria.)