Electoral process is a method through which the citizens of a state elect their representatives into different political offices. It includes all the constitutional requirement and conditions for the nomination for the primary and general elections.
The electoral process spells out the methods through which the election should be conducted. A body is constituted and charged with the responsibility of organizing, supervising and conducting elections into various government offices.
The process in electoral system includes:
- The creation of electoral constituencies
- Nomination of electoral candidates
- Registration of votes
- Counting of votes
- Announcement of electoral result
- Presentation of election victory certificate
Creation of Electoral Constituencies: this involves delineating the entire area the election is to take place. Population, the geographical and nature of terrain are usually considered.
Nomination of Candidates: political parties conduct primary election to nominate the candidates that will vie for different political position. These candidates represent them in different constituencies.
Registration of Voters: electoral bodies are charged with the responsibility of registering voters, and issuing voters card. The registration exercise provides the statistics for the election and ensures that no voter votes twice.
Campaign: political parties take it upon their shoulder to campaign for their selected candidates. The campaign involves convincing the electorate that their candidates is the best option and introducing manifesto of what they intends to achieve if brought to power.
Voting Exercise: this is the day the electorate will go out in number to carry out their franchise, “to vote and be voted for”. This process is conducted and supervised by electoral commission.
Counting of Votes: Results are collected on ward levels where there is a returning officer who collates all the results in all the entire polling units in the ward. The ward returning officer submits the pool result to the local government returning officer, who collates them and send to the state returning officer.
Amendment of Results: for instance, in presidential election, results collected from the various states of the federation are submitted to the chairman of the electoral body who announces the winner and issues certificate of return to the winner.
Politics of Impeachment in Nigeria
Politicians in Nigeria employ the instrument of impeachment to settle political scores. In some states of the country, issues that are inconsequential, which could easily be ironed out without any noise making, have been allowed to worsen to the point of hindering government activities while the arms of government busy themselves hunting down a target.
Impeachment is used as a sledge hammer by politicians, who are able to sway legislative houses, mobilize lawmakers to impeach governors, deputies and even leadership of the legislative houses who they believe are enemy to achieving their political ambition. Political God-fathers usually mobilize the legislature to impeach governors who refused to dance to their tone.
What happened in Anambra state in the past is a good example, where Chris Uba the political God-father in Anambra state mobilized the state house of assembly to impeach the governor (Dr Chris Ngige) on the account that the governor refused to share the state resources as agreed before the election. Many Deputy Governors in Nigeria have been impeached because of nursing the ambition to be the next governor.
The most popular case was the purported impeachment of the former vice president Atiku Abubakar by Olusegun Obasanjo controlled National Assembly. Atiku Abubakar wanted to contest for the office of the president while his boss Olusegun Obasanjo wanted a third term in Office. It took the judgement of the Supreme Court of Nigeria to save Atiku Abubakar from being disgraced out of office.
The recent impeachment of the Governor of Adamawa State, Nyako was brought to light when he defected from PDP to All Progressive Congress APC. The hasty impeachment of Governor Murtala Nyako of Adamawa State, who was a maddening critic of the Goodluck Ebele Jonathan Presidency, has thrown up more confusing question in the Nigeria political environment.
Many believed that Goodluck Jonathan presidency is covertly manipulating the impeachment process for malevolent political ends. Political strategist believed that for Goodluck Jonathan to win second term in office, APC controlled states has to be reclaimed by PDP before the next general election.
The Nigerian Constitution has stated that a Governor of a state may be removed on grounds of gross misconduct; the constitution has failed to properly define what gross misconduct implies and has indirectly empowered unruly members of House of Assembly to tag any administrative mistake or seeming derogation of the use of power into gross misconduct. Some actions can be garbed as an impeachable offence in the eyes of the members of the House of Assembly as far as Nigeria constitution is concerned.
This position will only serve the end of politicians who seek personal vendettas against governors or their deputies. It was primarily used during the Obasanjo year to punish erring governor or deputies who decided with good conscience to withdraw support for the third term bid. Considering the statistics of the impeachment of political office holders since coming into force of the 1999 constitution, it is glaringly clear that deputy governor have been the highest casualties.
The reason for this is not far-fetched. The office of the deputy governor is an attachment to that of the governor. Even though the 1999 constitution of Nigeria recognizes it, there is no clear cut statutory role for the occupant, he is merely put in office through the goodwill of his benevolent boss the governor and when the governor is tired, he may find away to ease the deputy out of office.
No matter the deputy governor disposition, he or she is essentially a week patron in government house. Section 186, 1999 constitution provides for this office but does not give any power to the office that is the reason why a deputy governor can be easily impeached with little or no gross miss conduct. It is hard to see a governor in Nigeria being impeached as a result of gross misconduct in performance of his duty; rather all impeachment has been politically motivated for political gains.