n Journal of African Elections - The Independent National Electoral commission as an (IM) partial umpire in the conduct of the 2007 elections




As a central agency in the democratic game, the role of an electoral body such as the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is clearly of paramount importance in the process of transition to and consolidation of democracy. Unfortunately in Nigeria the performance of this institutional umpire since the First Republic has instead been a source of crisis and a threat to the existence of the Nigerian state. The widely perceived catastrophic failure of INEC in the April 2007 general elections was only one manifestation for the 'performance crisis' of antecedent electoral umpires in the Nigerian First, Second and Third republics. The paper highlights the malignant operational environment as a major explanation for the manifest multiple disorders of the elections and concludes that INEC's conduct was tantamount to partiality. Thus, while fundamental changes need to be considered in the enabling law setting up INEC, ensuring the organisation's independence, and guaranteeing its impartiality, the paper suggests that membership of the commission should be confined to representatives nominated by their parties and a serving judge appointed by the judiciary as chairman of the commission.


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