POLICE AND THE CHALLENGE OF CONDUCTING CREDIBLE ELECTIONS IN NIGERIA: AN EXAMINATION OF THE 2007 PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION (Published)
The electoral process remains the most viable method of transfer of power from one regime to another in a democratic dispensation. Like in some other developing countries undergoing democratic experimentation, ensuring credible and transparent elections has been one of the major problems of Nigeria politics. The problem is more pronounced in civilian-to-civilian transitions than in military-to-civilian transition. In such transition, the electoral processes are rendered vulnerable to abuse through manipulation of the entire system. The political parties, especially those in power seek to manipulate institutional agencies to serve partisan interests. In most cases, the outcomes of the elections neither reflect the true choices of the electorates nor are they accepted. Most often than not, the situation raises integrity questions sometimes, attracting international condemnation that always lead to crisis of legitimacy as witnessed in previous elections of 1964, 1983, 2003 and 2007. In the event of lack of electoral integrity, various organs of the state are called upon to maintain law and order that will legitimize the new government. This is particularly so for the police, which is constitutionally charged with this role. However, the extent to which the police have discharged their election duties and what they have done to prevent or perpetrate electoral fraud remains a vital issue to be examined. Against this background, this study discusses the role of the police vis-a-vis the challenge of conducting credible elections in Nigeria. Exploring secondary data, the study examines the role played by the police in the 2007 presidential elections, and make recommendations on how to manage future elections to prevent electoral fraud. After the investigations carried out in this study, the following recommendations are made, massive education and training for the police, improvement in the welfare and promotion of police officers, a reduction in the volume of money and allowances paid to political office holders and creation of two million jobs to dry up the present pool of unemployed youths, among others.