With 2015 elections forthcoming and base on the plethora problems that Nigerian elections are always faced with, it is imperative to look back at the 2011 presidential election with a view of knowing and understanding some of the challenges that Nigeria elections are plagued with. It is on this note that this research work strives to look at the challenges of conducting credible elections in Nigeria. Using the elite theory as theoretical framework, the work reviewed some literatures on the concept of election, electoral processes, voting behaviour and electoral violence. Further on, the work used the primary source of data collection to collect data whereby 120 questionnaires in close ended form and was administered in Zaria. The findings revealed that although the 2011 presidential election was not too successful, yet it was a leap forward as compared to others. Also from the findings, it was discovered that the major challenges of Nigeria elections are ballot box snatching, thugs’ actions, bribery and insecurity. To overcome this challenges, the work propose that priority should be given to electoral activities by citizens and institutions of government and that full autonomy be granted to the electoral body by government.



Democracy today is seen to be the most popular form of government in the world. Almost every leader in the world wants to be seen as a democrat or running a democratic regime (Anifowose ed. 1999; 141). In the late last century, the world has witnessed the emergence of movements in Africa, Asia and Eastern Europe from dictatorial rule to a new form of government and is controlled by the people, which is democracy. Democracy as such holds a strong appeal among the ordinary people.

Democracy which is gotten from the two Greek words ‘Demo’ and ‘Kratio’ meaning ‘rule by the people’ has its origin from the Greek city of Athens. It is a form of government which is characterized by popular rule or majority rule, a form of government whereby people takes part in policy making and policy implementation directly or through representatives (Madaki ed. 2012; 160). Democracy can thus be seen as a set of ideas, processes and institutions of governance that allows the broad mass of people to choose their leaders and that guarantees them a broad range of civic rights. Democracy thus can be regarded as a form of government, a way of life or an attitude of the mind (Anifowose ed. 1999; 144).

Democracy as a form of government works on certain principles or mechanisms. These principles are the driving force in any democratic society and they include; government by consent (periodic elections), public accountability, majority rule, respect for human life, constitutional government etc. (Gauba, 2003; 425).

Since periodic elections are part of the principles of democracy in every nation, election periods are history-making occasions. It is history making because all activities that relates to an election: registering the voters, campaigning for election, voting, making sure that vote count has great consequences for a state and the international community watches with keen interest to see how the processes goes. An electoral process can either make or mar a state. It either helps it to consolidate on the gains of democracy or throws away the effort of a state past patriots and heroes (Madaki, 2012; 159).

Nigeria as a nation, however, has experienced the ups and downs of elections in the past. The first republic which began from 1960 was marked with tension, arson and acrimony. It eventually collapsed in January, 1966 with the military taking over the reins of government. The second republic did not fare any better, it was abruptly brought to an end also by the military in 1983 led by Gen. Buhari. The June 1993 election which was adjudged to be the freest, fairest and most credible in the history of the country was however annulled by

the military. In 1999, Nigeria had to start the fourth republic with another election with the experience taking us thus far (Madaki, 2012; 160).

From independence till date, Nigeria has experienced nine electoral processes with different challenges and consequences for the nation. The 2011 election had its own turns for the nation and it is on this note that this research will try to look at the challenges facing a credible election in the country with the 2011 presidential election as a case of analysis.


The research question will try to ask some logical questions in which the research will focus on answering. The questions include the following;

· What were the challenges that were encountered in the 2011 presidential election before, during and after the election?

· What are the consequences of these challenges encountered to the state?

· How can those challenges faced in the last presidential election be curtailed so as to avoid a repeat of such in the next election?


· There will continue to be electoral malpractice so long as religion and ethnicity continues to be the driving force of voting behaviour in Nigeria.

· Electoral stimulations and voter’s education will go a long way in curbing some of the challenges that are faced in Nigeria’s elections.

· Most challenges of elections in Nigeria are as a result of the desperate bid of politicians to capture and retain power.


The main aims of the research are as follows;

The research will seek to understand what causes and hinders credible elections in developing societies especially Nigeria.

To know the impact of flawed elections on Nigeria’s democracy.

The research or work will try to provide solutions that will curtail some of the challenges faced by Nigeria in previous elections so as to avoid a repeat of it in forth coming elections.


The work will centre on the 2011 presidential election, the major contenders of the election, the institutions involved in the election, issues and policies before, during and after the election with much emphasis on the post- election violence.

Limitations are;

The ineptitude of some respondents-to-be during the research.

Inaccessibility to some of the data’s or materials that will be needed for the conducting of the research.


The importance of this research work is to find out some of the challenges facing credible elections in Nigeria especially presidential elections using the 2011 as a case study with the possibility of suggesting remedies and solutions to these challenges in order to avoid future occurrence.


The methodology that will be used in the sourcing of information or data will be both the primary and secondary source of data method. The primary source of data will be in the form of close ended questionnaire while the secondary source of data will be from textbooks, journals, newspaper publications and the internet.


Elections are the means by which people choose and exercise some control over their representatives. Elections do not imply control over the policies. Election however, do provide an avenue for political participation, perhaps the only act of participation for the vast majority of the governed and therefore, create a feeling of belonging and a degree of responsibility for government decision (Omotola 2010).

Electoral violence:

Electoral violence is “any random or organized act that seeks to determine, delay, or otherwise influence an electoral process through threat, verbal intimidation, hate speech, disinformation, physical assault, forced ‘protection’, blackmail, destruction of property, or assassination’ (Fischer 2002: 8). The target of electoral violence can be people, places, data, or things. In an attempt to influence the electoral process, perpetrators of electoral violence may attempt to delay, disrupt, or derail a poll and determine the winners of competitive races for political office (UNDP 2009: 4).


Madaki ed (2012): Challenge of Constitutional Governance in Nigeria, A Publication of Private Law Department, A.B.U Zaria.

Gauba O.P (2003): An Introduction to Political Theory; Macmillan India ltd; New Delhi.

Converse, P. (1975) “Public Opinion and Voting Behaviour”, in Greenstein, F. and Polsby N. (ed.) Handbook of Political Science Vol.4, Massachusetts,

Addison –Wesley.

Rowe, E. (1969) Modern Politics: An Introduction to Behaviour and Institutions, London, Rout-ledge and Kegan Paul



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