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(From Vanguard (Nigeria) - AAGM)
Byline: Tser Vanger
One of the characteristics of democracy, more so the presidential system of government being practised by Nigeria is a periodic conduct of elections as prescribed by the constitution. Not only are the elections expected to be held at regular intervals at the end of tenures of elected leaders, such polls are supposed to be seen to be free and fair for a nation to be adjudged as a member of the comity of democratic states.
In Nigeria and many other third world countries, which are grappling with the forms of government to adopt, the failure to conduct free and fair elections has led, at one time or the other, to the collapse of regimes. In some of the instances, such elected governments have been dethroned by the military which often blame the politicians. In some instances too, failure of electoral processes has led to wars which claim millions of lives.
In Nigeria, the 1962/63 political crisis in Western Nigeria which gave rise to the "wild, wild west" and the "Tiv Riots" which also broke out in the north central part of the country adumbrated the 1966 military putsch, led by major Chkwuma Nzeogwu.
Similarly, the military regime of then Major-General Muhammadu Buhari which struck in 1983 and sacked the elected regime of former President Shehu Shagari was quick to give as one of the reasons for the take over, the unwholesome conduct of the 1983 general elections by the Federal Electoral Commission, FEDECO, which had returned Shagari into office as a re-elected president. …