In this article, we shall be discussing about the full list of all electoral bodies ever in Nigeria since independence. An electoral body is an independent body or agency that is saddled with the responsibility of organising and conducting free and fair elections in a country. It is usually headed by a chairman at the centre, and has different State offices located all over the federation. The origin of electoral bodies in Nigeria can be traced back to the period just before independence. Elections were scheduled to hold in the year 1959 prior to the actual independence of the country to elect capable government officials to which the British would hand over by October 1, 1960.
FUNCTIONS OF ELECTORAL BODIES IN NIGERIA
The following are some key functions of electoral bodies in Nigeria:
REGISTRATION OF POLITICAL PARTIES
Electoral bodies register political parties according to laid down rules and regulations of the commission.
REGISTRATION OF ELIGIBLE VOTERS
It is the duty of electoral bodies in Nigeria to register eligible voters for election.
PERIODIC REVISION OF VOTERS REGISTER
Electoral bodies in Nigeria review periodically the voters register in order to remove the names of registered voters who are dead so as to fill in the names of eligible voters who are alive that have attained voting age.
Electoral bodies in the country enlighten and educate the electorate about the processes of election in the federation.
SCREENING OF CANDIDATES
It is the duty of electoral commissions since independence to screen and register eligible candidates for election in the country.
FREE AND FAIR ELECTIONS
Electoral commissions are saddled with the responsibility of organising and conducting free and fair elections in the country.
Electoral bodies provide adequate security for electoral officers, electoral materials, party agents and the voters to ensure a smooth conduct of the election.
COUNTING OF VOTES
Electoral commissions are responsible for the counting of votes after elections.
ANNOUNCEMENT OF RESULTS
Election results are announced by the electoral bodies.
Other functions of electoral bodies in the country include:
- Provision of ballot boxes and papers
- Registration of candidates
- Supervision of voting activities in the polling booths
- Declaration of winners
- Issuance and withdrawal of Certificates of returns
PROBLEMS FACING ELECTORAL BODIES IN NIGERIA
The following are some of the problems facing electoral bodies in Nigeria:
Electoral bodies in Nigeria may face political interference by the ruling party or government who may wish to influence election results to enable them to remain in power at all cost.
Inadequate security during voting may provide an ample opportunity for political thuggery, intimidation and harassment of electorates.
INADEQUATE VOTERS REGISTER
Lack of adequate voters register may create room for unscrupulous politicians and their supporters to rig the election in favour of their candidates and political parties.
INSUFFICIENT ELECTORAL MATERIALS
Electoral bodies may witness a shortage of electoral materials such as ballot papers, boxes, indelible ink and voters register on election day leading to disorder during elections.
DELAY OF ELECTORAL MATERIALS
The late arrival of electoral materials during elections contribute to the challenges or problems faced by electoral bodies in Nigeria since independence till date.
Rigging is a major problem faced by electoral bodies in Nigeria to this day. This problem is perpetrated by political parties, candidates and their supporters during elections.
LOW LEVEL OF LITERACY
This is a major part of the challenges faced by electoral bodies in Nigeria because some of the voters may not be able to vote properly during elections.
Poor funding of electoral bodies in Nigeria can hinder the conduct of free and fair election in the country, especially if the body depends on the executive arm of government.
DISMISSAL OF ELECTORAL OFFICIALS
Dismissal of capable electoral officials by the incumbent so as to put in corrupt officials to favour him and his party is a serious problem that has been faced over the years by electoral bodies in Nigeria.
FULL LIST OF ALL ELECTORAL BODIES IN NIGERIA SINCE INDEPENDENCE
The following is the full list of all electoral bodies in Nigeria since independence:
ELECTORAL COMMISSION OF NIGERIA (ECN)
The Electoral Commission of Nigeria (ECN) was the first ever electoral body in the country and its origins can be traced to the period before Independence when it was established to conduct the 1959 elections shortly before independence to elect government officials that would steer Nigeria forward once the British handed over power to the country’s newly elected officials in 1960.
FEDERAL ELECTORAL COMMISSION (FEC)
The Federal Electoral Commission (FEC), is the second electoral body in Nigeria’s history. It was established in the year 1960, Nigeria’s independence year in order to conduct the immediate post-independence federal and regional elections of 1964 and 1965 respectively. This electoral body was however, dissolved after the military coup of 1966. The Chairman of this body was Mr. E.E Esua.
FEDERAL ELECTORAL COMMISSION (FEDECO)
After the dissolution of the FEC came FEDECO which was the third electoral body in Nigeria, also with the full meaning of the body it succeeded, Federal Electoral Commission (FEDECO). In 1978, FEDECO was constituted by the regime of General Olusegun Obasanjo. FEDECO organized the elections of 1979, which ushered in the Second Republic under the leadership of Alhaji Shehu Shagari, the first Executive President of Nigeria. It also conducted the general elections of 1983. Chief Michael Ani was the Chairman of FEDECO from 1976-1979.
NATIONAL ELECTORAL COMMISSION (NEC)
The National Electoral Commission (NEC) succeeded FEDECO as the fourth electoral body in Nigeria. This electoral body was set up by the government of General Ibrahim Babangida in 1987 to organise a series of elections under the transition of democratic programme. The chairman of NEC was Professor Eme Awa from 1978-1989. Professor Humphrey Nwosu was appointed chairman of NEC in 1989. He conducted the controversial June 12, 1993 general elections which saw Chief M.K.O Abiola emerge as the winner of the presidential elections but he was never inaugurated. The military government of General Sani Abacha dissolved NEC in 1993.
NATIONAL ELECTORAL COMMISSION OF NIGERIA (NECON)
The National Electoral Commission of Nigeria (NECON) succeeded NEC as the fifth electoral body in Nigeria. In December 1995, the military government of General Sani Abacha, which earlier dissolved NEC in 1993, established the National Electoral Commission of Nigeria (NECON), which also conducted another set of elections; Local Government councils to National Assembly. These elected institutions were however not inaugurated before the sudden death of General Abacha, on June 1998 aborted the process. Professor Okon Edet Uya was the chairman of the NECON in 1993, succeeding Humphrey Nwosu that same year.
INDEPENDENT NATIONAL ELECTORAL COMMISSION (INEC)
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is the sixth and current electoral body operating in Nigeria. In 1998 General Abdulsalam Abubakar’s Administration dissolved NECON and established the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).The The body organized all transitional elections that ushered in the 4th republic on May 29, 1999. It has today repositioned itself to deliver credible elections that would sustain Nigeria’s nascent democracy. As a permanent body, INEC comprises the workforce recruited since 1987 under the defunct National Electoral Commission (NEC).
Its presence has been established in all the 36 States, the Federal Capital Territory as well as in the 774 Local Government Areas of Nigeria. Justice Ephariam Akpata was appointed as the inaugural chairman of INEC and he was in office between 1998-2000. Several other INEC chairmen have since come and gone, such as Abel Guobadia (2000-2005), Maurice Iwu (2005-2010), Attahiru Jega (2010-2015), Amina Zakari (Acting, July 2015-November 2015), and Mahmood Yakubu (2015-Date).