Ihugba, Bethel U ; Aaron, Doris D (2018-08)


This paper examines the electoral laws in Nigeria to determine their impact on political exclusion and inclusion in the Nigeria democratic process. This study is necessary because participatory governance is a key requirement of sustainable democracy, particularly in representative government. When sections of society are excluded from contributing to national debate, in development of national legal framework, and governance, the governance dividends and services become biased and unrepresentative. Such scenarios create distrust amongst citizens and gradually lead to corruption and crisis in society. Put simply, democracy fails when the right to vote and be voted for in elections is skewed against sections of the society either deliberately or as unintended consequences of legislation. On this background, this paper critically examines the legal framework on electoral process in Nigeria to determine its impact on the perception and reality of electoral exclusion and suggests approaches for improvement. The paper adopts a doctrinal approach by focusing on analysis of existing electoral legal framework, including the Constitution, Electoral Act and political party constitutions, and how they, directly or indirectly, disenfranchise sections of the society. The paper finds that the electoral regime is structured in a way that perpetuates electoral exclusion of the poor and young people via the imposition of divisive financial and age requirements. The paper recommends an alteration of constitutional provisions on qualification to contest election by reducing the age requirement and jettisoning financial requirements for participation.