Free and fair elections that would be acceptable by all had always been a problem in Nigeria. The electoral bodies had changed since 1983 from Federal Electoral Commission (FEDECO) to National Electoral Commission (NEC) to INEC.
In spite of appointing eminent jurists and supposedly credible people as heads of these bodies, the elections most of the time had been flawed. But that is not to say that there had not been free, fair and peacefully conducted elections in Nigeria. They were those held in 1959, 1979, 1993 and 1999, while the most chaotic, violent and disputed were those in 1964 and 1983.
According to Festus Iyayi, in a paper delivered at the Nigerian Bar Association conference held in Abuja in 2004: "The reason for this is that the first three were 'transition' elections, in which the regimes in power and responsible for organising the elections had to hand over power to a democratic civilian administration.
â€œIn contrast, the other elections can be viewed as potential 'consolidation' elections, in which an elected civilian government was responsible for organising elections to hand over power to a successor administration.â€
Unfortunately, as successful as these elections were, they led the country back from democratic governance to military dictatorship.
"The failure of these elections to consolidate democracy (each led in fact to disruption and eventually a return to military rule) was due to the reluctance of the incumbent administration to allow a level playing field, in case they lost their grip on power," Iyayi stated further.
Source: Nigerian Elites Forum