Between 1960 and 2011, Nigeria's electoral process attracted criticism and condemnation locally and globally. Except for the 1993 general elections widely acknowledged as the freest and fairest, most of the other elections had been marred by irregularities, wanton rigging and violence. Between 1966 and 1999, imposed military leaderships emerged at different times to punctuate democratic experience. These regimes were legitimized and sustained with state violence and force. Thus, the culture of violence was intricately woven into the polity. Given this scenario, this article examined the nexus between emergence of illegitimate leadership and failure in accountability. Using the social contract theory, the article carried out a historical survey of different elections since independence. It evidenced instances of violence, manipulations, rigging and unbridled imposition of leadership by the political elite. This electoral fraud was often accomplished through executive restlessness, party indiscipline and disregard for the electoral laws. Leaders who emerged through discredited processes did not feel obliged to account for their stewardship. The claim by the leadership that they were legitimate and accountable was belied by the level of corruption and under-development in all the nooks and crannies of the country. Their zero sum approach to governance was seen to be a diametrical opposite to accountability as they promote parlous and parsimonious distribution of the nation's patrimony at the expense of the electorate. The article concluded that free and fair elections devoid of violence are prerequisites for the installation of legitimate leadership that will be accountable to the electorate.
BY: Musibau Olabamiji Oyebode