Effects Of Electoral Violence On Nigeria Democracy (2007-2011)

Project and Seminar Material for Political Science

Effects Of Electoral Violence On Nigeria Democracy (2007-2011)


Electoral Violence has been one of the most prevalent forms of violence in Nigeria since the return of democracy in 1999. The manifestation of this violence has grown in magnitude and consequences from 2007-2011 with negative implications for democratic stability. With the use of oral and written sources; the attractiveness of political offices, poverty, a culture of impunity, and rigging among others have been indentified as factors responsible for election violence. The effects of Election Violence have spread across the political, social and economic strata of the Nigerian society; leaving in its wake economic instability, lawlessness, proliferation of small arms and light weapons (SALW), and generally a poor image of the country in the international community. It is this problem of Electoral Violence in Nigeria that this research examines, with a focus on its nature, causes, and effects on democratic stability and consolidation. With insight from the situation in Lagos State, the study demonstrates how the electoral process has been subverted by hi-jacking the state machinery to feed personal interests; thus giving an impetus for escalation of Election Violence and truncation of the democratic institution. It is argued that for democracy to prevail, election violence must be redressed.

Chapter One


1.1 Background of the Study

Within the context of a complete break away from one-party and military dictatorships, African countries dived into competitive multiparty elections since the 1990s. Thus, as Ake puts it ‘Issues of democratization and human rights are increasingly the world’s interest in Africa overcoming a legacy of indifference to the fate of democracy on the continent’ (Ake, 1991:32). Many of these African states that allowed elections to be held in them made a mockery of their transition programs. In fact, Naomi Chazan pointed out the loss of legitimacy that has now characterized African elections when she pointed out that: ‘Elections in Africa, after the initial euphoria associated with political stability during decolonization quickly came to be viewed as meaningless political rites.’(Chazan, 1979:136). While not doubting the increasing nature of democratic transitions in African countries, Lemarchand concluded that, ‘there are compelling reasons to fear that the movement towards democracy may contain within itself the seed of its own undoing’ (Lemarchand, 1992:98).

Celestin Monga identified eight problems with African politics which according to him are: the weakness of political parties, manipulation of the electoral process, a narrow political field, a constrained civil society, a controlled press, the absence of civility, privatized violence and politicized armies, and international support for dictatorship (Monga, 1997:156). However, Richard Joseph seemed to have captured African politics when he stated that ‘of themany factors impeding constitutional democracy in Africa, none appears more significant than the upsurge of political violence (Richard, 1997:3). It seems to us therefore that a proper understanding of political renewal in Africa should pay more attention to the role of political violence. Thus in Kenya, President Daniel arapMoi resorted to political violence as a means of retaining power.

Similarly Kibaki who succeeded him was guilty of ‘daylight robbery and a civilian coup’ (Bamgbose, 2008:54). In Zimbabwe, Tsvangirai withdrew from the run-off of 2008 in protest over political violence that killed over 120 people and displaced thousands (Bricking, 2010:1). The April 24 2005 Togo presidential election triggered off political violence resulting to the outflow of Togolese refugees to the neighboring countries of Ghana and Benin (Bamgbose, 2009:109). In October 2008, two Belgian demographers, Andre Lambert and Louis Lohle-Tart, were invited by the European Commission to assess the 2005 – 06 voter registration process in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). After their consultancy was done, they wrote a devastating critique of the International Rescue Committee (IRC). Initially, the IRC had put the death toll at 5.4 million even though the original figure was not up to 5.4 million. These Belgian demographers put it at 200,000 deaths. Pertinent to note is that many lives were lost (Mamdani, 2010:15).

1.2 Statement of the General Problem

Electoral violence has caused a whole lot of harm to the socio economic development of Nigeria. Nigeria being a country with a history of electoral violence has found it difficult to take its rightful place in the comity of developed nation despite having all it takes in boosting its economy and alleviate poverty. Violence generally is a repeller of investment as nobody wants to invest in a country that isn’t carried peaceful coexistence. Overtime, electoral violence also has a negative effect on democracy, consistent and unabated electoral violence has often led to the military taking over government in Nigeria.

1.3 Objectives / Aims of the Study

The following are the aims and objectives of this study

  1. To examine the effect of electoral violence on Nigeria democracy.
  2. To assess the level of electoral violence evident in Nigeria
  3. To know the impact of electoral violence on the economy of Nigeria.
  4. To examine the challenges to the complete eradication of electoral violence in Nigeria.
  5. To recommend ways of reducing or completely eradicating electoral violence in Nigeria.

1.4 Research Questions

  1. What is the effect of electoral violence on Nigeria democracy?
  2. What is the level of electoral violence evident in Nigeria?
  3. What is the impact of electoral violence on the economy of Nigeria?
  4. What are the challenges to the complete eradication of electoral violence in Nigeria?

1.5 Research Hypothesis

  • H0: electoral violence does not affect Democracy in Nigeria.
  • H1: electoral violence affects Democracy in Nigeria.

1.6 Significance of the Study

This study would be immensely beneficial to government in letting them know the effect of electoral democracy on our nascent democracy thereby notifying them of the urgency to put adequate efforts in trying to stop electoral violence in Nigeria. This study would also be beneficial to researchers who are interested on Nigeria’s democracy.

1.7 Scope and Limitation of the Study

This study is restricted to the effect of electoral violence on Nigeria’s democracy with a case study of the south west Nigeria.

Limitation of the study
Financial constraint

Insufficient fund tends to impede the efficiency of the researcher in sourcing for the relevant materials, literature or information and in the process of data collection (internet, questionnaire and interview).

Time constraint

The researcher will simultaneously engage in this study with other academic work. This consequently will cut down on the time devoted for the research work.

Chapter Five

Summary and Conclusion

5.1 Summary

The main thrust of the study was to examine the causes of election violence in Nigeria and in its effect on democratic stability from 199-2011 using the Lagos Sate experience as a case study. Specifically, with the use of oral and written sources, the study answered questions on the nature, causes and effects of election violence in Nigeria as a whole and Lagos State particular.

In chapter two, it was established that election violence in Nigeria as historical antecedents would reveal is caused by remote factors which include: financial inducement, weak penalty, the absence of institutional and legal solution against electoral violence, culture of impunity, God-fatherism, weak governance and corruption, availability of small arms and light weapons, relations and ethnic sentiments; and immediate factors which is centered mostly on election rigging. Some of the effects of election violence in Nigeria identified in the course the study include: political instability, insecurity and the cycle of violence.

Citing specific cases, the nature and causes of election violence in Lagos State were also identified. Some recurrent factors include ethnicity, political rivalry, poverty, as well as some rigging activities which actually trigger violence. Also highlighted were the events leading to the March 22 pre-election violence in Lagos.

The profound effects of election violence on the democratic process of Nigeria especially on the political, economic and social aspect were identified as follows: instability, lack of political participation, ethnic politics, loss of foreign investments. Inconsistency in trading and loss of businesses as well as insecurity, fear disillusionment, los of lives and property among others.

Finally, the role Election Management Bodies in either curbing or exacerbating election violence were examined with a focus on the role of INEC and AKISIEC, the media, the judiciary, the police, as well as civil society on previous elections in Lagos State and Nigeria. It was discovered that Election Management Bodies which are expected to be non-partisan are hi-jacked to serve the interest of individuals and political parties during elections, thus eroding the legitimacy of elections and the entrenchment of democracy.

5.2 Conclusion

Election violence is a pervasive phenomenon in Nigeria, and the critical point about its is destructive and destabilizing consequences on all aspects of life and society, and as such has absolutely nothing positive to contribute to the nurturing, entrenchment and sustainability of democracy.

More than anything else, the greatest obstacle to the nascent democracy is the pervasive insecurity of lives and property, as evidenced by the spate of … conflicts, coupled with the seeming helplessness of security agencies to handle criminal acts … (Walter, 1996:17)

The above extract epitomizes the findings of this research work, which is that: with the upsurge of violence, of which election violence is the most common in Nigeria, democracy will be disrupted. This is because violence not only drains government resources and diverts attention from other issues of nation building, but frequently provokes undemocratic responses from the state, and can ultimately lead to social disintegration.

Although, election violence is not the only threat to democratic consolidation in Nigeria, it is one threat that could potentially be eliminated if the current trend is truncated.

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