Electoral Violence In Nigeria Politics

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Electoral Violence In Nigeria Politics


The Nigerian second Republic 1979 – 83 political system was base on the struggle for power among parties. This involves conflicts of interest and the actors are always eager to achieve their interest at the expense of others. Therefore, to achieve their respective ultimate aims they reports to bickering and violence.

Electoral violence in Nigerian politics can be regarded as a sort of response to frustrating circumstance. Elections in Nigeria area a contest of guts, blood shared and tears. The Federal Election of 1904 was base on the system of the winner take us all and the loser forfeits all, the nationally divisive and determined effects of a population census and the general institutionalized opposition of the government in power which is the origin of electoral violence in Nigerian politics. The 1979 political system officially adopted the presidential democracy modeled after the America type.

This politics of the second republic became characterized by thuggery, kidnapping, rigging, muddled elections etc. all resulting in an unprecedented violence. The first election of 1979 witnessed more conflicts. The second election, 1983 was almost a breakdown of law and order in most part of the country. And also the weakness of the FEDECO contributed to the failure of the 1983 elections.

Chapter One

1.0 Introduction

Explanatory of violence – Violence is one social phenomenon that does not and never did assure even its perpetrators safety their lives and property. It is an ill wind that blows nobody and good.

Electoral violence in Nigerian politics has become very endemic. It seems that one hardly prepare for politicking in Nigeria, without making very adequate provision for violence. This is because politics involves conflicts of interest and the actors always eager to achieve their interest at the expanse of others. Therefore, is achieve their respective ultimate arms, they reports too bickering and violence.

Nigeria’s adoption of parliamentary democracy at independence was by no means accidental. It was by design. For one thing, Britain Nigerian’s colonial master, had been in the practice of parliamentary democracy at independence was by no means accidental. It was by design. For one thing, Britain, Nigeria’s colonial master had been in the practice of parliamentary democracy for continues and even at independence, parliamentary democracy became one of the British colonial legates. What astonishes one is the inability of Nigerians to have embedded the rules of the game of politics such as tolerance, free and fair elections ability to accept election verdicts, ability to accept election verdicts and the willingness to quite political science if and when the electorate say no.

1.1 Background of the Study

Since Nigeria’s independence on October 1, 1960, Electoral violence has been a major feature of Nigeria politics and has been a subject of discussion both at private and public places students of political science and contemporary political scientists aluke have delude into the field of electoral violence of Nigerian politics.

In the words of Alanamu (2005), the history of violence in Nigeria politics dates back to colonial era. From the 1950s, elections in Nigeria approximated a war wage to determine “who get what, when and how” (Oyediran 1997). All weapons were available for those combatants to use which include religion, ethnic sentiments, outright bribery, the power of incumbency, corruption, the abuse of electoral processes etc. Indeed, evidence before us proves that electoral behavior in Nigeria has never been guided by ideology, party programmes or the merit of those standing to be elected, but by a political calculus based on ethnic geopolitics, the means to assume power by all costs, either singly or by a small power bloc around a big power bloc for the purpose of fighting the war so as to win, rule and rule and then share the anticipated booty.

In the 1960s too, there were no parties that were not regionally bias: The Northern people’s Congress (NPC), Action Group (AG) and National Council of Nigeria Citizens (NCNC) were based in the North, West and East respectively. After independence, the first major national election by the political parties degenerated into conflict (Ogundiya, 1999). More importantly, the crisis within the AG which spread to other areas of the Western region and the whole country, affected in no small way the election (1964) in its conception, execution and outcome (Oyediran, 1997). For example, the Nigerian National Alliance (NNA) brought the NPC and the Akintola-led Nigerian National Democratic Party (NNDP) and other minor political parties together under one umbrella. Alibi, (2004) observes that, the electoral officers were terrorized into absconding from their offices once they receive the nomination papers of governing party candidates with no opportunity of registering their nomination papers. So fragrantly was the electoral procedure abused that at the close of nominations some 88 out of the total of 174 NPC Candidates in the North had their candidature unopposed. In the West, about 30 percent of the NNPC were supposed to have been unopposed. The situation in the East was not much different. Our analysis shows that, the electoral fraud of 1964 brought about the crisis that eventually led to the coup of 15th January, 1966. The situation in 1979 and 1983 was not cordial (Agubamah 2008). The five registered political parties were; National Party of Nigeria (NPN), Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN), Peoples Redemption Party (PRP), Nigerians People’s Party (NPP), Great Nigerians Peoples Party (GNPP) and Advance Party which was later registered in 1983 (Ademolekan,1985).

The federal election of 1979 contested by these political parties gave the impression that politicians may after all have learnt some lessons from the demise of the first Republic. However, it is important to state that the annulment of that election by Ibrahim Babangida, the then Military Head of State, recorded serious opposition to his regime. This was a bad signal for democracy in the country (Ali, 2006). The 1998/99 general elections lacked bitterness, boycotts, thuggery and other malpractices usually associated with electoral process in the country (Nnadozie, 2007). However, electoralviolence was also a major issue of concern throughout the 2007 election process. While some states enjoyed nearer (EU Report 2007 in Alfa & Otaida, 2012). The announcement of the results of 2011 presidential election sparked up violent demonstrations in some Northern states of the country. Following the declaration of President Goodluck Jonathan as the winner of the election, people believed to be supporters of opposition Congress for Progress Change (CPC), burst into violent uprising unleashing terror, destroying properties worth millions of naira. The house of the Vice President, Namadi Sambo was looted and raised and palaces of prominent traditional rulers in the North were attacked. A number of members of National Youth Service Corps were killed in mayhem in Bauchi, Gombe among others. (EU, Report, 2011 in Alfa & Otaida, 2012)). The most dreaded insurgency of the fourth Republic has come to be that of the Boko Haram (Dearn, 2011 in Alfa & Otaida, 2012). Dearn (2011) in Alfa & Otaida (2012) further noted, “Boko Haram was a little understood as, dangerous but parochial Islamic sect believed to be in decline after a purge by Nigeria security forces in 2009.

Now, with 2 years drawing to a close, it is clear that Boko Haram remains little understood and has evolved into Nigerian’s most serious security threat, one which shows no sign of abating in spite of the repeated government line that it is solving the problem”. Boko Haram has carried out horrendous attacks on various targets including the Police Headquarters, the UN building, etc. It has also carried out horrifying attacks targeted at places of worship in northern states of Borno, Kano, Plateau, Gombe, Kaduna, Taraba, Sokoto and the FCT (Saidu, & Suka, 2012 in Alfa & Otaida, 2012). Lately, the Boko Haram has spread its targets to include media houses and telecommunication facilities for allegedly being sympathetic with the government. On the whole, our contention so far is that electoral violence is an unpalatable phenomenon for democratic stability in Nigeria.

1.2 Statement of the Problem

The Nigerian Politics for example has always been characterized by violent conflicts even in the colonial period were state repression was a certainty. The women’s riots of 1929, the Egbo uprising of 1931, the general strike of 1945, the Enugu Colliery Strike of 1949 and the Kano Riots o 1953 are cases of violent in Colonial Nigeria (Anifowose, 1982). In the early years of independence the prospects of violence reared its head in the Western Region and the Middle Belt. The violence that ensued ultimately led to the collapse of the first Republic (Anifowose, 1982). The intervention of the military in politics in 1966 also generated more violence in the scale that was unprecedented. Not only were political assassinations the order of the day but the pogrom against easterners in the North and the civil war in which over 2 million Nigerians lost their lives showed the depression of the political elite for power and the extent they could go to maintain it. Electoral violence has created room for the emergence of incompetent persons who occupy vital electoral positions made possible by some political demagogues. The fact that such people are mediocre, they cannot deliver the dividends as expected by the masses. It also important to note that due to political violence, some of the best brains in political and economic management are not in governance as a result of victimization, while others are even brutally eliminated.

1.3 Objective of the Study

The primary goal of this study is to investigate electoral violence in Nigeria politics. Specifically, the study will seek to:

  1. Review the emergence of political parties 1978 – 1979
  2. Review Second republic and election an analysis

1.4 Significance of the Study

The study adopts a historical method, therefore, it will help showing the trend of violence in the Nigeria electoral system, its causes and the way forward.

1.5 Literature Review

“Violence,” within which is found the phenomena of political violence is defined by Bienen, (1968) as the use of illegitimate force. Anifowose, (1982) argues that most violent acts are political in nature and for the definition to subsist; there must be the intent of affecting the political -process. To elucidate, he suggests that the political native may not be immediately apparent. However, the definition seeks to exclude accidents and criminal actions for personal gains but includes acts of both representatives of government or dissidents.

For him, Electoral violence therefore means””the use or threat of physical act carried out by an individual or individuals within a political system against another individual or individuals, and /or property, with the intent to cause injury or death to persons and/ or damage or destruction to property; and whose objective, choice of targets or victims, surrounding circumstances …tend to modify the behaviour of others in the existing arrangement of power structures.” Tilly (1978) Understands violence as “a variety of protest, militancy, coercion, destruction, or muscle flexing which the observer or object happens to fear or condemn. In the contemporary Nigerian example, shooting into the air at a polling station or threatening political rivals with death are instance of electoral violence. It is important however, to identify the phenomenon of political struggle to explain how electoral violence develops and matures. In the Nigerian example, according to Dudley (1955) the possession of political power leads directly to economic power. Those who hold positions in the power structure determine the location and distribution of scarce resources Dudley (1955) puts it very clearly: “Politics means money and money means politics, to get politics there is always a price.

To be a member of the government party means „Open Avenue‟ to government patronage, Contract deals and the likes”. Dudley (1955) explains it further by stating that once actors have known the profitability of having power they naturally use the same governmental machinery (Such as electoral commission and the law, enforcement agencies) to stay in power even perpetually. The leadership becomes a self-recruiting, Oligarchy that has been known not to tolerate opposition to itself. When the elites have used the machinery of the state to gain power, they spend public resources in achieving the goal of controlling the government, thereby, disregarding the established channels of political actions. The result becomes the breakdown of justice, ordered relationships between individuals and groups and between the government and the opposition. Violence immediately develops as a feature of the struggle for power, thus, establishing itself as an emerging culture.

1.6 Research Hypothesis

The Hypotheses formulated for this study is thus:

  • H0: Electoral violence does not destabilize the growth and progress of the country.
  • H1: Electoral violence destabilize the growth and progress of the country.

1.7 Scope and Limitation of the Study

This study is focused on the electoral violence in the Nigeria politics. It accommodates reviews and studies relating to the research problem. However, it is limited to the post-colonial era and majorly the second republic period in Nigeria.

1.8 The Definition of the Key Concept


An electoral system or voting system is a set of rules that determine how elections and referendums are conducted and how their results are determined. Political electoral systems are organized by governments, while non-political elections may take place in business, non-profit organizations and informal organizations.


Behaviour involving physical force intended to hurt, damage, or kill someone or something.


The activities associated with the governance of a country or area, especially the debate between parties having power.

1.9 Research Methodology

The research methodology adopted for this study is the library or doctrinal method of research. This method is can be likened to the qualitative method of research. It reviews literatures of scholars and draws conclusion based on the findings in the literature.

Chapter Five

5.0 Summary of Finding, Recommendation and Conclusion

5.1 Summary of Findings

This qualitative study was taken to examine the incidence of electoral violence in the Nigeria politics. This review was reported in five chapters. The first chapter explains the research problem and the objectives. The second chapter gave an overview of electoral violence in the second republic and its Historical Antecedent. The chapter three Research describes the study design and Methodology. It explains the Sources of Data and discusses the emergence of political parties within 1978 – 1979. in the fourth chapter the study discussed the Second republic and election. Also it discussed the functions and extent of independence of FEDECO.

5.2 Recommendations

The first and foremost, is that a pragmatic and proactive effort must be made by those in positions of authority to reduce poverty. With this, people would not be pawns in the hands of politicians in orchestrating political violence. Youth employment should be vigorously embarked upon and objectively implemented without prejudice to give the vast majority of Nigerian youths the opportunity to be gainfully engaged in productive ventures. Political parties should be made to play politics according to the rules of the game. There should be internally democratic and refrain from politics of desperation which oscillate the polity and swing it to the precipice of violence. Politicians should not use ethnicity and religion to galvanize support and polarize the populace through politics of religious deception and ethnic chauvinism which have stirred up sentiments and sparked communal violence perennially in Nigeria. The use of the police during elections should be appropriate. In other words, the police should be politically neutral and their number should be adequate to be able to quell likely violence. They should not use excessive force and those suspected of violence and misconduct should be arrested while those who aid and abet electoral violence should be punished. Since elections have been characterized by volatile contestations and tension, attempts should be made to forestall cases of stolen mandate and abuse of incumbency. Trained officials should not be replaced by party faithful. The Independent Electoral Commission (INEC) and relevant agencies such as the National Orientation Agency (NOA) should embark on vigorous education and value-orientation and re-orientation aimed at repositioning democratic institutions and the citizenry.

5.3 Conclusion

Without doubt, threat to national security, economic decay, terrorism, political upheavals and military confrontation could be the consequences of electoral fraud and violence on democracy. Any thing that can undermine the progress and stability of a nation both socially, politically and economically is termed to be threat. The civil disturbances that occur as a result election violence without doubt could undermine the prospects of the harmonious relationship of the various communities that make up a nation. Again where the political system is not conducive for business to thrive and for accommodation of investors as a result of pre and post election violence or grievances as a result of election outcomes, the economy is bound to decay leading to a decline of Gross Domestic Product; increases in unemployment andsignificantly reduced amounts of trade and commerce as recently witnessed in the North east region of Nigeria. Also there is a tendency that oppositions of the ruling party could be instrumental in sponsoring or supporting the activities of terrorist organizations using it as a means of protest or to disorganize constituted administration. Terrorism as Nigeria is currently witnessing today is considered as an extreme form of expression, which is most contrary to the values of democracy, civilization and humanity. Finally commenting on political upheavals and military confrontation, a big change that causes a lot of confusion, worry and problems that can unsettle the existing democratic process could be another grievous outcome of electoral fraud and violence.

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