Electoral Violence In Nigeria: The Case Of Anambra State Gubernatorial Elections
The research work examined the concept of Electoral Violence as perceived by some analysis of democratic elections. It traced the history of Electoral Violence in Nigeria. It also examined Electoral Violence during Governorship Elections in 2003 and 2007 with particular reference to Anambra State in the South Eastern Nigeria geo-political zone. The factors responsible for the Electoral Violence in 2003 and 2007 were examined. The work exposed the diverse dimensions of electoral violence manifest prior, during and after the election and consequent effects on lives and properties. Therefore, the objective of the study is to echo the fact that electoral violence, intimidation, corruption, indiscipline among other vices cannot ensure a democratic free society, good governance and stable society. Furthermore, this work highlighted the inefficiency of the security agents, their lack luster roles in the past general elections and the 2003 – 2007 governorship elections in Anambra State to project the need for their immediate reorientation and equipment for their primary role and importance to national assignment.
The enthronement of a genuine civilian government has been an illusion to Nigeria as a nation and Anambra State in particular. The revelation that the unemployed youths of this nation, as ready tools for electoral violence, fall pray to the wicked hands of the insensible, selfish and dare devil profit oriented politicians, that regard politics as a do or die affairs, should serve as a turning point for creation of employment opportunities for the youths to cause scarcity and discouragement for the money bag politicians and their godsons, to ensure peaceful elections. Furthermore, this work touched on the causes of the inability of INEC as an electoral umpire not to have been able to conduct a generally adjudged credible, free and fair election acceptable to most Nigerians, local and international observers. It is therefore hoped that, the recommended electoral reformation, constitutional amendment and Electoral law review, will grant INEC true independence that would free it from tele guide of any sort and
enslavement to conduct free fraudulent and violent elections for the country Nigeria.
1.1 Background to the Study
Nigeria amongst other countries in Africa has encountered several electoral violence incidences, before and during its time as a democracy. Universally, election is regarded as the heart of representative democracy. A credible election not only confers legitimacy on political leadership, it is also crucial to the sustenance of democratic order. Election provides citizens with the freedom to choose their rulers and to decide on public policy. Under any democratic system, citizens who are legally qualified to exercise franchise are provided with opportunity to choose political alternatives and to make decisions that express their preferences.In a multi-partydispensation, this choice is made out of the several parties and candidates competing in the electoral market. In all democracies, election performs several functions: it is an instrument through which the voting public compels accountability from elected officials; it facilitates political recruitment; it enables citizens to make enlightened choices; and it confers moral authority on political leaders. Within the context of the last function, election is viewed as a “legitimizing institution, functioning to give elected leaders the wherewithal to govern.” (Schlozman and Verba, 1987:3) Diamond et al (1989: xxi) describe democracy as a governance model that meets three basic conditions: competition among individuals and political groups (political parties); inclusive system of leadership recruitment; and existence of a regime of civil-political rights. These conditions underscore the importance of election both as a regime legitimizer and as a guarantor of citizen participation in public governance.
With respect to Nigeria, however, the popular struggle for direct political representation and rejection of the monopolization of the state power predates the political independence of 1960. Prior to the exit of the colonial masters, the struggle by the people was basically against colonial subjugation, intimidation, domination, exploitation and monopolization of the state power and other paraphernalia of government by foreign rulers and their affiliated local agents. The struggle was also directed towards further demand that the economic products of the country be directly used for the ultimate benefits of the indigenous population rather than utilizing them to meet the needs of the foreign capital (Joseph, 1987: 4). Thus, government through popular representation was central in the anti-colonial struggles.
Election related violence has negatively impacted on the quest for deepening democratic rule in Nigeria. In the history of elections in Nigeria, only elections organized by the colonial state and the military were not marred by violence. As for the military-supervised polls, Kurfi (1983) has perceptively observed that the absence of electoral violence could not be attributed to the internalization of a culture of tolerance but rather was a consequence of the recognition of the threat of military retribution for breakdown of law and order as well as the possible extension of the transition project. As copiously documented by Anifowose (1982), election-based violence imperiled Nigeria‟s first democratic experiment with violence in Tivland and Yorubaland as the two significant cases. According to Anifowose, the violence in Tivland was a reaction to political intimidation and harassment of the opposition politicians by the ruling Northern Peoples Congress (NPC).
Having drafted Dr Chris Ngige into the gubernatorial race in Anambra State, Chief Chris Ubah employed everything in his disposal to ensure that he stopped Mbadinuju‟s second term bid on the one hand, and at the same time delivered Chris Ngige as the governor on the other. As planned by Ubah, Ngige won the governorship election under the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in a manner redolent of massive rigging and electoral fraud. No sooner was Ngige sworn-in than the whole deal between the godfather and his protégé came to limelight. There were allegations and counter allegations between Chris Ubah and Chris Ngige. Bizarre agreements were alleged to have been signed and waiting to be delivered. Strange tales of visit to shrines and most unbelievable absurdities were told. In the heat of these allegations and counter allegations, the governor was abducted to enforce his alleged resignation. When Ngige managed to survive his removal from office, he suspended the Irrevocable Standing Payment Order (ISPO) by which Uba was being paid for contracts he was said to have executed in the state having suspected him (Chris Uba) of being responsible for his attempted removal. Thus, this set the stage for the battle and later, political violence that engulfed Anambra State until the removal of Ngige in 2006. For Ubah, it was a battle to discipline and remove from office a recalcitrant and ungrateful godson, and for Ngige, it was a battle to subdue and eliminate a selfish and inconsiderate godfather. This study is therefore carried out on the impact ofelectoral violence in Nigeria, using the case of Anambra state gubernatorial elections (2003 and 2007).
1.2 Statement of Problem
Several studies have been conducted on political violence in Nigeria (Albert, 2005; Omotola, 2007;Lawal, 2010; Animasawun2013;Majekodunmi and Olanrewaju, 2013). These scholars have offered diverse perspectives on political violence while highlighting the role that godfathers have played on the democratic process in Nigeria. Political godfather, violence and governance are related but contradictory phenomenon in which a lot of intellectual energy has been directed towards understanding their fundamental nature, character, causes and effects or impact on Nigerian democracy. However, this study takes an in-depth approach to the analysis of political violence, with a view to proffering viable recommendations for the management of these factors.
Several cases of political violence in Nigeria that were linked to the influence of godfathers have impacted negatively on the democratic process in Nigeria. The consequences range from the destruction of lives and properties, electoral malpractices, disenfranchisement of many qualified electorates through the engagement of thugs and vote buying and so on. One of such consequences was the blatant disregard for the rule of law, in the case of Anambra State where on the 14th of July 2003, President Olusegun Obasanjo approved the retirement of one Mr. Raphael Ige, an Assistant Inspector General (AIG) in charge of zone 9 of the police force in the state who supervised the abduction of the Anambra state governor, Dr. Chris Ngige. Ige was said to have led four trucks of mobile policemen to Ngige’s office, disarmed the governor’s security aides and whisked him away to a hotel in the state capital, Awka. Simultaneously, the state House of Assembly met and ratified a resignation letter purportedly issued by the governor. It also asked the state chief judge to swear in the deputy governor, Dr. OkechukwuUdeh (The Daily Sun, 2003). All this were orders issued by the self-acclaimed godfather of the state, Chris Uba and carried out without due process as demanded by the constitution. Thus, political violence is a threat to Nigeria’s nascent democracy, making it imperative to continue exploring the phenomenon and coming up with possible long-term policies to put an end to this malaise in our society.
1.3 Objectives of the Study
The main objective of this study is to examine electoral violence in Nigeria. Specifically, the study sort to:
- Analyze the effect of political violence on the democratic process in Anambra state.
- Examine the implications of political violence on security and development in Anambra state.
- Proffer policy options that will address the challenge of political violence on the democratic process, security and development in Anambra state.
1.4 Research Questions
- What is the impact of political violence on the democratic process and governance in Anambra state?
- What are the implications of political violence on security and development in Anambra state?
- What policy measures are necessary to combat the effects of political violence on the democratic process, security and development in Anambra state?
1.5 Significance of the Study
Since the beginning of the Fourth republic, Nigeria has been plagued with constant incidences of political violence in Nigeria’s political system with its implications on good governance and security.
The significance of this timely and topical study is two folds: practical and academic.
Practically, this study will be of paramount importance to the elections management bodies in Nigeria especially the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the registered political parties, authorities of the non-governmental organizations especially the Transition Monitoring Group (TMG), the national and state governments as well as the general public for the following reasons:
- The study will help highlight the impact of the nature and character of the Nigerian State as well as the ruling elite on the electoral process and democratic consolidation in Nigeria.
- The study will help publicize the actors that were involved in the 2003 and 2007 electoral fraud in Nigeria especially in Anambra State and the consequent political violence the fraud left in its wake in the state.
- The study will bring into limelight also the aspect(s) of our legal and constitutional frameworks that aided the perpetration of electoral fraud in the 2003 and 2007 elections in Anambra State and the resulting political violence.
- The study will enlighten the general public on the inextricable link between free and fair elections and consolidation of democratic practice, as well as the centrality of openness and transparency if free and fair election is to be achieved.
- With this study, it is intended that the Federal Government through, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) will be galvanized to carry out a vigorous appraisal of the 2003 elections especially in view of the electoral fraud committed by the ruling party, overhaul the relevant sections of the legal and constitutional frameworks pertaining to the conduct of elections with a view to removing all hiccups that pre-disposed the 2003 and 2007 election to fraud, and by so-doing put the necessary machineries in place to enable the body conduct free and fair elections come 2023 and beyond.
Academically, this study explored the efforts of the Federal Government through the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in permanently addressing the endemic problems that are associated with the conduct of credible elections and transition to civil rule in Nigeria. Hence, by evaluating the nature and character of the Nigerian State and the ruling elite vis-à-vis the perpetration of political violence in the 2003 and 2007 elections in Anambra State as well as the relevant sections of our legal and constitutional frameworks that assisted in the perpetration of electoral fraud in the 2003 election in Anambra State, the study will not only synchronize with existing enquiries to form a dependable pool of literature in this area, but will also serve as a convenient starting point for further studies in the analysis of the interface between credible elections and consolidation of democracy.
1.6 Scope of the Study
The major focus of this enquiry is on political violence in Nigeria. Within this embrace, the study politically appraises the conduct of the 2003 and 2007 gubernatorial elections in Anambra State and the consequent political, economic and legal crisis engendered by the exercise and its impact on the process of consolidating and institutionalizing democracy in the State.
The study employed a descriptive survey design. In this method, the researcher made use of only secondary sources of data. This information were collected from INEC office, Anambra, Newspapers, Magazines, books etc.
1.8 Study Area
Anambra state is located in the South East Geo-political zone of Nigeria. It was created on the 27th of August, 1991 out of the old Anambra State. The state capital is Awka and its major commercial city is Onitsha. In the 2006 Population and Housing Census, Anambra state was made up of 2,111,984 males and 2,059,844 females. Its ethnicity is predominantly Igbo with a mix of Yoruba, Hausas and Igala. There are 21 local government areas in the state as shown on Fig 1.1.Due to its highly urbanized structure and a population size of over 4million people, coupled with revenue generate from businesses and commercial activities, Anambra state is seen as a hotbed for politicians. Despite these positives, the state has often suffered neglect as subsequent administrations have often failed to perform their executive duties to the benefit of the people as a result of interference from political godfathers who go to extreme lengths in some cases to protect their own interests and not those of the people.
Figure 1.1 Map showing the local government areas in Anambra state.
1.9 Definition of Terms
Violence is psychological or physical force exerted for the purpose of injuring, damaging, or abusing people or property (US Department of Justice, 1996). Political violence is violence outside of state control that is politically motivated. This form of violence is often times orchestrated by parties within the state who hold an interest in the outcome of a political process and are willing to go to the extreme in achieving their desires (Wikipedia).
Democracy is a form of government in which all eligible citizens, participate equally-either directly or indirectly through elected representatives in the proposal, development and creation of laws. For Cohen (1998), “the fundamental idea of democracy or political legitimacy is that the authorization to exercise state power must arise from the collective decisions of the equal members of a society who are governed by that power”. This idea of democracy was totally discredited when the role of the self-proclaimed godfather of Anambra state is put under consideration. He proclaimed himself to have single-handedly installed the governor and members of the legislative in the 2003 and 2007 elections in the state, thus denying citizens to exercise their franchise by electing representatives of their own choosing.
National security is the requirement to maintain the survival of the state through the use of economic power, diplomacy, power projection and political power. It is also seen as a state or condition where our most cherished values and beliefs, our democratic way of life, our institutions of governance and our unity, welfare and well-being as a nation and people are permanently protected and continuously enhanced (Aquino, 2011). The Nigerian state is a society that has seen its nascent democracy come under threat by the activities of political godfathers, whose activities remain a threat to governance, security and the wellbeing of the people who are often denied the opportunity to exercise their fundamental rights as members of a democratic process.
The term Human Security was first popularized by the United Nations Development Program in the early 1990s. It emerged in the post-Cold War era as a way to link various humanitarian, economic, and social issues in order to alleviate human suffering and assure security. The issues Human Security addresses include, but are not limited to, the following: organized crime and criminal violence, human rights and good governance, armed conflict and intervention, genocide and mass crimes, health and development, resources and environment. These human security issues have become the implications of godfatherism on the Nigerian democratic process as witnessed with incessant violence perpetrated against the citizenry. Human Security focuses primarily on protecting people while promoting peace and assuring sustainable continuous development. It emphasizes aiding individuals by using a people-centered approach for resolving inequalities that affect security.
Conclusion and Recommendation
Nigeria has always experienced violence as part of the political processes, from the time it was a military coup, until it became a democracy in 1999. As a result, this composition has analysed democracy generally in Nigeria and electoral violence in Nigeria during the periods of 2003 and 2007 in Anambra state. It has also stated the causes of electoral violence and some solutions to having peaceful elections and a stable democracy, for instance, through employment and political education. Nigeria could have non-violent elections if only Nigerians educate themselves about politics and acknowledged the idea that violence only makes matters worse and brings instability to its democracy. With political education and a proper justice system, Nigeria could grow way more and become the great nation it was meant to be.
The study also examined the political and other settings for the 2003 gubernatorial elections in Anambra state. We also examined the political, legal, and economic problems created by the 2003 gubernatorial elections in Anambra State. The problems within the INEC were also evaluated.
Finally, the study ascertain that the political crises engendered by the conduct of the 2003 gubernatorial election in Anambra State greatly undermined the institutionalization of democracy in Anambra State in particular and the entire country in general. In the light of the findings of the study as articulated above, there is no doubt as to whether there is a strong link between credible elections and consolidation of democracy in Nigeria. This is true because the political crises that engulfed Anambra state in the aftermath of the 2003 gubernatorial elections in the State posed some implications for the emergent democracy like Nigeria. Some of these implications, as articulated by Obianyo (2008:105-107) include – One, it weakens the belief of the people in democratic practice and consequently in the attainment and/or enthronement of the culture of democracy in the country. This is so because the very essence of democracy is participation; but when the ruling class makes it obvious to the people that their votes do not count, and their feelings do not matter, the very basis of democracy becomes threatened. Democracy is threatened in many ways especially through the preponderance of a culture of apathy whereby people recoil in to their shells refusing to take part even in simple political activities like voter registration exercise and voting.
Evidently, the inability to conduct credible elections in Anambra in 2003 and 2007 impacted negatively on the efforts of the Nigerian state to entrench and institutionalize democracy. This is so because, the conduct of the 2003 elections in the state created a number of problems including economic, legal and political. In view of this we put forward the understated recommendations for policy implementation.
One, considerable decentralization of power and all resources away from the central/federal apparatus to the constituent governments and ethnic segments. To this end, greater recognition of the peculiar needs and historical identities of various communities should be considered in the implementation of federal territorial reforms.
Two, there isneed to embark on rigorous elaboration, constitutionalization and implementation of consociative or „power sharing‟ mechanisms in the political process, due empowerment of the judiciary and related mediatory political and societal institutions.
Three, INEC should be granted fiscal autonomy. its funding, rather than being channeled through the presidency, should be charged to the consolidated revenue fund. The annual financial allocation to the commission should be reflected in the appropriation bill; while its approved budgetary allocations should be disbursed directly to it by the Federation Account Allocation Committee through the first line charge under the consolidated Revenue Funds of the Federal Government.
Four, constitutional funding of political parties by INEC should be seriously considered. This will free the political parties from the strangulation of money-bags and over-zealous politicians who would want to use their wealth to buy the political parties wholesale. Allied to this is that high caliber and credible people, who cannot be easily intimidated, harassed or influenced by money bag politicians should recruited as election officials. They must be made to undergo proper electoral training before the commencement of elections, and so as to enable them checkmate any perceived electoral fraud during the period of electioneering.
Five, there is urgent need to restructure the polity for the realization of a healthy political transition and democratic consolidation. To this end, Nigerian politicians to be re-orientated so as to inculcate in them the dangers of raising political stakes to unnecessary level this has become imperative because recent development in Nigeria has shown that the link between elections and political stability problem is that political power is sought without restraint.
Finally, all hands must be on deck to forestall the phenomenon of electoral fraud that has wrought unimaginable harm on our democratic project.
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