Electoral Violence As A Threat To Nigerian Democracy

Project and Seminar Material for Political Science

Electoral Violence As A Threat To Nigerian Democracy


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 Ondo 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.

Table of Content

Chapter One:


  • 1.1 Background of the study
  • 1.2 Statement of the problem
  • 1.3 Objective of the study
  • 1.4 Research questions
  • 1.5 Hypothesis of the study
  • 1.6 Significance of the study
  • 1.7 Scope of the study
  • 1.8 Limitation of the study
  • 1.9 Definition of terms
  • 1.10 Organizations of the study

Chapter Two:

Review of Literature

  • 2.1 Conceptual Framework
  • 2.2 Theoretical Framework
  • 2.3 Empirical Review

Chapter Three:

Research Methodology

  • 3.1 Research Design
  • 3.2 Population of the study
  • 3.3 Sample size determination
  • 3.4 Sample size selection technique and procedure
  • 3.5 Research Instrument and Administration
  • 3.6 Method of data collection
  • 3.7 Method of data analysis
  • 3.8 Validity of the study
  • 3.9 Reliability of the study
  • 3.10 Ethical consideration

Chapter Four:

Data Presentation and Analysis

  • 4.1 Data Presentation
  • 4.2 Analysis of Data
  • 4.3 Answering Research Questions
  • 4.4 Interpretation of Result

Chapter Five:

Summary, Conclusion and Recommendation

  • 5.1 Summary
  • 5.2 Conclusion
  • 5.3 Recommendation
  • References

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 general objective of this thesis was to examine the issues associated with electoral violence and their impact on democracy in Nigeria.

The specific objectives are to:

  1. Examine the nature and dynamics of the Nigerian state and how these had contributed to electoral violence in Nigeria.
  2. Highlight the nature and character of electoral violence in Nigeria.
  3. Examine the impact of electoral violence on Nigeria’s democratization process.
  4. Examine the impact of electoral violence on Nigeria’s democracy.

1.4 Research Questions

The following research questions were carefully examined in this thesis so that solutions provided will go a long way in alleviating the chronic problems associated with the conduct of elections in Nigeria. These include:

  1. What is the nature and character of electoral violence in Nigeria?
  2. What is the impact of electoral violence on Nigeria’s democratization process.?
  3. What is the impact of electoral violence on Nigeria’s democracy ?
  4. How has the nature and dynamics of the Nigerian state, promote electoral violence ?.

1.5 Research Hypothesis

The following hypotheses were stated and tested in the study.

Ho1: There is no significant relationship between electoral violence and democracy in Nigeria’s Fourth Republic.

Ho2: There is no significant relationship between electoral violence and democratization process in Nigeria’s Fourth Republic.

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.

1.8 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.

1.9 Operational Definition of Terms

For the purpose of this thesis, the following terms were operationally defined.


It is defined as the institutional mechanism or process by which individual or groups of individuals are selected into official positions. It is the entire process involved usually by the citizens of any democratic nation from the age of 18years and above to give legitimate mandate for those who are to rule them as stipulated in the constitution.


This is a government through representation. Democracy provides greater opportunity for people’s involvement in governance and policy formulation for the majority of the people.

Electoral Violence:

This involves all actions that result in bodily harm death, and destruction of private/public property during the whole stages of electoral process often perpetrated by either losing or the winning candidates, political parties or allies.

Electoral Fraud:

This involves the various forms of malpractices that distort the normal procedures of choosing people to govern. It involves deliberate efforts to influence, manipulate and subvert the electoral processes in one’s favour.


This simply means the expansion of society’s structures and values and how these structures and values allow or encourage people to participate in and determine the processes of exercising state power, and to what degree the exercise of state power, is in the interest of the electorate and consented to by them.

1.10 Organizations of the Study

  • The chapter one consist of the introductory part of the study which includes the study background, the statement of the research problem, the study objective and scope of the study.
  • The second chapter is a critical review of other literatures relevant to the study and its objectives including the theoretical framework for the study.
  • While the third chapter is methods of data collection, sampling and data analysis used in conducting the study.
  • The fourth chapter centres around the research findings including an analysis of how it relates to previous findings.
  • The fifth chapter consists of the summary of findings, conclusion and recommendations base on the study objectives.

Chapter Five

Summary, Conclusion and Recommendations

5.1 Introduction

The biggest threat to any organized society is insecurity. Violence breads insecurity while insecurity creates numerous other social ills which include ethnic clashes, communal disturbances, illegal arms trafficking, terrorism, secret cults, ethnic militias, electoral violence and other forms of disputes. One common trend in electoral violence in Nigeria is that it assumes higher sophistication with time. In today’s politics in Nigeria, many actors on the political scene no longer see performance as a yardstick for determining who gets an elective position, rather, violence and other unorthodox means are employed.

5.2 Conclusion

In many respects, democratic consolidation process in the Nigerian situation is quite unique, particularly in examining the nature of the relationships between theory and practice. The contradictions in the society have demonstrated much of the substantive issues of the kind of democracy being practised. Persistent and endemic electoral violence in Nigeria over time have remained a log in the wheels of democratic politics and invariably portends ills for democracy. As elections held did not follow the rules of the game, their were no doubt fraught with fraud and endangered with excessive corruption as well as all forms of violence to property and humanity. The study concluded without any iota of doubt that democracy in Nigeria will continue to be a mirage in the face of undemocratic political culture, ethnic cleavages, weak political and democratic institutions and the investment mentality that is often attached to political processes in Nigeria. Evidently, politics has turned out to be a business venture where one acquires wealth and affluence supersonically. The crisis of democracy, its dilemma and challenges in Nigeria have indicated very fundamental socio-economic policy implications as reflected in the electoral process. Since the outcomes of elections are often known in advance, the electoral process in Nigeria is therefore a fraudulent exercise in futility. Thus electoral violence is, no doubt, a failure of the democratic practice, and a threat to sustainable democracy in Nigeria.

5.3 Recommendations

From the above findings and conclusion, the following recommendations weremade:

First, given the nature of the structural underdevelopment in Nigeria, the exploitative nature of leadership and the extreme level of poverty among Nigerians, there is the need to mobilize human and natural resources to promote the economy in all forms, like genuine participation, politics of social equality, and electioneering campaigns.

There is also the need to combine forces and ideas especially between the legislature and judiciary to curb the executive excesses in its manipulative and maneuvering tactics. The courts have occasionally made some differences especially in the landmark judgments in Anambra, Edo, Ondo and Ekiti, Governorship election cases. The inability of the country to conduct free, fair, credible and acceptable elections will ultimately lead to the demise of the political and democratic system. Therefore, for democratic politics in Nigeria to be void of violence and enjoy both domestic and international legitimacy, the value orientations of the political elite must be transformed so that elections are not regarded as means to an end and end to everything.

Every level of government in the country, the local, state and federal level should embark on massive creation of job opportunities for the teaming youths. This is due to the fact that, one fact that stood out in the course of this thesis was the problem of mass unemployment of youths in the country. The statistics of unemployment in the country had shown that the unemployment trend is rising geometrically and this create a ready market for the recruitment of youths as thugs for rigging during elections in the country.

Nigeria’s democracy must be mass oriented and founded on the configurations and circumstances of the Nigerian masses. Elite based democracy as currently the case will continue to fail in all respects. This is because elites are extremely individualistic and this individualism is a primary causal factor for the type of democracy Nigeria practices. Mass based democracy will provide access to basic resources needed to energize mass and active participation with zero-level violence in seeking for power. This will provide certain checks and balances which will prevent personalization and individualization of power, money politics and above all corrupt practices. However, this does not remove the possibility of a mass based democracy creating its set of new elites that may dominate the politics and behave like the old elites.

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