Ethnicity And Voting Pattern In Nigeria

Project and Seminar Material for Political Science

Ethnicity And Voting Pattern In Nigeria


Abstract


This research work was conducted to determine the influence of ethnicity on voting pattern in Nigeria with particular emphasis to the 2015 presidential election. To actualize the above, the researcher formulated three (3) research questions, and three (3) research hypotheses. An open ended structured questionnaire was used for data collection. Tables and simple percentages were used in answering of research questions while chi-square was used in testing of hypothesis. Based on data analyzed, the null hypotheses were rejected and the alternative upheld. From the findings of the study, it is observed that there is a relationship between ethnicity and the voting behaviour of Nigerians based on the tables, as majority of correspondents agreed that the 2015 Presidential election was a display of ethnic patronage based on the election results. The researcher recommended amongst others that for a credible representation and running of the machinery of government, voters should look beyond ethnic affiliation and sentiments.


Chapter One


Introduction

1.1 Background of the Study:

Nigeria as a nation is an aggregation of several nationalities. In real terms, it is a pluralistic and multi-faceted society, both in terms of religion, culture and composition. It has about 450 different ethnic groupings (Uduma, 2005). According to 2006 officially certified census by Nigeria Population Commission, it has a population of 140 million with a growth rate of 6.3% per annum. This makes it the most populous country in Africa and the largest concentration of black race in the world. An estimated 37.7% of the population are urban dwellers while 62.3% are rural based. The life expectancy rate is 52 years, literacy rate is 45% and the fertility rate is 5.7% while infant and maternal mortality remain high (National Population Census 2006).

Despite the fact that Nigeria is composed of over 450 ethnic groupings, the three dominating ethnic groups are Hausa-fulani dominating the north, Igbo in the east, and Yoruba in the western part of the country. The 1996 state creation and reorganization of the state structure in Nigeria saw these ethnic groupings being reorganized into six geo-political zones with the Hausa-Fulani comprising the north east, north west and north central; the Igbo concentrated in the south-east and south-south while the yorubas taking the south west. The 1996 re-organisation was the last effort by the Abacha regime in ensuring relative distribution of power and resources within the country. However, agitation for state creation has not ceased. The resultant effect of this ineffectual reorganization has continued to have negative effect on the politics of the land. Every ethnic group has continued to vie for political office in order to enrich both individual and group interest. Political party formation is not left out in this ethnic chauvinism and configuration, hence party campaign also follows ethnic sentiments (Nnoli 1978).

However, scholars have come up with various explanations on the determinants of voting pattern in many developed countries of the world. Generally, they have emphasized the role played by factors such as social class, race, religion and party ideology. Close examinations of their findings suggest that the democracies they investigated have developed overtime and therefore parties have had distinct image and philosophies. Though, the Nigerian democracy is still at its infancy and therefore could not be said to follow a pattern as in the case of the developed countries of the world. It is however regarded as one of the emerging democracies of the world with features that are likely to be different from the developed democracies as motivators of voters (Mafeja 1971). Therefore, the 2015 general elections in Nigeria was no exception in terms of ethnic colouration. Through the 2015 presidential elections, Nigerians had the opportunity either to choose ‘continuity’, as represented by the incumbent President Dr. Goodluck Jonathan and his ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP), or to embrace ‘change’, as symbolized by the opposition candidate, General Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress (APC). These two leading candidates in the 2015 challenge had also encountered each other at the ballot in the 2011 presidential contest, although at that time General Buhari was running on the ticket of the defunct Congress for Progressive Change (CPC).

The Nigerian presidential election that took place in the year 2015 was historic. For the first time since the formation of the Fourth Republic of Nigeria, in 1999, after another phase of military rule, Nigeria not only voted out an incumbent president but the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), a party that have been described by most scholars as not simply a political party but an institution in the country. While in principle, there were other political parties in the political landscape, in fact, 14 political parties had candidates in the 2015 presidential race. Until the historic 2015 presidential election, Nigeria relatively had a one-party system. The election, however, in the face of political fragmentation, growing economic inequality and an economic crisis, deepening social inequality and security concerns posed by the terrorist group named Boko Haram; the All Progressive Congress (APC) was able to defeat the PDP, forever altering the political landscape in Nigeria. Recent observation has shown that the 2015 presidential election may not after all be determined by the socio-economic and political challenges or follow the assumed position that Nigerian voters are motivated primarily by monetary incentives in deciding who and what party to vote for in any general elections. It may also be said that there are other factors inherent in the presidential election that were rooted in primordial sentiments, common ancestry, language and religion. The nature of voting alongside ethnic identities in determining Nigeria’s electoral process and its political landscape since 1963 has made it imperative to conduct this research to ascertain the voting pattern of the 2015 presidential election. To this end, this work is an academic attempt to unravel the impact of ethnicity on voting behaviour in Nigeria, with emphasis on the 2015 presidential elections.


1.2 Statement of Problem

The view that Nigerian electoral choice is largely based on ethnic considerations as the elections of the pre-independence to the Second Republican election portrayed, has been seriously undermined by the electoral trends of the aborted Third Republic and the present Fourth Republic. Candidates won appreciably in areas outside their ethnic homelands in some instances and in others, some lost in their own ethnic localities. From the foregoing, one would be tempted to assume that ethnic nationalism as previously exhibited in the Nigerian voting patterns, is fast becoming anachronistic in the more recent Nigerian political process. The irony of this development is the strengthened of ethnic nationalism to the detriment of ‗central nationalism‘, a trend which has been clearly displayed in recent times in the rise of various ethnic militia groups in different parts of the country. This coupled with the continuous cry of marginalization from virtually every segment of the country. With this situation, disintegration and succession appear to be lurking permanently in the corner in our national life.

Nationalism is the expressed desire of a people to work for their own unity and political independence within the framework of the nation-state, and to put loyalty to the state above all other loyalties (Jordan, 1978; 308). The only sense in which something akin to nationalism, as expressed above, was exhibited by the generality of Nigerians was in the struggle for national independence from foreign rule. The nationalist struggle tended to keep ethnicity at bay in the meantime or diverted some attention away from the pursuit of ethnic chauvinism. However, the achievement of political independence meant the disappearance of the common enemy. The competition and conflict were now between former allies who fought against foreign rule and domination. So, while the struggle for independence was within the framework of the nation-state, the new struggle of ethnic nationalism in essence has to do with placing loyalty to the ethnic/tribal group above all other loyalties, in particular loyalties, to the nation –state.
This study in essence is interested in ethnic nationalism and its influence on the Nigerian political process over the years, focusing on the voting pattern of the Nigerian electorates


1.3. Objective of the Study

This study has both broad and specific objectives. The broad objective is to examine ethnicity and voters’ behaviour in Nigeria and Ghana from 2003-2008.

The specific objective is to find out:

  1. Whether ethnic inclination impacts on the voting behaviour of Nigerians in the 2015 general elections
  2. Whether uneven distribution of government appointments among ethnic groups influence the voting pattern in Nigeria

1.3. Significance of the Study

The study has both theoretical and practical significance. Theoretically, the study is a contribution to earlier studies on ethnicity and voter behaviour in Nigeria. Practically, the study has the potential of serving as a veritable tool for policy makers in terms of Economic Planning vis-a-vis job creation, government appointments, allocation of resources, etc. It will also serve as a guide to and motivate students in Political Science and Comparative Politics to embark on further research on the subject matter.


1.4. Literature Review

The aim here is to review previous literature on ethnicity and voting behaviour . The literature review is therefore guided by the independent and dependent variable of the research questions: ethnicity and voting behaviour. Literatures abound on the synergy between ethnicity and census figure, party formation, voters’ behaviour, and others on the causes of ethnic politics.

Zuckerman, Valentino & Zuckerman (1994:15) assert that no matter how private the act of voting, an individual’s social and political networks directly and strongly determine the choice made. Powell (1976) has earlier argues that where a voter’s social class, ethnic group, and religion are associated with consistent political interests, it is likely for that person to be a strong supporter of one of the political parties. People whose webs of group affiliations contain numerous reinforcing ties persistently support the same political party (Simmel, 1955). Zuckerman, Valentino and Zuckerman (1994) also argue that weak partisanship results from a person’s location in cleavages that have conflicting political interests, viewing voting decisions as reflections of the citizen’s location in particular social networks. They further state that:

As individuals interact with their friends, family, coworkers, and neighbours, they learn about politics. The more their social circles align with the political cleavages present, the more likely is the voter to support one of the political parties. No one can vote like their social intimates, when these people hold conflicting political views. No matter how frequently they interact and no matter how much they share, these individuals will vote together only when their social bonds are associated with political cleavages (Zuckerman, Valentino and Zuckerman, 1994: 1010)
Ethnic voting can take different dimension. Wolfinger (1965) remark that ethnic voting has two manifestations, (1) Members of an ethnic group show an affinity for one party or the other which cannot be explained solely as a result of demographic characteristics (2) Members of an ethnic group will cross party lines to vote for or against a candidate belonging to a particular ethnic group. He argues that several political circumstances are also associated with the strength of ethnic voting-that ethnicity will be more important in the absence of plain cues to guide voters’ decision, ethnicity is likely to play a greater role in non-partisan election, where voters cannot rely on the party label. He however states that while party identification may impede the free play of ethnic salience, it also stabilizes and prolongs ethnic relevance; ethnic voting also seems to be less important when some great issue dominates political perspectives, as the Depression did in the 1930’s. While playing down the ethnic factor in voting behaviour, Lindbergh and Morrison (2007:34) state thus:

Voting behaviour is not so much ethnic in essence as it is a rational response to the classic information problem for the voter using the parties’ historical affiliation as a key source of evaluation. Clientelistic and ethnic predisposed voting are minor feature of the Ghanaian electorate, and when present, they seem to be nurtured by intense partisan competition

In like manner, Bratton, Bhavnani and Chen (2011) believe that elections are much more than mere ethnic censuses or straightforward economic referenda, that the complexity of voting motivations is evidenced by unforeseen facts: contra the stereotype of ethnic voting, many African heads of government hail from secondary or minority ethnic groups; and converse to the economic voting thesis, incumbent presidents often gain reelection despite the poor performance of African economies. They however agree that ethnic sentiments play a role in shaping vote choice, but noted that rational calculations about material welfare are apparently at the forefront of voters’ minds (Bratton, Bhavnani and Chen, 2011:14).

For Horowitz (1985) ethnicity exerts a strong direct impact on electoral behaviour in ethnically-segmented societies, through generating a long term psychological sense of party loyalty anchoring citizens to parties, where casting a vote becomes an expression of group identity. By implications, other social divisions become subsumed as secondary to ethnicity. Horowitz defines ethnic parties as those that derive their support from an identifiable ethnic group and serve the interests of that group. To be an ethnic party, a party does not have to command an exclusive hold on the allegiance of group members, it is how that party’s support is distributed, not how the ethnic group’s support is distributed, that is decisive (Horowitz, 1985:293).

Horowitz quotes the examples of Guyana, Trinidad, and Ghana, where surveys during the 1960s found that parties often received 80-90 percent of their votes from one ethnic group. Those voters who crossed ethnic-party lines were subject, not just to the usual group pressures, but also to actual intimidation and even physical violence. Where ethnic parties predominate, Horowitz suggests that an election essentially becomes an ‘ethnic census’. Party systems are defined as ethnic if all parties are ethnically based, as exemplified for Horowitz in the mid-1980s by the Sudan, Sri Lanka, Chad, Benin, Kenya, and Nigeria. Such party systems are prone to conflict, exacerbating existing ethnic divisions, Horowitz argues, because holding the reins of power in state office is often seen as a zero-sum game, rather than a process of accommodation. Where party systems in Africa are divided by more than one predominant issue cleavage, for example over issues of economic redistribution, the system can become multiethnic or non-ethnic, although he regards such cases as relatively rare. Unlike other social cues, Horowitz regards ethnicity as a particular problem for the usual process of bargaining and compromise that characterise normal politics in representative democracies, because he sees ethnicity as ascriptive, and therefore more segmented, pillarised and rigid than social identities which are more flexible and fluid, or even self-selected, such as those based on class or shared ideological beliefs. Better-educated and more cognitively sophisticated citizens, it is argued, have less need to rely upon the traditional social cues of ethnicity in electoral choices. The mass media allow citizens to compare a range of parties, leaders, and public policy issues, potentially exposing them to many dissonant values beyond those shared with family and neighbours in their local.

Fridy (2007:14) for example concludes that ethnicity is an extremely significant factor in Ghanaian elections. Likewise, Erdmann (2007) finds that voter alignment and party affiliation are largely influenced by ethnicity. Thus, although not exclusively, political parties in Africa tend to be dominated by particular ethnic groups rather than being on the basis of ideology. Ndegwa (1997) explains the observed ethnic voting patterns as due to the fact that Africans possess “dual citizenship.” That is, Africans are members of two types of political communities in the same temporal and spatial world. On the one hand, they are members of their civicrepublican community which is often their ethnic or community group and to which they owe some obligations. At the same time, they are members of the modern national state. Ndegwa suggests that the membership in the national state is guided by the conception of status and rights rather than duties. This dual citizenship undermines the democratization process as Africans continue to show allegiance to their civic republican community.

Ethnic voting in Africa gives credence to Horowitz’s (1985) expressive voting hypothesis whereby ethnic voters use their votes to register their identity as members of groups. Such voting implies that voting is not the outcome of a careful evaluation of policy positions or the performance of leaders; instead, it is identity that matters. Fish (2008:) describes identity politics as follows:

You are practicing identity politics when you vote for or against someone because of his or her skin color, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation, or any marker that leads you to say yes or no independently of a candidate’s ideas or policies. In essence, identity politics is An affirmation of tribe against the claims of ideology… An identity politics voter says in effect, I don’t care what views he holds, or even what bad things he may have done, or what lack of ability he may display, he’s my brother, or he’s my kinsman, or he’s my landsman,…Birnir (2007:35) argues that ethnicity is an especially important element of vote choice early in the democratization process, when there is little information about the ideological positions of parties. If individuals from the same group tend to live together, and to be exposed mostly to members of their own group with little exposure to members of other groups, then it should be more likely that they will form group-specific viewpoints and interests, and thus that they vote together with their own ethnic group (Huber, 2010:12). In a study of Nigerian elections, Lewis (2007) observes that while identity is important in Nigerian politics, ethnicity is not the only axis of identification. Identity in Nigeria takes many dimensions such as ethnicity, economic and religion. Furthermore, Lewis finds that identity is not fixed and varies by region and over time. In other words, identity is rather fluid. Nevertheless, Lewis finds that ethnic feelings are strongest in the Niger Delta where people feel discriminated and exploited. That ethnicity does not matter to voters in and of itself, but rather because voters anticipate more targeted future goods from co-ethnic candidates. Moreover, while a candidate’s prior performance is a crucial determinant of whether his co-ethnics will vote for him, voters are only sensitive to the performance of candidates from their own ethnicities. A positive record of performance cannot overcome the impact of non co-ethnicity, nor do voters hold non-coethnics accountable for poor performance.

Oji (2008:3) notes that there are two major ways of selecting key political and bureaucratic officials in Nigeria. They include the use of the federal character and zoning principles. The office distribution methods work in concert, with the federal character principle applying more to appointive positions while zoning relates mostly to elective positions. But unlike the federal character principle, which legally mandates equal representation of states in federal institutions, zoning is an informal arrangement devised by the Nigerian political elite in the course of their informal political exchanges. This means that there is no legal provision compelling politicians to abide by the zoning arrangement.

Even though no part of Ghana is ethnically homogeneous, an overriding feature of the country’s ethnic polarization is the north–south divide and the dominance of the southern half of Ghana in general and in particular by the Akan group. This segment of Ghanaian society has enjoyed relative economic and political dominance in both the colonial and post-colonial times. In addition, there has been a divide in Ghanaian politics between the populist and the elite strands in society and between the rural and urban populations. The north–south flow of migration is emblematic of the ethno-regional inequalities that have developed in Ghana since colonial times when infrastructural development and productive projects had been concentrated in the south and left the north relatively underdeveloped.

There are wide disparities with respect to the distribution of medical and health facilities, access to telephones, consumption of electricity, small-scale industries, schools and other key social services, particularly between the north and the south, rural-and urban areas. For example, at independence, having been largely neglected and left relatively underdeveloped under colonial rule, the northern region declared a social and economic distance from the rest of the country and its political leaders argued that their people were not ready to be governed as part of independent Ghana without special protections.

Psaliidas-Perlmutter inFrempong (2006:21) states that ‘‘ethnic activists and political entrepreneurs often operate by reinforcing groups fear of physical insecurity and cultural domination and as memories, myths and emotions magnify these fears, they produce a toxic brew of distrust and suspicion’’ This fear affects public perception of the government and its appointments pattern. Ashante and Gyimah-Boadi (2004:125-127) lament that there is high level of deprivation in many rural parts of Ghana and generally in the three northern regions, they thus remark, that there is a strong belief among Ghanaians that:

Party affiliation, ethnicity and region of origin are highly influential and possibly the most influential factors in public service appointment…this in turn, foster ethno-regional voting patterns and drives political appointments to follow ethnic-regional lines, it also raises the possibility that ethnicity could be used as an instrument of mobilization and for competition particularly in the public service and in politics both at the national and local level
It is often argue that the Ashanti-Ewe divide and the overall dominance of the Akan group in economic and social life as well as in public sector contribute to ethnic and regional polarization in Ghana. The two groups have displayed the least flexibility in their voting behaviour. The voting among Ashantes and Ewes suggest that the country is polarized along ethnic and political lines. Another slant to this argument is that ethnically-based discrimination often takes place in the public service and this help to further aggravate the pre-existing fears of other ethnic groups not in power.

There are instances where people have lost their jobs, or asked to proceed on leave based on where they came from; issues allegedly more related with ethnicity than efficiency, and added perception that most of their replacements have been Ashantis and Akan. In similar vein, the predominance of Ewes as heads of the security agencies changed to people with Akan or Guan sounding names on top (Frempong, 2006:9).

Kwame Nkrumah did not follow any fixed mathematical formula in allocating cabinet posts among the various ethnic groups. All major ethnic groups were represented in Nkrumah’s cabinets from 1952. However, by 1965, Akans were clearly over-represented. Thus, 13 out of a total of 18 cabinet members in 1965 were Akan, with 3 from his own
Nzimah ethnic sub-group/community, a number quite out of proportion to the number of Nzimahs in Ghana (Austin and Luckham, 1975; Danso-Boafo, 1996). Even with these figures Nkrumah was largely considered to be ethnically blind, while Busia and his party were considered to be ethnocentric.

A great deal of attention has been focus on Nigeria and Ghana electoral experience, democracy, colonialism, federalism, government performance, etc., and their link to ethnic politics. Relative to these issues, a comparative study of Nigeria and Ghana vis-a–vis ethnicity and voters’ behaviour in the 2007 and 2008 election of Nigeria and Ghana seem scarce. The foregoing has therefore created a gap in the literature which this study aims to fill


1.5. Theoretical Framework

The classic structural theory of voting behaviour developed during 1960s by Seymour Martin Lipset and Rokkan (1967) emphasized that social identities formed the basic building blocks of party support in Western Europe. For Lipset and Rokkan, European nation-states were stamped by social divisions established decades earlier. Unlike Europe, Citizens in agrarian societies, particularly those in Sub-Saharan Africa, are commonly believed to be strongly rooted to local communities through primary ties of ‘ blood and belonging’, including those of kinship, family, ethnicity and religion, as well as long-standing cultural bonds (Salih and Markakis, 1998; Palmberg, 1999; Bekker, Dodds, and Khosa. 2001; Daddieh and Fair, 2002). Structural theories suggest that within this context, in electoral democracies, the basic cleavages within each society should provide cues linking voters to parties representing each major social sector, whether divisions of ethnicity, region, class, or religion.

Bwana (2007:13) identifies three theories which try to explain voting trends and behaviour, namely the Party Identification Model; the Rational Choice Model; and the Sociological Model. In the party identification model, the act of voting is seen as expressive, not instrumental, that is, it is a way of expressing a deep-seated loyalty to the party. The party identification model springs from social psychology and scholars at the University of Michigan and elsewhere have developed this idea into what is often referred to as the ‘Michigan Model’ (Jeff and Gainous, 2002:23), because it was developed at the University of Michigan in the 1950s. The central argument here is that people will tend to vote for candidates and positions of parties they have come to identify with.

The concept of party identification denotes the long term feelings of attachment which many electors develop to a particular political party. The party identification model stresses the role of the family in the transmission of party loyalties (Harrop and Miller, 1987:58). As for the rational choice model (also called public choice theory), it makes a number of assumptions about individual behaviour that is necessary to describe systems of aggregate voting in symbolic terms.

Under this model, individuals are assumed to make orderly choices that reflect their personal preferences and desires. This debate about the rationality of self-interest in political behaviour can be traced as far back as works by Machiavelli, Hobbes and Hume (Jeff and Gainous, 2002). In the rational choice model, voters choose the party, which comes closest to their own interests, values and priorities (Harrop and Miller, 1987). Three points characterize this model: voting is considered to be an instrument or means of achieving some further end and there is no room for citizens who vote for a party because they value such a government for its own sake; secondly, rational choice model focuses on the voters’ political goals, thus voting is not for pleasing one’s spouse, impress one’s friends or for any other non-political reason as the case is in party identification model; lastly, rational choice assumes voters are instrumental in their approach to political transformation as to the vote itself and acquire as much information as is needed to make their decision. On the other hand, the sociological model rejects the individualistic emphasis of both the party identification and rational choice models (Harrop and Miller, 1987). The sociological model emphasizes the impact of social structure on political parties. It by-pass the individual electorate altogether and, to the extent that it does focus on people, it emphasizes the social base of values and interests rather than the mechanisms by which they translate into voting behaviour.

The question then is; to what extent can these three models be appropriated to suit in the circumstances and political conditions under which elections have been conducted in Nigeria and Ghana? Previous scholarship on the electoral politics of Nigeria and Ghana has shown that voters in both countries tend to vote for parties/candidates that best represent their ethnic/regional interests and election result also solidifies this north/south divide. The major political parties in Nigeria (PDP, ANPP, ACN and APGA) appear to garner majority of their votes from the southern, northern, western and eastern regions respectively; while Ghana’s two major political parties i.e. the New Patriotic Party and the National Democratic Congress seem to have Ewe and Akan support respectively. Beyond party identification is the tendency of voters to always check the ethnic background of parties’ presidential flag bearer. To allay fear of ethnic domination, most political parties try to balance their ethnic card by picking the presidential and vice presidential candidate from different ethnic groups. Despite this arrangement, voters usually focus on the ethnic make-up of party presidential candidate who will eventually be at the elm of affairs if victorious at the poll. One may want to explain ethnic voting pattern in Ghana and Nigeria on the basis of party identification model because the major ethnic groups in both countries prefer one political party to another. This notwithstanding, one thing is constant, i.e., the assumed or real ability of a political party to cater or provide such hope that the political interest of ethnic groups that align with it are guaranteed. The most appropriate voting theory that best explain this attitude would be rational choice theory which emphases the instrumentality of vote and not just voting for the love of a party par se or other factors other than the voter’ personal/group political interest. We therefore adopt the Rational Choice theory as the framework for our analysis in this paper.

A pioneering figure in establishing rational choice theory is George Homans (1961), who set out a basic framework of the theory, which he grounded in the assumptions drawn from behaviourist psychology. Homans argue that human behaviour, like all animal behaviour, is not free but determined. It is shaped by the rewards and punishments that are encountered and that no exchange continues unless both parties are making a profit. The person who experiences a ‘loss’ finds the interaction more costly than rewarding and so will have an incentive to withdraw. He notes that a sustained social relationship, therefore, rests upon a balance of mutual profitability. Participants in social interaction engage in a calculus of rewards and costs and the interaction will continue in a stable form only if all participants are making a profit. Those who experience a loss will withdraw and will seek out alternative interactions where they are more likely to earn a profit.

Blau (1964), Coleman (1973), and Cook (1977) extended the framework, and they helped to develop more formal, mathematical models of rational action. The theory was popularise in the field of Political Science in such diverse areas as theories of voting and coalition formation by Buchanan and Tullock (1962); Riker (1962). Scott (2000:5) argues that the basic idea of rational choice theory is that patterns of behaviour in societies reflect the choices made by individuals as they try to maximize their benefits and minimize their costs. In other words, people make decisions about how they should act by comparing the costs and benefits of different courses of action. As a result, patterns of behaviour will develop within the society from those choices. Rational choice theorists hold that individuals must anticipate the outcomes of alternative courses of action and calculate that which will be best for them. Rational individuals choose the alternative that is likely to give them the greatest satisfaction (Coleman, 1973). An individual has the cognitive ability and time to weigh every choice against every other choice.
Basically, we predicate our analysis on some of the basic propositions emanating from the rational choice theory. Within this context, we state the following:

  1. All social action can be seen as rationally motivated, as instrumental action, however much it may appear to be irrational or non-rational.
  2. Complex social phenomena can be explained in terms of elementary individual actions of which they are composed, a standpoint known as methodological individualism 3. Individuals are seen as motivated by wants or goals that express their preferences
  3. Individuals must anticipate the outcomes of alternative courses of action and calculate that which will be best for them
  4. Rational individuals choose the alternative that is likely to give them the greatest satisfaction (Coleman, 1973; Scott, 2000).

In view of the foregoing, we argue that voters are likely to seek ways to maximise the amount of resources they can secure from the state. The resources in question include benefits such as jobs, roads, health services, schools, etc., voters assume that the likelihood that the resources will be channelled to them is directly related to whether or not the politician who controls those resources is from their ethnic group. Thus, the competition for resources and other benefits become a struggle among ethnic groups to put one of their own into a position of political power (Posner, 2007:4). Politicians aware of this assumption, sometimes couch their appeals in ethnic garbs.


1.6. Hypotheses

This study is guided by the following hypotheses:

  1. Ethnic inclination impact on the voting pattern of Nigerians in general elections
  2. Uneven distribution of government appointment among ethnic groups influence the voting behaviour of Nigerians

1.7. Method of Data Collection

This study adopts the Observation Method of data collection which involves the observation of documented evidence that serve as a secondary source of data. Secondary source of data refer to a set of data gathered or authored by another person either in the form of official document, survey result, books, etc., collected for a purpose other than the present (Asika, 2006:27). This study relies heavily on secondary source of data like books, official documents, journals, and internet materials on the subject matter


1.8. Method of Data Analysis

The study relied on qualitative descriptive analysis as a method of analysing data. Asika (2006:118) describe qualitative descriptive analysis as a method of summarizing the information in the research verbally so as to further discover relationship among variables. The use of this analytical method became necessary because the study relied principally on secondary source of data.


Chapter Five


Conclusion and Recommendations

5.1 Conclusion

This work attempts to examine how ethnicity and religion influenced Voters behavior in the 2015 presidential election in Nigeria which was won by Mohammadu Buhari. We adopted the qualitative research method as our methodology. We also adopted the sociological approach to voting behavior and the rational choice theory as our theoretical framework. We concluded that from the result of the election, it is obvious that the two major factors that influenced the pattern of voting were ethnicity and religion. We also asserted that beyond that, other factors such as corruption popularity of parties and candidates, the precarious economic and security situation in the country coupled with the desire for change also influenced voters’ behaviour.

Finally, we recommend that voting behaviour should be based on party ideology and competence and reputation of the candidates and not ethnicity and religion. If Nigeria must move forward, the electorates must reject ethnicity and religion as the bases of political choice. This is because, it enthrones mediocrity and encourages ethnocentrism and corruption in all sphere of our national life. As a country, if we do not get our politics right, we will not get our economy right. The much needed imperative of national integration can only be achieved if we toe the part of national interest even in our voting behavior.


5.2 Recommendations

This work recommends that:

  1. There is need for government to re-educate or re-orientate the political elites on the constant danger of using the ethno-religious card to acquire electoral offices or leadership position.
  2. The principle of Federal Character enshrined in the Constitution should be reviewed to enable it perform integrative function without compounding merit, and also, ensure social justice and equity is put into play.
  3. Create more space for Nigerians to participate in the affairs of the country as well as, those of their various communities. This will go a long way in reducing alienation which oftentimes is a major promoter of ethnic nationalism.
  4. Nigerians need to be well-enlightened about the values that make for peaceful coexistence.
  5. Constitutional amendment is needed to adequately address clauses that abrogate powers to ethnic or regional structures. For example, the constitutional provision (Section 147, sub-section 3 of the 1999 Constitution) mandates the appointment of at least a minister per state. This has unleashed mini tribal wars in many states.
  6. There is need for a fairer resources management formula that would be acceptable to those who pay the human and environmental prize for Nigeria‟s oil powered economy.
  7. Nigeria must control corruption by making stealing impossible and prosecution swift and certain. Meanwhile the judiciary must wake-up to the 21st century justice system administration of criminal cases, particularly those that threaten national security, such as corruption; the country must enthrone transparency and accountability in governance.
  8. Nigeria needs cultural orientation on the beauty of diversity. Therefore, this study calls on Nigerians, the government, and the African communities to focus on addressing the human factors that are contributing to conflicts, underdevelopment and bad governance as against vilifying the beauty of the diversities.

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