The Impact Of Political Violence On The Democratic Governance In Nigeria

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The Impact Of Political Violence On The Democratic Governance In Nigeria


Politics and election in normal democratic sense, is a way through which the electorate in any society appoint their leaders or representatives to exercise political power on their behalf. The purpose of this research is to critically examine and analyze political violence in Nigeria. The main objective of the study is to examine and find out the reasons for political violence in Nigeria politics, most especially during the electioneering campaigns and election days and the ways of ensuring that the issue is completely eradicated. Based on these objectives, the researcher adopted the use of both primary and secondary data collection to give a critical of the study. After a critical and thorough study and research on the subject matter the following findings were made, that political violence encourage mass rigging, that political violence cannot be a necessary tool in democratic governance etc. The research therefore recommended that any politician found guilty using political violence to win election must be punished accordingly.

Chapter One


1.1 Background of the Study

The hundred and twenty-five years between the French revolution in 1789 and the outbreak of the World War in 1914 are remarkable in the history of government for the development of rise of democracy (Appadonai, 1978:233). The emergence of democracy as a dominant political and social ideology has among other been seen as pivotal instrument of advancing and maintaining progress in some parts of our society.

Democracy is a continuous process and struggle towards actualization of certain values, freedom, equality and justice. No matter how democracy is understood, interpreted and practiced it has a philosophical justification premised on certain cherished human values and ideas.

These values are freedom, equality and justice (Nnoli O. 1986:160).

Political violence in Nigeria is rooted in colonial politics when nationalists began to live men in the absence of state security personnel, in those days, thugs saw themselves more or less as warrior of old whose duty was to protect their leader by wording off any attack on them.

Like the old warrior, many thugs believe in the efficacy and of traditional paraphernalia. Others carry guns, machetes and other weapons.

Today, the distinctive hallmark of political violence in Nigeria is a variety of crimes achieved not only through violence, but also verbal abuse and other derogatory gestures.

Instances of political thuggery include killing of political opponents, party supporters, destruction of both private and public properties spewing ‘’violent’’ languages and deliberate distortion of information to mislead the public.

Contemporary political thugs perform any or all four main functions;

  1. To disrupt the campaign rallies of their opponent and their supporters.
  2. To discourage prospective voters who might vote against their candidate from participating in the electoral process and
  3. To actually maim or even assassinate political opponents and their leading supporters etc.

While politicians, ever selfish about victory, many view violence as a useful weapon of attaining or retaining power. Its negative effects are devastating.

First, it causes damage to lives and properties. Secondly, it is the integrity of the politicians, who use thuggery as a campaign weapon.

Thirdly, thuggery action tends to grab the headlines and displace the candidates ideas and programmes, thereby making it difficult to distinguish between ‘’good’’ and ‘’bad’’ candidates.

Fourthly, thuggery portends a bad omen for the election days instead of preparing citizens to accept election result peacefully, thuggery prepares them for violence, particularly if they feel that their vote were stolen. They may hire thugs as part of their revenge factious as it happen in 1964/1965, 1983, 2003, 2001 and most recently in April 2011 election respectively.

Political violence or thuggery inculcates and nurtures the culture of violence in our youths, a trait that has become rampant in our universities and polytechnics and even during the recently conducted elections.

We have seen youths unleash violence on political candidates, police men, (INEC) officers, judges, journalist and innocent citizens, sometime on behalf of their political candidate, sometimes as a means of venting against the power structure and sometimes as a smokescreen for extortion and loathing.

Secondly, thuggery invokes other acts of violence elsewhere in the polity particularly the actions of cultist in higher institutions of fanatical religious rioters, of militants in the Niger Delta, now Boko-Haram in the North and armed robbers throughout the country.

This networks of violence has branded Nigeria as a modern day lawless and unsafe country where violence rules.

1.2 Statement of the Research Problem

Political violence which has been a major problem since the inception of the 1st republic has no doubt continued till date (fourth republic).

Many lives have been lost through election in this country, there have always being the problems of tribalism, regionalism, fear of domination, sectionalism, godfatherism and ethnicity.

Given the above view, Lokoja local government, being the case study is not exceptional to this problem:

  1. The people in Lokoja local government now find it difficult to come out and cast their vote on the election day.
  2. The few people that are willing to come out end up casting their vote to the wrong candidate, because of the type of government in power.
  3. Snatching of ballot boxes from the polling unit is also responsible for the violence in some cases
  4. It tarnishes the image of government.

Taking the above assertion into consideration, there is need for the government in Nigeria to set out rules different from the past to harness the masses and inculcate in them the need to avoid violent acts in the country.

This study therefore seeks to find out the impact of political violence on democratic governance in Nigeria, lokoja local government being used as a case study.

1.3 Objectives of the Study

The purpose of this study is to expose to the public most especially the youths and politicians how political violence has portrayed us in the eyes of international community.

The specific objectives include the following

  1. To examine and analyze how successful the elections could be conducted without minimal incidence of violence
  2. To enable the nation to eliminate or minimize the killing of political opponents before and during election
  3. To understand our political culture, value of the country and to ensure a full separation of power of the three arms of government in the formation of any electoral law.
  4. To make law that would make elective position unattractive for those whose intention is to play politics of bitterness.

1.4 Research Hypotheses

For the successful completion of the study, the following research hypotheses were formulated by the researcher;

  1. H0: political violence do not encourage mass rigging
    H1: political violence do encourage mass rigging
  2. H02: political violence is not necessary tool in democratic governance
    H2: political violence is necessary tool in democratic governance

1.5 Significance of the Study

The study will enable every Nigerian citizen to know why Nigeria history is filled with political violence.

This study is also a great significant to other researchers. It will significantly provide an opportunity for in-depth knowledge of the concept and the root of political violence in Nigeria.

This study is also of great significance to the people of Lokoja local government. It makes them to know that the end result of every violence is destruction.

To the country at large, it will serve as a road map from the dangerous journey Nigerians have embarked upon for years.

1.6 Scope and Limitation of the Study

The scope of this research is political violence in democratic governance right from the colonial period to date. Special emphasis would be made on the recurrent political violence in the life of our government with particular reference to thuggery and violent activities characterized electioneering campaign of 2003, 2007 general elections. The main theme of this research is to critically analyze the political violence in Nigeria. How it has portrayed us in the eyes of the world. The resultant effects of this violence are large scale political corruption, mass rigging, ballot box snatching, intimidation and a list of other evils that space would not allow me to mention here. Lokoja Local Government Area of Kogi State is to be used as case study.

The researcher encounters some constrain which limited the scope of the study;

a) Availability of Research Material:

The research material available to the researcher is insufficient, thereby limiting the study

b) Time:

The time frame allocated to the study does not enhance wider coverage as the researcher has to combine other academic activities and examinations with the study.

c) Organizational Privacy:

Limited Access to the selected auditing firm makes it difficult to get all the necessary and required information concerning the activities

1.7 Definition of Relevant Terms

This tends to aid understanding of a researchers work. In this study, the following concepts and their meaning are state below:


Violent behavior that is intended to cause injury or kill somebody and destroyed properties.


To arrange or influence something (most especially in elections) in a dishonest way in order to get the result that you want.


A device used by many politicians to out smart their opponents. It is violent, criminal behabviour.


A government of the people by the people and for the people. It is a system of government in which all the people of a country can vote to elect their representatives.


The process of choosing a person or group of people for a position especially in political position by voting.


This is a concept in which politicians (most especially Nigerian political class) clamour for power purposely for their own stomach.


This refers to a time of difficulty when important decisions must be made on a nation’s life or a period of controversy.

1.8 Organization of the Study

This research work is organized in five chapters, for easy understanding, as follows

  1. Chapter one is concern with the introduction, which consist of the (overview, of the study), historical background, statement of problem, objectives of the study, research hypotheses, significance of the study, scope and limitation of the study, definition of terms and historical background of the study.
  2. Chapter two highlights the theoretical framework on which the study is based, thus the review of related literature.
  3. Chapter three deals on the research design and methodology adopted in the study.
  4. Chapter four concentrate on the data collection and analysis and presentation of finding.
  5. Chapter five gives summary, conclusion, and recommendations made of the study

Chapter Five

Summary, Conclusion and Recommendation

5.1 Introduction

It is important to ascertain that the objective of this study was to ascertain impact of political violence on the democracy of Nigeria. In the preceding chapter, the relevant data collected for this study were presented, critically analyzed and appropriate interpretation given. In this chapter, certain recommendations made which in the opinion of the researcher will be of benefits in addressing the challenges of impact of political violence on the democracy of Nigeria

5.2 Summary

This study was onimpact of political violence on the democracy of Nigeria. Four objectives were raised which included:To examine and analyze how successful the elections could be conducted without minimal incidence of violence, to enable the nation to eliminate or minimize the killing of political opponents before and during election, to understand our political culture, value of the country and to ensure a full separation of power of the three arms of government in the formation of any electoral law, to make law that would make elective position unattractive for those whose intention is to play politics of bitterness. In line with these objectives, two research hypotheses were formulated and two null hypotheses were posited. The total population for the study is 200 residents of lokoja local government of Kogi state. The researcher used questionnaires as the instrument for the data collection. Descriptive Survey research design was adopted for this study. A total of 133 respondents made public servants, elderly men, elderly womenand youths were used for the study. The data collected were presented in tables and analyzed using simple percentages and frequencies

5.3 Conclusion

It concludes that the survival of democracy as well as its consolidation involves adherence to the ideals and principles of electoral process as practised in ideal democratic societies (Schedler, 1998). Also, moving a step further towards completing and deepening democracy is measured by high expectations of regime continuity (Schedler, 1998). Thus, the attainment of these objectives involves three core elements of structural, behavioural and attitudinal foundations of democratisation (Schedler, 2001). While the structural elements emphasize issues of socio-economic prosperity where poverty is kept to the barest minimum and institutional parameters such as periodic, competitive, free and fair elections, a multiparty system and the rule of law, the behavioural foundations relate to the proven capacity of ‘democrats’ to roll back anti-democratic challenges. This demands that no major political actors violate basic democratic rules anymore (Schedler, 2001), by having recourse to electoral violence, the rejection of elections or the transgression of authority, thereby putting the survival of democracy at great risk. The third element is the attitudinal foundations that encompass what Andreas Schedler called the basic normative, strategic and cognitive elements required to sustain democracy. The normative elements include democratic legitimacy, defined as the genuine, non instrumental, intrinsic support for democracy by political elites as well as citizens. The strategic elements entail the ability to mediate in and transform the usual conflicting relationship between democrats and anti-democrats in a consensual way, so that all can work in the interests of the democracy project (Schedler, 2001)

5.2 Recommendation

This study indicates that Nigeria has some challenges in electoral process particularly in sustaining democracy. The following are therefore recommended for improving electoral process in Nigeria.

  1. Political education: the political education will inculcate a new value and ethics In the minds of the people, this will affect the family, the peer group, the society as agents of socialization. The ultimate is the development of a new political and democratic order to the electorate.
  2. Improvement in the electoral reform: the electoral reform will inculcate new provisions as a way to checkmate electoral abuse and malpractices and also prosecute perpetrators of electoral offences.
  3. Fighting of corruption must be invigorated: the underlined problem of political instability is lack of good governance. Therefore, corrupt leaders must be punished accordingly, stimulate the economy through diversification of economy will create employment and reduce the rate of unemployed youths who are usually used as canon folders during the election period.

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