Influence Of Religious Belief On Political Participation In South West

Project and Seminar Material for Political Science

Influence Of Religious Belief On Political Participation In South West


This study was carried out on the influence of religious belief on political participation in South West. The nature of Nigerian politics has always been premised on primordial factors that keep defining who gets what, how and when. The paper examines the ethnic colouration in the participating pattern of Nigerians during the election. The paper employs primordial theory of religious belief to explain the strength of religious belief in political participation. The paper exploits qualitative and quantitative components comprising questionnaire and content analysis of two dailies and review of literature as secondary data. The findings showed that 86.4% of the respondents with Hausa ethnic identity and 72% of the respondents with Igbo background agreed that some variables such as religious belief and religion were strong factors that influenced their political participation in the election.

Table of Contents

Chapter One:


  • 1.1 Background to the Study
  • 1.2 Statement of the Problem
  • 1.3 Research Objectives
  • 1.4 Research Questions
  • 1.5 Research Propositions
  • 1.6 Scope of the Study
  • 1.7 Limitation of the Study
  • 1.8 Definition of Terms

Chapter Two:

Literature Review

  • 2.1 Religious Belief
  • 2.2 Political Participation
  • 2.3 Religious Belief and Political Participation
  • 2.4 the Effect of Religious Belief on the Electoral Behaviour of the Nigerian Electorates
  • 2.5 Overview of Presidential Elections Held Between 1999 and 2015
  • 2.6 Ethno-regional Cleavages and Political Participation in in the South West Elections
  • 2.7 Oyo State and the 2015 Elections
  • 2.8 Reasons for Sentimental Participating in Nigeria
  • 2.9 Theoretical Framework
  • 2.9.1 Sociological Model

Chapter Three:

Research Methodology

  • 3.1 Research Design
  • 3.2 Method of Sampling
  • 3.3 Instrumentation
  • 3.4 Method of Data Collection
  • 3.5 Method of Data Analysis

Chapter Four:

Data Presentation and Analysis

  • 4.1 Result
  • 4.2 Major Findings

Chapter Five:

Conclusion and Recommendation

  • References
  • Appendix
  • Questionnaire

Chapter One


1.1 Background to the Study

Religion and religiosity are the concepts which are not easily defined up to the present. Not only defining the religion or religiosity but also measuring religiosity is also very problematic. Hökelekli points out that since there is no single form of religiosity, individuals believing in the same religion, even included in the same religious group, are different and for this reason, it is possible to mention a religiosity specific to every individual. Thus, this makes defining religiosity even much harder (Hökelekli, 2010: 81). In addition, Allport indicates that there are as many kinds of religion experiences as the number of people who tend to be religious in the world (Allport, 2004: 46).

Similarly Spilka et al. says that “there is obviously great overlap among the various proposals, but all agree on one thing: Even though there may be only one word of religion, there may be hundred possible ways of being religious” (Spilka et al., 1985: 7). In this respect, Fromm states another situation that is related to this issue. He argues that, it is extremely difficult to understand whether someone is religious or not. According to him, although some people claim that they are religious, they may not be religious internally, and people who say that they are not religious may act highly religiously (Fromm, 1997: 239). It is understood from this argument that the problem lies not only at defining religiosity, but also at measuring religiosity, as well. Briefly it could be argued that for this research religiosity means to believe in a religion and to live the life in accordance with the requirements of that religion.

Political participation has started to gain importance from the second half of the 20th century with people’s beginning to take part in the political life, and has become a subject matter on which political scientists study intensively. In that era, democratic thinking gained importance and the idea of constructing political power on large masses instead of an intangible minority isolated from people is observed. In this respect, political participation is a concept that emerged as a result of the modernization process and as a component of modern societies. Just as the definitions of religion and religiosity, this concept also has been defined and interpreted differently by different researchers.

Aristotle defines the human being as a “political animal”. Based on this quotation, it is possible to assume that human beings will take part in a political idea in some way or other. It is possible to express political participation as the attitudes and behaviors of the citizens towards the political system. Within this system, individuals perform some actions in order to affect directly or indirectly the decision-making of the political administrators. These actions may range from voting to participate in a candidate’s campaign, to collect signatures, or participating in boycotts or meetings. In addition, individuals may follow political agenda via mass media or perform a political attitude and action by discussing political issues within their family or friends. So, it is also possible to say that not every individual performs the same level of participation. While some follow up the political agenda just as spectators, some others may prefer to take part in politics actively.

Political participation is defined differently by many researches. Some consider just voting as adequate for political participation, some others, nevertheless, state that campaign activity, protest behavior and volunteering should also be considered for political participation. First of all, Van Deth states as summarizing the situation that political participation is a wide-ranging concept and “has become a study of everything” (Van Deth, 2001: 2). Different forms of political participation were first started to be discussed by political scientists in 1960s-1970s (Milbrath, 1965; Verba and Nie, 1972; Barnes and Kaase, 1979). While Milbrath expressed that political participation was unidimensional, Barnes et al. (1979) mentioned two dimensions, namely conventional and un-conventional. Political participation was considered as unidimensional in 1950s and 1960s, but later it was studied as a multidimensional concept. In addition to a direct relation to political engagement, affects political awareness as well. In this regard, Greenberg (2000) argues that political relations affected by religiousness not only increase people’s motivation to participate, but it also enables them to feel that their impact on political processes is better and more effective.

Results from the research by Duries et al. demonstrate that in the socio-cultural and political environment studied, despite the high influence of value inclinations, religiousness is the more important factor affecting political attitude. Based on their research findings, Hoffman and Dowd (2008) argue that individuals with stronger religious inclinations have higher political awareness, and religion and faith has considerable effect on their political engagements. Their findings show that both Islam and Christianity invite people to participate, but participation has been higher among Moslems than Christians. Epley (2005) refers to religious motivation as a factor influencing participative spirit in individuals. On this background the researcher wants to investigate influence of religious belief on political participation in South West.

1.2 Statement of the Problem

Politics and religion are so interwoven that their separation in society is not impossible but problematic. The assertion of religious authority over secular authority for the democrat undermines the legitimacy of the state and the fundamental human rights of the citizens; and the assertion of secular authority over religion “questions” God’s authority over his creations on earth and “undermines” the power and authority of God’s representatives on earth.

The questions that arise therefore are: what really gives rise to the incessant ethnoreligious conflicts that characterize the Nigerian political processes as religious conflicts; does the gloss of religious beliefs and practices over to the nation’s political process engender or endanger the growth of democratic beliefs and practices in the country; and; how can religious and political practices be reconciled to guarantee the institutionalization of an enduring democratic order in a multi-ethnic society as Nigeria.

1.3 Research Objectives

The main objective of the study is to examine the influence of religious belief on political participation in South West.

The following are the specific objectives of this study

  1. To identify the main cause of religious beliefs in Nigeria.
  2. To examine how Ethno-religious conflict determined participating patterns in in the South West elections.
  3. To investigate the credibility of the in the South West elections vis-a-vis sentimental participating patterns.

1.4 Research Questions

The following are questions the research seeks to answer

  1. What is the main cause of Religious beliefs in Nigeria?
  2. How did Religious belief determine participating patterns in in the South West elections?
  3. Was the credibility of the in the South West elections undermined by the sentimental participating patterns?

1.5 Significance of the Study

This study will give a clear insight on influence of religious believes on political participation in South West, Nigeria. The study will be beneficial to students, religious believers and the general public. It will also serve as a reference to other researchers that will embark on this topic.

1.6 Scope of the Study

The scope of the study covers influence of religious believes on political participation in South West, Nigeria. 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 Terms


The capacity to have an effect on the character, development, or behaviour of someone or something, or the effect itself.

Religious Belief:

Religious belief is the belief in the reality of the mythological, supernatural, or spiritual aspects of a religion. Religious belief is distinct from religious practice or religious behaviours with some believers not practicing religion and some practitioners not believing religion.

Political Participation:

Political participation is any activity that shapes, affects, or involves the political sphere. Political participation ranges from voting to attending a rally to committing an act of terrorism to sending a letter to a representative.

1.8 Organization of the Study

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

  • 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.
  • Chapter two highlights the theoretical framework on which the study is based, thus the review of related literature.
  • Chapter three deals on the research design and methodology adopted in the study.
  • Chapter four concentrate on the data collection and analysis and presentation of finding.
  • Chapter five gives summary, conclusion, and recommendations made of the study.

Chapter Five

Conclusion and Recommendation

This study was carried out on religious belief and participating behavior in Nigeria. It is limited in term of the size of the sample which should have included samples from other geopolitical zones of the country. Also, the adoption of content analysis of two dailies in addition to the questionnaire administration technique would have revealed the political participation of Nigerians during the election. It is expected that further research will be conducted to identify other variables that are predictors of participating pattern in Nigeria.

The study reveals that some significant relationships existed between religious belief and political participation of the electorates. The results show that some variables such as common ancestry and language of the voters, ethnic and religious affiliation and other primordial bonds did significantly influence political participation of the electorates during the 2015 presidential election. This was evident among the Igbo and the Hausa ethnic identities because the major contestants emerged from the two ethnic identities. Most Igbo voted for the incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan because he is from south-south region. Most Northern settlements in Ibadan voted massively for Muhammadu Buhari because they shared a common ancestry irrespective of the location they cast their votes.

The election witnessed an intense politicization of the Muslim-Christian divide and the north-south dichotomy in the ‎country.‎ The ‎name‎ ‘political‎ south’‎ and ‎‘political‎ north’‎ was induced by voters particularly in the south-east, south south and north-east, north-west regions. The result released by INEC in the south-south and south-east saw PDP securing 87.55% and 89.66% respectively of the entire votes for Jonathan while north-west and north-east saw APC securing 81.34% and 75.28% respectively of the votes for Muhammadu Buhari.

Primordial ties with the presidential candidates during the 2015 presidential election played a vital role in the emergence of such candidates emerging winners in such places of the ties.

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