Party Politics And Electoral Violence In Nigeria
1.1 Background of the Study
Political parties are traditionally the most significant intermediary organizations in democratic societies. Students of political science have commonly associated them with democracy itself. Political parties, as “makers” of democracy, have been so romanticized that scholars claim that neither democracy nor democratic societies are thinkable without them (Omotola, 2009). In other words, the existence of vibrant political parties is very imperative for democratic consolidation in any polity.
It is clearly ironic that political parties largely pursue and profess democracy in the media only to resist it within. Competitive party and electoral politics are expected to deepen democracy. Well functioning political parties are seen as essential for the success of electoral democracy and overall political development of Nigeria (Ibeanu, 2013, Adetula and Adeyi, 2013).
Regrettably, elections in Nigeria since political independence have been characterized by violent actions that often result in socio-economic tensions and unrests. This has indeed remained a recurring decimal in Nigeria’s political life despite efforts at curbing it.
Electoral violence in Nigeria has been sustained and reinforced mostly by religious, ethnic and tribal diversities. For instance, the political violence that greeted the Nigeria’s First and Second Republics which eventually led to military intervention and long spell in the country’s government and politics, had its roots in ethic and tribal considerations (Wakili, 2015).
Following the announcement of the result of the 2011 presidential election which saw to the re-election of the incumbent, President Goodluck Jonathan, candidate for the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP), violence began with widespread protests by supporters of the main opposition candidate, Rtd General Muhammadu Buhari of Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) challenging the results. The protests degenerated into sectarian violence and killings by the Almajiri (Sanghaya school students) in the Northern states of Adamawa, Bauchi, Borno, Gombe, Jigawa, Kaduna, Katsina, Niger, Sokoto, Yobe and Zamfara where more than 65,000 people were estimated to be displaced while over 800 people were killed in the electoral violence (Ibeanu, 2013).
The increase in electoral violence at every turn of election in Nigeria has been alarming until 2015 when Nigeria had the most stunning elections. Hitherto, because of electoral apprehension and the tendency towards violence by all means a prior prediction was concluded by some experts in the US that 2015 was likely to signal the dismantling of the Nigerian state into some banana republics (Yoroms, 2015).
Electoral violence in Nigeria is most often carried out by thugs whose members are openly recruited, financed and sometimes armed by political parties, politicians and their representatives (Aniekwe and Kushie, 2011). These gangs, comprised primarily of unemployed young men who are mobilized to attack their sponsors’ rivals, intimidate members of the public, rig elections and protect their patrons from similar attacks (Aniekwe and Kushie, 2011).
Excessive manipulation of the electoral process beginning with voter registration before the conduct of elections to the outcome of election results by political parties has generated tension and the cumulative reaction of the masses into violence in Nigeria. This has made scholars and political analysts and pundits to classify party politics in the country as a dirty game.
Accordingly, Osabiya (2015) asserted that in modern societies, political parties are very essential to political process. They have become veritable instrument or adjunct of democracy in any democratic system. Political parties are not only instrument for capturing political power, but they are also vehicles for the aggregation of interests and ultimate satisfaction of such interests through the control of government. Obviously political parties are crucial to the sustenance of democratic governance. Therefore this research study seeks to critically explore party politics and electoral violence in Nigeria.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
Consolidating Nigerian democracy through the conduct of credible elections has remained an albatross. The history of Nigeria’s democratic experiments demonstrates that elections and party politics have generated so much animosity which has, in some cases, threatened the corporate existence of the country (such as happened after the annulment of the June 12, 1993 presidential election) and in other cases instigated military incursion into political governance, most notably in 1966 and 1983.
At the heart of electoral process in Nigeria is the problem of lack of credibility for the official results of elections leading to the rejection of such results by a sizeable portion of the Nigerian voting public. Since the 1964 general election, the first to be conducted by the post-colonial Nigerian government, elections in Nigeria have consistently been characterized by the contestation of results and organized violence.
While there is a plethora of factors that account for electoral violence in Nigeria, the institutional factor (designing a credible electoral system) appears to be the most salient (Animashaun, 2010). In addition, the process of implementing such an efficient electoral regime is challenged by sociological variables such as the pluralist character of the Nigerian nation, underdeveloped political culture and irrational party politics (Animashaun, 2010).
Since the inauguration of the Fourth Republic, a pattern is already emerging which points to the fact that political elites have not learnt much from the mistakes of the past. The high level of political abduction, harassment, arson, and assassinations, withdrawal of credible and qualified professionals in the race all lay credence to this fact (Jegede, 2003). It is against this backdrop that this study seeks to examine party politics and electoral violence in Nigeria.
1.3 Objectives of the Study
The study is being conducted with the following objectives:
- To investigate the relationship between party politics and electoral violence in Nigeria.
- To examine the effect of intra-party crisis on democratic process in Nigeria.
- To investigate the effect of political parties on democratic consolidation in Nigeria.
- To find out the challenges of political parties in Nigeria.
- To recommend policy options on party politics and violence in Nigeria.
1.4 Research Questions
The research study will be guided by the following questions:
- What is the relationship between party politics and electoral violence in Nigeria?
- What is the relative effect of intra-party crisis on democratic process in Nigeria?
- To what extent do the activities of political parties promote democratic consolidation in Nigeria?
1.5 Significance of the Study
The study has both theoretical and practical significance. Theoretically, the study has the potential of contributing greatly to existing body of literature on elections and political violence. This work will provide the student of political science and political history, the needed framework for tackling the issues of electoral violence in future elections.
Practically, this research work will be of interest to Nigerian government, especially House Committee on electoral matters, Ministries, Departments, and Agencies (MDAs) like the Independent Electoral Commission (INEC), States Independent Electoral Commissions (SIEC) etc. The findings of this study will also provide valuable information in articulating potential policies that will help address the problems of political parties and electoral violence.
Finally, to the readers and researchers, this would make useful contributions to any study on same topic or any related topic on party politics and electoral violence.
1.6 Scope of the Study
The scope of the study defines the research boundary. Therefore this study encompasses party politics and electoral violence in Nigeria vis-à-vis the party politics, the electoral process and the challenges of political parties in Nigeria.
1.7 Method of Data Collection
Method of data collection specifies how the test of hypothesis is carried out (Ifesinachi, 2010). Method of data collection of this study is based mainly on secondary sources. This is a method use in gathering already existing data on the subject matter such as government publication, textbooks, articles and magazines, annual reports etc.
1.8 Method of Data Analysis
We will adopt the content analysis model of data analysis. The effectiveness of this method or model lies in its ability to allow the researcher to extract and interpret relevant research materials, make judgment input into the work. Content analysis hence, are scholarly methodology in research writing, by which texts are studied as to authorship, authenticity or meaning (www.wikipedia.com). Harold Lasswell formulated the core questions of content analysis, “who says what, to whom, why, to what extent and with what effect?” (Krippendor/t:2004:l 1).
Summary, Conclusion and Recommendation
This study was undertaken to investigate Party Politics and electoral violence in Nigeria. The study opened with chapter one where the statement of the problem was clearly defined. The study objectives and research hypotheses were defined and formulated respectively. The study reviewed related and relevant literatures. The chapter two gave the conceptual framework, empirical and theoretical studies. The third chapter described party politics in Nigeria and gave an overview of party politics in Nigeria from independence till date. The fourth chapter dealt with electoral violence in Nigeria. While the fifth chapter gives the study summary and conclusion.
In conclusion, we summarized the findings of this work around the questions raised in the research work. The post-election violence which took place mainly in the Northern Nigeria towns and cities was attributed mainly to the high rate of poverty and level of illiteracy. These factors were triggered by existing burning issue of zoning arrangement in the PDP after the demise of president Musa Yar’adua. Instigating statements by party member, poor education, religious sentiments, institutional decay in the Nigeria, religious intolerance and “crisis of expectation”.
The failure to achieve this expectation, according to analysts, resulted into the violence in which pro Buhari member unleashed attack on Christians and PDP influential supporters in the Northern part of Nigeria. Interestingly and corroborating the statements above, the 22 man panel set-up to investigate the cause of the post election violence has completed itswork and submitted to the government for further actions. The presidential Committee on Post-Election Violence in the northern parts of the country submitted it report stating that Congress for Progressive Change, CPC, Presidential Candidate, major General Muhammadu Buhari’s provocative remarks played a role in the bloody violence that led to the death of 10 members of the National Youth Service Corps, NYSC, and hundreds of others after last April’s presidential polls.
Apart from Buhari’s utterances, the panel said that the governments’ failure to implement reports of past commissions and panels on ethno-religious and political crises also contributed to the post-election violence and urged the government to implement the reports. It also decried the parlous state of infrastructure, rising insecurity and ballooning wages of public office holders amid poverty among the citizenry and urged urgent remedies to avert a looming disaster in the country.
Furthermore, Chukuma Innocent, the Chief executive of Cleen foundation, a civil society group that works on justice sector reform, notes that panels of inquiry have become a tunnel through which the government runs away from their responsibility to bring the culprits of violence to book. He further said that these panels buy the government time and when the problem drops from the headlines they go back to business as usual.
Therefore, the implementation of the recommendations by the panel will serve as test to the sincerity of the government in finding lasting solutions to the recurring violence which has brought Nigeria to the brink of disintegration.
The violence which attended the April 2011 presidential elections indicates that the challenges to national unity are never far from the surface. The continued spate of violence in Nigeria, especially the Northern Nigeria is worrying and calls for drastic measures in other to forestall the looming anarchy that may lead the country to the precipice.
The elections have come and gone. Winners have assumed office. The roles played by individuals, INEC, civil society groups, the media and the government must indeed be acknowledged. Families of victims of the post election crisis have been compensated and government is gradually redeeming its pledge to immortalize the “Martyrs of Democracy” who served honourably to bring about true democracy. Thus we recommend the following:
- Political leaders carry a heavy responsibility and we urge them to ensure that their supporters reject violence as an instrument of politics. This will go a long way in promoting order and sanity in the electoral process.
- That the Federal and Northern States governments should embark on massive industrial and agricultural development to engage the unskilled youths productively. As was mentioned, jobless youth were willing tools in the hands of people who sponsored the violence. Therefore meaningful engagement of the youth especially in the Northern will go a long way in forestalling future outbreak of violence.
- The Federal and northern states governments should embark on settling street Almajiri by equipping the existing traditional Almajiri schools with modern facilities and upgrading their curriculum. The school curriculum should be in such a way that Islamic and western education to be taught side by side.
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