Political Participation And Conflict In Nigeria’s Electoral Process Covering (A Period Of 2015-2020)
This study examines political participation and conflict in Nigeria’s electoral process covering a period of 2015-2020.
The study made use of qualitative approach which was used based on secondary sources of data. Using content analysis method of analysis, the study adopt relevant descriptive, comparative and historical methods. Through this multi-approach, several reviews of relevant materials was made and historical document critically examined. Interview analysis were used to analyze the data. The population for this study is the entire political parties that participated in the gubernatorial elections in Nigeria from the period of 2015 to 2019.
The findings showed that political participation had a significant influence in the level of democratic governance in Nigeria; it also showed that, the causes of conflict can be attributed to inefficiency on the part of INEC, godfatherism, monetization of politics, joblessness of the youths, power of the ruling party not willing to handover and many more; and it was found out that, female gender as a significant role to play in political and socio economic development in Nigeria and as well in the electioneering process as a result of their influence in the past administrations in the country.
The study concludes that political participation should involve both male and female gender with equal right and opportunity to exercise their rights and to participate in the political and socio economic development of the country, and as well as to be involved in the electoral process in the country. The study recommended that; the youths of this country should be provided with employments in order to avoid being used by disgruntled politicians during electoral process. The political structure of the country should encourage gender equality and fairness on the part of the women who might be seeking for political office. The various political parties in the country should be strengthened to act as agent of change in order to ensure the checks and balances in the political affairs of the country. The electoral administrators should be men and women of proven integrity. The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) should act as an independent body it was established upon in order to ensure that electoral decision process is based on true result. Women should be considered as a vital tool in any electioneering process. True democracy should be practiced in order to ensure the free participation of political parties and individuals in the electoral process of the country.
1.1. Background to the Study
Political participation is a basic concept in political science and scholars define the concept in different ways. It may be defined as the actions of private citizens seeking to influence or support Government and politics. Political participation is the involvement of the citizens in the political system. Adelekan (2010) described political participation as the process through which the individual plays a role in the political life of his society and has the opportunity to take part in deciding what common goals of the society are and the best way of achieving these goals. According to Akamare (2003) political participation is an aspect of political behaviour and it focuses on the way in which individuals take part in politics. It is a voluntary activity and one may participate directly or indirectly. The various ways by which the people can be involved in the political system include selection or election of political leaders, formulation of policies, community activities and other civic engagements.
According to Awolowo and Aluko (2010), the essence of political participation in any society, either civilized or primitive, is to seek control of power, acquisition of power and to influence decision making. Political participation is a means of contributing ones quota to the political system and overall development of the nation. Political participation is one of the fundamental requirements of democratic governance. This is the reason why Adelekan (2010) emphasized that ideally, democracy means individual participation in the decisions that involves one’s life. In a democratic system, there is the necessity for the citizenry to be fully involved in the democratic procedures of the choice of rulers and effective communication of the public policies and attitudes. Any claim to democratic regime or state must essentially embrace a high degree of competitive choice, openness, and enjoyment of civic and political liberties and political participation that involves all groups of the society (Arowolo and Aluko, 2010). The extent to which people participate in the political system differ from person to person.
Falade (2008) identified six types of political participants. These are, the inactive, these are the people that take no part in any political activity, the voting specialists, these are the people that get eagerly engaged only in voting, besides voting, they are not concerned about other political activities, parochial participants, these people participate in politics occasionally, they vote or get involve in any other political activity only when it affects their personal interest, the communalist, these are those who get engaged in voting regularly, they also get involve in community affairs but they are not involved in political campaign activities, the campaigners, they are actively involved in political campaign but inactive in other community affairs, complete activists,, they are highly involved in all political activities. They actively participate in voting, political campaign, community activities and make contact with public officials. Some of the factors that determine political participation are cultural, economic, political, religious and educational backgrounds of individuals. Also, the level of political awareness as well as the measure of confidence in the political process determines the extent to which the citizens participate in the political system.
In Nigeria, politics is influenced by money, ethnic and religious factors. Since independence in 1960, religious and ethnic politics characterize electioneering process in Nigeria. Democracy in Nigeria has three unique features which include: insulation of economic matters from popular participation, manipulation and monopolisation of democratic process including the use of violence and electoral fraud to secure legitimacy and peripheral participation of citizens. Surface-level participation does not have far-reaching influence on the outcome of policy choices. According to Oke (2010) democracy involves the opportunity to participate in decision making in the political process. It repudiates arbitrariness and authoritarianism. It extols the consent of the governed and it protects human personality and values (Ake, 1991).
Democracy, whether liberal, African or modern, includes equal opportunity for all, fundamental recognition of popular sovereignty, representativeness, majority rule, minority rights, popular consultation, right of choice between alternative programmes, consensus on fundamental issues, as well as essentially periodic elections (Oke, 2005). The concept of democracy confers the opportunity to participate in decision making by all. Democracy here goes beyond opportunity of election. Although, the centrality of elections to democratic process can not be over-emphasised, democracy is not wholly centred on election. For democracy to evolve good governance, it must be liberal and participatory. In this sense, Liberal democracy entails not only free and fair elections in terms of voting administration, it requires a more comprehensive fairness of political competition embodied in the concept of a just and open competition. In a liberal democracy, the electoral arena is open, and the playing field is reasonably level. Only in a free society with opportunity of free participation and respects for citizens’ rights can good governance be achieved. True democracy places emphasis on freedom, and open competition, popular and meaningful participation, responsiveness, transparency and accountability. Freedom to organise, freedom to protest anti-people policies and freedom to demand and assert citizens’ rights and interests, freedom of the press to report, investigate and expose government policies and actions without fear or favour.
According to Diamond (2005), “only in a climate of true political and civil freedom can a country achieve the absolute fundamental condition for development, responsible government. In a political system, the citizens can be involved in the political process and decision making by joining political party, voting during election, participating in electoral campaign, community affairs and other political activities. The level and pattern of political participation of the citizens determine, to some extent, the success of the political system. Political participation is fundamental to the concept and practice of democracy universally. No matter the perspective from which democracy is conceptualized: citizen, elitist, representative, majoritarian, and so on, for the system to be democratic, the citizens must have a way of participating in the political process even when this is restricted to choosing political leaders at elections.
Political participation encompasses the many activities used by citizens to influence the selection of political leaders or the policies they pursue. Political participation derives from the freedom to speak out, assemble and associate, the ability to take part in the conduct of public affairs, and the opportunity to register as a candidate, to campaign, to be elected and to hold office at all levels of government. Political participation extends beyond parties, however. Individuals can also become involved in certain aspects of the electoral process through independent action particularly at the local level and by joining civil society organizations. Professional networks, trade unions, non-governmental organizations, and the media can all provide avenues for political participation. Broadly speaking, whatever citizens of any country do with the sole aim of influencing the choice of political leaders in power and the policies of government of that country constitute political participation.
Political participation also includes passive kinds of involvement, such as attending state ceremonies, supportive activities, or paying attention to what is happening in government or policies generally. The fact that the activities of citizens are sometimes not supportive of the existing policies, authorities, or structures, or that they may seek to change any or all of them makes protest behaviour part and parcel of political participation. There are two main dimensions of political participation, namely, the conventional and unconventional participation (Conway, 1991). Conventional participation refers to those activities that are accepted as appropriate by the dominant political culture voting, seeking elective office, working for a candidate or political party, writing letters to public officials these are examples of conventional forms of political behaviour. On the other hand, unconventional political participation or behaviour, according to Conway (1991), can be viewed as a continuum ranging from participating in peaceful protest march to engaging in terrorist violence or civil war. Unconventional forms of participation are not accepted as appropriate by the dominant political culture. Thus, this paper tends to focus on political participation and conflict in Nigeria’s electoral process: a study of the 2019 gubernatorial election.
1.2. Problem Statement
Generally, high level of political participation in a democracy is a clear indication of a successful egalitarian society. On the one hand, many believe inclusive political institutions to be key for conflict prevention. On the other hand, the academic literature so far, mostly focusing on the effect of regime type more generally, fails to find consistent effects – more democratic states do not clearly experience less conflict recurrence. Thus, conflict is seen as an impediment to political participation which invariably affect democratic development negatively.
However, the level of political participation in the country by the general masses is low and minimal. Some Nigerians have come to view politics as a ‘dirty game’, waste of time and energy. Still, others believe that their efforts will not change anything, that is, the outcome of politics, hence self-deluding, and so do not bother about involving in politics. However because of this there is currently a low level of political participation in Nigeria. Many Nigerians are not committed to the electoral process and other political engagements, this can be attributed to the electoral voilence and conflicts which are attacthed to it, some of which includes voter apathy, hijacking of ballot boxes, disruption of the voting process itself, irregularities from the conducting agency (INEC) amongst other reseaons. The intense nature of competition for political power especially in the fourth republic has made violence to be associated with democracy in Nigeria. Nigerian politicians, over the years have become more desperate and daring in taking and retaining power and more intolerant of opposition, criticism and efforts at replacing them (Alemika, 2011).
Similarly, Omoweh and Okanya (2005) noted that political competition for the control of the state and its political power is now a bloody warfare as the state holds the key to wealth. The above scenario explains why election which is the means of political power acquisition in democratic governance has been violent ridden most especially in the fourth republic. This study therefore will examine how the Nigerian political system and act of governance does not encourage mass participation. This is because of the political culture of violence, intimidation, manipulation, sentiments, money politics, ignorance, corruption, deception and apathy that characterize the political system. However the political participation is also important for the development and sustenance of true democracy in Nigeria depends, to a large extent, on the electoral system. The confidence of the citizens in the electoral system and their participation in the electoral process are requisites for the enthronement of responsible and democratic leaders. Hence this study seeks to appraise and assess the level of political participation in the 2019 Gubernatorial general election.
1.3. Objectives of the Study
The main aim of this study is to examine political participation and conflict in Nigeria’s electoral process.
Specific Objectives are to:
- Assess the level of political participation in Nigeria and conflict in the Nigeria’s electoral process.
- Identify the impact of political participation on democratic governance
- Examine the causes of conflict in the political and electioneering process in Nigeria (case study of 2019 Gubernatorial elections)
- Examine the gender role in the political and electioneering process in Nigeria.
1.4. Research questions
- What is the level of political participation in Nigeria and conflict in the Nigeria’s electoral process?
- What is the impact of political participation on democratic governance?
- What are the causes of conflict in the political and electioneering process in Nigeria (case study of 2019 gubernatorial elections)?
- What are the gender roles in the political and electioneering process in Nigeria?
1.5. Research hypotheses
- H0: The political participation process has no significant impact on electoral conflict and violence.
- H1: The political participation process has a significant impact on electoral conflict and violence.
1.6. Significance of Study
This study will be of significance in the following ways, it will enhance the knowledge of stakeholders on the possible and likely causes of electoral conflict and violence. This study will as well be of relevance in sensitizing the public on the importance of political participation and ways by which government can influence political participation across all levels. This study will also benefit concerned government agencies involved in the electioneering process such as INEC to develop policies that will and frameworks that will reduce the menace of electoral conflict and violence.
1.7. Scope of Study
This study will cover the political participation and conflict in Nigeria’s gubernatorial electoral process. It will cover issues spanning 2015 to 2019. The study focuses on the gubernatorial elections simply because it is the most contested elections in Nigeria and its position affect Lagos State which is regarded as the home to all political parties, and a negative effect will affect the country in terms of economic development (GDP), political development and many more.
1.8. Limitations of Study
This includes unwillingness of respondents to participate, Inability to cover a large research area, time constraints among others.
1.9. Operational Definition of Terms
Political participation is a basic concept in political science and scholars define the concept in different ways. It may be defined as the actions of private citizens seeking to influence or support Government and politics.
Election is seen as the process of choice agreed upon by a group of people which enables them to select one of a few people out of many to occupy authority positions
Refers to all forms of organized acts or threats-physical, psychological, and structural aimed at intimidating, harming, blackmailing a political stakeholder before, during and after an election with a view to determining, delaying, or otherwise influencing an electoral process.
1.10. Organization of the Study
This work is organized into five chapters. Chapter one which is the general introduction contains the background to the study, problem statement, objectives, research questions, hypothesis, significance of the study, scope of the study and the operational definition of terms. The second chapter presents the appraisal of literature and it comprises of the conceptual and theoretical framework. Chapter three covers the level of political participation in Nigeria and conflict in the Nigeria’s electoral process and the impact of political participation on democratic governance. Chapter four covers the causes of conflict in the political and electioneering process in Nigeria (case study of 2019 Gubernatorial elections) and the gender role in the political and electioneering process in Nigeria. Chapter fiver is the conclusion and recommendation of this research.
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