Political Violence And Political Participation In Nigeria (2007-2015)

Project and Seminar Material for Political Science

Political Violence And Political Participation In Nigeria (2007-2015)


Abstract


The quest to conduct free and fair election over the years appears to be impossible in Nigeria. Election period has become an opportunity for political thugs to unleash different kinds of mayhem upon their opponents and unsuspecting innocent citizens of Nigerian. The magnitude of violence during election period in Nigeria is actually worrisome, as it has greatly engendered apathy among the citizens especially in electing the right people into leadership positions in the country and by extension constituted a bane towards democratic consolidation. In view of this trend, this paper examines political violence and political participation in Nigeria with special focus on in Ebonyi State. Findings of the paper reveal; that electoral violence has significantly hindered political participation in Ebonyi State; that electoral violence has impacted negatively on good governance, that electoral violence has also hindered several efforts towards democratic consolidation in Nigeria. It was recommended among other things; that law should be enacted to criminalize acts of electoral violence in Ebonyi State; that voter education should be extensively conducted by stakeholders on the implications of electoral violence in democratic consolidation in Ebonyi State, neutrality of the security agencies in the period of elections in Ebonyi State among others.


Chapter One


Introduction

1.1 Background to the Study

One of the critical aspects of democracy is election, which must be conducted in line with the acceptable norms set by the national laws of a given state to enable a peaceful transfer of power from one legitimate government to another, (Sule &Tal, 2018). Election according to Rogers, (1980), in Abah & Nwokwu, (2015), refers to the process by which electorates choose by voting officers either to act on their behalf or to represent them in an assembly with a view to governing or making administration. The efficacy of election is indispensable in democracy since it gives the citizens more opportunity to participate in governance by choosing those who steer the affairs of leadership in the state, (Nnoli, 2006). However, in Nigeria, the quest to conduct an election that can be widely adjudged as peaceful in order to promote greater political participation among the citizens and to further consolidate her nascent democracy appears to be impossible. Over the years, elections in Nigeria have been associated with violence even at a slightest provocation. Worst still, it has gone beyond exercising legitimate political rights. Currently it has metamorphosed into a period of acrimony where families and friends are turned apart on the ground of party sentiments.

Ever since Nigeria’s independence in 1960 and her return to democratic rule which led to the conduct of her general elections in 1999, 2003, 2007, 2011, 2015 and recently 2019, none of her elections was free from violence. This to a great extent seems to hamper the citizens’ spirit of participation in the politics of the country. Adoke, (2011), noted that electoral violence has become a reinforcing phenomenon in Nigeria’s post- independence history. According to him, successive elections depicted chaos, violence, and confusion. As such, its attendant consequences have significantly constituted a fraction of the several remote and immediate factors that had threatened the corporate existence of Nigeria especially in her quest to achieve democratic consolidation. Sincerely speaking, elections in Nigeria is wrongly perceived by many politicians as do or die affair, that is why they do all manner of things to maneuver their rivals either by hook or crook means.

Political violence refers to all collective attacks within a political community against the political regime, its actors- including competing political groups as well as incumbents or its policies (Halliru, 2013).

According to Millington (2007), from confrontations during strikes to the street battles of extremist groups, violence was a feature of interwar European politics, as countries entered an age of mass politics, governments searched for ways to integrate their peoples into the political system. He stressed that, yet violence as a means of political expression and engagement persisted, even in democratic nations (Millington, 2007). Violent political conflict preceded the establishment of fascist regimes in Italy and Germany, and civil war in Spain, in Eastern Europe, the collapse of empire and the founding of new nation-states gave rise to violent political struggle, in France and Britain, street fighting and rioting raised fears over the breakdown of order in the western democracies (Millington, 2007).

More so, according to Human Security Report Oxford university (2005) out of 30 major political violence recorded in 2000, there were 23 civil wars, of which ten were in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). These wars are estimated to have resulted in over four million deaths and have cost the countries in question more than $138 billion (in 1995 prices). However, by the turn of the 21st century, Sub-Saharan Africa has become the most violent region, accounting for more battle-related deaths than all other regions combined (Human Security Centre, 2005).

From the years 1999 Nigeria witnessed an unprecedented increase in acts of political violence across the country arising from the formation of ethnic and political militia, such as Oduduwa People Congress (OPC), in the South-West of Nigeria, ECOMOG in Borno State, Kalare in Gombe State, and Sara – Suka in Bauchi State among others (Umar, 2003). Furthermore, Individual politicians and groups (political parties and ethnic group formations) have in unequivocal terms demonstrated their readiness to employ violence to achieve their personal goals (Umar, 2003). This state of affairs has caused an ominous cloud over the sustenance of democracy and raised concerns over the future of Nigeria as a political entity (Umar, 2003).

Obviously, the preponderance of these violence have seriously affected the turnout of many citizens in participating to elect those who steer the affairs of leadership in the country as they are constantly in fear of who becomes the next victim. It is based on the background that this paper becomes imperative to investigate the political violence and political participation in Nigeria.


1.2 Statement of the Problem

Despite the fact that democracy is the system of government that is widely accepted by all as the best all over the world, its practice and ways of its consolidation in developing countries like Nigeria and other parts of Africa has remained a serious challenge. It is obvious that one of the ways to achieve democratic consolidation is to sustain the tenets of democracy of which free and fair election condition is inclusive. Unfortunately several efforts to achieve peaceful, free and fair election in Nigeria over the years has been seriously marred by varying degrees of violence ranging from arson, destruction of properties to kidnapping, assassination of political opponents and killing of innocent citizens. It is based on the backdrop that this paper investigates Political Violence And Political Participation In Nigeria (2007-2015).


1.3 Objectives of the Study

The broad objective of this study is to investigate Political Violence And Political Participation In Nigeria (2007-2015), specifically, the paper sought;

  1. To determine the effects of electoral violence on political participation in Ebonyi State
  2. To examine the effects of electoral violence on good governance in Ebonyi State
  3. To ascertain the effects of electoral violence on democratic consolidation in Ebonyi State

1.4 Research Questions

  1. What are the causes of political violence in Ebonyi State?
  2. What are the socio-economic effects of political violence on the victims in Ebonyi State?
  3. Who are the victims of political violence in Ebonyi State?
  4. What are the possible solutions to the problem?

1.5 Significance of the Study

The study will be of immense benefits to the society, policy makers, and security personals because it will outline the causes of political violence in Ebonyi State. This study is also significant because of the fact that it would reveal the major threats (effects) of political violence to democracy in Ebonyi State and Nigeria at a whole. Again, the study also will equally be significant to the extent that it would outline the effects of political violence to the lives and properties of the citizens of Ebonyi State.

The findings of this study will also provide valuable information in articulating potential policies that will help address the problems of political and electoral violence. In other word, the research could help the policy makers (lawmakers or government) in making laws and will help the securities to prevent the possible potential political and electoral violence in the city.

Finally, it will provide the relevant knowledge and serves as a tool and reference materials to future studies which would make useful contributions to any study on same topic or any related topic on elections and political violence.


1.6 Scope of the Study

The focus of this study is on the Political Violence And Political Participation In Nigeria (2007-2015). As such the research has been limited to five major wards in Abakaliki. The studies emphases will be from 2007-2015 happened being the period that witnessed an unprecedented increase in the acts of political violence in the country.


1.7 Limitations of the Study

Financial Constraint:

Insufficient fund tends to impede the efficiency of the researcher in sourcing for the relevant materials, literature or information and in the process of data collection (internet, newspapers, magazines, journals etc.). More so, there is scarcity of relevant materials on the issuedue to its evolving and spontaneous nature.

Time Constraint:

The researcher will simultaneously engage in this study with other academic work. This consequently will cut down on the time devoted for the research work. However despite these constraint, the researcher was able to overcome these challenges and made sure that the work was completed successfully.


1.8 Definition of Terms and Concept

Politics:

Is the activities with the governance of a state or area, especially the debate between parties having power.

Political Violence:

These are all forms of illegalities, manipulations and killings in order to secure political power at all cost.

Election:

This is the system of selecting leaders and political representatives in a state through campaign and election.


1.9 Organization of the Study

The chapter one consist of the introductory part of the study which includes the study background, the statement of the research problem, the study objective and scope of the study.

The second chapter is a critical review of other literatures relevant to the study and its objectives including the theoretical framework for the study. While the third chapter is methods of data collection, sampling and data analysis used in conducting the study. The fourth chapter centres around the research findings including an analysis of how it relates to previous findings. The fifth chapter consists of the summary of findings, conclusion and recommendations base on the study objectives.


Chapter Five


Summary, Conclusion and Recommendations

5.0 Introduction

This chapter is strictly on the summary of the findings from which the researcher will derives his conclusion and recommendation or possible solutions to the topic in question.


5.1 Conclusion

The paper has established that election is indispensable in any democracy since it gives the citizens the opportunity to take part in governance by choosing those who steer the affairs of leadership in the state. However, such election becomes relevant when it is conducted in line with the acceptable norms set by the national laws of a given state that operates such system to enable a peaceful transfer of power. In Nigeria and Ebonyi state in Particular, several attempts to conduct peaceful election appears to be challenging, hence this study. Going by the findings of the study, it can be concluded that electoral violence has significantly hindered political participation among the citizens and has constituted a serious challenge towards achieving democratic consolidation in Nigeria.


5.2 Recommendations

In view of the findings made, the paper recommends as follows;

  1. That stakeholders such as the National orientation Agency and Civil Society Groups should as a matter of urgency embark on rapid mass voter education for Ebonyians in order to enable them understand the implications of electoral violence on democratic consolidation in the State.
  2. That Ebonyi State government should do everything within her capacity to create employment and employment opportunities for the teeming youths as it will go a long way to change their attitudes and divert their attention from being used by politicians to perpetuate political violence in the State.
  3. That security Agencies should at all-time maintains neutrality while handling violent cases during election periods in Ebonyi State.

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