Post Electoral Violence And The Threat To National Peace And Security In Nigeria
One of the most recurring decimal in Africa is electoral violence mostly in the last three decades and it has turned to political nightmares in the midst of other related violence that have both political and economic implications on national development within the continent. Election is a cardinal stance within which political offices are held in democratic settings. Therefore, election is an attribute of democracy all over the world. However, the winner-takes-it-all that is attached to liberal democracy has made it peculiar that politicians tend to use all the powers within their means; be it money, power, intelligence and craftiness to ensure elections are won in their favour. The build-up, magnitude, and nature of electoral violence depend on a number of factors. These include the democratic integrity of the political parties; that of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC); the methods of siting polling units; and the distribution of voting materials (among others) This study examines the causes of post-election violence, its implications on both political and economic spheres and also proffers solution to the problems vis-a-vis national development. In line with this goal, documentary research methods were adopted.
It was found that:
- Weak electoral laws,
- Hate speech (via social and media), and
- Lack of effective collaboration by security agencies leads to post-election violence.
The study therefore recommends that:
- A robust and strong inter-agency collaboration by the INEC to conduct hitch free election; and
- A weak law enforcement structure has been the reason for electoral violence.
1.1 Background of the Study
People have devise and lived under various forms of government in different countries of the world of which democracy has been adjudge to be the best. This explains the democratic appeal to every human organisation from antiquity. Schumpeter (1952:269), defines democracy as that institutional arrangement for arriving at a political decision in which individual acquire the power to decide by means of a competitive struggles for the people’s votes. This definition suggest the importance of competitive elections in a democracy.
Bone and Raney (1971:1), posited that in a democratic nation, periodic election of executive and legislature constitute the principal institutional devices for making sure that government derives its just powers from the consent of the governed. Ebegbulem and Adams (2008:245), averred that in any democratic system, elections constitutes the soul of the democratic process.
Election which climax at a successful conduct of a genuine and credible voting, has become an important element in modern democratic system and determines to a considerable extent the level or degree of democratization in any polity. In today’s world, election is serving a great purpose both in war torn authoritarian as well as democratic societies. It serves as a means of transition from bitter experience of war to civility in former war torn states. It provides an opportunity for freedom in previous authoritarian regimes and offers citizens the space for free expression as is obtainable today in Egypt, Libya and other part of the world. It offers the government a unique opportunity for legitimacy and is also a recognized way of building trust in former authoritarian states and also a way to validate negotiated political pacts. (Brown, 2003, Sisk, 2008).
Election serves as a transitory process in a stable democracy and a way of strengthening an already assumed perfect system. It provides a platform for debate, persuasion and common rules for choosing representatives of the people who can serve in the executive, legislative and other institutions of the government. Elections is in this sense a critical means of social conflict management through peaceful deliberations and decision-making process in which parties abides by the pre-election promises, and the looser given an opportunity to provide constructive criticism as an opposition or merely wait till the next election period.
On the other hands, because of the freedom associated with election, and the momentum it generates, it thus allows individuals, groups and parties to use words and/or actions that are capable of intimidating, coercing, humiliate or cause even bodily harm to the electorates. (Amekwe and Kushie, 2011:8). Moreso, elections provides the space whereby people retain, regain and usurp power, and the space to highlight social differentiation of individuals and party opponents. Therefore, players tap into the deep vulnerability created by such interact to create violence.
Sisk, (2008), however warned that negative expression of social differentiation is likely to lead to extreme clash between opposition supporters as witnessed in Nigeria and other part of the world. Such tendencies can lead to high scale violence and bring the country to a near level of terrorism and ungovernability. It can also leads to the proliferation of small arms because more often, the machinery for perpetrating electoral violence are mostly unemployed youths who resort to use those arms for other social vices.
Under such a circumstance, election in the word of Rebert Dahl (1973) and Przeworski (1991) becomes a mutual security pact that operates with the consistent consent of elites under condition of bound uncertainty. However, Sisk highlights election as two sides of the same coin providing voice and legitimacy when the process is followed, and all stakeholders adhere to the agreed framework and processes, and also a violence induced factor when on the contrary particularly in fragile state.
In recognition of the immense benefits that comes with democratic government, mostly the enhancement of human dignity, Nigeria embrace democratic governance on May 29, 1999 (marking the birth of the Fourth Republic). However, the task of consolidating the nations democracy seems to be whittle down by electoral malpractice and electoral violence. This muster was considerably responsible for the nation’s previously failed attempt at democratic experience since independence.
Since the 1999 to 2011 elections, the Nigerian electoral and political landscape has fallen from par to below par and has moved from violence to greater violence. (Awukwe and Kushie, 2011). The level and magnitude of electoral violence has risen and the political elites have often converted poverty ridden unemployed Nigerian youths into readymade machinery for the perpetration of electoral violence. This is however linked partly to the political system and institution that in theory has failed to encourage political participation, and in practice, seen the political elites forming the bulk of the sponsors and perpetrators of electoral violence as the case was in the post electoral violence which erupted in the northern part of Nigeria after the April 16, 2011 presidential election. In the light of the above; the post electoral violence of 2011 Presidential election is viewed as a threat to national peace and security of the country.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
Democratic governance have been adjudge the best form of government ever devise by man. This is due to the immense benefit it brings to the lives of the people. Besides, electoral credibility has been identified as one of the important factors that aid the consolidation of a democratic regime.
However, the Nigerian electoral system has been characterized with electoral violence and other forms of electoral malpractice. The political Barons (political elites) do not abide by the rules of the game but are out to grab power by all means and as such anything that brings victory is fair. This continuous electoral violence tends to whittle down the citizen confidence in the electoral process as it poses a threat to national peace and security.
1.3 Objective of the Study
The objectives this study seeks to achieve are:
- To examine post electoral violence in Nigeria and its impact on national peace and security of the country.
- To examine the causes of 2011 post electoral violence in Nigeria
- To make suggestion towards the prevention of future post electoral violence in Nigeria
- To determine if the problems militating against the smooth conduct of elections in Nigeria are insurmountable.
1.4 Research Questions
- Does post electoral violence impact negatively on national peace and security in Nigeria?
- Is 2011 post electoral violence in Nigeria caused by the political elites?
- Are the causes of post electoral violence in Nigeria insurmountable?
- What can be done to prevent future occurrence of post electoral violence in Nigeria?
1.5 Significance of the Study
Issues surrounding post electoral violence are numerous. The significance of the project therefore is rooted within the contours of sustainable democracy. As Nigeria continues to suffer post electoral violence, the state has continuously been threatened with ultimate demise or collapse due largely to the inability of the state to manage and earn legitimacy emanating from post electoral violence. All these have created tensions and conflicts, sometimes wars, within the system which thus threaten the sustenance of democratic values, national security, stability and peaceful coexistence.
As such, the study will be significant in the following areas:
The findings from the study will give more insight into the nature and character of post electoral violence in Nigeria.
Again, since the scope of the study will cover the present democratic dispensation, the findings will give an insight into the degree of post electoral violence in general elections in Nigeria and Delta State in particular.
In relation to the above, the study will give stakeholders in the Nigerian project an idea of the direction at which the Nigerian democratic government vis-à-vis the level of post electoral violence.
The findings from this study will also assist the government and international organization in devising appropriate measures on how to tackle the growing problem of post electoral violence and how it affects Nigeria’s stability and that of Delta State in particular.
Above all, the study will contribute to existing stock of knowledge.
1.6 Scope and Limitation of the Study
The scope of the study covers the effect of post electoral violence and its implication on economic activities from 1999 to 2015 general elections. In the course of the study; the researcher encounters some constrain which limited the scope of the study. Some of these constrain are;
(a) Availability of Research Material:
The research material available to the researcher is insufficient, thereby limiting the study.
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.
The finance available for the research work does not allow for wider coverage as resources are very limited as the researcher has other academic bills to cover.
1.7 Definition of Terms
It is defined as the institutional mechanism or process by which individual or groups of individuals are selected into official positions. It is the entire processes involved usually by the citizens of any democratic nations from the age of l8years to give legitimate mandate for those who are to govern them for a period of time as stipulated in the constitution. (Igbuzor 2010)
This is essentially refers to the rule of many which is usually done through representation. It is a form of government in which the people have the freedom to choose who their leaders will be through free and fair election which could be direct or indirect. The word “democracy” according to Bangura (2013) is used to describe three different political systems. ‘According to him, this system of government has to d o with the rule of man y and also a representation of the true interests of the people. These characteristics of democracy differentiate it from other forms of government that are dictatorial and which does not take cognizance of the wishes and desires of the people in whatever sphere be it in the choice of who represents them in government or in overall decision making. Democracy is a system of government that many countries of the world seek to acquire and those countries which have already acquired it seek to make it more developed for the purpose of reaping the dividends attached to such level of democratization.
Post Electoral Violence:
Igbuzor (2010) sees post electoral violence as: any act of violence perpetuated in the course of political activities, including pre, during and post election periods, and may include any of the following acts: thuggery, use of force to disrupt political meetings or voting at polling stations, or the use of dangerous weapons to intimidate voters and other electoral process or to cause bodily harm or injury to any person connected with electoral processes.
This involves the various forms of malpractices that distort the standard pattern of electoral process. It involves deliberate efforts to influence, manipulate and subvert the electoral processes in one’s favor (Ajayi, 2007).
This is a process geared towards attaining democratic governance
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), statement of problem, objectives of the study, research question, significance or the study, research methodology, definition of terms and historical background of the study.
- Chapter two highlight the theoretical framework on which the study its 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
Conclusion and Recommendation
Electoral violence in Nigeria is triggered by a number of factors; include poverty/unemployment, ineffectiveness of security forces, proliferation of small arms, and the emergence of social media platform and hate speech among others. One of the basic issues to be handled with all seriousness is the issue of unemployment among the teeming youth. The youth have gone to university for education and when they are not gainfully employed the rippling effect is much on the society. The experience in school must be put to use in one way or the other. Skill acquisition and vocational training for the youth is important to reduce the number of youth being used during electioneering in the society. When this is done, electoral violence will be minimized.
Government must ensure that the security agencies especially the police are well-trained and re-trained in order to be abreast with the current method of handling violent conflict in the society without them recording more causality among them security forces and the civilian. The security agents must be motivated by a way of ensuring that their pay is good enough for them to risk their lives when it comes to violence containment. Again, Violators of electoral laws should be brought to book without fear or favour. This will serve as deterrent to others who plan to foment trouble including the politicians themselves. When the rule of rule is allowed to take its course, the level of violence during electioneering will reduce.
The issue of social media that is left uncensored must not be allowed to persist; the legal framework regulating cybercrime should be strengthened especially Cybercrime Act 2015. The law should be enforced to reduce the issue of hate speech going on the platform. Again, mass media should be properly guided to reduce the level of negative comments going on either on the ground of ethnicity, religious or political ground. By so doing, the tendency of violent conflict will be minimized. Finally, to repair the damage done by past post-election violence, Nigeria needs wise and principled leaders to manage the symbols of division at work in Nigeria both at national and local levels. The political calculations of leaders at all levels must give recourse to issues that will unite the country and not the issues such as ethnicity, religious and regional animosity that will cause more harm to the national development.
The study recommends the following:
There should be an inter-agency collaboration to prosecute election in Nigeria. For instance, INEC should work with other agencies such as University, National Youth Service Corps (NYSC), the Police, Air force, Navy, Civil Defence and the Military during election for adequate security and to prompt delivery of electoral materials.
INEC should be properly funded to make proper arrangement for the conduct of the election including materials readily available weeks to the election. INEC should also liaise with relevant agencies that would be needed during election and spell out their job descriptions prior to the period of election.
INEC should step up her collaboration with the National Orientation Agency (NOA) and Civil Society Organisations for civic education on pattern of voting and the danger of post-electionviolence.
Rule of law must be upheld concerning electoral matters. Pre-election grievances such as lack of internal party democracy, party financing and campaign process should be sorted out within a short period.
The institution responsible for the conduct of election process should accommodate those in the Diaspora without manipulation. The post-election violence that was induced as a result of administrative issue would have been tackled.
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