PROJECT TOPIC- ELECTION VIOLENCE IN NIGERIA; A FOCUS ON THE 2015 GENERAL ELECTION
- Background to the study
The unbridled quest for power by man in his ever unstoppable search for relation and advantage has indeed, generated so much tensions and hostilities. Thus, for most developing democracies of the Third World especially Nigeria, electoral violence is not only a recurrent decimal, its frequency, character and dimension are quite frightening. It is now becoming a national character of the Nigerian state in such a way that both the Nigerian state and her citizens are held hostage by this smashing political reality in which both are unfortunate willing conspirators.
From independence to date, electoral violence in Nigeria has improved in sophistry just as the politicians and their cohorts have remained resolute in this destructive according to IFES Reports (2015), there were 47 incidents of electoral violence in the 2015 elections in Ebonyi state. Cases of abduction and kidnapping, murder and killing protest, disruption, intimidation and physical attack and well poster defacing all featured in the incidents. 300 people were killed on issues relating to 2015 elections in Ebonyi state.
With the- benefit of hindsight , CLEEN Foundation, in its ‘Third Security Threat Assessment’, projected that the 2015 general electoral violence in Ebonyi state has occurred in 9 local government in Ebonyi state (CLEEN in Ibe, 2015). Interestingly, all the violence linked to elections is mostly perpetrated by the youth who are not only in the service of the politicians but financed by them so long as they do their biddings.
With the benefits of their vigor, seeming lawlessness and lackadaisical attitude, the youth are willing ready-made weapons in the hands of the political leaders who think less of the development of the state and more of their parochial interests. Little wonder why the recurrent destruction of the state trough electoral violence is of less concern to them. Electoral violence could be regarded as elections-motivated-crisis employed to alter, change or influence by force or coercion, the electoral behaviour of voters or voting patterns or possibly reverse electoral decision in favour of particular individual, groups or political party.
It could be seen as any violence (harm) or threat of violence (harm) that is aimed at any person or property involved in the elections process, or at disrupting any part of the electoral or political process during the election period”(International Foundation for Election System 2011). Electoral violence could be before election, thus involving all such activities that inflict any form of injury to the democratic system and its constituent and could be during voter registrations, campaigns and actual voting.
Such violence could also be a post-election phenomenon which comes consequent on the manipulation of election results etc. Election-related violence according to (2006) could be categorized into physical and psychological. Physical election violence including physical attack, resulting into assault, battery, grievous bodily harm or death, disruption and other forms of violence inflicted on individuals and groups.
Psychological election violence, including indiscriminate pasting of campaign posters, chanting slogans (particularly the use of local poets and singers to attack and abuse opponents), intimidation of public servants and businessmen for opposing the status quo or the incumbent administration, use of the media (especially state-owned) to inflict psychological violence on the opposition and the denial of access to such media by the opposition parties, reckless driving by those in a procession to campaign rallies, which intimidate other road users and the use of traditional ruler to intimidate the masses into electing particular preferred candidates.
The desire to research on the Nigeria’s 2015 general electoral process in Ebonyi state stems from the fact that most political crises in the state are attributed to electoral violence. Politics is viewed zero-sum terms since it is the winner that takes all while the loser loses everything. Due to the invaluable price at stake, every imaginable strategy is utilized to ensure electoral victory by the contestants especially among the political class.
These include rigging, thuggery, intimidation of opponents, falsification of election results, bribing the electoral officers and a host of other fraudulent schemes which have been flagrantly used in democratic elections in Nigeria, especially during the 2015 general elections in Ebonyi state. The nature and character of the electoral process and party competitions in 1999, 2003, 2007, 2011, and 2015 general elections demonstrate the intense violence, acrimony and ethnicity that underline party politics in Ebonyi state.
The decision of the INEC to use Smart Card Readers is to ensure the voters authenticity during accreditation on election day. Regrettably, the Card Reader failed in spite of all the huge financial funds geared towards the purchase and utilization of it in 2015 general election especially in Ebonyi state. Some of the issues that associated with the failure of the SCRs were unable to recognize fingerprints in the permanent voter card and having problem to start up due to battery not charged or no battery in the SCRs etc. Probably the conduct of the 2015 general elections and the subsequent violence that greeted it, Oparah (2015), has this to say:
It is business as usual and our so called leaders have realized this dangerous prediction to pay short attention to issues and move on. They are exploiting it to the holt to further the ends of macabre elections, as we saw in recently concluded 2015 general elections which is a mere painted sepulcher that merely canonized the newest tactics of election riggers in the name of Smart Card Reader. The handling of the aftermaths of the election in the respective elections have just proved to be an affirmation of some of the same, and Nigerians are being made to internalized the ethos of fraudulent elections, presented in several ways. The federal government has gone ahead to tinker with the composition of INEC and has indeed loaded the commission with men who have partisan interest … and we are back to partisan INEC we are used to as Nigerians. The depletion of this political anomie is bound to wreck on the entire system is all too obvious for all of us to see.
That is not all, Human Rights Watch (2015), reported that more than eight hundred people were killed as a result of violence that gripped the 2015 general elections in Nigeria. An examination into the conduct of the elections revealed that, prior to the elections; anxiety and political intolerance among the political actors later resulted into uncommon loss of lives and property. Upon the above state of affairs, this study is to critically and empirically investigate the relationship between electoral violence and sustainable democracy in Nigeria, with a focus on the 2015 general elections in Ebonyi state.
PROJECT TOPIC- ELECTION VIOLENCE IN NIGERIA; A FOCUS ON THE 2015 GENERAL ELECTION
- 2 Statement of the Problem
Democracy in very simply terms refers to that system of government in which the rights of the citizens: are protected by law within the same law. Conflict ridden situations have historically featured in all elections conducted in Ebonyi state. Since 1999, elections in Ebonyi state has turned out to be a serious political liability; causing serious political turmoil and threatening the sustainability of democracy in the state.
With unprecedented political thuggery and uncontrolled violence characterized by wanton destruction of lives and property, election period in Nigeria is best described as warfare (Ake, 2001, Ade kanye, 1989, Nnoli, 1987). Incidence of intra – party and inter – party conflicts and violence, have led to endemic abductions, official rigging of election results with electronic device popularly known as Smart Card Reader as it is in 2015 general election and assassinations of opponents and innocent victims.
Further violations of established process have invariably transformed election period in Nigeria as a-matter-of-do-or-die or as a-matter-of-life-and-death (Obasanjo,2007) or that of by hook or by crook (Jega,2008). This electoral politics has of course; signaled serious dangers for democratic consolidation and partisan politics in Nigeria. Associated with the cycle of violence radiating around the polity, and within the entire angles and sides of the political divide, electoral violence in Nigeria has not provided a window of politics of rationality and tolerance, give-and-take, compromises based on win-win scenario.
Politics has eventually been reduced to a violent game of fierce confrontation and representations. According to Usman (2000), available facts show that ‘electoral violence of the forties and fifties had actually transformed political tension and crises and consequently wrecked all attempts by Nigerians to build and sustain democratic governance. Elections conducted in 2015 in Ebonyi state were characterized by violence, irregularities and fraud.
Consequently, the results of this elections were variously challenged in the law court, examples include the 2015 gubernatorial, senatorial, house of representative and some state house of assembly election in Ebonyi State. Therefore, due to the problem that these indices have posed in politics, it became worth wile for the researcher to ask the under listed questions:
- Is there any relationship between electoral violence and sustainable democracy?
- What are the factors that accounted for electoral violence in 2015 general elections in Nigeria?
- What are the strategies that enhance the mitigation of electoral violence in Nigeria?
- Objective of the Study
The broad objective of this study is to critically appraise the election violence in nigeria; a focus on the 2015 general election, while the specific objectives are:
(a) To investigate if there is any relationship between electoral violence and sustainable democracy in Nigeria.
(b) To identify the factors that accounted for electoral violence in the 2015 general election in Nigeria.
(c) To evolve strategies that can enhance the mitigation of electoral violence in Nigeria.
1.4 Significance of the Study
This study has both theoretical and empirical significance. Theoretically, the study has contributed to the existing literature on incidence of electoral violence in 2015 general election in Nigeria. It will serve as reference material for students, researchers and policy makers on issues concerning elections. This study will proffer specific solutions to conduct of campaigns, the type of incentives that mobilize party activities during campaigns and the essence of being involved in politics. Empirically therefore, the study will be useful to voters, politicians, electoral umpire and observer groups and the state. The study will enable this group of people identified above to determine the optima stock level of electioneering and to implement universal best practices in electioneering. It will further enable individual, organizations and government to regulate, supervise and effective prosecution of election campaigns and voter choice. It will also provide insight into the problems encountered by those who are involved in partisan politics.
1.5 Scope and Limitations of Study
This seminar as the title suggests deal on electoral violence and sustainable democracy in Nigeria; A critical evaluation of the 2015 general elections in Ebonyi state. There is indeed no doubt that restrains are about to be observed in any research study. It is therefore worthwhile to mention that the researcher encountered some constraints during the pendency of this study. The major constraint was the reluctance of some respondents to volunteer information because of the unreliable character of politicians and political office holders who do not deliver the dividends of democracy on electoral promises and party manifestoes.
However, a resort was made to many documents from various sources from which calculative of figures were made. This took much time and resources.
The hypothesis that would serve as a guide in this research is:-
- Electoral violence hinders the sustainability of democracy in Nigeria.
- That electoral malpractice accounted for the electoral violence in 2015 general election in Ebonyi state.
That the institution of free and fair elections can abate electoral violence in Nigeria.