PROJECT TOPIC- NATIONAL ORIENTATION AGENCY AND ELECTORAL VIOLENCE IN NIGERIA
1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
Several works on low turnout in elections have suggested that voter apathy is accelerating in most African countries because electoral violence over the long years has created and still create an atmosphere of apprehension in the minds of the potential voters (Fagunwa, 2016). Against the backdrop of this reality, eligible voters have decided to stay put in their various places during electioneering processes in order not to become victims of electoral violence. In Nigeria, this is more pronounced. This is so as electoral violence has continued to prevent potential voters from performing their civil duties. Prevalent forms of electoral violence often take the form of assassinations, arsons, thuggery, discriminations, snatching of ballot boxes, to mention a few.
While intra-party violence is a phenomenon in the country, that is the eruption of violence among members of the same political party, inter-party violence over the years, this which usually involves two or more political parties has always been prevalent. The sad reality of this violence is that it does not only involve just party members and supporters but also the innocent members of the public usually share the brunt of electoral violence. Despite the beef up in security across the federation for the past elections, there were reported violence in Ebonyi state during the 2007-2011. This was in spite of the 360,000 police officers deployed nationwide at strategic areas with sniffer dogs also as well as mobilization of the army (DSM, 2015).
As a social factor, there is no denying the fact that electoral violence over the years has been a major clog in electoral participation in Nigeria. The fierce struggle to win elections and control state apparatuses and invariably exploit the situation for self-aggrandizement has always been the basis of electoral violence in Nigeria. The general perception in Nigeria is that elections are a matter of do or die affair, as such eligible Nigerians are always skeptical of participating in any of the electioneering processes.
The 1999, 2003, 2007 and most importantly the 2011 elections in Nigeria have been rife with several cases of electoral violence, during the 2011 elections alone, over a thousand lives were lost to post- election violence. All these factors must have no doubt discouraged a good number of eligible Nigerians from participating in the last year (2015) elections. Because of the increasing violence in Nigeria, the political climate in the country has been deeply rooted in hostility, uncertainty and instability. The recorded violence in Ebonyi state clearly explains the effects that hate-speeches can have during an election. In the pre-election period, it was widely aired that political aspirants in the state instead of campaigning with their supposed innovative ideas to project the state and the teeming population forward, were most concerned with hate-speeches. This of course manifested itself during the actual voting exercise, as organized assassinations were recorded in Rivers state.
Corsini (1999) defines violence as the manifestation of hostility and rage through physical force directed against persons or property. Hook (1934:236) defines violence as “the illegal employment of methods of physical coercion for personal or group ends”. Audi (1971) asserts that violence is ‘the unjustifiable use of force’ whether legally or illegally applied. It is evident from the foregoing that violence is the use of physical force against persons or object. However, conflicts that assume violent dimensions could be classified as political violence. Remi Anifowoshe (1982) defines political violence as:
The use or threat of physical act carried out by an individual or individuals within a political system against another individual or individuals, and/or property, with the intent to cause injury or death to persons and/or damage or destruction to property; and whose objective, choice of targets or victims, surrounding circumstances, implementation, and effects have political significance, that is, tend to modify the behavior of others in the existing arrangement of power that has some consequences for the political system.
The mission of the National Orientation Agency is to consistently raise awareness, provide timely and credible feedback; positively change attitudes, values and behaviors; accurately and adequately inform; and sufficiently mobilize citizens to act in ways that promote peace, harmony; and national development. Guardian news (2015) recommended that the National Orientation Agency needs to increase its public enlightenment on the culture of dialogue and peaceful participation in the electioneering processes as well as public sensitization on the negative impact of violence on human security and development in the Country.
Channelstv (2015) has it that Staff of the National Orientation Agency in Nigeria are trained to mobilise eligible Nigerians across the nation to ensure the participation of all eligible voters in general elections. The tend to focus on creating the right mind set in Nigerians to ensure they will not be involved in violent acts that would mar the election.
PROJECT TOPIC- NATIONAL ORIENTATION AGENCY AND ELECTORAL VIOLENCE IN NIGERIA
From the foregoing, this study tried to ascertain the National Orientation Agency and electoral violence in Nigeria. A study of Local Government Election in Ebonyi State 2007-2011.
1.2. Statement of the Problem
Electoral violence as a social phenomenon has largely prevailed in our political system and is a trend which government must attempt to control if not completely abated. This study is therefore, born out of the realization of the apparent invincibility of electoral violence in Nigeria. A survey on electoral violence reveals that a remarkable history has been made of it by the violence during the 2007-2011 elections have largely affected the psyche of innocent Nigerians in a negative way.
To this, it could be said that there is an urgent need for Nigerians to be sensitised against violence, to guard against a repeat of post-election violence that leads to loss of lives and destruction of property. The National Orientation Agency (NOA) also should be prepared to collaborate with the Independent National Electoral Commission and other partners to deliver credible and violence free elections in Nigeria. Hence, the need for Nigerians to shun violence and embrace peace need to be emphasised by different political stakeholders as well as security agencies.
From the foregoing, this study is set to ascertain the National Orientation Agency and electoral violence in Nigeria. A study of Local Government Election in Ebonyi State 2007-2011.
The following research questions guided the study:
- In what ways would the National Orientation Agency help in reducing electoral violence by educating the electorates?
- What are the remedies for the persistence electoral violence in Ebonyi state?
1.3. Objectives of the Study
This study is generally geared towards ascertaining the National Orientation Agency and electoral violence in Nigeria. A study of Local Government Election in Ebonyi State 2007-2011. Specifically, the objectives of the study are:-
- To ascertain ways National Orientation Agency can help in reducing electoral violence through political and civic education.
- Determine remedies for the persistence electoral violence in Ebonyi state?
1.4. Significance of the Study
This study is geared towards ascertaining the National Orientation Agency and electoral violence in Nigeria, using Local Government Election in Ebonyi State 2007-2011 as a study.
The study will add to the body of existing knowledge on the impact of electoral violence on political development and the prospects of democracy in Nigeria. It will be significant theoretically as one of the number of attempts to document the concept of electoral violence in Nigeria with Ebonyi State as a reference.
The research tends to offer theoretical guides that would be of increase relevant to the researching students, who may likely be in depth in further study on the phenomenon. It will offer to the researcher a better chance to become abreast with the role of National Orientation Agency on electoral violence in the national polity thereby taking advantage of the opportunities to abate the scourge.