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Chapter one

Background of the study

1.1. Introduction.

Ethnicity and religion are two phenomena that cannot be separated from a human being. While ethnicity provides humans with a sense of belonging to a group, which fosters solidarity and unity,

religion plays an important role in human lives by connecting them to the spiritual and giving them hope for a better life on Earth and after death (Conroy, 2013). The two phenomena are essential in humans since almost everyone belongs to an ethnic group or practices some type of religion.

The two phenomena, while vital, can be exceedingly harmful when carried to extremes and applied to public life, particularly politics. Politics is an activity that brings people together to interact with one another and find solutions to societal problems;

yet, when ethnicity and religion are brought into politics, it causes division based on sentimental feelings and cleavages. According to Horowitz (2013), ethnicity and religion are non-evaluative characteristics that are ascriptive, divided, pilloried, and rigid.

Ethno-religious tendencies have hampered the growth of national parties, national identities, and democratic culture. This is because ethnic and religious groups fighting for political posts can readily manipulate them for compromise and bargaining,

potentially inciting ethnic-focused conflict with serious ramifications for democratic stability and national survival (Branton, 2013).

In Nigeria, ethnic and religious politics, attitudes, and cleavages have been nourished since the colonial era, with new patterns and dimensions emerging in the modern era.

Political parties and politicians are easily regarded as representing a specific ethnic or religious group, and Nigeria’s voting patterns reflect the country’s multiple cleavages, including North-South and Christian-Muslim.

The results of prior elections, ranging from the First Republic to the just ended 2015 general elections, illustrate ethnicity’s dominant position in Nigerian democratic and partisan politics, as well as the quest for political power.

The first elections held in Nigeria (1959 General elections) were characterised by political groups that were primarily based on ethnic and religious identities.

The North Peoples Congress (NPC) emerged from the Northern Group Jamia Mutani Arewa Arewa organisation, the Action Group (AG) emerged from the Yoruba Group Agbe Omo Oduduwa, and the National Council for Nigeria and Cameroon (NCNC) emerged from the Igbo ethnic group.

The three political parties failed to achieve unity and embrace a national coloration principle, instead relying on ethnic and religious issues to gain political support and supporters (Olukoshi, 2013).

Thus, ethno-regional divisions have remained a significant predictor of electoral outcomes and related political concerns in Nigeria, with consequences for democratisation and nation building. The study of ethno-regional cleavages and voting behaviour in the 2015 general elections is important not only for analysing political participation,

but also for the potential implications for democratisation and nation-building. Based on the foregoing, the purpose of this research is to investigate the effects of ethno-religious attitudes on voting patterns in Nigeria, using the 2015 general elections as a case study.

1.2. Statement of the research problem

Nigeria has always been a multi-ethnic and multi-religious state, and her elections have always reflected the different ethno-religious feelings, but the effect was more pronounced in the 2015 elections.

The results of the 2015 general elections clearly demonstrated the prevalence of ethno-religious feelings as predictors of voting behaviour and political participation throughout the country.

From the presidential to the gubernatorial, national, and state assembly elections, hopefuls were predominantly picked based on ethno-religious identities.

During the presidential election, the president and vice president-elect received about 90% of their votes based on ethno-religious identity. Similarly, the incumbent president obtained a large number of votes from his ethno-religious constituencies.

The 2015 general elections were not just the most contested in Nigeria since independence, but they were also held amid escalating tensions as a result of terror attacks by the Boko Haram insurgent group.

Prior to the elections, there had been rising tensions between the north and the south over what the northerners saw as a ‘missed opportunity’ to retake the presidency and reverse their region’s persistent economic marginalisation.

All of these factors exacerbated the typical ethnic, regional, and religious divisions that have defined Nigerian politics since independence. This research intends to explore ethno-religious attitude and voting patterns in Nigeria, using the 2015 general elections as a case study.

1.3. Research Questions.

The research tries to answer the following questions.

a. What is the root cause of ethno-religious feeling in Nigeria?

b. How did ethno-religious sentiment influence voting trends in the 2015 general election?

c. Did sentimental voting habits harm the integrity of the 2015 general election?

1.4. Research Objectives

The aims of this investigation are as follows:

a. Determine the primary cause of ethno-religious feelings in Nigeria.

b. To investigate how ethnic-religious strife influenced voting trends in the 2015 general election.

c. Investigate the credibility of the 2015 general election in terms of emotive voting trends.

1.5. Research Propositions

The following are the research propositions.

a. Ethno-Religious politics is the primary cause of ethno-religious emotion in Nigeria.

b. Ethno-religious attitudes influenced voting trends in the 2015 general elections.

b. Sentimental voting patterns undercut the credibility of the 2015 general elections.

1.6. Importance of the study

This study looks at ethno-religious emotions and how they influence voting trends in Nigeria in 2015. This study will be significant in the following respects.

First, the research will establish the reasons for ethno-religious sentiment in Nigeria, allowing the government and private organisations to take actions to address the issue and create national unity.

Second, the research will examine the influence of ethno-religious attitudes on voting patterns in the 2015 elections, which will fill gaps in existing literatures because there is little literature on this topic.

Finally, the research will contribute to academia and serve as a reference point for future researchers interested in investigating issues related to ethno-religious attitudes.

1.7. Scope and Limitations

The study investigates ethno-religious attitudes and their influence on voting patterns in the 2015 general elections; consequently, the study will focus on the 2015 general elections. The study will also employ materials published during this time period to reach a more accurate conclusion.

The study’s main restrictions will be time, money, and access to crucial primary data sources. The researchers would have liked to interview the former INEC Chairman as well as resident INEC Commissioners, but this will be a challenging assignment due to the researcher’s academic level and the personalities’ busy schedules.

These constraints, however, will not jeopardise the project’s reliability and validity, since the researcher will do everything in her power to guarantee that the project is properly prepared and its findings are presented.

1.8. Research Methodology.

The methodology used for this study is quantitative, emphasising the use of numerical data and statistics to reach conclusions. The quantitative technique is also utilised when a general understanding of a particular problem is required; the quantitative methodology attempts to determine the magnitude, frequency,

and extent of the independent variable’s effect on the dependent variable. Thus, this methodology will be used to determine the amount to which ethno-religious feeling (the independent variable) influences voting behaviour (the dependent variable). The quantitative technique will govern data collection, analysis, and sampling.

Data will be collected for this study from both primary and secondary sources.

The primary source of data would be the delivery of questionnaires to voters, INEC officials, and politicians in Kaduna State’s Zaria local government area. 200 questionnaires will be circulated to gather diverse perspectives and views.

The secondary source of data will be acquired by reviewing books, journals, and academic papers produced on the subject.

Method of Data Analysis: Percentages will be used for data analysis, which helps in providing accurate answers to queries and aids in easy analysis.

Sampling Method: Simple random sampling will be utilised because it allows everyone to be selected while eliminating bias.

1.9. Proposed Theoretical Framework

Rational Choice Theory.

Gary Becker proposed rational choice theory in 1992. The rational choice theory of ethnic voting behaviour postulates that a voter tends to vote for a party candidate who is a member of the same ethnic group because of the higher possibility that the candidate will keep his/her political promises to members of their own ethnic community,

and because of the lower costs of communicating with a candidate of one’s own community, more effective representation of the community’s interests in parliament will likely result (Ja). By extension, the same hypothesis can be used to argue that a voter is more inclined to vote for a politician who shares his or her religious convictions.

Rational choice theory best describes long-term voting patterns in Nigeria. Nigerians’ voting conduct remains influenced by their ethno-religious affinities, just as it was throughout the independence era.

1.10. Definitions of Terms

a. Ethnic-religion

Ethno-Religion is a combination of the words ethnic and religion. The term is commonly used to identify members of an ethnic community who also practise a religion. It is also used to describe a situation in which the majority of people in an ethnic group practise the same religion (Conroy, 2013).

b. Sentiment

Sentiment is a concept, opinion, or notion based on a feeling about a situation or a way of thinking about something that is motivated by sympathy, pity, ethnic or religious beliefs rather than facts or reason (Ali, 2003).

Voting behaviour

Voting behaviour is defined as a set of personal electoral activities that include participating in political campaigns, going to the polls, and deciding who to vote for (Bratton 2013).

1.11. Chapterization

The project will be organised into five chapters. The first chapter will cover the study’s background, which will include an introduction, a statement of the research problem,

research questions, and study objectives, research propositions, the significance of the study, the scope and limitations of the research methodology, and a definition of key concepts.

Chapter two will focus on a review of the literature as well as the theoretical framework. Chapter Three will discuss the evolution of ethno-religious emotion in Nigerian society.

Chapter Four will consist of data presentation, analysis, and interpretation. The fifth chapter will provide the study’s summary, conclusion, and recommendations.

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