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Chapter one


1.1 Background of the Study

Political parties have typically been the most important intermediary organisations in democratic nations. Students of political science frequently identify them with democracy itself.

Political parties have been romanticised as “makers” of democracy to the point where researchers suggest that democracy and democratic societies cannot be thought of without them (Omotola, 2009). In other words, the existence of active political parties is critical for democratic consolidation in any society.

It is patently ironic that political parties actively pursue and profess democracy in the media while resisting it internally. Competitive party and electoral politics are expected to strengthen democracy.

Well-functioning political parties are regarded as critical to the achievement of electoral democracy and Nigerian political growth (Ibeanu, 2013, Adetula and Adeyi, 2013).

Unfortunately, Nigerian elections since political independence have been marred by violent incidents that frequently result in socioeconomic tensions and instability. Despite efforts to address it, this has been a recurring problem in Nigerian political life.

Electoral violence in Nigeria has been sustained and strengthened primarily by religious, ethnic, and tribal differences. For example, the political violence that greeted Nigeria’s First and Second Republics,

which finally led to military intervention and a lengthy period of instability in the country’s government and politics, was motivated by ethnic and tribal considerations (Wakili 2015).

Following the announcement of the results of the 2011 presidential election, which resulted in the re-election of the incumbent, President Goodluck Jonathan, candidate for the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP),

violence broke out with widespread protests by supporters of the main opposition candidate, Rtd General Muhammadu Buhari of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), challenging the results.

The protests devolved into sectarian violence and killings by Almajiri (Sanghaya school students) in the Northern states of Adamawa, Bauchi, Borno, Gombe, Jigawa, Kaduna, Katsina, Niger, Sokoto, Yobe, and Zamfara, with over 65,000 people estimated to have been displaced and over 800 killed in the electoral violence (Ibeanu 2013).

The rise in electoral violence in Nigeria has been frightening until 2015, when the country held its most astonishing elections. Previously, due to election fear and a proclivity for violence, several US analysts predicted that 2015 will see the deconstruction of the Nigerian state into small banana republics (Yoroms, 2015).

Thugs are the most common perpetrators of electoral violence in Nigeria, with members openly recruited, paid, and occasionally armed by political parties, politicians, and their representatives (Aniekwe and Kushie, 2011).

These gangs are mostly made up of unemployed young men who are mobilised to attack their sponsors’ competitors, intimidate members of the public, manipulate elections, and defend their patrons from similar attacks (Aniekwe and Kushie, 2011).

Excessive manipulation of the electoral process by political parties, beginning with voter registration before to election day and ending with election results, has created tension and a cumulative reaction of the masses to violence in Nigeria. This has led researchers, political experts, and pundits to describe party politics in the country as a filthy game.

As a result, Osabiya (2015) argued that political parties play an important role in modern societies’ political processes. They have become a true instrument or adjunct to democracy in any democratic society.

Political parties are more than just tools for gaining political power; they are also vehicles for aggregating interests and ultimately satisfying those interests through government control.

Obviously, political parties are critical to the survival of democratic governance. As a result, the purpose of this research is to look critically at party politics and election violence in Nigeria.

1.2 Statement of Problem

Consolidating Nigerian democracy through legitimate elections has been an albatross. The history of Nigeria’s democratic experiments demonstrates that elections and party politics have sparked so much animosity that,

in some cases, threatened the country’s corporate existence (such as after the annulment of the June 12, 1993 presidential election) and, in others, prompted military intervention into political governance, most notably in 1966 and 1983.

At the heart of Nigeria’s electoral process is the issue of lack of trust for official election results, which leads to its rejection by a sizable percentage of the Nigerian voting public.

Since the 1964 general election, the first held by the post-colonial Nigerian government, Nigerian elections have been marked by contestation of results and organised violence.

While there are numerous elements that contribute to electoral violence in Nigeria, the institutional aspect (creating a credible election system) appears to be the most significant (Animashaun, 2010).

Furthermore, sociological elements such as Nigeria’s pluralist character, poor political culture, and irrational party politics make it difficult to establish such an effective electoral regime (Animashaun, 2010).

Since the Fourth Republic’s inception, a pattern has emerged indicating that political elites haven’t learned much from previous failures. The high level of political abduction, harassment, arson,

and assassination, as well as the departure of trustworthy and qualified specialists from the race, all lend support to this truth (Jegede 2003). Against this setting, this study aims to investigate party politics and electoral violence in Nigeria.

1.3 Objectives of the Study

The study is undertaken with the following objectives:

1) Investigate the link between party politics and electoral violence in Nigeria.

2) To investigate the impact of an intra-party crisis on Nigeria’s democratic process.

3) Investigate the impact of political parties on democratic consolidation in Nigeria.

4) Discover the issues that political parties face in Nigeria.

5) To suggest policy choices for party politics and violence in Nigeria.

1.4 Research Questions.

The research will be directed by the following questions.

1) What is the link between party politics and election violence in Nigeria?

2) What effect does the intra-party crisis have on Nigeria’s democratic process?

3) To what extent do political party activities help to consolidate democracy in Nigeria?

1.5 Significance of the Study

The study has theoretical and practical implications. The study has the potential to add significantly to the existing body of scholarship on elections and political violence. This effort will offer political science and political history students with the framework they need to address electoral violence issues in future elections.

Practically, this research will be of interest to the Nigerian government, particularly the House Committee on Electoral Matters, Ministries, Departments, and Agencies (MDAs) such as the Independent Electoral Commission (INEC),

States Independent Electoral Commissions (SIEC), and so on. The findings of this study will also be useful in defining viable approaches to address the issues of political parties and election violence.

Finally, readers and academics will find this beneficial in any study on party politics and election violence.

1.6 Scope of Study

The scope of the investigation determines the research boundaries. As a result, this study examines party politics and electoral violence in Nigeria, as well as the electoral process and the issues that political parties face in Nigeria.

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