1.1 Background to the Study
The electoral politics in Nigeria generally as at 1999 till this moment has been associated with violent conflicts, godfatherism, corruption, political thuggery, assassinations, and arson. Politicians in Nigeria, particularly in Bayelsa State do not give room for dialogue, negotiation and consensus reasoning (Azeez, 2005). Political contests in Bayelsa State are associated with desperation for power, and violent struggle for political power among politicians. Recurring political violence in Bayelsa state could be attributed to over-zealousness and desperation of political gladiators to win elections or remain in office at all cost.
These unholy adventures in the political arena of Nigeria most especially in Bayelsa State have often been catastrophic leading to endangering of innocent lives, disruption of economic activities, and the destruction of properties among others. Political crisis or violence as the case may be brings about threat to lives and properties of the people around, negatively affects economic activities, and discourages local and foreign investors. The long term effects of political violence are immeasurable, this is because violence jeopardizes development, social integration and robs people of their psychological and emotional stability all of which stifles and retards socio-economic development.
Political violence or crisis is widely used by the people at the helm of power and governments around the world to achieve political goals and aims. Some groups and individuals have the belief that their political systems and structures will never respond to their political demands. Therefore, they believe that violence is a means to their ends in achieving their political aims and objectives. In the same way, many governments around the world believe they need to use violence in order to intimidate their populace into acquiescence. Political crisis can take different dimensions including but not limited to those listed below. Inability of the government take necessary measuring in combating electoral crisis can also be characterized as a form of political violence.
Bayelsa State which is the case study of this research is located at the centre of the turbulent Niger Delta region associated with persistent crisis of youth restiveness, militancy and insurgency. The agitation for insecurity is a product of several years of monumental neglect and deprivation suffered by the people of the region. And this has resulted in wide spread poverty, excruciating hardship, complete lack of basic socio-economic infrastructure, dislocated societal values and cohesion, plundered environment and high rate of unemployment especially among the youths. This environment of anger, frustration and abject want has also precipitated terrible cases of electoral violence and warfare in Bayelsa State (Major, 2017; Karimo, Krokeyi and Ekainsai, 2017).
These undemocratic activities and events, though they are orchestrated by political elites of the key political parties, are mainly carried by vulnerable and able bodied youths who ought to have been constructively engaged and in doctrinated into fine democratic norms, values and attitudes. And we all know that the country’s democratic structures and processes cannot be sustained by an unwholesome practice of electoral misdemeanour and violence.
The effects of political violence can be worrisome, particularly in the area of human development. Political violence has resulted in the damage, not only against private and public property, but also resulting in grievous bodily harm and in extreme cases, deaths. With the above record of political violence in Nigeria, hundreds of people mostly youths have been killed, many injured and property worth millions of Naira destroyed. These ugly developments have directly affected the state treasury and lower down the rate of development. The incidences of political violence and crises have sent waves of panic and fear through a shocked and outraged public in the state of Bayelsa and Nigeria as a whole. Besides, the various violent crimes have destroyed social relationship among the people of some particular communities. Such violence had also provoked, entrenched and accelerated the cycle of violence in the country.
The abysmal of the violent incidents is a categorical inference of the saying that something was wrong within the system and that it would equally be adduced that the politicians enjoyed electoral violence more than peaceful resolute of a particular crisis. Apart from the astounding increase in both number and magnitude of loss, destruction and wanton human carnage, it is also a truism that the country has been stereotyped by this virulent violence. There is no disputing the fact that the phenomenon of political violence scares away investors and retards in all ramifications the socio-economic development in Bayelsa State. Having synthesized some of the consequences of political violence in this study, it is important to examine political thuggery and election crises in Nigeria by using Bayelsa State as a case study from 2012 to 2019.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
Since the country returned to democratic rule on 29th May 1999 the occurence of violence has taken a serious dimension: Bombings, militancy, religious riots, vandalism, arsons, political assassinations and the like have become the main features of Nigeria’s nascent democracy. The view highlighted above is not different from that of Bayelsa State. Bayelsa State is also considered to be a distinct point of intersection of individuals, age groups and ethnicity competing for economic and political space. Based on these findings, the state is has been faced with conflicts that have led to the destruction of lives and property as experienced in the 2007, 2009, 2011, 2015 and 2019 political crises in the State. A close examination of the level of political violence in Bayelsa State has clearly shown that the State has virtually a tripled level of violence in the country.
This glaring and alarming circle of violence in the State has continued to remain an issue of grave concerns to the State and Nigeria generally. Obviously, the spate of bomb blasts, kidnappings, vandalism and series of killings from 2012 to 2019 especially in Brass, Ekeremor, Kolokuma/Opokuma, Nembe, Ogbia, Southern Ijaw, Sagbama and Yenagoa local government areas of the State is quiet worrisome. Despite the assurance and measures taken for the protection of lives and property by the State Government, the security situation in the State has continued to deteriorate with huge impact on the socio-economic and political development of the State. It is against this backdrop that the researcher is embarking on this study aimed at examining political thuggery and election crises in Nigeria by using Bayelsa State as a case study from 2012 to 2019.
1.3 Objectives of the Study
The purpose of this study is to understand political thuggery and election crises in Nigeria by using Bayelsa State as a case study from 2012 to 2019. The specific objectives include the following:
a) To examine the relationship between political thuggery and election crises in Nigeria
b) To understand the causes of political thuggery and election crises in Bayelsa State from 2012 to 2019
c) To determine the effects of political thuggery and election crises on Nigerian democracy
1.4 Research Questions
The questions asked here will serve as the basis on which this research will be analyzed.
a) What is the relationship between political thuggery and election crises in Nigeria?
b) What are the causes of political thuggery and election crises in Bayelsa State from 2012 to 2019?
c) What are the effects of political thuggery and election crises on Nigerian democracy?
1.5 Significance of the Study
The study will enable every Nigerian citizen to know why Nigeria history is filled with political violence. This study is also a great significant to other researchers. It will significantly provide an opportunity for in-depth knowledge of the concept and the root of political violence in Nigeria. This study is also of great significance to the people of Bayelsa especially the youths that are fond of being used as political objects of crisis during elections in the state. It will make them to know that the end result of every violent activity is destruction. To the country at large, it will serve as a road map from the dangerous journey Nigerians have embarked upon for years.
1.6 Scope of the Study
The scope of this study is to understand political thuggery and election crises in Nigeria by using Bayelsa State as a case study from 2012 to 2019. Special emphasis would be made on the recurrent political violence in the life of our government with particular reference to thuggery and violent activities characterized electioneering campaign from 2011 to 2019 general elections in the state. The main aim of this study is to critically analyze the political violence in Nigeria. How it has portrayed us in the eyes of the world. The resultant effects of this violence are large scale political corruption, mass rigging, ballot box snatching, intimidation and a list of other evils that space would not allow to mention here. Bayelsa State will be used as a case study.
1.7 Limitations of the Study
The researcher encountered a lot of difficulties. Indeed, obtaining information of this project was not easy for the following reasons:
Lack of fund: Carrying out a study of this nature and magnitude requires substantial amount of money, most especially in the present face of economic hardship that is being experienced in the country.
Time factor: The greatest limitation of this study was the inadequate time for the researcher to cope with the trend of study. The write-up has to be carried with either family commitments or demand of the work place, and studies of wide course like public administration.
Cooperation: The researcher encountered difficulties in obtaining some vital information from those authorities that are concerned in the state, for fear of victimization and divulging official secret.
There is also limitation in releasing the project materials from the authorities concerned that is the previous writers on similar topics.
1.8 Definition of Terms
This tends to aid understanding of a researchers work. In this study, the following concepts and their meaning are stated below:
Crisis: This refers to a time of difficulty when important decisions must be made on a nation’s life or a period of controversy.
Democracy: A government of the people by the people and for the people. It is a system of government in which all the people of a country can vote to elect their representatives.
Election: The process of choosing a person or group of people for a position especially in political position by voting.
Rigging: A process of arranging or influencing something most especially, in elections in dishonest ways in order to get the result that you want.
Thuggery: A device used by many politicians to outsmart their opponents. It is violent, criminal behabviour.
Violence: This is a behavior that is intended to cause injury or kill somebody and destroyed properties
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