POLITICAL VIOLENCE AND democratic PROCESS IN NIGERIA (A CASE STUDY OF RIVERS STATE)
BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
Nigeria in the recent decades has been in the news for the very ugly reason of the unprecedented political violence which has occurred in different parts of the country but with specific dominance in the northern parts of Nigeria. The latest of such violent scenarios was the
Tuesday May 7, 2013 mass murder of nearly one hundred security operatives in Nasarawa state, north Central Nigeria, by a suspected armed local secret sect known in local parlance as “Ombatse” (meaning we have arrived) cult group (Onwubiko 2013).
Politicians recruited, trained and empowered local secret sect to harass, intimidate and victimize perceived political opponents and opposing views against their political ambition. This culture of violence has not only been imbibed and sustained as part of the country's political behavior since independence it has been one of the potent causes of the low participation of Nigerians in politics and other social activities.
Adeyemi and Adeyemi (2003) express concern over the situation of politics in Nigeria, when they observed that during the ward congress of the PDP, an intra-party affair, many politicians went to the congress venue armed with assault rifles and acid containers for possible use on opponents.
These politicians employed local secret sect to compel innocent people to vote against their wishes. The party agents at the polling booths are openly threatened to compromise, and INEC officials were forced to do what they would not have done ordinarily.
Political violence negates peaceful coexistence, law and order. In addition to security concerns, it militates against the consolidation of democracy and social coexistence. This in turn impact on the social and economic well being of the nation and creates imbalances in social relations (Howell, 2004).
Political violence brings complex set of events such as poverty, ethnic or religious grievances which affect the social relationship of the people in the society. Marx, (1968) posits that violence, particularly political violence, represents a disturbance movement to the political equilibrium and peaceful co-existence of the system.
It is apposite to state that political violence is the hallmarks of weakly institutionalize politics. The starkest manifestation of such violence is armed conflict in the form of civil war.
Though elections which are supposed to be a significant pillar in the democratic process of a country with the twin principles of political participation and accountability is precisely in the greatest and most notable violations of the occurrence of this principles.
Everyone wants to win, and nobody wants to lose. It is obvious that for any political critic to say anything considered ‘negative' about any political office holder, he should be ready to bear the risk of being molested. According to Adekanye in (Alfa & Otaida, 2012), an objective review of the Nigerian political journey would reveal that political violence has been part and parcel of the country's history.
What is however new are the metamorphoses of the violence; which is now in shapes, magnitude and consequences? No country can develop in an atmosphere of rancor and acrimony.
Nigeria would have been one of the leading economics of the world but its movement has been anticlockwise due largely to the fact that monumental resources are channeled into security votes, conflict resolution and reconstruction as a result of perennial political violence: since political power is the major source of wealth in Nigeria, the contest for political office is always a ‘do or die' affair (Ake, 1981 & Tenuche, 2011 in Alfa & Otaida, 2012)
STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
Political violence has become a household name in Nigeria causing unrest in the political economy and socio economic development in Nigeria. Alubo (2011) asserts that the refugee problems that accompany these disturbances also have implications for attainment of target in, and access to social development such as education, reduction in maternal mortality and childhood deaths as well as other aspects of productive health.
Indeed, the mass rape of the female population in the areas engulfs by violence fuels the spread of HIV/AIDS which is already a high prevalence and regarded as a social problem in Nigeria.
Furthermore, the continued eruptions of political violence have implications for national peace and security, and thereby threaten the dissolution of the country Nigeria. It was reported in December 2001, that, over eighty major political violence have been recorded in various parts of the country in twelve years of civilian rule (Alubo, 2006).
Political violence impact negatively in many forms of development such as the inability for people to interact with one another creates unhealthy child growth.
More so, during political violence a lot of people abandon their ethnic, cultural values, religion or traditions to pledge allegiance to new, artificial and unproven states. This unfortunate, states have plugged people into deeper crisis, poor interaction resulting to fierce elimination of people.
The phenomenon is used extreme, repressive measures that have threatened the rule of law, personal freedoms and human rights. Political violence is a determinant of armed conflict, complex interplay of ideology, quest for power by competing groups, specific in the country and international conditions.
1.3 AIM AND OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
The main aim of the research work is to examine political violence and democratic process in Nigeria. The specific objectives of the study are:
to determine the relationship between political violence and democratic process in Rivers State Nigeria
to determine the effect of political violence on democratic process in Rivers State Nigeria
to determine the causes of political violence in Rivers State Nigeria
to investigate the factors influencing democratic process in Rivers State Nigeria
1.4 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
The study came up with research questions to ascertain the above stated objectives of the study. The following research questions guide the objectives of the study:
What is the relationship between political violence and democratic process in Rivers State Nigeria?
What is the effect of political violence on democratic process in Rivers State Nigeria?
What are the causes of political violence in Rivers State Nigeria?
What are the factors influencing democratic process in Rivers State Nigeria?
1.5 STATEMENT OF THE HYPOTHESIS
H0: there is no significant relationship between political violence and democratic process in Rivers State Nigeria
H1: there is significant relationship between political violence and democratic process in Rivers State Nigeria
1.6 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
The study on political violence and democratic process in Nigeria will be of immense benefit to the Rivers State political economy of Nigeria. The study will explore political violence, the causes of political violence and education stake holders and decision makers in Nigeria on how to control the political violence.
The findings of the study will ascertain the correlation between political violence and democratic process in Nigeria. The study will also serve as a repository of information to other researchers that desire to carry out similar research on the above topic.
Finally the study will contribute to the body of the existing literature on political violence and democratic process in Nigeria.
1.7 SCOPE OF THE STUDY
The study will focus on political violence and democratic process in Nigeria
1.8 LIMITATION OF THE STUDY
Financial constraint- Insufficient fund tends to impede the efficiency of the researcher in sourcing for the relevant materials, literature or information and in the process of data collection (internet, questionnaire and interview).
Time constraint- The researcher will simultaneously engage in this study with other academic work. This consequently will cut down on the time devoted for the research work.
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1.9 DEFINITION OF TERMS
Conceptualizing Political Violence
Violence is defined as “the illegitimate and unauthorized use of force to effect decisions against the will or desires of other people in the society”(Wolf, 1969). According to Gurr (1970), political violence refers to all collective attacks within a political community against the political regime,
its actors including competing political groups as well as incumbents or its policies. From the foregoing, one can observe that there is a correlative relationship between the two concepts. As a matter of fact, they are complementary.
The end-product of political violence is thuggery. Violence is the means through which thugs achieve their aims.
POLITICAL VIOLENCE AND DEMOCRATIC PROCESS IN NIGERIA (A CASE STUDY OF RIVERS STATE)
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