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ELECTORAL FRAUD AND ELECTORAL VIOLENCE AND NATIONAL SECURITY IN NIGERIA
1.1. Background of the Study
Election remains the only acceptable means of choosing leaders in a democratic system. It allows peaceful change of government and representation. In a representative democracy, elections help in institutionalizing the process of succession. It creates a legal framework for handling inter-elite rivalries and providing a modicum for popular backing for the new ruler (Hughes & May, 1988). Election also helps in deepening the process of popular participation in government. In this sense, eligible adults have the right to vote and be voted for. This invariably gives them opportunity to participate in decision making process as well as governance of their affairs.
Indeed, elections have helped spark political, ethnic, religious, and communal violence since the late 1940s, when British colonial authorities introduced limited voting. In Nigeria, elections are to a large extent considered as “do or die” affair. In the words of Etannibi Alemika, “politicians turn electioneering and elections into warfare in which violence, ethnic, religious, and other forms of primordial sentiments and prejudices are employed (Rosenau, Mushen, & McQuaid 2015). Electoral violence has been a feature of Nigeria’s politics since the return to democratic rule on 29th May, 1999. Therefore, Elections in Nigeria’s fourth republic were marred by irregularities such as ballot box stuffing, ballot snatching, falsification of results and abuse of electoral act among others. In developing countries, especially in Africa, elections are often riddled with tension, conflicts, crises and fraud such that it is difficult to use them as a barometer of the people’s choice (Agbaje and Adejumobi 2006). Man not only likes to be at the theatre of power, but seeks to be in its centre. Violence and other state apparatus are used by power mongers, power holders to either retain or secure power. This situation gives birth to arson, looting, killings, massive destruction of lives and properties and the breakdown of law and order (Dudley cited in Enojo, 2010).
By implication, the negative impacts of electoral irregularities are not on the legitimacy of the government and stability of the system alone, it equally affects national security in Nigeria. It is in the light of the inability to conduct free, fair and credible elections in Nigeria devoid of heightened national security that this paper seeks to explain how elections constitutes threats to Nigeria’s national security. Since independence, the country’s democratization processes had witnessed massive electoral fraud followed by violence which has compromised the very ethics of liberal democracy in spite of several electoral reforms that have no positive effect. And this predicament to democratization process in Nigeria has rather been on the increase and there is no evidence of any serious and sincere effort made to stop it from reaching an unwanted level. Virtually, these have been breeding all sorts of violent scenarios to the possible feature of a total anarchy, a situation which some consider Nigeria moving towards a failed state.
In the case of Nigeria, the concept of democracy has become difficult to define and this is because, the very factor which qualifies a democracy has been difficult to achieve in Nigeria. The irregularities and malpractices characterize elections in Nigeria proceeds to unimaginable conflicts that consume lives and properties. During election, the ruling parties employ all devices using their incumbent power to suppress any opposition from other parities. They commit the national resources especially finance using it to influence the security agents to protect and safeguard theirl manipulations during elections. The consequences and grievances emanating from the electoral fraud and misconducts as manifested by the opposition parties affect both our development and democracy. Most of the civil unrest which Nigeria is facing today like the recent Boko Haram have been linked to the dissatisfaction of those who felt not favoured in the 2011 presidential election.
National security is devoid of universally acceptable definition but has been described as the concern of government about the stability and safety of a state. It encompasses the sum of what a nation does in order to safeguard itself as a sovereign entity. That is the physical protection of a nation’s subjects, landscape, independence and even issues such as food security and national image (Okoroafor, et al, 2012). This is however a narrow conception of what national security entails. Security therefore, transcends the boundaries of physical defence or military aspects and entails human security, elections security, environmental security etc. Ogunbanyo in Nwolise (2008:349) stressed further that security is more than military security or security from external attacks. For many inhabitants in developing countries, security is concerned as the basic level of struggle for survival. Therefore, in order to provide an integrated security assessment, the non-military dimensions of security should be added.
National security can best be conceptualized as the totality of actions and frameworks towards protecting a state from all factors that may constitute impediments to its growth and survival. Considering the meaning of, and implications associated with national security, it is important to state that security is a matter that bothers on the posture, well-being, stability and development of a nation. It becomes parameter to express the status of a nation among comity of nations in areas like citizen protection, freedom and well-being, property and other critical infrastructures.
1.2. Statement of the Problem
The electoral process is a complex process that encompasses the good intentions and undesirable outcomes of election administration, particularly in emerging democracies where general elections are often marred by culturally hued electoral malpractices. In Nigerian case, the problem remains that the electoral process is immensely characterized by a culture of electoral malpractices like illegalities committed by government officials responsible for the conduct of elections, political parties, groups or individuals who lacks the knowledge of how electoral processes should be conducted in the light of INEC Electoral Acts. However, the present study seeks to examine the influence of electoral violence fraud and electoral violence and national security in Nigeria.
1.3. Research questions
- What is the influence of post-election crisis and national security?
- What is the influence of conflict at pooling unit and national security?
- 3. What is the influence of result of falsification and national security?
1.3. Objectives of the Study
- To examine the influence of post-election crisis and national security
- To examine the influence of conflict at pooling unit and national security
- 3. To examine influence of result of falsification and national security.
1.4. Statement of the hypothesis
- There is no significant influence of post-election crisis and national security
- There is no significant influence of conflict at pooling unit and national security
- 3. There is no significant influence of result of falsification and national security.
1.6. Significance of the study
This study has both theoretical and practical significance.
Theoretically, the study would add to the existing knowledge on electoral process. It would also serve as an addition to the existing literature on electoral process thus serve as a source of secondary data for future researchers.
Practically, the study would help Independent National Electoral Commission(INEC) who serves as the “watch dog” of the political transition programmes of governments and policy makers to strive and develop a workable theory and principles founded on the people’s culture, aimed at guarding and guiding the electoral process of Nigeria and undue excesses and recklessness of political leadership.
1.7. Limitation of study
The limitation of this study was inability to obtained information from the respondents in Ikeja Local Government Area of Lagos State which most of the respondents considered sensitive and fear of publication concerning the politicians and character assassination in the just concluded general elections.
Another limitation to the study is time constraint. The period within which the study is conducted is short for a researcher to travel to Ikeja Local Government Area to gather adequate information becomes very difficult.
Also, finance is one of the limitations to study. The researcher is facing financial constraint to meet the all the needed educational requirements including this research study. This caused the researcher to restrict his research to one local government area for possible completion of the study.
Finally, the researcher resolved to seek friendly approach in the school and the local government council under the study to obtain the needed materials or information from the area under study through the administration of questionnaire to some politicians.
1.8 Scope of the study
The scope of the study is concerned about the electoral fraud and electoral violence and national security in Nigeria
1.9 Operational Definition of terms
For a proper understanding of this paper, it is necessary to define the following concepts: election, violence and electoral violence.
- Election: According to business dictionary (2002), Election is a formal and organized process of electing or being elected, especially members of a political body. It is also the act of party casting votes to elect an individual for some type of position. Elections may involve a public or private vote depending on the position. Most positions in the local, state, and federal government are voting on in some type of election. In its proper sense, election is a process of selecting the officers or representatives of an organization or group by the vote of its qualified members (Nwolise, 2007:155).
- Violence: According to business dictionary (2006), Violence is physical force unlawfully exercised toward property or persons, causing or intending to cause damage or injury. In some jurisdictions, overt or convert threats are considered also acts of violence. It is also the use of physical force to injure people or property. Violence may cause physical pain to those who experience directly, as well as emotional distress to those who either experience or witness it. Individuals, families, schools, workplaces and the environment also harmed by violence. WHO definition of violence is the intentional use of physical force or power, threatened or actual, against oneself, another person, or against a group or community, that either results in high likelihood of resulting in injury, death, psychological harm, or deprivation. Violence has even gone beyond African countries. It is a universal phenomenon. It has become something that is used by groups seeking power, by groups holding power and by groups in the process of losing power (Anifowose, 1982:1).
- Electoral violence: The international foundation for electoral systems (IFES) defines electoral violence as any harm or threat of harm to any person or property involved in the election process, or the process itself, during the election period. Electoral violence also means any act perpetrated in the course of political activities, including pre, during and post-election periods, and may include any of the following acts: thuggery, use of force to disrupt political meetings or voting at polling stations, or the use of dangerous weapons to intimidate voters and other electoral process, or to cause bodily harm or injury to any person connected with electoral processes. Nwolise while quoting Albert defined electoral violence as all forms of organized acts or threats physical, psychological, and structural, aimed at intimidating, harming, blackmailing a political stakeholder before, during and after an election with a view to determining, delaying, or otherwise influencing an electoral process (Nwolise, 2007:159)