ELECTIONS, SOCIAL INSECURITY AND NIGERIA’S INTERNATIONAL IMAGE: A CASE STUDY OF ELECTORAL PROCESS
1.1 Background of the Study
Election in Nigeria is a serious business, because of the power, fame, economic benefit and the influence it commands. It is seen as a source of livelihood and a rapid means to acquire wealth and power in the society. Therefore, there is a violent scramble among the political gladiators, actors and others for political offices. This is to maintain their grip on key strategic positions in government, not for services to the people or for the duties and responsibilities of the office, but for among others things, societal recognition, political relevance, money, and government contracts.
Political participation, according to Igwe (2015), is the degree and forms of involvement of the people in governance and related institutions of society, such as the economy and culture. In its active sense, it involves participation in political campaigns and debates, attending caucus or strategy meetings of political parties, voting during elections, standing as candidates for elections, and holding of government and party posts. Okolie, (2015) definition goes beyond this to include freedom of expression, association, right to free flow of communication, influence decision process, and right to social justice. According to him, it also expresses such rights to demand for better social and health services, better working conditions, and increase in wages, amongst others.
The idea of wealth without work in Nigeria stemmed from the notion that, politics is the only platform for such possibilities. Hence, elections are seen as a fastest means or a medium through which one can achieve success and attain recognition in the society. It is therefore seen, in some villages and indeed elsewhere in Nigeria, as an opportunities to the share the national cake, Guardian Newspaper (2010). The rampant conferment of Chieftaincy titles and different awards to persons holding political offices in government, further demonstrates the distorted importance attached to political offices in Nigeria. This also demonstrates the type of values,preferences and choices of the people in the society,as it is observed in some culture and elsewhere in Nigeria.
Political offices provide a means to impose or perpetuate a particular ethnic group in government and governance, and by so doing dominating other groups, thereby creating fear and tension during elections in Nigeria. Iyayi (2015) contends that, this also makes elections in Nigeria and its processes a very complicated and a highly tensed contest. It is characterized by violence, Cheating, civil unrest, and all manner of malpractices and electoral fraud. Hence, Nigerians can conduct elections that can be free and fair and without fraudulent practices, but the consequence of doing the right thing will among other things; undermine the interest of some forces in the country. These forces undermine the electoral process to their advantage. They also do everything within their means to sustain the status quo.This violent scramble for political offices through elections now creates electoral violence and social insecurity in our society, as a result of an outright manipulation of the electoral process.
Elections, according to Teshome (2014), serve three main purposes in a democratic society.Firstly,elections serve as a means for people to choose their representatives; secondly elections are a means of choosing governments; and thirdly elections give legitimacy to the political system.Odukoya(2017) further asserted the value and essence of election, by contending that election is an empirical demonstration of a citizen’s liberty and political choice. It is for this that it serves to legitimized the government. That it provide a veritable platform for transformation of the lives and welfare of the people through good governance.
Democracy is a government whereby the people exercise the governing power either directly or through representatives periodically elected by them. This scholar further posits that democracy is a form of government in which political power is with the mass of the people as the ruling power of a state is legally vested not any particular class or classes but in the members of the community as a whole. Democracy, according to Allyson (2019) is rule in the interest of the whole people, transcending classes. That the procedure by which a society is ruled is of little or no significance as long as the goal of the state is to improve the status of all the people in the society. Thus, the primary means by which the people exercise their sovereignty is the vote via elections Allyson, (2019). Therefore, democratic systems are largely a product of electoral system as elections are required for the emergence of the peoples’ representatives as well as other elective office holders.
Election provide that platform for the rule of the people by giving the opportunity to choose their leaders, it is the rule in the interest of the whole people, transcending classes. Therefore, elections conducted in Nigeria over the years has led to electoral violence due to incompatibility in interest among and within the stakeholders (where lives and properties of the people are lost) resulting to a high state of social insecurity and a bad international image in the committees of nation.
Soremekun(2015) asserted that, international politics is an extension of domestic politics. That it is the reflection of individual views, personal values, choices, and preferences of the people in leadership into the international environment. That a nation is an abstraction, but the people and their actions, conduct andgeneral behavior constitutes a nation. Hence, the way and manner of its domestic politics is a direct and indirect reflection, perception, beliefs and position of a nation in the international environment. Therefore, the consequence of bad elections is a post-election violence, civil unrest, mass protest and poor international image. Furthermore,it is the destruction of lives and properties of the people and ultimately, the denting of the international image of a nation. It is important to note that, the Nigerian socio- political environment was conceived, model and structured by the colonial master. It was basically, designed to be a class and isolationist society. Some scholars in Africa, the neo-colonialist still hold a strong affinity and allegiance to the colonialist, contending that, their contributions had a lasting impact on the African continent. Not negating its consequence and negative politics of divide and rule. All these factors among others, constitutes the present political space and realities of the Nigerian political environment, as we have it today.
1.2. Statement of the Problem
Incessant and constant post-election violence and a high level of social insecurity have taken over the political space of the Nigerian polity in recent times. This usually occurs after a major election had taken place. Historically, this has been a recurring trend; hence the need to look at these factors and its effect in our democratic process. These reasons haveprompted the engagement of this study.
1.3 Research Questions
The research questions of the study are as follows:
- What are conditions and factors responsible for these post- election violence in Nigeria
- Is there any relationship between elections and the state of social insecurity via electoral violence and Nigeria’s international image?
- Do elections can affect Nigeria’s international image and her relationships with other nations?
1.4 Objective of the Study
The main objectives of the study are to investigate elections, social insecurity and Nigeria’s international image: a case study of electoral process (1999 – 2011). Other specific objectives of the study are to;
- assess the conditions and factors responsible for these post- election violence in Nigeria.
- establish a relationship between elections and the state of social insecurity via electoral violence and Nigeria’s international image in the committee of nations.
- investigate whether elections can affect Nigeria’s international image and her relationships with other nations
1.5 Research Hypotheses
The following research hypotheses were formulated to guide the study.
- H01: There is no significant relationship between conditions and factors responsible for these post- elections in Nigeria.
- H02: There is no significant relationship between elections and the state of social insecurity via electoral violence and Nigeria’s international image
- H03: There is no significant relationship between Nigeria’s international image and her relationships with other nations.
1.6 Significance of the Study
The study would be of immense importance towards the eradication of election, social insecurity and improving political/democratic participation in Nigeria. The study would also benefit government, electorate, researchers and scholars who are interested in developing further studies on the subject matter.
Undoubtedly, the study findings will help lecturers, policy makers and educationist to decide on the elections, social insecurity and Nigeria’s international image: it is hoped that the result of this study will make an enormous contribution to the existing researches.
1.7 Scope of the Study
This study shall among other things focus and restrict itself primarily and basically to the elections, social insecurity and Nigeria’s international image: A case study of electoral process (1999-2011). The study will dwell extensively on elections as the rootcause and as a sourceof social insecurity in Nigeria, andits negative implicationson Nigeria’s international image. This study shall be limited to the period between 1999- 2011.
1.8 Limitation of the Study
This research work focused on elections, social insecurity and Nigeria’s international image: A case study of electoral process (1999-2011). The major limitation to this research is the inability of the researcher to get adequate materials on the topic. Also, 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).
1.9 Definition of Terms
Elections: a formal decision making process by which a population chooses an individual to hold a public office.
Psephology: is the study of results and other statistics relating to elections, especially with a view to predicting future result.
Electoral fraud: is illegal interference with the process of an election, acts of electoral fraud affect the vote to bring about a change or alteration in the outcome of an election result, this is done by increasing the vote share of the favored candidate, depressing the vote share of the rival Candidate or both.
Electoral Violence: is the employment of force by political parties or their supporters to intimidate opponents and threaten a democratic regime, with the sole intension and objectives to seized political power by the use of undemocratic means, such as force, creation of confusion and crises in the polity.
Political party: is a group of organized people with liked mind, culture, political, beliefs and philosophy seeking to acquire power in other to form a government in a given state.
Social insecurity: this is a state of tension, crises, arson, disturbance,violence and fear prevalent in the socio-political environment of the state.
International image: this is general impressions, opinions and character projected by the host country to the outside world as the norm, culture, practice, beliefs and values with which its wishes to be known by and identify with.
Bad elections: this is elections that is poorly done or conducted, and plaque by electoral fraud malpractice, violence, cheating, intimidation, falsification of electoral results and beneath the general acceptable standards and practices, either locally or internationally.
1.10 Organization of the study
Chapter one introduces the subject matter of the research work. It includes the background of the study, statement to problem, objective of the study, research question, research hypotheses, scope of the study, significance of the study, definition of term, and organisation of the study
Chapter two focuses on the literature review by giving conceptual framework to various concepts. This chapter three presents a research methodology of the study, this includes: research design, population, sample and sampling techniques, research instruments, validation of the research instrument, reliability of the instruments, administration of the instrument and data analysis. Chapter four focuses on the results, testing of hypotheses and discussion of findings and Chapter five was based on summary, conclusion and recommendations.
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