INFLUENCE OF POVERTY ON POLITICAL PARTICIPATION IN NIGERIA
1.1 Background of the Study
Poverty in Nigeria is a menace that has continued to defy solutions irrespective of various reforms which were introduced to control its spread. There were several efforts by government in the past and at present to find a lasting solution to the hydra-headed monster known as poverty but all to the contrary (Ahmed, 2015). What seem to cause a lot of concern is that the country is flourished with abundant resources, vast land and other endowment that are necessary for any functional society (Ajane, 2016). Poverty for long has poses a big problem to Africa. The poverty in the continent and Nigeria in particular cannot even be attributed to the country’s culture. The continent and Nigeria in particular has had a rich culture that is conducive to economic growth and development. The rich kingdoms of Ghana, Mali, and many others across the continent were known for their enterprising spirit and unparalleled accomplishment even in a hostile environment (Bello, 2016). Africans and Nigerians in particular are very energetic, ambitious and resourceful and possess the initiative required for material and intellectual achievement in the society but still living poor.
The Nigerian scene portrays the situation very adequately. Despite her abundant natural resources and rich environment, the country is still backward. This hydra-headed monster has further opened way for acts such as vote buying in the society (Cinjel, 2015). This act is characteristically common during the electioneering period where politicians uses worth such as money and other material things such as clothes, shoes, magi, salt, food and additives, grain and many others to entice the impoverish and voters who are desperate and ever willing and ready to exchange their votes with such articles (Gbuile, 2014). Despite campaign and enlightenment on the need to avoid such practice, the incidence is spreading and widening its tentacle in most nook and cranny of the society.
The existence of poverty in most of the areas in the country has continued to lure most voters into the act of vote buying. This act has become part and parcel of the Nigerian politics (Ita, 2015). This is because it has not only been seen as a norm but a tradition that is morally justified, politically correct and legitimate. Those that are already in government venture into vices such as looting and siphoning of public fund for such act and others that are in the process of creating political capital outsources from their wealth, loans and borrowing from friends, relations and associates (Stephenson, 2016). This development for long has been creating catastrophic effect on the progress of the society. Wealth of the nations which are meant to be shared on capital project and welfare service are wrongly exploited and as well used in dubious ways (Stephenson, 2016). This development is a setback to the country and its developmental processes.
The prevalence of poverty and misery in Nigeria is however, a paradox. Nigeria should, by no means be a poor nation. Apart from being an oil-producing nation, Nigeria is endowed with other natural and human resources which are enough to put her on a solid path to economic development and greatness. But Nigeria still wallows in abject poverty despite her stupendous wealth. Deep concerns have been expressed about the sustainability of the democratic process in Nigeria, as poverty-induced agitation and violent conflicts spread across the country. Stakeholders in the Nigerian democratic enterprise appear to be at crossroads on what to do to alleviate poverty, which is generally regarded as the greatest threat to the nascent democratic process in the country. Large segments of the population are demanding the dividends of democracy as the incidence of poverty continually grows throughout the nation. Geo- political zones are crying out against impoverishment, deprivation and marginalization. Countless ethno-cultural associations and pressure groups are being formed to articulate interests for a better share of the national cake, even when such interests threaten the very basis of democracy in the country.
Transition to the Nigeria’s current democratic dispensation referred to as the Fourth Republic began in 1998.This transition to what could properly be described as civil rule evoked and was facilitated by the massivemobilization of “the rich” and “the poor”. This was evident in the enthusiasm and pomp which the transition wasreceived. Sooner than expected, there emerged a post honeymoon effect of the entire process; which “effect” ispremised on the failure of the democratic government to deliver on its promised democratic (goods) dividends.It was the hope of the people that democracy not only provides liberty, but it also improves social and economiccondition of the people. These are the motivating factors of democratic participation. Rather than improving thesocio-economic well-being of the people, Nigeria’s democracy has turned a burden on the poor. But rather thanproviding democratic good, poverty is further created and corruption almost institutionalized, the net result beingthe receding of the euphoria that earlier accompanied the country’s democratization and a sharp decline in democratic participation. Mass poverty is a mechanization of the political class to exclude the majority of thepeople from the political process and shrink the political space for their selfish interest. Doubt therefore remainsabout how firm democracy’s root can become entrenched in a country where over 70 percent of the populationare poverty personified. It is our position that mass poverty poses a threat to democratic participation anddemocratic consolidation than all other variables put together. While there is a seemingly general consensus thatmass poverty undermine democratic participation, the ‘how’ is not much less clear. This is the task of thisundertaking.
It is unfortunate that despite the natural and human resources that Nigeria is blessed it, she is one of these countries. Poverty is a critical problem of our time, which along with environmental threats, weighs heavily on our planet and the future of humanity. It has assumed unprecedented and unacceptable proportion in Nigeria, manifesting not only in abysmal decline in economic indicators and trends, but more glaringly and tragically in the suffering, hardship and general impoverishment of the vast majority of the people. The average Nigerian is far worse off than he was over 50 years ago when the country achieved political independence. The prevalence of poverty and misery in Nigeria is however, a paradox. Nigeria should, by no means be a poor nation.
Apart from being an oil-producing nation, Nigeria is endowed with other natural and human resources which are enough to put her on a solid path to economic development and advancement. But Nigeria still wallows in abject poverty despite her stupendous wealth. Deep concerns have been expressed about the sustainability of the democratic process in Nigeria, as poverty-induced agitation and violent conflicts spread across the country. Stakeholders in the Nigerian democratic enterprise appear to be at crossroads on what to do to alleviate poverty, which is generally regarded as the greatest threat to the nascent democratic process in the country. Large segments of the population are demanding the dividends of democracy as the incidence of poverty continually grows throughout the nation. Geo- political zones are crying out against impoverishment, deprivation and marginalization. Countless ethno-cultural associations and pressure groups are being formed to articulate interests for a better share of the national cake, even when such interests threaten the very basis of democracy in the country. It is a fact that the rising incidence of poverty in Nigeria poses a serious threat to the democratization process. The concern of this paper therefore is to highlight the challenges posed by poverty to democracy in Nigeria. Conceptual definitions of poverty and democracy are presented, the causes of poverty and the implication of poverty for democracy is also examined, while suggestions for reducing the incidence of poverty across the country are also put forward.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
One of the basic problems which prompted the study is the poor standard of living of the citizenry in Nigeria which often manifested in the form of insufficient food, under employment and the inability to carter for end meet and how it has continued to lure the voters into act such as vote pricing, vote buying and selling. The voters or the electorates have come to see electioneering period as time to make money or get material things such as magi, shoes, clothes, salt, grains sugar and many others from the political gladiators. This menace has deprived the society from progressing and as well opened rooms for the spread of the vicious act. Also, the study is the case of witlessness which often showcases in the form of illiteracy, low level of exposure, weak and decline in societal values and insufficient voter’s education on the ills of voters buying. Apart from poverty associated with material things, a lot of people in the society are in the dark on the ills associated with voter’s buying. Most people in the society have failed to create a kind of line separation from the intent of the act and as well its prevalence at such time and how the credibility’s of contesters are often ignored. This for long has been a serious problem to the process of development in the society.
1.3 Research Questions
The following questions were raised to guides the study;
- In what ways has poverty stimulated electorate into act of indulging in vote buying in Nigeria?
- What is the relationship between poverty and voter’s education in Nigerian political system?
iii. What are the ways of reducing the influence of poverty in political participation in Nigeria?
1.4 Objective of the Study
The main objectives of the study are to examine the influence of poverty on political participation in Nigeria. Other specific objectives of the study are to;
- assess the relationship between poverty and the protracted incidence of vote buying in Nigeria
- examine the connection between poverty and voter’s education in the Nigerian political system.
iii. recommend ways of reducing the influence of poverty in political participation in Nigeria
1.5 Research Hypotheses
The following research hypotheses were formulated to guide the study.
- H01: There is no significant relationship poverty stimulated electorate and vote buying in Ikere Local Government Area of Ekiti State.
- H02: There is a significant relationship poverty and voter’s education in the study area.
iii. H03: There is a significant relationship ways of reducing poverty and political participation in Nigeria.
1.6 Significance of the Study
The main aim of an academic research is to add to the existing knowledge due to the fact that problems are identified and solutions are provided, hence improvement is always expected. The result of this research therefore, is expected to provide an insight on the impact of poverty on political participation in Ikere local government area of Ekiti State.
The study would be of immense importance towards the eradication ofpoverty and improving political/democratic participation in Ekiti State. Thestudy would also benefit students, researchers and scholars who areinterested in developing further studies on the subject matter.
Undoubtedly, the study findings will help lecturers, policy makers and educationist to decide on the impact of poverty on political participation process furthermore, it is hoped that the result of this study will make an enormous Contribution to the existing literature.
1.7 Scope of the Study
The scope of this study is on the impact of poverty on political participation in Ikere local government area of Ekiti State. It will involve general public and politician from students will be included.
1.8 Limitation of the Study
This research work focused on the impact of poverty on political participation in Ikere Local Government Area of Ekiti State. The major limitation to this research is the inability of the researcher to get adequate materials on the topic. Also, the study is unable to cover the major political leaders; this was based on their tight schedules. Also, insufficient fund tends to impede the efficiencyof the researcher in sourcing for the relevant materials, literature orinformation and in the process of data collection (internet,questionnaire and interview).
1.9 Definition of Terms
The following terms are defined as used in the study in order to avoid misinterpretation by different individuals.
Poverty:is a state or condition in which a person or community lacks the financial resources and essentials for a minimum standard of living. Poverty means that the income level from employment is so low that basic human needs can’t be met.
Participation: the state of being related to a larger whole. Participation means the process during which individuals, groups have access to their right of voting during election period or have the opportunity to become actively involved in a project or program of activity.
Politics: is the way that people living in groups make decisions. Politics is about making agreements between people so that they can live together in groups such as tribes, cities, or countries.
1.10 Organization of Chapter
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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