Electoral Violence in Nigeria: Disentangling the Causes



The role and essence of elections in a democracy are highly circumscribed in terms of expressing the popular will, engendering political changes and the legitimating of political regimes. This role is fundamental to the thriving of most democracies. But when the precepts, structures and processes of elections are mostly characterized by reckless manipulations, the politics of brinkmanship and subversion, the tendency is to regard election not as a catalyst, but as a devalued element and a fading shadow of the democratic process. In Nigeria, for instance, electoral violence has become a worrisome phenomenon that has continued to rear its ugly head since Nigeria returned to civil rule in 1999. The violence becomes more pronounced before, during and after the announcement of election results. This has pushed the government to continue to seek for policy alternatives on how best to tackle electoral violence which most often degenerate into wide spread political violence. However unearthing the root causes of electoral violence is critical in achieving this goal. In this respect, causal drivers’ framework will be adopted in analyzing electoral violence in this paper. While methodologically, field interviews conducted in sokoto as well as some secondary data from journals and media were analysed to empirically arrive at our findings. Thus, the study finds that while different but interrelated factors could breed violence; the tendency for elites’ manipulation for personal gains by affecting the electoral process cannot be over emphasized in any our attempt to disentangling the causes of electoral violence in Nigeria. Each time Nigerian elites are excluded or disfavoured in the power configuration, the next line of action is to foment trouble by appealing to sentiments (ethnic, religion, party) and resorting to violent inducements.

Keywords: violence, election, electoral violence, democracy, politics

DOI: 10.7176/RHSS/9-10-06

Publication date:May 31st 2019

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ISSN (Paper)2224-5766 ISSN (Online)2225-0484

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