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This study is on election violence and democratic stability in Nigeria. The total population for the study is 200 staff of AKISIEC, Akwa Ibom state. The researcher used questionnaires as the instrument for the data collection. Descriptive Survey research design was adopted for this study. A total of 133 respondents made presiding officers, electoral officers, administrative staff and junior staff were used for the study. The data collected were presented in tables and analyzed using simple percentages and frequencies
1.1 Background of the study
Election is generally conceived as a means of a peaceful change of leadership in societies. Post and Vicars (1973: 19), define election as the “process of actualizing representative democracy, which exposes people to the experiences of competition of powered through balloting”. These cardinal features of elections have eluded the Nigerian polity as elections have been shrouded in repeated outbreaks of violence, which occurs as a result of electoral frauds that mar the legitimacy of elections and erode the stability of the political system. Election violence could be defined as any act of violence 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 and voting at polling stations, or the use of dangerous weapons to intimidate voters and other electoral actors, or to cause bodily harm or injury to any person or persons connected with the electoral process. Nigeria’s political history reveals a longstanding trend of electoral fraud which has escalated so much so that violence is employed to ensure the smooth progress and process of rigging. Since the first election in 1922, there has been an uninterrupted case of rigging with subsequent ones being more organized that the previous ones. Between independence in 1960 and 1991, Nigeria produced only two elected governments both later overthrown in military coups (Anekwe, 2010:79). After nearly 30 years, in 1999, Nigeria made a transition to civilian rule. The 1999 elections were however blighted by wide-spread fraud and a few cases of violence; the federal and state elections in 2003 were again marred by fraud as well as serious incidents of violence that left at least a hundred people dead and many others injured. Despite the attendant rigging and manifestation of violence in the 1999 and 2003 elections, there was barely any improvement in the next elections. Observers from the European Union described the 2007 elections as the worst they had witnessed anywhere in the world. (EU Report, 2000: 14). Despite repeated outbreaks of election violence, Federal and State Governments since 1999 have done little to address the root causes of the violence. Various Committees and Commissions of inquiry have been set up over the years to investigate cases of election violence but there is an obviours absence of an institutional and legal solution, this absence of an effective redress mechanism has only produced more violence.
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
Mu’azu (2000:452) opined that in every democratic dispensation elections have come to be known and accepted as the bedrock of a stable polity as it represents an organized and peaceful transition from one rule to another. However, the basic character of elections has been defeated as conflict ridden situations have historically featured in all elections conducted in Nigeria since 1953. Consequently, issues surrounding the electioneering process potentially relate to violence and violations of the rights of the individual. Thus, rather than serve as a means and process of exercising legitimate political rights, elections in Nigeria have turned out to be a serious political liability, causing insecurities and threatening the foundations of the country’s nascent democracy.
With unprecedented political thuggery and uncontrolled violence, characterized by wanton destruction of lives and properties, election period in Nigeria is best described as warfare (Claude, 1985:62). This problem has received considerable attention over the years because of its intensity but the policies adopted to curb this trend have not succeeded. Despite the fact that in the First Republic efforts were made against thuggery and other manifestations of violence during elections; and in the 2nd and 3rd Republics security forces were massively mobilized to maintain order before, and during elections; issues of election rigging and violence have been on the rise. This study seeks to identify this problem
1.3 OBJECTIVE OF THE STUDY
The general objective of this research is to study election violence and Democratic Stability in Nigeria from 1999-2011 with a special focus on Akwa-Ibom State. The specific objectives are to:
- Examine the history, causes and effects of election violence in Nigeria.
- Investigate the nature, causes and effects of election violence in Akwa Ibom State from 1999-2011.
- Study the effects of election violence on democratic stability in Akwa Ibom State and Nigeria from 1999-2011.
- Highlight the role of various institutions in election violence in Akwa Ibom State.
1.4 RESEARCH HYPOTHESES
For the successful completion of the study, the following research hypotheses were formulated by the researcher;
H0: there are no history, causes and effects of election violence in Nigeria.
H1: there are history, causes and effects of election violence in Nigeria.
H02: there is no role of various institutions in election violence in Akwa Ibom State
H2: there is role of various institutions in election violence in Akwa Ibom State
1.5 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
The significance of this study lies in the difference it will make in the entrenchment of democratic principles in the Nigerian Political System. Its premise is that the ability to conduct a peaceful, free and fair election would foster an atmosphere for sustainable democracy and social security in Akwa Ibom State and the rest of Nigeria. This work is a crucial x-ray of the electoral processes and factors that trigger election violence in Nigeria with a view to exposing loopholes and making viable proposals, particularly in the light of the reduction of the allure of office and the establishment of an electoral violence tribunal This research is invaluable to conflict resolution and violence prevention efforts locally and otherwise. Finally, it contributes to the advancement of knowledge as it relates to this field of study. It is hope that it will encourage further researches in this area.
1.6 SCOPE AND LIMITATION OF THE STUDY
The study examined election violence in Nigeria with Akwa-Ibom State as its case study. While references were made to different epochs and scenarios around the country, particular attention was given to the period 1999-2011. The researcher encounters some constrain which limited the scope of the study;
a) AVAILABILITY OF RESEARCH MATERIAL: The research material available to the researcher is insufficient, thereby limiting the study
b) TIME: The time frame allocated to the study does not enhance wider coverage as the researcher has to combine other academic activities and examinations with the study.
c) Organizational privacy: Limited Access to the selected auditing firm makes it difficult to get all the necessary and required information concerning the activities.
1.7 DEFINITION OF TERMS
ELECTION: An election is a formal group decision-making process by which a population chooses an individual to hold public office. Elections have been the usual mechanism by which modern representative democracy has operated since the 17th century
ELECTION VIOLENCE: Electoral violence understood as coercive force, directed towards electoral actors and/or objects, that occurs in the context of electoral competition can occur
DEMOCRATIC: relating to or supporting democracy or its principles.
DEMOCRATIC STABILITY: The most common is to define the stability of a regime as itsdurability—the length of time it was, or has been, in existence. Thus, Mainwaring defined a stable democracy as a democratic regime that has been in existence for an uninterrupted period of 25 years (Mainwaring 1993: 204; see Umez 1993: 39).
1.8 ORGANIZATION OF THE STUDY
This research work is organized in five chapters, for easy understanding, as follows
Chapter one is concern with the introduction, which consist of the (overview, of the study), historical background, statement of problem, objectives of the study, research hypotheses, significance of the study, scope and limitation of the study, definition of terms and historical background of the study. Chapter two highlights the theoretical framework on which the study is based, thus the review of related literature. Chapter three deals on the research design and methodology adopted in the study. Chapter four concentrate on the data collection and analysis and presentation of finding. Chapter five gives summary, conclusion, and recommendations made of the study
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