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Nigeria has earned an appellation for herself as a show case of Africa’s democracy for several score of years. Ironically, every journey towards such democratic process/experience had been laden with electoral violence even since the colonial days. With the rebirth of African liberalism and the wave of democratic consolidation process that swept across the globe/world in the 1990’s, electoral violence returned in a more frightening dimension in most African states. It is, therefore, against this background that this study examined the challenges of electoral violence in Nigeria with a particular focus on Sokoto state 2009 to 2011. Methodologically, the study employed quantitative method through the use of both primary and secondary sauces of data. Thus questionnaire was used as a tool of data collection while data collected from the documentary (secondary source such as newspapers, official document and journal) were analyzed. Theoretically, the elite theory was adopted in this study. The framework seems to link the political elite and how they gain power and maintains it in the society. Also the theory shows how elite perpetuate electoral violence for their own selfish interest. The relevance of the framework is underscored by the fact that in most African countries, the various conflict that usually develop during democratic process are mostly of the elite kinds, which in Nigeria are essentially organized around competing materialistic interests of various sections in the society that soon after, the political environment was hostile to development and internal struggle for power was the absolute focus that led to electoral violence. The study therefore revealed that cross materialism, weakness of economic foundation of democracy and the value placed on politics by the political elites are very significant in explaining the occurrence of this violence. also the strategy of violence in the bid to achieve selfish ends, mostly through engaging unemployed youths and thugs. in this respect, the study conducted revealed that the electoral violence has continued to threaten the democratic experience in Sokoto state and Nigeria at large. This has resulted in serious loss of lives and properties and brought about political apathy in the democratic process thereby engendering legitimacy crises as well as hampering the ability of government to delivers on its promises of democracy can neither be sustained nor consolidated.
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1.1 Backgrounds to the Study
Democracy has been the most accepted system of government and has been adopted by most countries in the world. This is due to the fact that democracy as a system of government carries both the ruler and the ruled in decision making process. This is evident due to the fact of the growing and complexities of societies which made it impossible for direct participation which is said to be a thing of the past as practiced in the ancient Greece and this system has been replaced with representative democracy i.e. a situation whereby people are elected to represent the interest of their citizens in decision making process or in the process of government.
In the contemporary world today, elections have become the most accepted means of changing the government in an attempt at enhancing democracy and democratic processes in Nigeria. For elections to be accepted, it must be free, fair and periodic as provided in the 1999 constitution.
Therefore election is a democratic process which allows the citizens to actively participate in selecting their leaders and it is a means of communications between the leaders and their immediate environment. The quest to organize free, fair and periodic elections has been a major problem of democratic practice in Nigeria and the world In general. Although history has shown that it is usually difficult to hold elections that are free and fair in Nigeria or the world in general. The 2011 elections in Nigeria was accompanied by lots of rigging, ballot stuffing and electoral violence which resulted to loss of lives and properties and several litigations in several courts and tribunals across the nation.
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Democratic consolidation therefore is a process by which new democracy matures in a Way that means it is unlikely to revert to authoritarianism without an external shock. Democratic consolidation in Nigeria has remained the topic of discourse among scholars and even among casual observers. It is almost 55 years since the inception of Nigeria’s First Republic, yet a lot of Nigerians seem not satisfied with the policies and programs of the government central to the concerns of ordinary Nigerians as regards to consolidation of democracy includes the unprecedented rise in political violence ranging from increased armed robbery, political assassination, intra-ethnic crisis, harsh and punitive nature of the economy, the collapse of social services to mention but a few.
The above scenario became replicated in most states of the federation in Nigeria. In Sokoto State for instance, since the 1999 elections, the electoral and political landscape has fallen from par to below and has moved from violence to greater violence. The level and magnitude of the electoral violence in Sokoto State has risen and the political elites have converted poverty ridden unemployed youths in the state into ready made machinery for the perpetration of electoral violence. It is therefore against this background that is electoral violence and democratic consolidation with a particular focus on Sokoto State 2011 elections.
1.2 Statement of the Research Problem
Electoral violence in Nigeria has become a major hindrance to democratic consolidation in the country. As a result of this problem, effort has been made by scholars within the field of social sciences and beyond to provide solution to the problem of electoral violence and possible ways of consolidating Nigeria’s democracy.
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Elections in Nigeria has been faced with so many complains of electoral malpractices, ranging from ballot stuffing substitution of election results and so many malpractices and also the country have been faced with. The negative effects of this problems ranging from the loss of lives and properties, unaccountability of government to the people, political apathy on the part of so many Nigerians.
This negatively affects to a large extent the country’s democratization process. It is against this background that the research tends to study the electoral violence and democratic consolidation in Sokoto State.
1.3 Research Questions
This study examines the implications of electoral violence on democratic consolidation in
Sokoto State. In view of the above, the study is guided by the following research questions:
1. What are the factors that trigger election violence in Sokoto State?
2. What is the nature of electoral violence in Sokoto State?
3. How does electoral violence affect democratic consolidation in Sokoto State between 2009 to 2011?
1.4 Aim and Objectives of the Study
The aim of this study is to investigate the implication of the electoral violence on democratic consolidation in Sokoto State. Specifically, the study has the following objectives:
1. Examine the factors that triggered electoral violence in Sokoto State
2. To discuss the nature of electoral violence in Sokoto state.
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