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This study focuses mainly on the effect of poverty on electoral violence among youths in Donga L.G.A., which has become a thorn to the effective workings of democratic values, especially, in the conduct of free and fair elections. Since the re-emergence of democratic rule, in Nigeria and Donga L.G.A. in particular, in 1999, political violence has being playing a prominent role in political processes that threatens the emergence of people oriented government. It is against this background that the paper x-rays the relationship between poverty and political violence among youth in the politics of Donga L.G.A. Using the relative deprivation theory, the paper discovers that poverty and political violence cannot be separated. This is as a result of the fact that the youth are in a serious condition of poverty which make them to embrace illicit behaviours especially political violence. The paper finally suggest that in as much as the politicians would continue to assume politics as a do or die affair, political violence would undoubtedly remain perpetual in Donga L.G.A. and Nigeria in general. To this end, therefore, the rule of law must be strictly observed, to punish the actors and their masters who finance them.
1.1 Background of the study
Human beings must be made citizens before they can be made men, but in order that they be made citizens government must give liberty under the law, must provide for material welfare and remove gross inequality in distribution of wealth. (Rousseau, 1762 cited in Alan & Conway 1998 : 143). Nigeria is Africa’s most populous country with over 153million people (FGN, 2006). It is home to one-sixth of the world’s black population (Chukwuemeka, 2009:405). A country naturally abundantly bless with human and natural resources. As at 2004 the International Monetary Fund reported that the country has an estimated crude oil reserve of 24 billion barrels (See USAID, 2007:1), with over N 29.8 trillion in revenue from sake of cruse oil only (Tell,2008). Paradoxically, over 70% of its population lives in abject poverty (Sanusi, 2011). It is classified by UNDP as 141 poorest nations on the Human Development Index. Poverty in Nigeria from all empirically verifiable fact is a deliberate creation of the Nigeria’s political class; it acts as a clog in the wheel of the country movement to a true, people’s democracy. Thus state poverty in Nigeria is compounded by the widening class polarization politically and economically, where over “95% of the country wealth is controlled by about 0.01 percent of population” (Oshewolo 2010:267). 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 massive mobilization of “the rich” and “the poor”. This was evident in the enthusiasm and pomp which the transition was received. Sooner than expected, there emerged a post honeymoon effect of the entire process; which “effect” is premised 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 economic condition of the people. These are the motivating factors of democratic participation. Rather than improving the socio-economic well-being of the people, Nigeria’s democracy has turned a burden on the poor. But rather than providing democratic good, poverty is further created and corruption almost institutionalized, the net result being the 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 the people from the political process and shrink the political space for their selfish interest. Doubt therefore remains about how firm democracy’s root can become entrenched in a country where over 70 percent of the population are poverty personified. It is our position that mass poverty poses a threat to democratic participation and democratic consolidation than all other variables put together. While there is a seemingly general consensus that mass poverty undermine democratic participation, the ‘how’ is not much less clear. This is the task of this undertaking. Poverty is a social problem that leads to other social, economic and political disturbances. Poverty is a global phenomenon but it is more common among developing countries, Nigeria inclusive. Nigeria is the Africa’s most populous country. As contended by Mukhtar, Mukhtar & Mukhtar (2015: 3), apart from being oil rich, “the country also has large landmark and a lot of mineral resources which if used wisely, the country will achieve rapid political and socio-economic development”. But the reverse is the case in the country because large scale corruption, poor economic policies and bad governance have rendered majority of the country’s population poor. Three months after assuming his office, the Nigerian Vice President, Osinbajo (in the Vanguard, August 20th 2015), expressed concern that over 110 million Nigerians lived below poverty line. The consequences of poverty are many and notable among the effects of poverty is violence. That is why Nigeria has been experiencing many security challenges in forms of criminal activities, violence and conflicts over the years (Omotor, 2009; Adenrele, 2012; Afegbua, 2010; Onuoha, 2014; Mukhtar, Isyaku, & Sani, 2016). The formation of youth violent groups like the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) and the Niger Delta Avengers in the south-south, Bakassi Boys, in the south-east, Yandaba in the north-west, Yan-kalare and Yan-sara-suka in north-east, as well as the most notorious terrorist group, known as Boko Haram, also in the north-east (Mukhtar, et al. 2016) are all but manifestations of high rate of unemployment among teeming youths and poverty incidences in the country. While the major cause for the formation of the above violent groups in various parts of Nigeria is either poverty or unemployment among the youth population, these violent groups have many serious implications on the fate of the democratic governance in the country. Violence has taken a severe toll on Nigerian economy, its peoples’ political, social, and even spiritual lives. Crime and violence are so palpable, so pervasive and so devastating to many Nigerians (Nwosu, 2002). It is even more disturbing to find that, the country’s political leaders are using joblessness and poor living conditions of the youths to employ them as political thugs. This manner in which members of our political class in Nigeria engage the services of jobless youths as thugs for the purpose of intimidating political opponents and their supporters during elections is growing. These youths, who are mainly uneducated or semi-literate, are often encouraged to unleash violence, cause electoral violence, break the law at will, in which virtually nothing can be done to stop them once they have made up their mind to unleash these havocs on their intended targets (Usman, 2010). Violence has become so common in the Nigerian society; at domestic, community and national levels and it has the tendency for causing national instability. For example, when there is insecurity in a nation, such as those emanating from the Boko Haram and the Niger-Delta Avengers, the prospect of democratization is threatened, as the leaders will shift attention from welfare services and dispensation of democratic dividend to resolving the violence emanating from the activities of these groups, even if it will affect the wellbeing of the citizens. Hence, the ban of okada rides, curfews, and too much check points are authority’s reaction to the. In addition, election processes have been suspended in places like Taraba State and political administrations in Yobe State, Borno State, and Adamawa State, have suffered setback in the towards the end of the year 2015.
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
Elections are the central processes of democratic representative government because in any democracy the authority of government derives solely from the consent of the governed. The principal mechanism for translating the consent into governmental authority ideally is by holding free and fair elections. Nigeria‘s fourth republic appears to be very chaotic, incessant violent conflict ranges from religious, identity to communal. Elaigwu (2005a) identified 17 major violent conflicts in Nigeria from May 1985 to May 1st 1999. However, from May 31, 1999 to June 2005 he identified at least 121 cases of conflicts in Nigeria. He attributed sudden increase in violent conflict in the country to: a strong central government; popular agitation for decentralised structure; dissatisfaction with the distribution of available resources; communal conflicts and demands by some sub-national groups for greater self-determination (Eliagwu, 2005b). He continued that the years of military rule suppressed these issues from exploding into uncontrollable conflagration. He likened the Nigerian polity as a bottle of wine, properly corked and airtight. With the dawn of democracy and the opening of the bottle, the wine explosively popped up (Eliagwu, 2005b). It appears the dawn of democracy provided the atmosphere to ventilate bottled-up frustrations, grievances and fears generously and often times recklessly (Adebanwi, 2004). Though there are several works on conflicts in Nigeria, few appear to link violent conflict in Nigeria to democracy with particular focus on the fourth republic. For example, Haliru (2012), focused on ethnicity, Onapajo (2012), focused on religion and political violence, Saheed (2012) emphasised economic dimension of social conflicts in Nigeria. In Nigeria, elections have become an avenue for legitimization of bad governance. This assertion hinges on the fact that incumbent government holds on to power at all cost while opposition parties in a bid to capture state power, resort to all manner of irregularities. The result of this is usually violence of one sort or the other. Events which unfolded in Plateau State during the last election show that the most contentious issues about the election have to do with electoral violence which hitherto, is unheard of in Plateau State politics. The political atmosphere in the state became unusually tensed while many interest groups emerged with the intent to capture power. The result of these was a bitter warfare that ensued between these factions, leading to allegations, killings, kidnappings, etc that were politically motivated, In fact a gubernatorial candidate, Jesse Aruku, of the Action Congress was assassinated on July 2nd 2006. It is in view of the above that the researcher intend to investigate the effect of poverty and electoral violence in Nigeria with emphasis on Donga local government area.
1.3 OBJECTIVE OF THE STUDY
The main objective of this study is to ascertain the effect of poverty and electoral violence in Nigeria with emphasis on Donga local government area. But to aid the completion of the study, the researcher intend to achieve the following specific objective;
1. To examine the role of poverty in instigating electoral violence
2. To ascertain if there is any significant relationship between poverty and electoral violence in Donga local government area
3. To examine the effect of electoral violence on the democratic process of Nigeria
4. To ascertain impact of poverty as a catalyst to electoral violence in Nigeria
The following research hypotheses were formulated by the researcher to aid the successful completion of the study
H0: there is no significant relationship between poverty and electoral violence in Donga local government area of Taraba state
H1: there is a significant relationship between poverty and electoral violence in Donga local government area of Taraba state
H0: poverty is not a catalyst to electoral violence in Donga local government area of Taraba state Nigeria
H2: poverty is a catalyst to electoral violence in Donga local government area of Taraba state Nigeria
1.5SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
It is believed that at the completion of the study, the findings of this study will be of great benefit in ameliorating the menace of electoral violence in Donga local government area of Taraba state by proffering effective recommendation on the need to implement poverty alleviation programs in Nigeria, the study will also be of great importance to the care givers and parents on the need to educate their children on the nemesis of electoral violence,
The study will also be of great importance to the department of political science as the findings of this study will contribute to the pool of existing literature in the subject matter.
1.6 SCOPE AND LIMITATION OF THE STUDY
The scope of the study covers poverty and electoral violence in Nigeria, but in the cause of the study, the researcher encountered some constrain which limited the scope of the study;
1. a) AVAILABILITY OF RESEARCH MATERIAL: The research material available to the researcher is insufficient, thereby limiting the study
2. 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.
3. c) Organizational privacy: Limited Access to the selected auditing firm makes it difficult to get all the necessary and required information concerning the activities.
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