VIOLENCE AND THE ELECTORAL PROCESS IN NIGERIA
The history of human existence is replete with one form of violence or another. Violence is therefore not a recent development. It has occurred and may occur whenever and wherever there is a clash of interest between individuals and or groups. Violence is also used as a weapon by some people to realize or achieve certain ends. This implies that violence manifests in different forms and dimensions. The phenomenon that is associated with the Nigerian electoral process is violence in Nigeria is characterized by thuggery, intimidation, molestation and assassination. Against the prevalence of electoral violence, this research examined the factors responsible for the outbreak of violence in the 2007 Gubernatorial Elections in Plateau State. Specifically, the work examined why for the first time politicians in Plateau State resorted to assassination of an aspirant in the quest for political power. The researcher used the group theory as its theoretical framework because of group and individual interest used in achieving their political ambitions. Data for the research were collected from primary and secondary sources. Relevant information gathered from primary sources involved the use of structured questionnaire and oral interviews were conducted among the politicians. The data from primary and oral interviews were analyzed using frequency tables and percentages. The analysis of the result shows that; ethno-religious consideration, lack of political will by government in implementing committee recommendations have impacted negatively on the electoral process in the 2007 Gubernatorial elections in Plateau State. Based on these findings it is recommended that there should be more enlightenment campaigns to sensitize Nigerians on the dangers of electoral violence.
1.1 Background to the Study
Violence is an ubiquitous phenomenon in every society and every sphere of
social life. It is not restricted to the political sphere alone. It cuts across every aspect of human existence. This means that political violence is just a subset of violence. It takes many forms including kidnapping, assassination, arson, thuggery etc. This shows that we are in a violent world and the tendency to be violent increases by the day. Violence has no territorial boundary. It is as universal as it predates modernity. For instance, Ekiran (2006:286) notes that both the Biblical and Quaranic accounts of creation and the events that followed in the Garden of Eden particularly Adam and Eve’s refusal to obey God’s simple instruction, amounts to violence of a sort.
Rejection of a superior’s injunction is tantamount to violent behavior; because the word violence has its roots from violation or infringement (Ninalowo, 2004; 18). So when one violates or infringes on a laid down principle, it amounts to violence. Therefore violence can be described as an unruly behavior perpetrated to express anger and dissatisfaction over some social issues which the perpetrators felt have affected or likely to affect them in one way or another (Ekiran, 2006:285). It is an aggressive behavior which more often than not involves physical combat which could inflict bodily injuries on both perpetrators and innocent people. It is an ill wind that blows no one any good.