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  • Writer's pictureJohnson C Onuoha

Electoral Violence in Nigeria

Elections are an important aspect of Nigeria's democratic process. It has played a significant role both at the national and regional levels in Nigeria's political history since independence and even before independence. Free and fair elections are the foundation of democracy's beauty and prosperity, as well as a path to long-term progress. However, in developing nations such as Nigeria, most elections have been marred by crises, posing a direct threat to democracy and development.

As a mechanism for a democratic transition of government, Elections represent the process of actualizing Representative Democracy.

Election is a technique for the selection of representatives at various levels of government in Nigeria. It is linked to the pursuit of political position and power. It is a method for the people to make a peaceful change in leadership. It is a formal decision-making process in which voters elect leaders to hold public posts systematically. Citizens have the right to vote and be voted for. Transparency is an important characteristic of every election in addition to being free and fair. The sovereignty of the people's mandate is enthroned in this way.

Elections that are credible are free of electoral malpractices, which frequently involve the use of violence as a deterrent. Thugs snatching ballot boxes, voter intimidation, disruption of the electoral process with weapons at the polling station, vandalism of electoral equipment, or any other type of physical attack are all examples of violence during elections. Electoral violence is therefore defined as any form of violence perpetrated during political activity before, during, or after an election. It is a condition in which the election process is dominated by electoral anarchy. Electoral malpractices have been a part of Nigeria's political history, and they have become a political tradition. Electoral fraud is typically conducted by politicians who utilize violence to achieve their desperate political desires for power.

Challenges of Electoral Violence in Nigeria

Insecurity of lives has been a direct consequence of electoral violence in Nigeria.[1] Electoral security challenges have been a major problem to the conduct of free, fair, and credible elections in Nigeria. The level of electoral violence in Nigeria is unprecedented. Electoral fraud includes ballot stuffing, intimidation, killings, and assassinations, among other things. Election crises impede political, economic, and social progress and growth. It causes uncertainty in people's lives and in their property. The indiscriminate use of violence to steal power is a parody of democratic norms, which enshrine citizens' right to vote in what should be an ideological election; a representative government of the people, by the people.[2] Violence during an election can create conflict in society among the people. It can lead to the breakdown of law and order, which can affect the consolidation of democracy. Election crises destroy democracy and its virtues, which has negative consequences on the democratic process.

Conclusion and Recommendations

Furthermore, electoral violence deters some good, honest, and capable hands from participating in the electoral process, resulting in widespread political apathy. Unless perpetrators are swiftly brought to justice, election violence will continue to be a recurring feature of our political space, with all its negative consequences. Thus, well-organized, credible, and acceptable election results contribute significantly and help to perpetuate democracy by instilling confidence and trust in the democratic process.

Better managed elections have the potential to be more peaceful. The viability of the electoral system is determined by the political environment. Elections should be termed free, fair, and credible to the extent that security is maintained in line with stipulated electoral guidelines, law, and order.[3] Thus, to curb the menace of Electoral Violence in Nigeria, the following recommendations have been put forward.

Political education is critical for a long-term democratic process because it raises voter political knowledge on election issues. The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), National Orientation Agency (NOA), Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), and Security Agencies, among others, have the responsibility to raise political awareness on election matters through public enlightenment programs, adequate training, and timely orientation on the evil of electoral crises and their adverse effects on democracy.

● The relevant electoral body's impartiality in the timely and proper recruitment of electoral personnel, as well as the provision of adequate electoral materials needed for the conduct and organization of elections, will engender confidence in electoral competition among all parties and prevent eligible voters from being disenfranchised. To avoid unneeded crises during voting, voter registration must be reviewed regularly to guarantee that only those who are eligible to vote are permitted to do so.

The Nigerian political elite must also cease viewing election victory as a life-or-death situation. Tolerance, maturity, and accommodation should be ingrained in politicians. There is a pressing need to embrace communication and dialogue as a viable means of conflict resolution. The government's inability to investigate and prosecute culprits is to blame for the rising prevalence of election violence. To function as a deterrent to others, all perpetrators of election crises, regardless of their party affiliation, must be punished.

Finally, because democracy is about ensuring a decent life and peaceful coexistence, we must embrace peace and reject crises during elections to maintain the hard-won democracy.

References [1] Roger .T. Akpan: (2017) “Election and Security Challenges in Nigeria: Experience from the Niger Delta 1999-2015”, Department of Political and Administrative Studies, University of Port Harcourt, Nigeria. Election and Security Challenges in Nigeria.pdf [2] Ifeanyi Ezemenari: (July 19, 2018) “Electoral Violence In Nigeria; History, Causes, Effects, and Way Forward”. [3] Roger .T. Akpan: (2017) “Election and Security Challenges in Nigeria: Experience from the Niger Delta 1999-2015”, Department of Political and Administrative Studies, University of Port Harcourt, Nigeria. Election and Security Challenges in Nigeria.pdf

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