Democracy and Election Violence In Nigeria.
By Nwaorgu Faustinus Chilee
Democracy has been defined as government of the people, by the people, and for the
people. While studying government both in secondary school and tertiary institution, we
were never thought that electoral violence is an inherent element or feature of
democracy. But today the reverse is the case.
Within a decade of demonstration of democracy in the Nigerian polity, the issue of free
and fair election devoid of electoral violence and other maladies have continued to take
the centre stage. The justice Uwais' led electoral reform panel was set up to find lasting
solution to the teething problem of how to reform the present electoral system to the
satisfaction of Nigerians, the ruling party – the Peoples Democratic Party and opposition
political parties, without giving the ruling party an undue advantage over other parties .
However, this piece does not wholly centre on justice Uwais's electoral reform report or
committee but on who is responsible for youths participation in electoral violence, why
they engage in such condemnable act and how to curb it. It has been argued in many
spheres, write-ups and discourse that the devil whoever he or she is, whether abstract,
immaterial or concrete provides easy work for indolent minds which often than not lead
to their destruction. No doubt the saying: an idle mind is the devil's workshop or tool.
The contemporary teeming unemployed, frustrated, hungry, angry and poverty stricken
youths, some with criminal dispositions, occasioned by ill leadership become ready
machines in the hands of unscrupulous politicians whose bid is to ascend elective
pinnacle by hook or crook. Capitalizing on their obvious shortcomings (joblessness), a
few of our present day crop of politicians with ignoble motives enlist jobless youths to
execute the hatchet men job – thuggery and its attendant features. No right thinking
youth with well seated conscience can impose himself on a politician to aid and abet
electoral violence. It is in rare situations that one can see or find a youth who takes it
upon himself to engage in electoral violence just to help a politician to ascend an elective
In the bid of many a politician to clinch elective post, they recruit youths as their thugs,
provide them with security outfits as well as arms and ammunition in order to achieve
their pre-conceived plans. Little wonder elections in this part of the world have been
described as a “do-or-die” affair, courtesy of power-drunk, greedy, inordinate,
overambitious and violent-oriented politicians who want to be in power by all means.
According to Chief Hon. Omenazu Jackson, the National Publicity secretary of African
Renaissance party, 'it is in only Nigeria that you kill and maim in election days and go
about the streets unchallenged”, National Mirror, April 27, 2009 pg 9. No doubt people
have been maimed for live, injured and killed as result of this ugly trend that has found its
way in our body politics.
Though, a negligible number of youths may have come into temporary affluence as a
result of participation in election violence, some propelled by this, (temporary affluence)
have bemoaned their sad faith as they are most times used and abandoned by their so
called paymasters, especially when the long arm of the law catches up with them. Some
are arrested and kept to rot in the prison without the employers caring a hoot. On the
part of electoral officers, some lost their lives and their family made untimely sorrowful
due to the activities of thugs during elections. Some thing expedient need to be done
urgently to tackle this ugly trend if this nation is determined to expunge this hydra-
headed malaise in its political milieu.
It is important to note that the just concluded governorship election in Anambra state did
witness sporadic violence, efforts should be geared towards prosecuting those arrested.
In addition, an in-depth investigation should be carried out with a view to unveiling the
identities of politicians who recruited thugs. If eventually arrested, prosecuted and found
guilty of sponsoring violence during the election, adequate punishment should be
extended to them to serve as a deterrent to like mind politicians who might nurse such
ambition. It is only when this is done that violence experienced during elections could be
Nwaorgu Faustinus Chilee, Socio-political commentator, writes from Igboetche, Port
Harcourt, Rivers State