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1.1     Background to the Study

The unbridled quest for power by man in his ever unstoppable search for relevance and advantage has indeed, generated so much tensions and hostilities. Elections in Nigeria continue to elicit more than casual interest by Nigerian scholars due to the fact that despite the appreciation that only credible election can consolidate and sustain the country’s nascent democracy, over the years, Nigeria continues to witness with growing disappointments and apprehension inability to conduct peaceful, free and fair, open elections whose results are widely accepted and respected across the country (Igbuzor, 2010; Osumah & Aghemelo, 2010, Ekweremadu, 2011). All the elections that have ever been conducted in Nigeria since independence have generated increasingly bitter controversies and grievances on a national scale because of the twin problems of mass violence and fraud that have become central elements of the history of elections and of the electoral process in the country (Gberie, 2011).

Despite the marked improvement in the conduct of the 2011 elections, the process was not free from malpractices and violence (Rekoe, 2011; Gberie, 2011; National Democratic Institute, 20 12). Thus over the years, electoral processes in the history of Nigeria’s democratic governance have continued to be marred by extraordinary displays of rigging, dodgy, “do or die” affair, ballot snatching at gun points, violence and acrimony, thuggery, boycotts, threats and criminal manipulations of voters’ list, brazen falsification of election results, the use of security agencies against political opponents and the intimidation of voters (Rawlence and Albin-Lackey, 2007; Nnadozie, 2007; Adigbuo, 2008, Onike, 2010 Omotola, 2010, Bekoe, 2011). In fact elections remain one of the leading notable sources of conflict which often result to confrontations that continue to threaten the political stability and peace of the nation (Gueye & 1-Iounkpe, 2010; Idowu, 2010).

Elections have been seen as the major feature of democracy to the extent that not only is it impossible to imagine a democratic regime without elections (Nnadozie, 2007) but also there is now a real risk of conflating the holding of regular, reasonably competitive and transparent elections with democracy (Hounkpe & Gueye, 2010). Indeed, in direct democracies of Ancient Greece, elections were used to take decisions in various fields. For example, elections were used to nominate people to the most important positions and for which a minimum level of competence is considered as vital. The indispensability of election to democracy appears obvious in contemporary democracies described as representative democracy. The contemporary representative democracy defined as a system in which people are governed through their representatives, election remains the most appropriate widespread mechanism for selecting their representatives who will be responsible for governing on behalf and for the people (Ilounkpe & Gueye, 2010).

Today therefore, a political system which does not select its leaders through competitive, free and fair elections can hardly be considered as a democracy. Election has been defined by Osumah & Aghemelo (2010) as a process through which the people choose their leaders and indicate their policies and programme preference and consequently invest a government with authority to rule, They see election as one of the means by which a society may organize itself and make specified formal decisions, adding that where voting is free, it acts simultaneously as a system for making certain decisions regarding the power relations in a society, and a method for seeking political obedience with a minimum of sacrifice of the individual’s freedom.

Eya (2003) however, sees election as the selection of a person or persons for office as by ballot and making choice as between alternatives. Ozor (2010) succinctly gives a more encompassing and comprehensive definition of election when he noted that the term connotes the procedure through which qualified adult voters elect their politically preferred representatives to parliament legislature of a county (or any other public positions) for the purpose of farming and running the government of the country. Thus Osumah (2002) elucidates what the basic objective of election, which is to select the official decision makers who are supposed to represent citizens-interest. Elections, according to him extend and enhance the amount of popular participation in the political system. With the enthronement of democratic government in 1999, many perceived that Nigeria as a nation have arrived on the scene of democratic prosperity.

Unfortunately however, the scene of electoral processes has been characterized by violence and all sorts of anti-democratic behaviours. Given the massive irregularities that attended the various elections in Nigeria’s past, especially in the 2003 and 2007 elections and the consequent legitimacy crisis they engendered, the 2011 and 2015 polls presented an opportunity for both the government and the election authorities to restore public confidence in the election process.

Unfortunately again, the 2011 general elections was characterized be violence. As noted by INEC (2011), the day after the Presidential election, held on April 16, 2011, supporters of General Buhari launched demonstrations in the streets of Northern Nigeria. The protests turned violent in 12 northern states as mobs burnt the homes, vehicles, and properties of ruling party stalwarts, most of whom were Muslim, and traditional leaders who were seen to have backed the ruling party. The rioters also began targeting and killing Christians and members of southern Nigerian ethnic groups, who were seen as supporting the ruling party, and burning churches across the North. Going by this background, it is clear that Nigeria has a history of electoral violence and against this backdrop; the study will examine the 2003-2015 election violence and its implication for democracy in the Fourth Republic.

1.2     Statement of the Problem

The present study is informed by the interest in discussing the novelties of election periods tend to create moments of tension in the Country and Delta State in particular in view of the intensity and mode of prose cutting elections in the country and Delta State in particular. Each of the 2003-2016 Elections no doubt, presented a new dimension to the volatile nature of our election conduct.

Election malpractices and Violence have thus become a recurring decimal in Nigeria’s political history and constitute enormous concern to the survival of Nigeria’s democracy (INEC, 2011). What constitute the problem of the study includes such questions as:

  1. How does Nigerians especially Deltans feel about Electoral Violence and Democracy?
  2. What is the fate of Democracy and the nation’s stability considering the spate of Violence and Electoral malpractices?
  3. How do we achieve Credible, Violent free Elections in Nigeria and Delta State in particular?
  4. In the face of total absence of character among members of the mainstream Political Parties, can Nigerian especially Delta State expect to have credible leadership?

1.3     Objective of the Study

The main objective of the study is to examine the implications of electoral violence on democracy in the Fourth Republic. The specific objectives however includes to:

  • Examine the degree of electoral violence in the 2003-2015 general elections in Nigeria and Delta State in particular.
  • Identify the causes of electoral violence in 2003-2015 general elections in Nigeria and Delta State in particular.
  • Examine the implication of the 2003-2015 electoral violence on the stability of Nigeria and Delta State in particular.
  • Identify and proffer solutions to the problems of political violence in Nigeria and Delta State in particular.

1.4     Research Questions

The following research questions will be outlined for analysis.

  1. What is the degree of electoral violence in general elections in Nigeria and Delta State in particular?
  2. What are the causes of electoral violence in general elections in Nigeria and Delta State in particular?
  3. What is the implication of electoral violence on the stability of Nigeria and Delta State in particular?
  4. What are the possible solutions to the problems of electoral violence in Nigeria and Delta State in particular?

1.5     Significance of the Study

Issues surrounding electoral violence are numerous. The significance of the project therefore is rooted within the contours of sustainable democracy. As Nigeria continues to suffer electoral violence, the state has continuously been threatened with ultimate demise or collapse due largely to the inability of the state to manage and earn legitimacy emanating from electoral violence. All these have created tensions and conflicts, sometimes wars, within the system which thus threaten the sustenance of democratic values, national security, stability and peaceful coexistence.

As such, the study will be significant in the following areas:

  1. The findings from the study will give more insight into the nature and character of electoral violence in Nigeria.
  2. Again, since the scope of the study will cover the present democratic dispensation, the findings will give an insight into the degree of electoral violence in general elections in Nigeria and Delta State in particular.
  3. In relation to the above, the study will give stakeholders in the Nigerian project an idea of the direction at which the Nigerian democratic government vis-à-vis the level of electoral violence.
  4. The findings from this study will also assist the government and international organization in devising appropriate measures on how to tackle the growing problem of electoral violence and how it affects Nigeria’s stability and that of Delta State in particular.
  5. Above all, the study will contribute to existing stock of knowledge.

1.6     Scope of the Study

Nigeria is a heterogeneous country with diverse and overlapping regional, religious, and ethnic divisions. Nigerian culture is as diverse as its population, which is estimated to be over 120 million. With the regaining of political process in 1999 after over thirty (30) years of military rule, Nigeria looked set for a return to stability and the regaining of its position in the committee of nations particularly in Africa. Wrongly so, this was not to be. Since the 1999 to the 2015 elections, the Nigeria electoral and political landscape has fallen from par to below par and has moved from violence to greater violence although the 2015 elections recorded less violence.

The level and magnitude of electoral and political violence has risen and the political elites have often converted poverty ridden unemployed Nigerian youths into readymade machinery for the perpetration of electoral violence. This is linked to the political system and institution that in theory has failed to political participation and in practice has seen the political elites forming bulk of the sponsors and perpetrators of electoral violence. The scope of the study however will be to examine the implication of the electoral violence on Nigeria’s democratic process with particular reference to Delta State.

1.7     Limitations of the Study

There is no endeavour without challenges. Thus, while one is tempted to identify finance and time as some of the limitations of the study. The research however contends that the limitation to this study was in the area of data gathering. This problem was made more daunting due to the poor state of the university library which from all indication lack adequate and current publications relating to the study. The researcher however overcame this limitation by sourcing for materials from other close by university and public libraries. Information from the internet was also used to compliment the study.

1.8     Definition of Terms

For the purpose of this thesis, the following terms will be defined;

Elections: It is defined as the institutional mechanism or process by which individual or groups of individuals are selected into official positions. It is the entire processes involved usually by the citizens of any democratic nations from the age of l8years to give legitimate mandate for those who are to govern them for a period of time as stipulated in the constitution. (Igbuzor 2010)

Democracy-This is essentially refers to the rule of many which is usually done through representation. It is a form of government in which the people have the freedom to choose who their leaders will be through free and fair election which could be direct or indirect. The word "democracy" according to Bangura (2013) is used to describe three different political systems. 'According to him, this system of government has to d o with the rule of man y and also a representation of the true interests of the people. These characteristics of democracy differentiate it from other forms of government that are dictatorial and which does not take cognizance of the wishes and desires of the people in whatever sphere be it in the choice of who represents them in government or in overall decision making. Democracy is a system of government that many countries of the world seek to acquire and those countries which have already acquired it seek to make it more developed for the purpose of reaping the dividends attached to such level of democratization.

Electoral Violence: Igbuzor (2010) sees electoral violence as: any act of violence perpetuated in the course of political activities, including pre, during and post election periods, and may include any of the following acts: thuggery, use of force to disrupt political meetings or voting at polling stations, or the use of dangerous weapons to intimidate voters and other electoral process or to cause bodily harm or injury to any person connected with electoral processes.

Electoral Fraud: This involves the various forms of malpractices that distort the standard pattern of electoral process. It involves deliberate efforts to influence, manipulate and subvert the electoral processes in one’s favor (Ajayi, 2007).

Democratization: This is a process geared towards attaining democratic governance


Adigbuo, E, R. (2008). “Defender of the Faith: The Challenges of Nigeria’s 2007 Presidential Election”Politikon, 35(2), 223—245.

Ajayi, k. (2007), Election Administration in Nigeria and the Challenges of the 2007 Elections.

Bekoe, D. (2011) Nigeria’s 2011 Elections: Best Run, but Most VIolent. Peace Brief 103. United State Institute of Peace (Retrieved on 12/10/2013 from the internet (http://www.usip.org/sites/default/files/resources/PB%20103.pdf)

Bekoe, D. (2011) Nigeria’s 2011 Elections: Best Run, but Most VIolent. Peace Brief 103. United State Institute of Peace (Retrieved on 12/10/2013 from the internet (http://www.usip.org/sites/default/files/resources/PB%20103.pdf)

Ekweremadu, Ike (2011) “2011 General Election: A Critical Review”. Thisday, Vol.16. No.5876. pg.23

Eya, N. (2003) Electoral Process, Electoral Maipractices and Electoral Violence. Enugu: Sages Publications Nigeria Ltd.

Gberie, L. (2011) The 2011 elections in Nigeria: a new dawn? Situation Report. Institute for Security Studies (Retrieved on 12/10/2013 from the internet - http://www.obsafrigue.eu/wpcontent/uploads/2011/05/13May201l.Nigera.pdf)

Igbuzor, O. (2010). Electoral violence in Nigeria. Asaba, Action

Aid Nigeria. Roberts, F. and Obioha, E. (2005), Electoral Violence and the Role of the Nigerian Police, in Onu, G. and Momoh A. Elections and Democratic Consolidation in Nigeria, Lagos, Nigerian Political Science Association.

Sciences Vol. 2 Number 2, Medwell Journals.

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