Nigeria’s political landscape has the potential to be, and it is divided along, several fault lines including ethnicity and religious affiliations in the midst of widespread poverty and unemployment, especially among the large population of the youth. Hence, the contest for political or electoral posts, by default, is shaped by these factors and others highlighted in the study. Thus, eligible voters in Nigeria find themselves in a space where supporting a particular candidate usually translates into choosing one of the several fault lines to associate with rather than individual merit and competence. This invariably leads to their involvement in acts of electoral violence, as merit and competence are usually not the factors that count in most of the elections but, rather, the might of a particular group or party. 

The use of action research as an approach to this study has allowed an in-depth exploration of the problem of youth involvement in acts of electoral violence in Nigeria. It has also allowed the engagement of a number of youth, not just in understanding the disadvantages of electoral violence but also in the dangers of engaging in it, both for the nation and the perpetrators. So also, the benefits of peaceful engagement in the electoral processes were also highlighted. The use of action research allowed the youth a major role in the study as it is focused on “doing with” rather than traditional research of “doing for”. Thus, the participant youth were trained and equipped with relevant skills and supervised in a process of engaging their fellow Nigerian youth on the subject matter of electoral violence. 

1.1 Background to The Study 
The involvement of youth in violent acts is a global phenomenon. The CDC (2014) claims that it is the second highest source of deaths among youths aged between 15 and 24 years. In a similar vein, Krug (2002: 25) posits that violence perpetrated by youths is a global occurrence and one of the most visible forms of violence reported on a daily basis by the media worldwide. They both posit that young people are often the architects and recipients of such violence either as gangs, in schools or anywhere else. 

The experiences of electoral violence have been mixed across the 54 African countries, with some countries experiencing few or no electoral violence acts, while several African countries such as Nigeria, Zimbabwe, Kenya, DR Congo, Burundi and Uganda have all at one time or the other experienced violent electoral episodes. Low intensity violence has also been a pervasive feature of electoral processes of most other African countries (Adolfo et al. 2012). These low intensity electoral violence acts include the intimidation of contestants and voters alike, imprisonments, forced protections, armed clashes, murder, destruction of properties, ballot box snatching, ballot box stuffing, disruption of voting or collation of votes (Adolfo et al. 2012; Akanmu, Fagbohun and Adenipekun 2015). Furthermore, Adolfo et al. (2012) also identified countries like Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Sierra Leone, Guinea, Liberia and Madagascar as some of the countries with features of low intensity electoral violence activities including the countries that have earlier been identified with episodes of violent electoral acts. 

The occurrence of electoral violence has been observed to take place at any point during the electoral process or throughout the electoral process, that is, pre-elections, during elections and post-elections. The identified sponsors of electoral violence include the incumbents and opposition parties who both employ acts of electoral violence to advance their respective causes (Collier and Vicente 2014: 1; Onapajo 2014: 21). The scope of electoral violence extends from acts of physical violence to psychological violence and structural violence acts employed during an electoral process. 

The situation is not much different in Nigeria where elections have often been accompanied by waves of violence that usually have severe consequences which include loss of lives and properties since independence (Bratton 2008; Onwudiwe and Berwind-Dart 2010; Okeyim, Adams and Ojie 2012: 6; Collier and Vicente 2014; Bello 2015) 

Electoral violence in Nigeria is traceable to the 1964/65 post-colonial era in which crisis brought the first republic to an abrupt end and, in 1979, a bitter contest over results ensued with a military takeover, while the 1993 elections were annulled by the military junta and resulted in unprecedented post electoral violence (Danjibo and Oladeji 2007; Olusola 2013). After alternating between military rules and civilian administrations since independence in 1960, Nigeria finally embraced democracy in 1999 and this has been uninterrupted for the past 17 years the longest experience ever (Nossiter 2011). Thus, it can be said that Nigeria’s democracy is a nascent one and needs to be consolidated for political and socio-economic stability, including the stability of the sub-Saharan African region. As credible elections are essential in ensuring democratic and political stability, they are therefore, the lifeblood of all democracies (Afe 2015). 

The 1999 elections were conducted as a compromise to ease the military out of power, while the elections held in 2003 were acclaimed to be an exercise in massive fraud and violence, just like the 2007 elections that President Obasanjo declared as a do or die affair (Danjibo and Oladeji 2007; Collier and Vicente 2014). 

The build up to the 2003 elections claimed the life of Chief Bola Ige the incumbent federal minister of justice in his country home in December 2001 – a murder yet unresolved and handled shabbily (Dike 2003: 3). Several political elites were assassinated during this period, along with Chief Bola Ige among whom are Alfred Rewane an elder statesman and Chief Harry Marshal just to mention a few (Igbafe and Offiong 2007: 3). Available records from the Transparency Monitoring Group Nigeria (TMG) (2007) cited in Onapajo (2014: 38,39) also show that the 2007 elections recorded serious bouts of violence with the assassinations of leading gubernatorial candidates in their homes in Ondo and Lagos States. Dr. Ayo Daramola and Mr. Funsho Williams both of the PDP (People’s Democratic Party), were brutally murdered in their bedrooms by political assassins. The TMG also recorded more than 31 gruesome deaths and with 60 fatalities in the limited areas of 13 States which they covered. 

In the view of Afe (2015), the violence that results from the declaration of candidates perceived by the people as unfair or rigged in Nigeria has often led to violent eruptions with attendant destruction of people’s property, the burning of human beings alive, and the incursion of military into governance (Afe 2015: 12). 

• Problem Statement 
The problem of youth involvement in electoral violence as both perpetrators and victims deserves urgent attention as they (youths) have been identified as being directly responsible for 95% of electoral violence acts in Nigeria since independence (Okafor 2015). Electoral violence has claimed so many lives, resulted in the loss of massive properties, and induced fear among citizens to engage in the electoral process. This has the capability of not only affecting the credibility of elections in Nigeria but also of bringing about political instability and derailing the Nigerian project. It is a truism that it is only in the atmosphere of peace that sustainable development can take place. 

Some commentators (Okafor 2011: 10; Akanmu, Fagbohun and Adenipekun 2015: 112; Okafor 2015) have specifically identified Nigerian youths as being directly responsible for almost all the acts of electoral violence perpetrated in Nigeria from independence to date. These activities of violence have included killings, the disruption of economic activities and property destruction. These developments have made taking part in elections in Nigeria a liability and most citizens are afraid to participate. Journalists also get their cameras and cars damaged. The weapons left with the youths after the elections, after being dumped by the politicians, are often subsequently used for criminal activities (Akanmu, Fagbohun and Adenipekun (2015). Hence the conclusion of Monday and Simon (2013) that it is only the bold, wicked and violent who can take part actively in Nigeria’s party politics and electoral contests. 

Thus, the problem which this study seeks to address is the high levels of youth involvement in electoral violence in Nigeria. 

• Research aim and objectives 
The general aim of this study is to analyse perception of eligible voters on electoral violence and voting behavior of Nigerian youths. 

The study objectives include: 

• To explore the nature, extent, causes and consequences of Nigerian youths’ involvement in electoral violence 

• To assess the effectiveness of current strategies, if any, being used to limit the incidence of electoral violence among Nigerian youths 

• Research Questions 
• To explore the nature, extent, causes and consequences of Nigerian youths’ involvement in electoral violence 

• To assess the effectiveness of current strategies, if any, being used to limit the incidence of electoral violence among Nigerian youths 

• Justification for the study 
Several studies have been carried out on electoral violence in Nigeria with a few on the involvement of youths. However, there is a dearth of study on addressing the involvement of youths of Nigeria in electoral violence, especially from an action research perspective. The youths are crucial stakeholders who not only represent the future but are also a needed resource in the building of any society (Okafor 2011: 1), including Ondo State (the research area) of Nigeria. This is despite the pervasive political instability in Nigeria in general and Ondo State which, at seven, has the highest number of State Chief executive turnovers – more than any other Nigerian State, between 2006 and 2010. 

• Delimitations and limitations of the study 
Delimitations are factors that have an impact on the study over which the researcher has a certain degree of control in deciding on the scope of the study and establishing boundaries for it. The limitations of this study include its inability to really evaluate the effectiveness of the interventions in reducing youth involvement in electoral violence as this would require an actual election period in which the trained youths were closely monitored. Also, it was not possible to select youths who had participated in acts of electoral violence in the past. Hence recruitment was based on whether youths had been actively involved in the electoral and voting processes in the study area. Also, due to the large number of potential participants in the study population (youths in Ondo State and across Nigeria), the population involved in the current study focused only on youths located in Akure, Ondo State. Hence, the study’s findings cannot be generalised to all youths across Nigeria. Thus, as is typical with case studies, restraint should be exercised in extrapolating and generalising from the findings of the study. Nevertheless, given the in-depth

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