VOTING BEHAVIOUR AND DEMOCRATIC CONSOLIDATION: A CASE STUDY OF OYO STATE

Abstract
Election has become the most acceptable means of changing leadership in any given political system. It evaluates the acceptability of government and political leadership by citizens. Thus, attitude of the voters/electorates during or before any election varies from country to country depending on socio-economic-cum-political characteristics of such people or country. The study therefore, interrogates election and voting behaviour in Nigeria. The study is guided with these research questions; Are there reasons for participating in election as a voter in Nigeria, Are there factors that influence voting behaviour during election in Nigeria? The study is a qualitative and quantitative research that relied on primary and secondary sources of data collection. The data collected were analyzed using descriptive statistics to show the impact of voting behaviour on election in Nigeria. The study found that multiple factors influence how people vote during election. Also, there are reasons why people vote, that is voting pattern runs inline in order to satisfy those religious/ethnic interest and personal immediate economic needs. Voters’ accept gratification from politicians to vote for them even when they knew that such persons are not credible. The study recommends a total overhaul of the electoral system; education/creation of awareness to the Nigerian citizens, and to make the elective positions less lucrative and attractive than what is currently obtainable. In this way, those negative factors that influence the voting pattern in Nigeria can be controlled.

CHAPTER ONE
Introduction
1.1 Background of study
In liberal democratic theory, an election is a viable mechanism for consummating representative government and voting is the main form of political participation in democratic societies; the study of voting behavior is a highly specialized sub-field in political and social science. There is no gainsaying that credible elections constitute a major factor in democracy, democratization and good governance globally. Elections in democracies help to promote representation of popular will and to secure legitimacy of the political system. However, there is an indicative evidence of the decline in voter electoral participation- the lack of psychological involvement in public affairs, emotional detachment from civic obligations, and a somewhat reserved attitude towards political activity even at the global level. It is imperative therefore, to understand the sources and character of political abstention. Voter electoral behaviour, a subset of political behaviour, has thus emerged as a major problem in mature and emerging democracies, settled and volatile societies, large and thriving economies, as well as small and large ones.

Why do people vote? Why do they not vote? These are pertinent question; there has been much concern in the past few years that the citizens are disengaging from the political process, as shown by the continuing decline in voter turnout at all levels of elections. This leads to serious questions of legitimacy. If fewer than half of all eligible citizens vote and a winning candidate receive a little bit above 50% of the vote, what can we say about mandates and about the power to govern? Are non-voters completely disengaged, or simply engaged in other kinds of political activities that they find more satisfying and more likely to affect their lives?

Voter participatory behaviour impacts upon the electoral process and its outcome. Any serious effort at electoral reforms to bring about free, fair and credible elections must take into account the challenges, especially of voter declining participation in the electoral process. Thus, it became imperative to do a study on the nature, causes, dimensions and consequences of declining voter participatory behaviour, with a view to being adequately informed in designing future strategies to tackle its challenges in the Nigerian context. In a country trying to consolidate democracy after a long history of authoritarian military rule, strategies for mobilizing people for popular participation and effective engagement in the electoral process have to be well conceptualized and carefully designed. In doing this, peoples’ perceptions and attitudes have to be studied, analyzed, understood and taken into consideration. In any case, liberal democracy is in crisis in many countries, developed and developing (Adejumobi, 2002).

In the developed countries the level of citizen participation in the electoral process is dwindling, largely because real choice is limited and the people feel a sense of powerlessness rather than satisfaction. In developing countries, especially in Africa, elections are riddled with tension, conflicts, crises and fraud such that it is difficult to use them as a barometer of the peoples’ choice. Hence, the euphoria of the second wave of democratization in Africa is fast receding. Yesterday’s icons who led civil society in the struggles for democratic renewal have been transformed into the images of those against whom they fought. They have assumed dictatorial postures; they manipulate elections and tend towards sit-tight regimes (Adejumobi 2000).

Nigeria is in the league of less successful countries in the area of election management and outcomes: the electoral rules are either unclear, ever changing, or easily subverted; the electoral body is structurally weak and perennially ineffective; the political actors and agencies are like gladiators in their conduct; while the people are often powerless in an environment of political and electoral misdemeanor. Voting does not amount to choosing in the Nigerian environment, as electoral choices are made by political barons outside the environment of electoral norm, rules and procedure. In such circumstances, ‘winners and losers have often been determined before the contest, and voters merely go through the charade of confirming choices already made’ (Fawole, 2015:15).

The electoral system of any given country plays a fundamental role in sustaining and molding the political behavior of its citizens (Okolo, 2002). The way election is conducted in a country determines to a great extent the level of political culture, political participation and good governance in the country. Therefore, this study intends to fill this gap. This study is guided with two research questions: - 1) Are there reasons for participating in election as a voter in Nigeria? 2) Are there factors that influence voting behaviour during election in Nigeria? The objective of the study is to understand those factors which determine voting behaviour in Oyo state and reasons people give during election in Nigeria.

1.2 Statement of Problem
Since 1999, when the current democratic dispensation began, Nigeria has witnessed a plethora of defections by politicians. The defection rate is widely believed to be more than any other time in the nation’s political history (Baiyewu 2012). Party defection is not a strange phenomenon in Nigeria; it characterized previous republics, though at a minimal and reasonable level. Today, reasons for this (Party Defection) are not far-fetched as supposed loyal party activists do this with reckless abandon as if this is a new virtue for relevance in party politics. Party defection is always organized with fanfare just as defectors adduce it to ‘being marginalised by former party’ or ‘craving for a platform to move the interest of the people to the desired end’, or moving from darkness to light, or being betrayed by the ruling party or with the usual quote ‘I cannot live among enemies’. In Nigeria, cases abound where a politician defect to four different political parties within one or two years, still repeating these monotonous but mundane excuses, yet incredibly, with admiration from the receiving party on each occasion. State and federal legislators elected on the platform of a particular party have also found value in mainstream politics as a way of defecting to the ruling party, thereby giving the impression that it is a taboo to be in opposition party in Nigeria. It is on these premises that the following questions are raised:

1.3 Research Question
1. What are the voting pattern in Oyo state?

2. Have parties in Nigeria acquired the strength to create the needed balance that would make Nigerian democracy strong?

3. What is the nexus between voting behavior and democratic consolidation in Nigeria?

4. What are the ills that party defections pose to consolidated democracy in Nigeria?

1.4 Objectives of the study
The main objective of this research is to bring to bare the voting pattern in Oyo state.

Subsidiary objectives of the research are as follows:

1. To expose reasons why there is the usual voting behavior especially at the peak of elections in Nigeria

2. To analyze how the constitution provisions for party defections in Nigeria have been faulty.

3. To explain who actually benefits in the act of party defections in Nigeria.

1.5 Significance of Study
This study comprises of theoretical and empirical significance. The theoretical significance of this study is that it examines the implications of the2015-2019 party defections on democratic consolidation in Nigeria. Theoretically, the study findings further reaffirms the call for a paradigm shift, the need for political parties to adhere seriously to the principle of internal democracy-cum-various mechanisms to resolve party crisis. Following that line of thought the study enriches the existing stock of literature or expands the frontiers of knowledge through its findings, therefore serves as a source of data/material to those scholars who may be interested in further studies in this area.

The empirical significance of this study will be of immense benefits to Nigerian government, legislature, political leaders, party leaders and politicians so as to bring to their knowledge the ills that numerous defections poses to the democracy which the country was supposed to uphold.

Lastly, the findings of this research will serve as reference documents for further research in the field.

1.7 Scope/limitations of study
The study focuses on the effects/problems of party defections on democratic consolidation in Nigeria. It also exposes those factors that led to party defections by majority of political actors within the time frame of 2015 and 2019 elections, and their implications on consolidating democracy in the Nigerian society.

Despite the importance of this study, it has faced several limitations which are listed below

1. Lack of relevant literature especially on the 2019 elections which would have helped to enhance the study.

2. Time constraints stand to be another problem.

3. Financial constraints was also another problem

Though this has not contravened the originality and authenticity of this study

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Item Type: Project Material  |  Attribute: 41 pages  |  Chapters: 1-5
Format: MS Word  |  Price: N3,000  |  Delivery: Within 30Mins.
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