Rosenje, MusharafaOlapeju (PhD)1
Contacts: firstname.lastname@example.org; +2348074294124 & +2347065798489
Adeniyi, Oluwatobi Peter2
Contacts: email@example.com; +2347035474264
Peju-Rosenje, Temitope O.3
Contacts: firstname.lastname@example.org; +2348085196011& +2349032310309.
Department of Political Science
Tai Solarin University of Education,
Ijagun, P. M. B. 2118, Ijebu-Ode, Ogun State.
The increasing rate of arms proliferation which has accentuated the prevalence of electoral violence has triggered severe security challenge for the populace and government of Nigeria to grapple with. This paper examined arms proliferation, security challenge and electoral violence in Nigeria’s Fourth Republic using the 2019 gubernatorial election in Rivers State as a focus. This paper adopted descriptive method, garnered information through secondary sources of data and as well adoptedelitetheory as its theoretical framework. The paper argued that many factors such asthepractice of prebendal politics, phenomenon of do-or-die politics, absence of internal democracy, marginalisation, porosity of borders and weak security system, among others, accentuated the alarming rate of arms proliferation cum electoral violence in Nigeria’s Fourth Republic. The paper further canvassed that arms proliferation has been a major factor triggering electoral violence, which constituted a major security challenge that has claimed many lives and destroyed valuable properties in the country. The paper contended that government efforts at curbing the trend of arms proliferation, which accentuate electoral violence was inadequate and thus yielded limited success. The paper thus recommended, among others, that thestakes of political offices should bedownwardly reviewed in order to reduce the intense quest for political powers; thatNigeria should partner with neighbouring countries on effective management of itsborders;that those who violate existing laws on arms proliferation and conduct of election should be sanctioned while the government shouldembark on increased orientationfor the citizenry in order to cultivate the values of law abiding, peaceful coexistence and violent-free election with a view to checkmating the scourge of arms proliferation and electoral violence.
Keywords: Arms proliferation, Election, Electoral violence, Security challenges, Violence.
Globally, elections remain one of the major pillars of democratic system of government because it accords the citizenry the opportunity to take active part in the decision-making processes of their country (Adesote&Abimbola, 2014). Elections play a central role in the success of democracy and as a corollary; the success of the country’s democracy depends on the conduct of violent-free and successful election (Araba & Braimah, 2015). It is through election that the power which is entrusted by the people to their representatives is transformed with authority, that is, the right to govern (Abubakar, 2015). Elections accord government, the legitimacy or acceptability it requires from the people to govern peacefully and successfully, and through it accountability is enforced (Oladiran, 2013).
Ordinarily, the conduct of violent-free election is expected to enhance and entrench democratic tenets but the reverse is the case in Nigeria. This isdue to the alarming rate of arms proliferation,which is clandestinely directedat reinforcing electoral violenceand has pervasively featured in all elections conducted in Nigeria since independence (Agbu, Isa &Garba, 2019).Also, the Nigeria’s electoral experiences since 1999 up to the most recent general elections in 2019 have remained sad memories marred withwidespreadelectoral violence. The 1999, 2003, 2007, 2011, 2015 and 2019 elections were marred by widespread fraud and unprecedented electoral violencewhich inhibits the conduct of free and fair election as well as constitutes a significant security challenge that claimed many lives and destroyed property worth billions of naira in Nigeria (Isah, 2019).
Therefore, issues surrounding the electioneering process ranging from campaigns to the declaration of election resultspotentially relate to violence and violation of the rights of individuals rather than serving as a means and a process of exercising legitimate political rights.Thus, elections in Nigeria have turned out to be a serious political liability, causing serious political turmoil and threatening the security and corporate survival of Nigeria (Abah&Nwokwu, 2015).
It is important to note that arms proliferationaccentuated the perpetration of electoral violence of various magnitudes. Such includepolitical kidnapping and assassinations, political thug clashes, electioneering campaigns disruption, destruction of electoral materials, harassment of voters and electoral officials, among other perpetuated violence carried out through the use of firearms (Gofwan, Isaya&Danjuma, 2019; Soetan, 2017; GIABA, 2013) because it was reported that about 350 million illegal weapons were circulating in the country as at January 2018 (Odeyemi, 2018). However, after the conduct of election, the circulating arms are often employed to forcefully displace civilians, prevent development activities, obstruct humanitarian assistance, peace-building and peace-keeping endeavours in all sense as well as encourage social vices like armed banditry, stealing, kidnapping, oil bunkering, vandalisation, militancy, religious fundamentalism, cattle rustling amongst numerous othersecurity challenges in Nigeria with little or no counter check by the government (Igbini, 2020; Abiodun, Ayo-Adeyekun, Onafowora&Nwanenaya, 2018).
Thus, the proliferation and misuse of arms in Nigeriathreatens the electoral process, individual security, contributes to human rights violation, undermines social justice and weakens goodgovernance, inhibits democratic consolidation, national security and sustainable development(Soetan, 2017; GIABA, 2013).Though efforts were made by the government and its agencies to checkmate arms proliferation, such efforts appear to be infinitesimal and ineffective in achieving the desired goal. It is against this background that this paper examined arms proliferation, security challenge and electoral violence in Nigeria’s Fourth Republic with specific focus on the 2019 Rivers State gubernatorial election.
The paper is therefore divided into six sections in order to achieve its aim. This first section discussed the conceptual clarification as well as the theoretical basis of the paper. The second section traced the historical evolution of arms proliferation and electoral violence in Nigeria. The third section scrutinized the factors promoting arms proliferation and electoral violence in Nigeria as well as discussed, the nexus between arms proliferation, security challenge and electoral violence in Nigeria. The fourth section examined the various efforts made by relevant agencies at stemming arms proliferation and electoral violence in Nigeria. The fifth section discussed arms proliferation and electoral violence in the 2019 Rivers State Gubernatorial elections while the sixth section centered on the conclusion and recommendations.
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