1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
In contemporary democracies, elections are acceptable means of electing leaders, an important process that strengthens democratic institutions and facilitate peaceful transition of power (Ugiagbe, 2010). However, in Nigeria all elections conducted since her independence in 1960 have been characterized by widespread violence, intimidation, bribery and corruption. Muhammed (2010) reported that the prevalence of one political violence or the other has been the mainstay of elections in Nigeria with youths as the major actors in the theatre of electoral violence and that such violence has assumed a serious dimension.
Electoral violence according to the International Foundation for Electoral System (IFES) is any act or threat of physical or psychological harm to a person or damage to property, directed at anyone directly involved in an electoral process (voters, candidates, party officers, election workers, election monitors, journalists, etc.) which may disrupt or attempt to disrupt any aspect of the electoral process (Fischer, 2002). Electoral violence could therefore be described as a pre- meditated act that intends to influence the electoral process using foul language, verbal intimidation, blackmail, dangerous weapons, arson and assassination. (Bamfo 2008). At the receiving end of political violence are human beings.Ugiagbe (2010) submits that acts associated with electoral violence include physical harm, (homicide, torture, assault),threats (physical, verbal, intimidation; destruction of property), arson, damage from dangerous objects, forced displacement and ballot box snatching.
Usman (2009) identified five major common grounds of electoral violence; these are during registration, during political campaigns on Election Day, when results are announced, winner takes all syndrome. In their own study, Onwudiweand Bernard (2010) describe the pattern of electoral violence in Nigeria as intra party crisis, inter-party crisis, electoral crisis, violence and community unrest while Ugbaigbe (2010) opines that electoral violence do manifest in the three electoral stages namely, pre-election, during election and post election stages. The objective of electoral violence is to influence the electoral process with the sole aim to win political competition or power through violence or subverting the ends of the electoral and democratic process through intimidation and disempowerment of political opponents. The increased involvement of Nigerian youths in electoral violence should be of concern to all. Defining youths has been a little bit controversial, different authors define it in the context in which the word-youth is used. United Nations Children Education Fund UNICEF (1972) sees youth as those within age bracket 15-25years Johnson cited in Abhuere (2000) asserts that while leadership programmes have no upper age limit, their membership covers people of over 35-45years old, for the purpose of this study youth refers to anyone between the ages of 18 and 45 years.
Most of the world’s development strategies largely depend on the youth. This societal segment is believed to assist in producing sustained economy, social justice and stable democracy of a nation. It is therefore very important if the society could produce a qualitative youth to make these a reality. The primary aim of the research is to understand the relationship between drug abuse among the youth and political thuggery in Nigeria. The problem is made complex by a series of problem which is climaxed in the failure of the Nigerian state to solve its internal differences.
Drug abusers are employed, although economic factors such as profit maximization encourage drug abuse habit among them which in the long run result in their involvement in political violence act which slows the chance of self-actualization and the chance of the country’s present and long term development.
Lack of higher educational qualifications is another factor that pushes the youth into drug abuse and subsequently to politically related crimes. Similarly, political thuggery is also a factor responsible for drug abuse among the youth in every part of the Nigerian state.
Youths are believed to be the most valuable asset for engendering any societal development. They are the engines and pillars upon which every human society depends. Human history indicated how the youth served to depend and develop their various societies, which always promote and give to the society economic balance, political stability and social justice. Gessel (1956) in Radda (2005) refers to youth as the young people whose years fall between 10 and 16.
The report of the Political Bureau (1997) in Abdullahi (2003) classified youth as those between 6-30 years. This latter classification conforms to the formal education years, tampering with which may endanger the youth’s life and subsequently the society at large. The vision 2010 report defined youth as persons aged between 12-30 years. On the other hand, Abdullahi (1982) in Abdullahi (2003) defined the youth as any person in the period between early childhood and old age. These few classifications show the importance of youth to the survival and progress of their respective societies. This is because; youth contribute much towards social, economic, and political developments and defence of their societies.
Based on the forgoing position, this study is set to espouse the implication of youth involvement in political violence which not only undermines the personal fulfilment of the youth but also the development of all phases of the Nigerian state.
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
The development and progress of any human society is dependent on the availability of peace, social and economic equilibrium which gives all the leverage to pursue their heart desires without any form of fear or panic. Given the forgoing, it is important to assert the fact that all sphere of human endeavour in the present Nigerian state has been transformed into an arena for the manifestation of violence which is a product of government inability to deliver the greatest good for the greatest number of people which has caused youth idleness and by implication their resolve to violence and thuggery. This problem has therefore led to uncontrolled conflict amongst all class in the country. Based on the forgoing position, this research is posed to espouse the implication and effect of youth involvement in violent act as a negation of the country’s drive for viable economic development which is only obtainable in an atmosphere of peace and tranquillity.
1.3 PURPOSE OF THE STUDY
The purpose of this study is to examine the causes and implication of youth involvement in violent related activities in the Nigerian political space. The specific objectives of the study are as follows:
i) Identify the origin of political violence in Nigeria.
ii) Identify the factors that facilitate thuggery in Nigeria.
iii) Identify the various ways of addressing violent activities and thuggery in Nigeria.
iv) Identify the effect of political violence and thuggery in Nigeria.
v) Identify the reasons for youth involvement in political violence and thuggery.
1.4 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
i) What is the origin of political violence in Nigeria?
ii) What are the factors that facilitate thuggery in Nigeria?
iii) What the ways of addressing violent activities and thuggery in Nigeria?
iv) What are the effect of political violence and thuggery in Nigeria?
v) What are the reasons for youth involvement in political violence and thuggery in Nigeria?
1.5 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
The study is hoped to be significance to parents, politicians, youth and the government. The result of the study will serve as a base for taking paper actions towards reducing violence and thuggery in Nigeria. The study will also serve as a stepping stone educational guideline on the youth involvement in political violence and thuggey. It is important to argue that the enormity of the problems of political violence in Nigeria is very great, since achievement and the failure is significantly perceived by Nigerian society youth and government as a core determinant of success in life, solution to this problem should be found out.
1.6 SCOPE OF THE STUDY
This project is based on youth involvement in political violence and thuggery in Nigeria. The study also examined some special factors, causes and effects of political violence and thuggery in Nigeria.It is limited to Yewa South Local Government in Ilaro, Ogun State.
1.7 DEFINITION OF TERMS
1. Political violence: refers to all collective attacks with a political community against the political regime.
2. Politics: The art of science of government or governing especially the governing ofa political entity such as a nation and the administration and control of its internal and external affairs.
3. Thuggery: The act of physical violence as could be performed by thugs.the oxford dictionary of curt English (1998), defined thuggery as violence act or behavior by ruffians. Its is observed that thuggery has relationship with violence activities.
4. Youth: The condition of being young, the appearance, freshness, vigor puberty, spirit etc. the early period of life from puberty to attainment of full growth adolescence.
5. Hooliganism: is the disruptive or unlawful behaviour such as rioting, bullying and vandalism.