Causes and Consequences of Political Hooliganism in 2011 General Elections

Causes and Consequences of Political Hooliganism in 2011 General Elections in Bauchi State.


This study covered the fourth Republic particularly the 2011-General election. The study lay emphasis on the causes and consequences of political hooliganism in Bauchi State. It hinges on those areas that poses threats and resulted in violence in the 2011-General Elections in Bauchi state.




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The significance of this study is numerous which includes the need to have a free and peaceful election without recourse to violence, which will indeed contribute to the Democratic processes in Bauchi State and National Development.  The study will identify the challenges confronting the electoral processes in Bauchi State to proffer solution on how to consolidate democracy in Nigeria. The researcher will suggest ways on how to educate the political office holders on how to desist from action that will portends danger and serve as landmines that can explode in the democratic processes. The research will add to the already existing knowledge on election and electoral processes in Nigeria.


Any research work which claims finality in its entity is not only un-academic but also non-scientific. A Literature review is a description of the literature relevant to a particular field or topic. It gives an overview of what has been said, who the key writers are, what are the prevailing theories and hypothesis, what question are been asked and what and methodologies are appropriate and useful. A literature review describes political information in a particular subject Area, and sometimes information in a particular subject area within a certain time periods. According to Bourner T. (1996),

“The literature review is the first step towards conducting any research and identifies the key concepts, debates, controversies and researchers in a field. The review should contain a critical commentary of the literature by outlining points of companion and different between texts and most importantly how your project engages with it’s the review of related literature must be in an organized form with appropriate headings and subheadings which must be related to the problem under study.”

In every human organization-from the smallest to the largest there is a need for decisions to be made by a few on behalf of the many. This decision-making is what we usually refer to as politics. Political functions is a necessary function for every organization human groups consequently, this function is to be found in groups like the family, the village, the state, the country, and in all association and interest groups. Politics, therefore, does not concern politicians alone – it concerns everybody in the society: it affects all, it should therefore concern all. (Ujo, 2004). Polities though with no universal definition for instance Aristotle described “Polities as the co-ordination without destroying other activities he also said man as a political animal” (Lenin 1922) defined polities as “Who dos what to whom” polities is also defined b others as the allocation of power and responsibility the making of authoritative decisions and the authoritative allocation of values. The common denominator in the definitions of politics is decision making. Other concepts which are used interchangeably with decision-making are settlement of disputes reconciliation of interest and allocation of values.” Given the foregoing, we can define politics as the process of reconciling interest in organized groups.

(Lasswell1943) sees polities as the process of deciding who gets what, when and how. In any given community, be it as small as the family or as large as a nation – state, decisions must be taken. This is why it is often said that polities are ubuguites.

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Violence has occurred so often in Nigeria, and elsewhere, that it is considered normal except when there is a major loss of lives and property as those instances in Syria, Egypt, Israel, Palestine, America (Sept. 11th 2011), DR Congo, Nigeria (Niger Delta, Borno, Yobe, Plateau, Bauchi). Charred remains of buildings, commercial centers, as well as hulks of cars, trucks serve as mute testimonies of violence.” (Adrian, 2011; Alubo, 2011). Political violence is the use of destructive means or methods in a unlawful manner against persons, property, institution, in order to publicize grievances, coerce or intimate a government, opponents, the civilian population, in furtherance of political, socio-economic, religious objectives. It is terror and destruction that is systematically, planned and executed, to achieve political goals. The targets often include, governments, functionaries and institution, identified individuals or groups, innocent public-by standards, traders, and so on,

Howell (2004) sees political violence as synonymous with thuggery activities and means critical acts or behavior by ruffians. To him, politics is tireless repetition of misleading facts designed to depict and opponent as personally despicable, and in regard to governance, as dangerous to physical and spiritual life of a person or nation. Violence involves acts characterized by rudeness, hooliganism, touting, intimidation and harassment. It involves behavior that contradicts peace harmony, interdependence among groups of people. Political violence is an illegitimate and destructive means of seeking political power with a view to subverting popular opinion for parochial ends through self imposition. Therefore political violence is simply the criminalization of polities to scare off the good people, leaving polities in the hands of ruffians, thugs, hooligans, touts, etc. Violence in polities is the entrenchment of the hijack Syndrome, of the right of the people to participate in the decision making process of matters that concern their welfare and development. Karl Schmitt (in schaefer, 2011) is of the view that, political violence, and violence generally is a disturbance to political equilibrium. (Gurr , 2003), sees  political violence as collective attacks within a political community against the political regime. Its actors – including competing political groups, as well as incumbent or its polities.

Contemporary events across the country have clearly demonstrated that Nigerian politics have been bedeviled with violence. Since the 60’s, no regime can be said to be free from the syndrome of political violence, both military, and even more in the civilian regimes, that have adapted the dastardly practice (Gboyega in kwanashie 2004, p. 6). Violence has been regrettably elevated to a fashionable status within many nations polity, including Nigeria. Violence has become a determining factor in the political especially electoral machinations and outcome, political power seekers have institutionalize violence to the point of subverting the constitution. The employers of violence – godfathers and their sons this have been placed over and above the laws of the land. They carry arms without hindrance, they have military, paramilitary mobile police, civil defense, escorts to abduct, kill, maim and harass their targets – contenders (Alubo, 2011).

Another way leaders have institutionalized violence in polities is by employing illiterate thugs as special advisers, special assistant, contractors (for their loyalist), who cannot special-advice or assist in any meaningful and positive way. Some of the touts are commissioners, as party agents, chairman of local governments, polling officers, monitoring officers, who often over power, intimidate, official personnel posted to do such assignments; causing violence and crisis in voting arenas to impose their figures, snatching boxes etc. (Adeyemi, In Ekweremadu, 2009). He expresses concern over the increasing state of violence in Nigeria, in recent times there has been much concern about Nigeria’s survival as a nation, since the return of democracy in 1999, there has been a drift from one violent conflict to another, often with devastating consequences on human life and socio-economic development.

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Sederberg (1994) attributes violence to two thesis – “The killer ape thesis” and “The cherry pie thesis.” According to him, the killer ape thesis states that, humans are biologically programmed to be inherently violent, i.e. hereditary gave pass on violence from generation to generation, we have no choice in the matter of violence.

The Cherry Pie Thesis on the other hand locates violence in our cultures. That it is our culture that breed us into violent beings – the socialization we receive: the environment in which we live, the era in which were born and reared, the economic status we hold.

Another reason for political violence is supplied by Roger B. (2009), in his study of youth Development in Bangladesh” which tallies with the situation in Nigeria, is the issue of what he termed Blind support for party politics, replacing the glory of knowledge base debates, with incisive statements resulting to violent contest; especially now that hooliganism has replace constructive exchange on part of youths/students, and the contending parties on the other hand. At a point in history, Bangladesh was the case in Nigeria, students and youths, workers communities (Unions) were the educated section of the society that could fight for the rights of the people, playing leading roles, these days of political parties. Civil societies are no agents of socio-economic and political development of their affected communities. Instead they perpetuate the agendas of politicians and god-fathers.

Kayode O.C. (In El-Rufai, 2012), attributes political violence in Nigeria to failure of governments at all levels in applying states revenues on improving the welfare of citizens. Instead, the federal allocation funds, and the IGR combined are spent on running their government (El-Rufai-Nigeria Village Square, 25th July, 2012) the federal, states and local government are not ploughing resources into investments that will enhance their productive capacities. Nor are they allocating finding to the development of both social and economic infrastructure, what we are experiencing in Nigeria, according to Kayode (citing El-rufai 2012), is a massive obstruction of access to government and power by a narrow group of people (the can-go-cult of political class) who continue to take advantage of their past and present positions and network within and outside the bureaucracy to create an official albeit, control resources, power and authority. They work with government in power (dictatorship and democracy). Will do anything by any possible means to oppress and marginalize the civil society with a view to preventing them access to power, economic resources. This way they nurture corruption as a way of retaining continuous control; corruption has enjoyed great legitimacy, and completely undermined government/ public socio-economic development and reckless extortion, which has become a feature of Nigerian Federation today – in hospitals, schools and high ways. These kinds of practices create resentment and cynicism which burst into violence at the slightest provocation (Kayode, 2012). Roger B. (2009) identifies social problems as one of the causes of political violence. Social problems at different levels of group inequality and youth unemployment have increased the propensity for violence. The dominant discourses in the conflict refer to political exclusion on the basis of ethnicity and Religion. A key element of dispute is over which groups are represented in government, and have access to state, with much controversy over how state and local governments exercise power. For this reasons, the conflict need to be placed in the context of the local political economy (Kane, 2003; Marshal, 1995, in Roger, 2009).


Raul (2004) identifies poor economic condition and lack of economic opportunities, to favor political violence. Poverty and income inequality would feed frustrations hatred and grievances make political violence more likely. Gur (Survey, 2010) seems to be in agreement with Raul, when he explains political violence with his economic discontent, also known as relative deprivation theory, According to him, the fact done of the theory is the perceived discrepancy between expected pay off and actual pay offs of individuals. When these discrepancies become collective, they feed after and frustration, which translate easily into violent behavior. The majority of youths in Bauchi State are jobless, illiterates, with little or no means of livelihood, they are impoverished, and being paid easily to manipulate election results. The political elite capitalize on this weakness and recruit the youth who not only constitute the pillar of society and also the most vulnerable to the self-inflicted poverty, as their thugs and touts to perpetuate violence.

Secondly, politics for personal gain-this has becomes a common feature in Nigerian politics. This is a situation in which an individual tries to hold onto power for personal gains. In attempts to hang on to power, leaders often create a regime of violence repression and bloodshed (Asiegbu, 2011). They organize political thugs, hooligans and scavengers to sing their praises, intimidate opponents and kill them if they become intransigent. The unnecessary and uncoordinated urge to control, dominate and amass wealth for their family and friends informs the emergence of hooligans to be used to win election by all means.

Thirdly, pre-bendel polities-in Nigeria, polities is considered as an investment. The politician, having invested huge amount of money on campaigns and other political activities, coupled with the existing system of winner takes all, would want to win at all cost (Jega and Wakili, 2002). In view of the above, the need to employ the use of touts and hooligans to manipulate and rig election becomes necessary, especially when such politicians are not popular candidates (Abba, 2004).

Fourthly, refusal to accept electoral defeat in good faith is also a fertile factor that can breed thuggery/hooliganism and trigger violence in politics: And finally, absence of good governance and low political culture are also contributive factors to the menace of hooliganism and violence. Similarly, hunger, marginalization, incapacitation, intolerance, domination and apathy etc. can also cause political violence. Esew (2003) summarizes the causes of political violence to include Domination, and Marginalization of section, groups, and persons in the acquisition and sharing of political positions, rigging of election, manipulation of political process in favor of certain groups, selection, persons, and falling apart of sponsors and sponsored over contracts, appointments or methods of management of the states.



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