THE ELECTORAL PROCESS AND NATIONAL SECURITY IN NIGERIA: A COMPARATIVE STUDY OF THE 2011 AND 2015 ELECTIONS

This chapter contains the literature review and the theoretical framework of this study on the electoral process and national security. The theoretical framework will be made up of theories that explains the relationship between the election process and national security with emphasis on the proponent, assumptions, strengths, limitations/weaknesses of the theory viz-a-viz the relevance of the theory to this research. The literature review will also present a general overview of electoral process and Issues of security. It will also contain information about electoral process and national security in Nigeria with reference to 2011 and 2015 general elections and in Africa as a whole.

2.1       THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK

The study is conducted within the framework of the social contract theory as propounded by Thomas Hobbes, John Locke and Rousseau. The choice of the theory is informed by its adequacy in explaining the origin of nature, and operation of electoral processes and democratic systems, out of which periodic elections are organized to ensure regular turnover of leadership while ensuring national security.

Assumptions

Although, a violent conflict is a complex social phenomenon with many dimensions, ethical, humanitarian, economic and political all of which are highly controversial and much debated. Conflict is a fact of everyday life. Everyday, people embark on negotiation and settle their differences on a peaceful way without threatening or resorting to violence, while others may refuse the peaceful means and commit to violence. These may surely be not unconnected to the violation of social contract as argued by Gandhi in his book The Story of My Experience with Truth; where there is violence, there could be no truth.

According to Hobbes (1588 – 1679) “A state of nature makes life poor, nasty, brutish and short. This is because of certain features associated with human conditions thus: equality of need, scarcity, essential equality of human power and limited altruism”. For Hobbes, these state of nature lack basic human needs because the social cooperation needed to produce these things doesn’t exist and for man to avoid this state of nature (anarchy) there must be a guarantee that people will not harm one another and thus, the concept of social contract.

 The term social contract is an old concept in political philosophy famously expounded by the philosopher Jean Jacques Rousseau in his book The Social Contract published in 1762, so also the work of John Locke who before then, expounded on contract between the ruler and subjects, in which the latter could rightfully repudiate in the event of poor governance by the sovereign through the process of elections. Thus, the need for a viable social contract, because when a society operates in accordance with widely accepted rules of the game, we say that it has a viable social contract. The theory was built upon the premise that the ‘basis of legitimate legal power is in the idea of contract’. In organized societies, contract had been formed between the citizen and the sovereign power. As a result of this contract, power is vested in government which is represented by an individual or groups of individuals. The theory opposed the ‘divine right of the kings’ and posits that individuals accept a common superior power to protect themselves from their own brutish instincts and to make possible the satisfaction of certain human desires. Hence, “Sovereignty resided in the people for whom governments were trustees and that such governments could be legitimately overthrown through the election process if they failed to discharge their functions to the people” (Katzenelson, 2001).

Even though critiques argued that there is nothing like contract in existence and that, it is base on a fiction. However, there may not be a physically signed contract yet, a contract exist when we willingly participate in society and enjoys it benefit. For example, Election process created the basis for social contract between the government and the governed in which citizens elect few individuals to represent them in running the affairs of government and in return must be accountable to the society they represent to ensure national security.

Strengths of the theory

The concept of social contract, if well established, creates an avenue that increase benefits between the party to the contract in areas such as economy, moral values and the political. In other words, social contract has a strong temporal dimension such as the willingness of people to work together to maintain the social contract is strongly influenced by how they view the future. If the future starts to become very uncertain and citizens doubt the safety of their lives, then they can see little worth in cooperation with their rulers to keep the social contract in order. This is because the process of elections that lead to democracy is based on social contract between the government and the governed. The citizens willingly surrender their mandate to the elected or chosen officials to represent them and to govern based on collective interest of all, for a common goal (societal well-being) thus, failure to fulfil the agreement spells a betrayal of the social contract and thus, may lead to withdrawal of allegiance by the citizens thereby interfering with national security. For example, it has been suggested that the risk of internal war is at its lowest level during matured democracy (Hegre et.al, 2001). Thus, with what is happening in Nigeria, there is tendency for the collapse of the transitional system, as argued by (Collier et.al., 2003) that poor nations are at greater risk of civil war; low income and poverty are the most important factors when measuring civil war risk and such development failures are often linked to a failing state, with institutional decay and disintegrating social contract. These predicaments may as well not be unconnected with colonialism as argued by Collier et.al, (2003) that “Colonialism left a particular difficult heritage for many new states. The colonial powers never intended these to be independent countries, so they did not build appropriate institutions” Thus a weak state has been a contributing factor to many African countries electoral problems and insecurity because a viable social contract is malfunctioned.

However, social contract gives the society neither natural right nor a permanently fixed. Rather it is a means towards an end. The benefit of all and according to some philosophers such as Locke and Rousseau, the contract is only legitimate to the extent that it meets the general interest and that is why Buhari argued that: “A consensus has emerged ‘democracy’ and these can work only when there is free and fair election (Adamu, 1999).

In a study by Helen (2006), it was opined that richer countries with most established democracies have fewer civil wars. Beyond that, studies suggest that even relatively poorer countries with strong democracy provide a protection against civil war – probably because individual and group rights are respected and because the relationship between the state and citizens is strong enough to allow grievances to be dealt with. Democracy is one of the conditions that make civil wars less likely. Strong democracy can only be achieved through a credible election process. In other words and or alternatively, a partial democracy allow political opposition, but do not give the opponents real influence (Collier et.al, 2003). In a legitimate state argued the theorists, authority must be derived from the consent of the governed through credible election. According to philosophers such as Locke and Rousseau, political authority is only legitimate to the extent that it meets the general interest and when failure occurs, in a social contract thus, imperative for renegotiation to change the terms for example, in a democratic setting using methods such as elections and legislation. Locke theorized the right of rebellion in case of the contract leading to tyranny.

In other words, John Locke stated that the relationship between people and government that rules them has to be based on certain rules. If at anytime, the government does not value their right, such as life, liberty and property, then it can be overthrown through a credible election.

Limitations of the theory

Theory of social contracts provides that if the people make unreasonable, irrational choices in the election process, then the people can lose their right. For example, if people sell their votes for a pittance, then they should be prepared to pay for it and if a government cannot guarantee the life and property of citizens as well as their right to vote for whom they want to rule them, then the concept of social contract may be broken and the society may revert to the state of nature when life will become solitary, poor, brutish and short.

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