The cycle of violence that accompanies elections in Nigeria has continued to be a major concern for citizens and international observers alike.
The level of violence, destruction of property and loss of lives that usually follows elections is an indictment on the country’s level of development and education. Nigeria is a country rich in resources and potential, but the persistent violence around elections suggests that something fundamental is wrong.
The country’s education system has been in a state of decline for several decades, with many schools lacking basic facilities, qualified teachers and access to quality education. The result is a large population of poorly educated and unskilled youths who are easily manipulated and exploited by politicians.
A January 2023 report from The Guardian describes election violence as a usual occurrence each election year in Nigeria. “If people for security reasons are not able to vote, that is a problem for the credibility of the election,” a source told The Guardian.
Condemning the violence which trailed Nigeria’s governorship and state houses of assembly elections, initially slated for March 11 but later postponed to March 18, the United States in a statement decried the voter intimidation and increased violence which transpired during the period.
In many cases, political thugs are recruited from among the unemployed and uneducated youths to engage in violence during elections. They are promised money, food and other incentives by politicians who are desperate to win at all costs. The result is a culture of violence and impunity that has become entrenched in Nigeria’s electoral process.
Nigeria’s leaders have recognised the need to weaponise the country’s education and development challenges, including unemployment, poverty and illiteracy. This has been made possible through slow response to aid in the education sector. Although the government has launched various programmes and initiatives to improve access to education and skills training, these efforts have been hampered by corruption, poor planning and lack of political will. When the government fails to supervise education project implementation policies from start to end, the result is a case of misappropriation of public education funds on a large scale.
To solve these morasses, more attention should be given to education and skills training, creation of job opportunities, promotion of good governance and accountability of education projects implementation. The persistent violence around elections in Nigeria is a wake-up call for the country’s leaders and citizens. It is a reminder that education and development are crucial for building a peaceful, stable and prosperous society.