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This research presents the results of electoral participation and grassroots development in Ogun state. The population for the study consists of 40 indigenes in Ijebu North LGA which were randomly sampled, Data were gathered using a self -constructed questionnaire and the result gotten was analyzed using the simple percentage method. The validity and reliability of instrument were ascertained. The result of the study revealed that participation in electoral process in Nigeria helps and it is an avenue for the public to choose who they want to lead them. Also grassroots development can only be attained if people in the rural areas will vote rightly most especially in the local government election, by not choosing a leader out of pity or any sentiment.
1.1 Background to the Study
Elections have generally been acknowledged as a cardinal pillar of a democratic political system (Bratton 1998; Schedler 2002; Diamond 2008; Lindberg 2009a, 2009b, 2009c; Omotola 2010a). This is particularly the case where elections satisfy acceptable democratic standards, or, better still, what Lindberg (2004, 2006) calls the ‘democratic qualities of elections’, namely competition, participation and legitimacy and also brings about development. Elections that fall short of these standards can only serve to undermine the consolidation of democracy. Electoral participation is one of the important indicators of the democratic quality of elections. In addition, Electoral participation is considered a prime criterion for defining democratic citizenship and the role of citizens in the political process (Dalton 2006). However, given that electoral participation is, in itself, multifaceted, including, among other things, membership of a political party, involvement in political campaigns, contributions to political debates, funding political activities, contesting elections.
Apart from its qualification as the most important form of Electoral participation, voter turnout has also been seen as an important indicator of the state of health of any democracy, old or new, consolidated or in transition, where a high turnout is usually associated with a healthy democracy and a low one with an unhealthy one (Kuenzi & Lambright 2007; Freitag 2010). More specifically, the article explores voter turnout in Nigeria’s 2011 general elections and the factors underlying it. Without any doubt, this is a daunting challenge. How do we, for example, measure the level and quality of participation, using voter turnout as the core indicator? Moreover, in a country characterized by a high degree of pluralism, where ethno-regional-cum-ethnic and religious identities often take center stage in matters of national significance, including presidential elections, in what ways, if any, do such forces of identity influence the spatial distribution of voter turnout? This is a question that relates to the autonomy of citizens ‘in being sufficiently informed about government to exercise a participatory role’ (Dalton 2006, p 2) without undue external influence. While the comparative literature suggests some measures, critical questions abound, especially in elections characterized by fraud and violence, where results are frequently contested by opposition parties and, in a few cases, altered or annulled altogether by the election tribunal/court. The situation is worse in cases where voter registers, upon which voting and the computation of voter turnout are predicated, are far from accurate. Such incidents were a recurring characteristic of Nigeria’s elections between 1999 and 2007 (Omotola 2010a). It is important that we engage with this largely neglected aspect of Nigeria’s elections to ascertain the form and character of participation.
Electoral participation, which has attracted considerable academic interests (Pateman 1970; Nelson 1979, 1976; Booth & Seligson 1978; Verba & Nie 1972; Huntington & Nelson 1976; Conge 1988) is one of the oldest concepts in the comparative study of politics. Yet it remains an essentially contested concept, with a variety of definitions on parade, each of which is either too general or too narrow. Conge (1988) made a comprehensive study of some of these definitions to underscore this limitation, as well as the typology of arguments over the meaning of the concept. A few examples of such definitions will suffice. Verba & Nie (1972, pp 2-3) define Electoral participation as behavior designed to affect the choice of governmental personnel and/or policies. For Kaase & Marsh (1972, p 42), Electoral participation entails ‘all voluntary activities by individual citizens intended to influence either directly or indirectly political choices at various levels of the political system’. In a more expanded version, Nelson (1979, p 8) defines political participation as an ‘action of private citizens intended to influence the actions or the composition of national or local government’. In yet another attempt to expand the definition, Booth & Seligson (1978, p 6) define Electoral participation as ‘behavior influencing or attempting to influence the distribution of public goods’, including security of lives and property and infrastructural and social amenities such as roads, schools, health centers and other services provided by the government.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
The problem of development in Nigeria is almost the talk of everyone, despite the level of resources Nigeria is blessed it is a shame that the giant of Africa is still behind in terms of development. The state of development in rural Nigeria is unacceptably grim with slow overall economic growth and development. The indices of this sordid situation include poor agricultural productivity; gross infrastructural deficit; rapid population increase; unemployment; lack of social amenities; among others, which had culminated in dehumanizing rural poverty and underdevelopment in all ramifications. The people live on the fringe of starvation, destitution and ignorance, which undermined their immunity and natural resistance to diseases; such that epidemic continued to kill thousands every year (Ekpe, 2006)
So many research has been conducted on grassroots development in Nigeria, but their conclusion is mainly on the government to ensure that development should be their main priorities most especially in the rural areas and in the local government, but no research has discuss about peoples participation in electoral process therefore this research will focus on electoral participation and development in Ogun state.
1.3 Objectives of the Study
The main objectives of this study is to find out the electoral participation and the effect on grass root development in Nigeria, specifically the study intends to;
1. Find out the factors that influence electoral participation
2. Examine the impact of electoral participation on grass-root development
3. Find out the factors that influence development in Nigeria
1.4 Research Question
1. What are the factors that influence electoral participation
2. Is there any impact of electoral participation on grass-root development
3. What are the factors that influence grass-root development in Nigeria
1.6 Significance of the Study
This research work will expose the general public on the need to participate in elections and politics in Nigeria. Citizens only complain about less development but are not fulfilling’s their obligation, they just sit at home without going out to vote, therefore this research will reveal the reasons for choosing a leader themselves for a better development.
This research will also be of significance for the government by revealing the need for grass root development in Nigeria most especially the rural areas, where there are less amenities for the convenience of the people, the finding in this research will of significance for other researchers as a reference point and empirical studies. And finally the research will serve as a guide for other students that will embark on the same research.
1.7 Scope of the Study
This research work is focused mainly on Ogun state, ijebu North will be used as a case study for this research.
1.8 Delimitation of the Study
Finance for the general research work will be a challenge during the course of study. Correspondents also might not be able to complete or willing to submit the questionnaires given to them.
However, it is believed that these constraints will be worked on by making the best use of the available materials and spending more than the necessary time in the research work. Therefore, it is strongly believed that despite these constraint, its effect on this research report will be minimal, thus, making the objective and significance of the study achievable.
1.9 Definition of Terms
Electoral/political Participation: behavior influencing or attempting to influence the distribution of public goods’, including security of lives and property and infrastructural and social amenities such as roads, schools, health centers and other services provided by the government.
Grass-root Development: community-based change, through participatory, self-help initiatives. The primary objective is to improve the quality of life for the poor