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The study investigated the effect of religion on the voting pattern in Nigeria (a case study of 2015 presidential election).The specific objective include; To examine the link between religion and voting pattern; To evaluate the various reasons why religion was a determining factor in the 2015 election of presidential candidates results; To proffer solutions to the problems created by the influence of religion in politics.

The study also entails the conceptual clarification of political party. The theoretical background of the study is rational choice theory and its assumptions.

The study employed the descriptive research design and tooled the questionnaire to draw the subjective opinions which makes up the primary data for the study. The sample space consist the Muslim and Christian religious group. The study used the simple percentage and frequency count to analyse the results of the questions collected.

The result of the study show that religious pattern and group influence the voting pattern of the people. The study shows also that religion was a determining factor in selecting candidates. The study depicts reconstruction of laws and rules will supress the impact of religion on the voting pattern of the electorate

The study recommended that (NOA) the National Orientation Agency should organise seminars on the parameters in choosing a candidate to vote for during election period



1.1                  Background Of The Study

According to the New Oxford American Dictionary, religion can be defined as the belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power, especially a personal God or gods. Religion is a human activity that can be easily accepted only within the framework of reality that it creates for itself. The relation between religion and voting behaviour is very thin.

Emilie Durkheim viewed religion within the context of the entire society and acknowledged its place in affecting the thinking and behaviour of its members of the society

Voting behaviour is a form of electoral behaviour. Understanding voters behaviour can explain how and why decisions were made either by public decisions-makers, which has been a central concern for political scientist or by electorate. (Goldman, Sheldon 1966).    Voting behaviour is a set of attitudes and beliefs towards elections at the national as well as at the local level, (Juma 2011). voting behaviour is explained as pattern of political participation mostly taking place in democratic societies where people react to certain laid down values, principles and beliefs how they choose their leaders. These set of beliefs could be based on age, sex, ethnicity, religion and education. (Harrop and Miller). To make inferences and predictions about behaviour concerning a voting decision, certain factors such as gender, race, culture or religion must be considered.

Nigeria is one of the leading countries today exporting Christianity to the more established nations of the world. Nonetheless, some people are wondering the basis upon which leaders can logically convince the western world to accept religion as a part of state practice considering its implications. However, religious institutions still remain one of the most reliable custodians of moral values in society, so any country that rejects the teaching and practice of accredited religious institutions may find it difficult providing the moral platform of the social conduct of its citizens. So religion can be developed to play a functional role in the peace and development of society. (Godwin, 2017).  The federal government of Nigeria has often stressed the need for citizens to put national interest above religious considerations, yet there is no politician that carries out a campaign or wins an election without referring to a religious institution, group or belief. (Godwin , 2017).

Thomas Hobbs was of the opinion that religion was vital for politics as religion drives people to obedience. It is necessary for undergraduates to know the relationship between religion and voting behaviour in Nigeria so as to curb the act of people voting for a candidate or appointing electoral officials based on their sentiments or religious beliefs. Let voting behaviour be on the basis of reality on what the candidate has to offer.

1.2                  STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM

In an ideal situation religion is not meant to be one of the main decision tools in choosing a leader.  man is supposed to be able to discern between personal and general influences , what is good for you as a person from what would make the society better. The original design of man should be that he is able to not let one thing affect his decisions of another. A candidate who worships with the African traditional religion should be able to run for a position without the fear that people will not chose him because of his religion

 However, Religion has its place in the life of every nation, Nigeria not excluded. It plays a vital role in the choosing of leaders, social justice and so on. Aristole describes man as a political animal (Mukherjee & Ramaswany 2007) , this statement means that man is actually involved directly in the processes of influencing or using of threat to change another view on politics whether directly or indirectly

Several elections have been conducted in the country, but the 2015 election is very significant to this study. The 2015 presidential election in Nigeria had come and gone but the ineradicable footprint it left in our memories will linger for some time to come. One may argue that religion have always been a factor in Nigeria’s politics.

This paper argues that there was indeed an influence of religion on the voting behaviour of the Nigerian electorates in the 2015 Presidential elections and recommends that voting behaviour should be based on party ideology and competence and reputation of the candidates and not and religion. Therefore, the need for this study is to explain how religion affects the voting behaviour and election of officials in Nigeria. It is easy for anyone to blame the federal government for failing to conduct very credible elections except for those who actually understand that religion influences Nigerian politics Mahatma Gandhi wrote ,” My politics is my religion, my religion is my politics.”


This study is all about an examination on how religion has affected the voting behaviour of voters and how religion also affects the election of officials into official leadership positions in Nigeria.

The objectives of the study are:

1.      To examine the link between religion and voting pattern

2.      To evaluate the various reasons why religion was a determining factor in the 2015 election of presidential candidates results.

3.      To proffer solutions to the problems created by the influence of religion in politics


Fundamentally, this study will attempt to answer the following questions.

1.      What is the link between religion and voting pattern?

2.      What are the various reasons why religion was a determining factor in the 2015 election of presidential candidates?

3.      How can we elect leaders without allowing religion to influence politics?


 This study would point out that there is indeed a link between religion and the voting patterns using the 2015 presidential election, it would also establish the fact there is indeed a need to understand of the effects of letting religion affect our voting patterns.

The research will also contribute to the existing body of knowledge by adding some gaps. It will also serve as a starting point for future researchers who may choose to study the same topic and others who are interested in voters’ participation in the election of presidential candidates of Nigeria and will also search as a basis for other research.


The qualitative research design is employed for this study which will rely on the secondary data and would be collected to provide relevant data for the purpose of the study. The secondary data are obtained from the internet which includes; past and present project relating to this study, journals, articles, conventions.


This study is limited to Nigerian presidential candidates with the purpose of examining and analysing the effect of religion on voters’ behaviour in the election of official.

A major limitation to this study was the enormity of the Nigerian officials, which will be problematic in terms of coverage. Therefore, the 2015 presidential elections serves as our sampling frame from which data was elicited from respondents.


The key concepts of this paper are religion, voting behaviour, election. In order to refresh the thoughts of readers, we shall explain these concepts.

RELIGION: Igwe (2005:379) defines religion as ‘belief in the supernatural and practices sustaining that belief, the ultimate superstition and thus, a level of consciousness mostly centering on God and Satan, gods, spirit or deities.’

In Nigeria, there are three dominant religions, these are: African Traditional Religion (ATR), Islam and Christianity. All these religious ideology allow interaction between religion and politics. Therefore these three predominant religions operate across the country, but while Islam is predominant in the northern part of the country, Christianity holds sway in the southern part and a few numbers of people across the country practice the African Traditional Religion.

VOTING BEHAVIOUR: The sociological approach to voting behavior emphasizes the impact of social structure suggesting that social groups’ memberships influence voting choices (Lazarus feldetal; 1944; Alford, 1967; Rose and Urwin 1969; 1970 Lijphart 1979, 1980). Voters are considered to be instrumental, for instance, they vote for parties or individuals that best reflect the interests of their groups.

The party identification model assumes voters to be expensive rather than instrumental, and attitude and issue preferences are considered to be endogenous to vote. The approach holds that voters have long-standing psychological ties to specific political parties, and seldom waver from voting for them.

ELECTION: Elections is the only instrument and means by which people in modern societies exercise their democratic right in the governance of their affairs either through direct choices of public officials to be invested with power and authority, but also via direct decision making in form of referendum, plebiscite and initiatives.

It is through regular and periodic elections that public officials can be held accountable in a modern society. It is also by means of elections that the political arena is transformed into market place of ideas.


CHAPTER ONE; INTRODUCTION. chapter one gives  an introduction to the research, which the background to the study, statement of the problem ,the objectives of the study, research questions , significance of study, scope of study research methodology , operational definition of terms , and the chapter outline 

Chapter two ; chapter two consists of the literature review and theoretical framework which has to do with the review of various scholars work on the subject matter and give an introduction to voting behavior

Chapter Three explains the various reasons why religion was a determining factor in the 2015 presidential election in Nigeria.

Chapter Four reviews other ways we can elect presidential candidates in positions in the future without religion or being religiously biased.

Chapter Five covers the summary, conclusion and recommendation on the effect of politic in Nigeria.

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