YOUTH VIOLENCE AND 2015 GENERAL ELECTIONS IN NIGERIA
THE RIVERS STATE EXPERIENCE
Keywords:2015 General Elections & Rivers State, Youth Violence, prescriptions of Hobbes, Leviathan
Elections are democratic means of changing governments all over the world. Successful conduct of periodic elections engenders legitimacy to the government and reduces tensions and political tsunamis. Once elections are flawed, delivery of good governance becomes truncated and pseudo political brouhahas erupt like wild inferno that may stair-up centripetal conflicts in the polity. Nigeria in the past had had histories of flawed elections, with hydra-headed violence erupting before, during and after elections. Electoral violence is most often perpetrated by the youths recruited and armed by the political elite. Therefore, this paper argues that the political class in Nigeria, Rivers State in particular engaged a number of youths as thugs and assassins, among others, to maim, kill and destroy their perceived opponents with the aim of winning elections. There is no doubt that youth involvement in electioneering process in Rivers State had had consequential effects on the outcome of the 2015 general elections. The paper, however, identified dislocated and poor parental background, poor education, unemployment and under employment, moral decadence and political manipulations as key factors to youth violence during the 2015 general elections in Rivers State. The study was purely qualitative as it relied on secondary data. This paper adopted Hobbes’ social contract theory as it argued that the youth violence in the 2015 general elections in Rivers State was the result of the failure of the Nigerian state in living up to its social contract with the people against the prescriptions of Hobbes in his famous ‘Leviathan’ for an ideal state. The paper, however, recommended, among others, youth employment and empowerment as well as the setting-up of election offences tribunals as major steps in checking youth violence in the electoral process in Nigeria, particularly in Rivers State.