ASSESSMENT OF POLITICAL PARTICIPATION AND CIVIC ENGAGEMENT AMONG AL-HIKMAH UNIVERSITY STUDENTS IN ILORIN, KWARA STATE NIGERIA
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The study assessed the political participation and civic engagement among Al-Hikmah University students in Ilorin, Kwara State. Demographic variable of gender was considered. This research employed the descriptive survey method design. The population consisted of Al-Hikmah University students. Four research questions were formulated and two hypotheses were generated respectively to guide the study. Data were collected using a researcher designed instrument questionnaire. Data analysis was done using percentages, mean rank and t-test statistical tool, all hypotheses were tested at 0.05 alpha levels. The findings of this study revealed that voting during elections, appreciation of political effectiveness and high interest in politics are determinants of the respondents’ political participation and commitment to serve, making different and feeling responsible for once community are determinant of the respondents’ civic engagement. Also the two hypotheses tested were not rejected. With the findings of the study, it was recommended that University Management should support campus politics. This is to encourage and prepare students for future political participation in the larger community and promote community development service among the students. Also gender discrimination should be strictly guided against in any form in the campus. This is to encourage gender equality.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Title Page i
Table of Contents vi
List of Tables vii
CHAPTER ONE (INTRODUCTION)
Background to the Study 1
Statement of the Problem 5
Purpose of the Study 6
Research Questions 6
Research Hypotheses 7
Significance of the Study 7
Scope of the Study 8
Operational Definition of Terms 8
CHAPTER TWO (REVIEW OF RELATED LITERATURE)
Conceptual Review 10
Concept of political participation 11
Concept of civic engagement 13
Factors that influence political participation 16
Theory of political participation 21
Theory of civic engagement 24
Gender and Political Participation 28
Gender and Civic Engagement 35
Gender and factors influencing Political Participation 38
Appraisal of Reviewed Literature 39
CHAPTER THREE (METHODOLOGY)
Research Design 43
Population of the Study 43
Sampling Techniques and Sample 43
Research Instruments 44
Validity of the Instruments 44
Reliability of the Instruments 45
Procedure for Data Collection 45
Method of Data Analysis 45
CHAPTER FOUR (RESULTS AND DISCUSSION)
Discussion of Findings 53
CHAPTER FIVE (SUMMARY, CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATIONS)
Summary of the findings 54
Limitations to the study 55
Suggestion for further study 56
Background to the Study
Political Participation refers to voluntary activities undertaken by the mass public to influence public policy, either directly or by affecting the selection of persons who make policies. Examples of these activities include voting in elections, helping a political campaign, donating money to a candidate or cause, contacting officials, petitioning, protesting, and working with other people on issues. Particular activities cluster into modes of participation (Uhlaner, 2015).
Political Participation, particularly in the electoral process, is a fundamental requirement of representative democracy. This is the reason why Appadorai (2004) argued that where, on account of an atmosphere of fear and coercion, people do not feel free to discuss or vote, democracy cannot be said to exist, even though the other political rights are enjoyed by the people. Sovereignty (2010) identified some of the requirements of democratic rule as at least two party system to give room for freedom of choice; periodic election that is based on universal adult suffrage; free and fair election to allow the political party that has the support of the majority to control the machinery of government and civil liberties such as freedom of association, religion, speech and freedom from arbitrary arrest
Political Participation is the involvement of the citizens in the political system. Eakin cited in Adelekan (2010) described political participation as the process through which the individual plays a role in the political life of his society and has the opportunity to take part in deciding what common goals of the society as well as the best way of achieving these goals.
Falade and Orungbemi (2010) argued that true democratic governance is absent in Nigeria and many parts of Africa. The political culture in Nigeria is characterized by intolerance, intimidation, thuggery, assassination, bitterness, apathy, indolence, money and ethnic politics. As a result of this, the ingredients of democracy have not been able to thrive after many years of political independence in Nigeria.
Political Participation in a democracy can take many forms, ranging from voting for representatives at regular intervals to voting on policies in referenda, forming political groups and engaging in legal or illegal protest. The individuals engaged in such participation likely expect or at least hope that these actions will have some impact on the content of government policies. However, the effects of political participation might not be limited to outcomes. Even political participation at its most passive the act of voting for elected representatives has a clear expected link to policy outcomes: we expect that the different candidates and parties for which citizens vote will advocate, pass, and implement different policies (Weitz-Shapiro & Winters, 2009).
Over the past decades, we have witnessed a growing academic interest in political participation in the established or “old” democracies. Much of this scholarly interest seems to be justified by a concern about declining levels of civic engagement, low electoral turnout, eroding public confidence in the institutions of representative democracy, and other signs of public weariness, skepticism, cynicism and lack of trust in politicians and political parties. In the post-industrial societies, we are told, citizens have become increasingly disengaged from the traditional channels of political participation (Dalton, 2006).
Read Also: DEMOCRACY AND POLITICAL PARTICIPATION IN NIGERIA
The political stability and development of any political system is a function of the awareness and positive involvement of the citizens in civic and political matters. This is the reason why Appadorai (2004) posited that democracy demands from the common man a certain level of ability and character: rational conduct and active participation in the government. In Nigeria, political activities and transition programmes have been marked with turbulence, uncertainties and violence. Right from the First Republic, the Nigerian politics is characterized by greed, love of power, violence, assassination, thuggery and election rigging, power, violence, assassination, thuggery and election rigging. Violence has become synonymous with Nigeria’s political culture such that virtually all elections held so far in the country are violent-ridden (Ojo, 2014).
In a political system, the citizens can be involved in the political process and decision making by joining political party, voting during election, participating in electoral campaign, community affairs and other political activities. The level and pattern of political participation of the citizens determine, to some extent, the success of the political system. In Nigeria, politics is seen by a number of people as a dirty game which must be avoided. This is as a result of the undemocratic tendencies, deception, violence and uncertainties that characterize the political system.
According to Akamare (2003) political participation is an aspect of political behaviour and it focuses on the way in which individuals take part in politics. It is a voluntary activity and one may participate directly or indirectly. The various ways by which the people can be involved in the political system include selection or election of political leaders, formulation of policies, community activities and other civic engagements.
Also, Awolowo and Aluko (2010) stated that the essence of political participation in any society, either civilized or primitive, is to seek control of power, acquisition of power and to influence decision making. Political participation is a means of contributing ones quota to the political system and overall development of the nation. Political participation is one of the fundamental requirements of democratic governance. This is the reason why Adelekan (2010) emphasized that ideally, democracy means individual participation in the decisions that involves one’s life. In a democratic system, there is the necessity for the citizenry to be fully involved in the democratic procedures of the choice of rulers and effective communication of the public policies and attitudes.
Relatedly, Civic Engagement or civic participation is any individual or group activity addressing issues of public concern (Delli, 2016). Civic engagement includes communities working together or individuals working alone in both political and non-political actions to protect public values or make a change in a community. The goal of civic engagement is to address public concerns and promote the quality of the community. Civic engagement “is a process in which people take collective action to address issues of public concern” and is “instrumental to democracy” (Checkoway & Aldana, 2012). Underrepresentation of groups in the government causes issues faced by groups such as minority, low-income, and younger groups to be overlooked or ignored. In turn, issues for higher voting groups are addressed more frequently causing more bills to be passed to fix these problems (Griffin & Newman, 2008)
Civic Engagement refers to the many ways in which people participate in civil society, such as volunteering, belonging to a faith, fraternal, political or community organization, membership in recreational and sports associations, involvement in advocacy campaigns, participating in government (e.g. advisory committees, consultations) and voting. Civic engagement has a rich historical tradition, being descended from social movements, such as those for civil rights, women’s rights, and organized labour (Leighninger, 2010).
Citizen Engagement is based on the idea that people have a right to a say in the decisions that affect their lives and that this is best accomplished through a two-way interaction between government and citizens. True citizen engagement encourages the sharing of power, information and a mutual respect between government and citizens (Leighninger, 2010).
Civic engagement conventionally refers to activities by ordinary citizens that are intended to influence circumstances in society that is of relevance to others, outside their own family and circle of close friends (Adler & Goggin, 2005).
According to Youniss (2002), civic engagement refers to attitudes, behaviors, knowledge and skills that are aimed at improving society and is derived from an interest in improving the common good. Thus, civic engagement can be considered to be a pro-social behaviour, expressed as a connection to the community, a commitment to improving that community, and the act of helping the community (Lerner, 2004).
In general, civic development implies an understanding of how civic society functions and the acquisition of beliefs, competencies, and behaviours that allow citizens to meet, discuss their common problems, and work together to promote their interests (Youniss, 2002). Recent literature has suggested an integrated definition of civic engagement incorporating emotional, cognitive, and behavioral components (see Lenzi et al., 2012)
Statement of the Problem
Young people first and foremost have a fundamental right to participate and engage meaningfully in society. According to Article 12 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, signed by 196 countries, young people have the right to have their voices listened to and taken into account in decisions that affect their lives. This right, alongside other rights outlined in the Convention such as the right to non-discrimination (Article 2) and freedom of expression (Article 13), puts a duty on governments to create an enabling environment for young people to influence decisions and policies that impact them. The 2030 Agenda recognizes that “children and young women and men are critical agents of change and will find in the new Goals a platform to channel their infinite capacities for activism into the creation of a better world. In addition, in a 2013 resolution the United Nations General Assembly urged “Member States and entities of the United Nations System, in consultation with youth-led organizations, to explore avenues to promote full, effective, structured and sustainable participation of young people and youth-led organizations in decision making processes” This resolution was reinforced by the United Nations Human Rights Council in 2016.
Despite these rights, young people still face unequal opportunities for participation and civic engagement. They typically experience a lack of voice and power to make decisions that affect their lives and to create positive social change. This is true across many contexts including the home, education, local communities, work, business and the political sphere. When young people meaningfully engage in decision-making, it improves their problem-solving, negotiation and communication skills, enables them to build better relationships, and leads to policies and decisions that are more likely to address their needs.
Furthermore, given a conducive environment, young people can then use these skills to strengthen civil society, increase accountability of governments and corporations and work towards greater social cohesion. When youth are enabled and supported, their participation and engagement can be a powerful means for them to challenge situations of abuse, injustice and discrimination.
Purpose of the Study
The purpose of this study is to assess political participation and civic engagement of Al- Hikmah University students in Ilorin, Kwara State. Specifically, the study intends to:
- determine level of political participation among Al-Hikmah University students in Ilorin, Kwara State
- examine the level of civic engagement among Al-Hikmah University students in Ilorin, Kwara State
iii. assess the factors affecting political participation among Al-Hikmah University students in Ilorin, Kwara State
- What are the determinant of Political Participation of Al-Hikmah University students in Ilorin, Kwara State?
- What are the determinant of Civic Engagement of Al-Hikmah University students in Ilorin, Kwara State?
- There is no significant difference in the level of political participation of Al-Hikmah University students in Ilorin, Kwara State on the basis of gender
- There is no significant difference in the level of civic engagement of Al-Hikmah University students in Ilorin, Kwara State on the basis of gender.
Significance of the study
The significance of the study is justified by the fact that the findings could help to provide resource materials for many that want to have deeper knowledge about the perceived factors influencing political participation and civic engagement among Al-Hikmah university students. The people that will benefit are: lecturers, counsellors, parents, teachers and to the general public.
The study would enable lecturers and teachers identify the factors influencing political participation and civic engagement among al-hikmah university students. This would help them reduce the prevalence of deviant behaviours among students in the universities and help both the lecturers and the counsellors on how to educate their students and the society at large.
It would also help to inform the general public on the factors influencing political participation and civic engagement among male and female of al-Hikmah university students.
The findings would also serve as a source of useable literature on the factors that influences civic engagement and political participation.
Scope of the study
The study focused on political participation and civic engagement among al-hikmah university students in Ilorin kwara state. The research sample drawn from Ilorin metropolis. The research instruments used to collect data is questionnaire titled ‘Political Participation and Civic Engagement Questionnaire’. The analysis of data collected were limited to percentage and Pearson Product Moment Correlation (PPMC) at 0.05 alpha level.
Operational Definition of Terms
Political Participation: This is a process which provides private individuals an opportunity to influence public decisions and to be a component of the democratic decision making process.
Civic Engagement: This refers to the ways in which citizens participate in the life of a community in order to improve conditions for others or to help shape the community future into a better one
Democracy: This is a form of government in which people exercise their power either direct or through representative, this believe in freedom and equality among the citizens of the state.
Political activities: This includes:
Voting: This is an act or instance in participating in such a choice.
Political Campaign: this is a series of operations undertaken to achieve the stated goals
Political Rallies : This is a demonstration an event where people gather together to protest for or against a given cause.
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