POLITICAL EDUCATION AND POLITICAL PARTICIPATION OF CITIZEN IN A DEMOCRATIC SYSTEM IN UYO LOCAL GOVERNMENT AREA OF AKWA IBOM STATE
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- Background of the Study
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.
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). Although the Nigerian general election which was held in 2011 was relatively peaceful, however, it was also marked with some irregularities. According to Okpi (2011), although the national assembly election held on Saturday, April 9 2011 has been appraised by many as successful, some cases of malpractices and violence recorded across the country threaten to dim light on democratic progress. During the election, there were reported cases of underage voting, distribution of money at polling centres, manipulation of voters’ register, diversion of electoral materials, ballot box snatching, unlawful possession of firearms and other electoral offences. This political scenario engendered lukewarm political attitude and participation among citizens. These among many other factors may be attributed to lack of political education of the citizenry.
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 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 that political system. These menace could only be curbed through political education.
Whether we call it political education or civic education they do not involve contradictions in themselves indeed, in the German education system, the two are written together: Political/Civic Education. Yet the concept of political education is very apt and more encompassing. Apart from stating explicitly that a preparation of the young ones for life in the society must deal in context with political matters, it also encapsulates, non-formal ways of orienting or even re-orienting the citizenry for a better policy through more and better involvement in the nation’s life. Above all, political education need not even be a separate discipline. This is because any course or discipline can be given political flavour, political content.
Political education in a democracy like ours is education for democracy. A basic problem confronting the Nigerian Nation today is the effective participation of the people in matters affecting them. Participation is a factor of multiple variables that implicates involvement in decision-making process, implementation of made decisions, monitoring the entire process (Nwankwo, 2003). Compared with the past, particularly the immediate post independent Nigeria, there appear today to be a sullen withdrawal from political life. This can be very controversial but the fact remains that today, more than in the past, apathy, selfishness and above all powerlessness are key factors that can best be used to described citizen’s political life in Nigeria. Indeed, it is the apathy of the people that stood in the way of massive citizen’s revolt over the last two decades while selfishness stands in the way of political commitment. As to the later, there is today a culture of every man to himself, which pervades even those who occupy public positions. The last election in Nigeria sufficiently explain powerlessness. Everyone felt a loss of power, and feels a loss of power about government activities with the saying “people like me don’t have much to say about what government does’ yet government is said to be that of the people and by the people”. These factors have had multiple negative implications: the breakdown of trust in indifference and even hostility to government and its activities. Others include high level corruption, basing of political activity on childish greed, selfishness and domination instead of on grown up awareness of the inherent requirement of peace and mutual co-existence, lawfulness, jungle justice etc. All these, which spell disaster for the Nigerian society while in the interim serving the best interest of the ruling minority, are challenges of political education.
As noted earlier, political education is a process of preparing especially the young ones for the socio-political world in which they grow into so that they will be able to be useful to themselves and contribute meaningfully to the growth and development of the Nigerian state. If we translate this into practical terms, the agenda are that of getting the people to take part in their government, to assume their responsibilities of contributing to the development of the society, to make of them aware of their rights, to provide them with the encouragement to defend their rights without fear and thus struggle against impositions and domination of a few privileged; to harness and tap the latent forces in the people; to make them see politics as an essential aspect of the entire social fabric; to make them less vulnerable to undue influences in the political process, etc. These are issues immediately communicable in the idea of political education in the context of Nigeria. These could be achieved through such avenues as:
Class room teaching of civic education, government and social studies, parental discussion of politics in the family, mass media, electronic/print media, weekly political debates on radio/television, group discussion among students and politicians, government delivery of social services, membership of political parties, involvement in party rallies and campaigns, political conferences, symposia and seminars, activities of friends/peer group, party manifestoes and not through mere political propaganda of occasional jingles, media broadcast, caravan shows, lessons and political propaganda which are often used to replace real political education, which in addition to lessons and verbal arguments must also be action and model based.
Political education is a slow, systematic and continuous process of orientation and re-orientation in premise and goal. It progresses to whole hearted acceptance and internalization of a new set of values affecting the individuals as well as the social groups, day in day out and practically every sphere of activity. Here, the family, the school, churches/mosques and other relevant institutions have roles to play. The individual and the group are the two key pillars of democracy. Build them and democracy is built. It is these two key levels that constitute the frame for looking at the nation’s efforts, and perhaps rethinking the mission and replanning strategies of political education.
- Statement of Problem
Despite all effort and strategies used by government at different time to ensure proper participation of the people in politics, especially in this era of democracy, it is widely observed in Uyo Local Government that the level of political participation among the people is still very low, highly primitive and parochial. Their perception of politics, voting rights, economic and above all, respect for the institution of the state, is still very discouraging. It is as a result of this ugly trend that this research is carried out to investigate whether there exist a correlation between political education and their level of political participation.
- Purpose of the Study
The main purpose of the study is to investigate whether there exist any correlation between political education and political participation of citizen in a democratic system in Uyo Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State. Specifically, this is designed to:
- Examine the relationship between citizens’ political education and their political participation in a democratic system.
- Find out the relationship between political behaviour and the political participation of the educated people.
- Examine the relationship between political education and the bahaviour of uneducated people in terms of political participation.
- Research Questions
- To what extent does political education influence the political participation of citizens in Uyo Local Government Area?
- To what extent does political education influence citizens behaviour towards political participation?
- Do people of high knowledge of politics participate more than those with lesser knowledge?
- Research Hypothesis
- There is no significant relationship between political education and political participation of citizens in Uyo Local Government Area.
- There is no significant relationship between political education and the behaviour of educated citizens in terms of political participation.
- There is no significant relationship between political education and the behaviour of uneducated citizens in terms of political participation.
- Significance of the Study
The end result of the research shall be of immense important to so many people. First, it will be very useful to curriculum planners as they will see it as a guide to re-evaluate the existing course on civic education to the real practice of politics. The result will also be useful to Uyo Local Government politicians as it will help to change their wrong assumption of the actual practice of politics and approach it with genuine and proper type of attitude as in developed societies.
Furthermore, it will help our community leaders, Local Government stakeholder to emphasize much on education to combat illiteracy and improve the peoples’ awareness on political events at both Local and National Level.
Finally, the research will be of immense important to the serious minded citizens of Uyo Local Government as it will unveil to them, the need for education as that will equally help them to develop socio-economically and politically, thereby helping them participate effectively in politics as one of their national and civic responsibilities.
- Delimitation of the Study
This study is delimited to political education and political participation of citizens. The study is carried out on citizens of Uyo Local Government Area in Akwa Ibom State.
- Assumptions of the Study
- It is assumed that political education does not interfere or influence political participation of citizens in Uyo Local Government Area.
- It could be assumed that citizens participate equally in politics irrespective of their level of education.
- It could be assumed that citizens involvement in group discussions, membership of political parties and involvement in political rallies has no effect in their behaviour towards politics.
- Definition of Terms
The various terms used in this work are operationally defined here as follows:-
This refers to a system of government where people exercise their governing power either directly or through representatives periodically elected by them.
This has to do with the process of transmitting the norms, values and culture of the society from one generation to another. This could be formal and informal.
- Political Education
The process of transferring the political values from one time to time such that people become aware of the political process.
- Political Participation
This has to do with the involvement of citizens in the political process of their nation.
- Voter Education
This has to do with the process of sensitizing voters to make well informed decision about an impending election, knowledgeable and enthusiastic about the electoral process.
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