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Pakistan Journal of Social Sciences
Year: 2010 | Volume: 7 | Issue: 3 | Page No.: 279-286
DOI: 10.3923/pjssci.2010.279.286  
The Febuary 6, 2010 Gubernatorial Election in Anambra State (Nigeria): A Study in Political Behavior
M. Ikenna Alumona
Abstract: Elections remain an important source of understanding the political system because electoral activities form the most crucial aspect of political participation. Against this background this study using a combination of descriptive survey design and secondary data examined the Feb 6, 2010 gubernatorial election in Anambra State, Nigeria. The study reveals that a proper understanding of the interplay of power and forces during the election draws attention to the following salient positions. First, although the election was marred with minor irregularities which resulted to low participation in the election, the electoral outcome still represented the wishes of the electorate. Second, beyond the rhetoric of the campaigns by the political parties and the forces of machine politics, the electorate was guided mainly by issues in their choice of candidates during the election. Thirdly, the management of the electoral process which was also found to be qualitatively poor led to the exclusion of many citizens from participating in the election. To facilitate the emergence of a virile electoral system, the study recommends the need for a general reorientation and mobilization of the electorate to have faith in the electoral process. This requires that efforts should be made at the National level to implement the proposed electoral reforms which many Nigerians see as the key to democratic renewal.


Elections occupy an indispensable position in the political process of democratic states. They represent the main processes through which the people exercise their constituent power and sovereignty and also decide at periodic intervals who get what, how and why (Alumona, 2007).

The period of election is also the most exciting one in any political system because of the numerous interesting activities that takes place within the period. Such activities include political meetings and discussions, electioneering campaigns, rallies, life and media debates, etc. Underscoring the importance of such electoral activities, Mackenzie (1972), Ekeh (1989) have declared that no human observer can ever grasp the whole life of a political system in action but more can be learnt in a space of about three months during an election than in any comparable period. Electoral activities therefore remain the most crucial way of understanding the political behavior of any given political community.

Elections in Nigeria have been problematic and have been characterized by different forms of electoral fraud. This has in the past contributed to the break down of the democratic order. While a good account of Nigeria’s electoral history has been recently provided by Nnadozie (2007), a good review of electoral fraud and the different dimensions it has taken also has been provided by Adekanye (1999). Here it is enough to point out that despite the demand and need to use elections as a means of democratic consolidation, the reports of the most two recent general elections in Nigeria (i.e., the 2003 and 2007 elections) point to the fact that Nigerian elections are still far below the basic international and regional standards for democratic elections.

The Anambra State gubernatorial election that took place on Feb 6, 2010 provided a unique opportunity for inhabitants of the State to once again participate in electoral activities which as we pointed out earlier provide adequate insights to understanding political behaviour. The Election was unique in many respects which we intend to demonstrate later. The basic concern of this study is to examine the Feb 6, 2010 gubernatorial election in Anambra state with a view to understand the political behavior of the inhabitants of the state.

Problem statement, objectives and justifications: Anambra state is one of the thirty six constituent units of the Nigerian Federation. It is located at the South-Eastern part of the country. The State which has a total population of four million, one hundred and eight two thousand and thirty two persons according to the results of the last 2006 controversial national population census is divided into 31 local government areas and three senatorial districts. Electoral politics in the state since Nigeria returned to democratic rule in May 29, 1999 has attracted attention for various reasons. Prominent among them is the politics of godfatherism or machine politics which before now appeared to have taken over the power of the electorate to participate in politics. Between 1999 and early 2006, the citizens of Anambra had witnessed the erosion of the principles of democracy and the rule of law by a few cabal of political elites. Specifically, the events of the battle for supremacy and control of government between elected governors and their erstwhile godfathers is worth recalling. As Governor Chinwoke Mbadinuju struggled with Chief Emeka Ofor as a result of Mbadinuju’s refusal to keep to the terms of their agreement before producing him as Governor, primary schools were shut down for close to 1 year, pensioners were not paid, infrastrural development was neglected and civil servants were also not paid. Between 2004 and 2006, the state was again thrown into confusion as Governor Chris Ngige struggled with his entranged godfather Chief Chris Uba following the refusal of Ngige to keep to the terms of their agreement before producing him as governor. At a stage in the political imbroglio, Chief Chris Uba himself boasted of how he single handedly funded the campaign of Dr. Chris Ngige for Governor and that of all members of the House of Assembly and also got them elected into office. These events as Ibeanu (2007) has pointed out significantly contributed to the devaluation of the votes. It was against this background that Mr. Peter Obi the rightful winner of the April 2003 gubernatorial election assumed office on March 17, 2006 after struggling for three to regain his mandate. Mr.Peter Obi’s inauguration as Governor also met serious opposition from reactionary forces in Anambra politics. As reported by Ibeanu (2007) by Nov 2006, Mr. Peter Obi was impeached in the wee hours of one morning by a depleted House of Assembly that suspended most of its members and gave a new mathematical twist to the two-third majority needed to impeach a Governor. The events surrounding Mr. Peter Obi’s impeachment brought to fore the class interest of a few political elite in the state. It was after the court declared the impeachment unconstitutional and Obi assumed office that majority of the people got disenchanted with the interplay of power and interest existing in the state. People now appear to be interested in the affairs of the government and to demand for their right to participate in politics. This was the atmosphere that ushered in the 2010 gubernatorial election. The behavioral change manifested clearly in the events leading to the election. This was evidenced in the massive turnout of citizens in the campaigns of the different parties, the level of political awareness and the high turnout of individuals contesting for the election. Although, the election was marred with irregularities such as the late arrival of voting materials in some areas and the inability of large percentage of the electorate to find their names in the voters register, the election was said to be peaceful and has been adjudged free and fair (Oyebode, 2010). In the context of the above issues, the study is guided by two basic research questions: what is the level of political participation in the process of the Feb 6, 2010 gubernatorial election? What factors were behind the behaviour of the electorate during the election? Pursuant to the above, the study is premised on the assumptions that:

There was popular participation by the electorate in the election
Despite the rhetoric of the campaigns by the political parties and the forces of machine politics, the electorate was guided mainly by issues in their choice of candidates during the election

Flowing from the foregoing, the study examined the level of participation in Anambra state during the electoral process and also identified the factors that influenced the behaviour of the electorate.

Although a lot has been said about the elections especially in the mass media, yet we believe that a scientific evaluation of the election is worthwhile because it provides an ample opportunity to understand the political behaviour of the people. This further provides insight to discovering and interpreting political behaviour in the south-eastern part of Nigeria. More specifically, the study contributes to the ongoing discussions on elections and democratic consolidation in Nigeria. Evidently, the study reveals how a vibrant electorate could put a stop to the phenomenon of machine politics which seems to stand in the way of democratic consolidation in Nigeria. These underscore the justifications of the study. In the next section an attempt is made to clarify the central concepts of elections and political behaviour.

Conceptual clarification:
The concept of election:
The importance of election to the emergence, growth and consolidation of democracy cannot be ignored nor over emphasized. As Mackenzie (1972) argues, elections are rituals of choice their binding character being derived from the participation of the individual as a chooser in a social act which confers legitimate authority on the person chosen. Mackenzie also points out the uniqueness of what he calls a free election. A free election as defined by Mackenzie in Post (1963) is one with a sentiment of popular consent and participation in public affairs which allows for the peaceful transfer of authority to new rulers when the time comes for the old rulers to go. This implies that not all elections are free. According to Mackenzie, these four conditions must be in place before an election will be called free:

First an independent judiciary to interpret electoral law, secondly an honest complement, non-partisan administration to run elections; thirdly, a developed system of political parties, well enough organized to put their policies, tradition and team of candidates before the electors as alternatives between which to choose; fourthly, a general acceptance throughout the political community of certain rather vague rules of the game which limit the struggle for power because of some unspoken sentiment that if the rules are not observed more or less faithfully the game itself will amid the wreckage of the whole system.

Nohlen (1996) has also taken a critical look at the concept of election. According to him, an election which simply is a procedure by which members of communities and/or organization choose representatives to hold an office can take place in different political systems. His idea of the usefulness and significance of election is influenced by the fact he believes that elections can take place in democratic, authoritarian and totalitarian political systems. He holds the view that: first in a democratic system, elections are competitive. Voters are allowed to choose freely between different options. Election forms the basis for the concept of liberal democracy. This is because the governing political elite must be chosen by election. So in this context, elections which involve open competition between social forces and political groups serve as a source of legitimacy for the political system and a fundamental form of political participation. In a democratic system as Nohlen (1996) makes us to understand, election may function as an act through which the electorate expresses its trust in the person elected, chooses it representatives and controls the government of the day by getting them re-elected or defeated at the polls.

Secondly in authoritarian systems, elections are semi competitive because there are various kinds of restrictions which limit the opportunity and freedom to vote. In such systems, elections do not call into question the existing power relations and are only meant to confirm the existing power structure because significant changes do not take place after the election (Nohlen, 1996). Within an authoritarian system, election perform the following functions

It attempts to legitimize the existing power structure
It attempts to gain an improve reputation vis-à-vis foreign countries
It allow the manifestation (and partial integration) of the political opposition and it adjusts the power structure in order to stabilize the system

Thirdly in totalitarian political systems, elections are non-competitive. The defunct socialist countries of the dissolved soviet block are a good example of a political system where non-competitive elections were used by the leaders as an instrument of control and domination over the population. For Marxist-Leninists, non competitive elections in trying to serve the goals of supporting socialist development, performs the following functions:

The mobilization of all social forces
The elucidation of the criteria of communist policy
Strengthening the political and moral unity of the people

In his own study, Nnoli defined an election as the process of choice agreed upon by a group of people. It enables them to select one or few people out of many to occupy one or a number of authority positions. This process of choice usually involves rules and regulation designed to ensure a certain degree of fairness and justice to all concerned. Nnoli also believes that election are so fundamentally tied to the survival of democracy that they remain the important indicator of the presence or absence of democracy. Nnoli like Nohlen also believes that elections can take place in different political system. He lists bourgeois and proletarian democracies as the different political systems in which the nature of election varies. In Bourgeois democracies, the electoral process permits opposing forces to attempt to dispose and replace current office holders. While in proletarian democracies, the electoral process does not permit opposition parties. What happens is that the election is used as a tool for mobilizing the people and providing legitimacy for the incumbent regime.

According to Nnoli, certain basic elements must be present whenever there is an election irrespective of the context of the election. These basic elements are:

An element of choice that is the electors must have an option to choose from
The independence of electors in making their choice
A selection must take place

Nnoli also pointed out the various functions of elections among which are:

Elections serve the function of political recruitment
Elections ensure that popular influence and state power coexist
Elections provide opportunities to the citizenry at large to renew it’s faith in and commitment to democracy
Elections act as a conduit through which the people can hold their elected representatives accountable
Elections provide both ruler and the ruled an opportunity to take stock of political leadership and policy-making through a critical assessment electrol platforms and manifests

The concept of political behavior: The concept of political behavior is coined form two words namely politics and behavior. It refers as often to a set of methods or research perspectives namely the scientific study or politics as to a subject of study that is human behavior in a political context (Suberu, 1991). Political behavior as a methodological approach to the study of politics effectively emerged after the second world war as a kind of protest movement by some political scientist based mainly in the united states of America against the historical-philosophical and descriptive institutional orientation of traditional political studies. The political behavior approach basically introduced two major elements to the study of politics. First was the emphasis on the political behavior of the individual person as the central and crucial unit of political analysis and the basic building block of scientific study of political science. Second was the emphasis on the scientific study of politics which allows for empirical verification through the use of sophisticated research methods.

As used in this study, political behavior is a subject of study that unravels the mystery of why and how we do what we do in politics (Nwanegbo, 2008) that is human behavior in a political context. Thus studies in political behavior sets out to unravel certain fundamental questions such as: why do citizens participate in elections? What reasons are behind the formation of political parties and pressure groups which provides the platform for political participation and socialization? Why also do some citizens abstain from voting during elections? Why do people participate in politics? In attempt to find answers to such questions, the behavioral approach is concerned with the building of sophisticated analytical models, the use of quantitative techniques or statistical models and the collection of large empirical data sets.

Stemming from the foregoing, it should be noted that most of the above questions serve as the guide in the attempt to capture the political behaviors of Anambra citizens during the 2010 gubernatorial election. They are also well reflected in the methodology.


Data for this study was collected mainly through descriptive survey design. This was necessary so as to be able to capture the entire domain of the study. Consequently, both primary and secondary sources of data collection were explored. Primary source of data was the questionnaire instrument and in depth interview. The questionnaire instrument enabled us to elicit information on the problematic which the study sets out to address. The questionnaire instrument was structured along the close-ended format and administered in such a way that made it fairly representative of all shades of opinion, interest and groups across the state. This was complemented with in-depth interview with some prominent actors in the politics of the state. Specifically, interviews were conducted with Chief. Sir. Ndubuisi Nwobu the State Chairman of Action Congress, Chief Ifeanyi Ugboaja an Ogbaru Local government Chieftain of All Progressive Grand Alliance, Dr.Mike Aghadiuno the Deputy Governor aspirant of the Peoples Progressive Alliance and Sir. Prince Emma Odunze the Deputy Governor aspirant of African Democratic Change. Secondary sources of data include information retrieved from journals, newspapers, magazines, etc.

The study covered the entire state which is made of 21 local governments and three senatorial districts namely: Anambra North, Anambra South and Anambra Central. A sample size of four hundred was originally selected. The choice of 400 as sample size is informed by the Consideration of some human and financial factors (Obasi, 1996). Also considering the homogenous composition of the state, the belief is that a sample of 400 is large, representative and reliable enough to allow us make generalization.

In constituting the sample we operationalized the indigenes of the state to include every person who is resident in the state irrespective of whether they are indigenes of the state or not. Since the state is inhabited mainly by Igbos who are mostly Christians, religion and tribe are taken as constants. The study adopted the multi-stage sampling method which involves sampling in successive stages such that at each stage selection is made using any of the known probability sampling methods (Biereenu-Nnabugwu, 2006). In the first stage, the study adopted the stratified sampling technique to get respondents from the three senatorial districts in the State. This was to ensure a fair representation of all shades of opinion, interest and groups in the state. This could have been lost to the chance factor (Obasi, 1996). In using the stratified sampling technique, the study further adopted the disproportional stratified sampling technique in the sense that the numerical strength of the senatorial districts were not considered in their representation into the sample (Biereenu-Nnabugwu, 2006). Thus in the distribution Anambra North senatorial district got 140, Anambra South got 140 and Anambra Central got 120.

At the second stage to easily reach the respondents the study adopted the purposive sampling technique and selected one major town from each of the senatorial districts. So Onitsha was picked from Anambra North, Nnewi from Anambra South and Awka from Anambra Central. The choice of these major towns is also based on two major reasons. First, there seems to be a high concentration of people in these towns. Secondly, they occupy important positions in the socio economic and political setting of the state.

At the third stage in each of the selected towns, the systematic sampling technique was adopted. We concentrated in the major areas and picked the respondents from there. In each street we started with the first house skipped a number of houses and settled on the 10th house. We continued thus until got all the required respondents from the central areas.

The presentation and analysis of data were carried out using both descriptive qualitative and quantitative methods. While qualitative analysis was merely descriptive and theoretical, the quantitative method employed appropriate statistical tools particularly frequency distribution and simple percentages.

It suffices to note that the study suffers some limitations. First the study suffered slow rate of response from respondents. This affected the duration of the study. Yet at the end of the exercise were not able to retrieve all the questionnaires given to the respondents. Out of the 400 questionnaires distributed, only 368 were returned. Second, the study also suffered from shortage of finance. No doubt a study of this nature requires enough funding for a comprehensive study. Thirdly was the unwillingness of the staff of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to release some basic information needed for the study. It must be pointed out that spirited efforts were made to address some of these problems. For example we have to reply on newspapers to get the election result when INEC officials were not forthcoming in releasing the document. Also, the 1 week holiday given by Anambra state University before the election enabled the researcher to have more time to address some of the problems. It also allowed the researcher the opportunity to engage some students who assisted in the fieldwork.


Characteristics of the study population: The study draws all its respondents from residents of Anambra state. With a target of 400 sample size, 368 respondents however returned the questionnaire. The respondents were distributed among the three senatorial districts in the state. The breakdown is such that Anambra Central Senatorial zone had 136 representing 37.0%, Anambra North had 79 representing 21.5% and Anambra South 153 representing 41.5%.

By sex, 60.9% were male while 39.1% are female. The reason behind the low representation of female respondents is not far fetched. At least it follows old pattern of political activism/participation whereby women tend to exhibit low level of involvement in political activities particularly in the third world countries.

In terms of age, the respondents were distributed as follows: 44.1% fell between 18-29 years, 25.8% fell between 30-39 years,16.8% fell between 40-49 years while 13.3% were 50 years and above.

In terms of Christian denomination, Roman Catholics accounted for 54.9% while Anglicans constituted 26.6% of the study population. Christians of the Pentecostal variant accounted for 18.5%. On marital Status, 57.3% were single while 42.7% were married.

Understanding the Feb 2010 gubernatorial election: The election was unique in two main respects. It was the first time in the history of the State that a sitting Governor was re-elected into office. Secondly, the election marked a fundamental turning point in Nigeria’s electoral history in the sense that it was the first time a state within the federation held its gubernatorial election outside the nation’s general electoral timetable.

To place the election in the right perspective which is what this section of this study sets out to achieve, a few points has to be repeated. The entire electoral process starting from the registration of voters through the conduct of the primaries of the different parties to the conduct of the election itself left much to be desired.

Table 1: Public perception of 2010 electoral process in Anambra state

There were serious allegations of an institutionalized process of manipulation which manifested in the appearance of fakeitious names in the voters register and the diversion of electoral materials meant for the election (Alli, 2010).

Many of the party primaries were also said to have taken place in non-transparent processes. Yet despite all these complaints, the prevailing political culture in the state could arguably be described as participant in nature.

There were several forums for debates for the parties and their candidates. There was massive turnout of voters on the Election Day even though many could not vote because of lack of accurate voters list. The election was also a strong contest among the political parties as twenty five out of the fifty three in Nigeria all presented candidates for the election (Anyanwu and Mmadubueze, 2010).

Informed by the general problem and objectives stated from the outset, the survey instrument was designed so as to capture the forces behind the interplay of forces during the election. To properly achieve this we posed some questions to the respondents. First we wanted to find out the feelings of the electorate about the electoral process. We therefore asked the question: How did you perceive politics during the 2010 Electoral Process in Anambra State?

Table 1 shows that two hundred and thirty-two 232 electorate respondents representing 63.0% agreed that the electoral process of the February 6, 2010 gubernatorial election in the state was a true means of selecting leaders of the government. This implies that they had faith in the electoral system.

Also, 59 respondents representing 16% perceived that the election process was a bundle of fruitless exercise sponsored by the political elites in the state and that it does not reflect through exercise of one’s franchise hence, no true democracy. Other respondents, 77 in number representing 21% did not indicate their stand on the effectiveness of the electoral process. The role of the people in the electoral process is underscored by the reasoning that participation in politics is an ingredient of every polity and that the right to participate is an essential element of democratic governance (Mcclosky, 1972).

Table 2: Participated activities by the electorate

Table 3: Total number of votes during the election

Elsewhere we have also argued that political participation gives the people the opportunity to determine the nature of their political existence in the society (Alumona, 2000). According to McClosky (1972), political participation refers to those voluntary activities by which members of a society share in the selection of rulers and directly or indirectly in the formation of public policy.

These voluntary activities include: voting, seeking information, discussing political issues, enrolling formally in a party, canvassing and registering voters, speech writing and speech making, working in campaigns and competing for public and party office. Flowing from this premise, we decided to find out the extent the electorate in the state were actually part of the electoral process. First, we asked them to indicate the political activity in which they took part during the electoral process. Second, we asked specifically whether they voted or not during the election. The reason is that voting remains the commonest form of political participation for most citizens. The response to these two questions is shown in Table 2 and 3.

As shown in above Table 2, majority of the respondents participated in discussing political issues. The total number of people in this category was 187 representing 50.9%. By implication it is not all the electorate that have direct membership with any party; neither do they engage in serious campaign nor attend party rallies. But majority of them only engage in political discussion.

As Table 3 shows, about 174 respondents which represents 47.3% voted in the immediate past gubernatorial election in Anambra state while 52.7% of the respondents which represents 194 respondents did not vote during the election. By implication there are many people who abstained from voting during the election. The findings as indicated in Table 3 further confirms the widely held belief reported in the mass media that there was low turnout of voters in the election. According to media reports, out of the 1,884,815 that registered only 301,232 voted. While 284,547 votes were valid, 16,685 votes were voided (among others: the nation, Feb 8, 2010:13-14, the nation, Feb 7, 2010:6).

Table 4: Determinants of candidate choice during the election

Table 5: Reasons for political apathy

Table 6: Factors analysis of Apga’s 2010 electoral success

The literature on voting behaviour is dominated with several factor(s) that affect voting behaviour. Different theoretical models have also been formulated to explain why people vote in a particular way. While we do not intend to do a detailed analysis of the issue of voting behaviour which is already in the literature (Miler, 1992) in the context of the 2010 gubernatorial election we sought answers to two main questions. First what factors influenced the choice of those who voted in the election? Second what factors were also behind the abstinence of majority of the electorate? Thirdly, what factor(s) were behind the victory of the ruling all peoples grand alliance in the election? The responses we got from the respondents are shown in Table 4-6, respectively.

The Table 4 above shows that candidate’s image/record/personality was the major determining factor behind the choice of the electorate during the election. The total number of people who responded to it out of those who voted as shown in Table 3 was 91 respondents which represents 52.3%. Apart from candidate’s personality/image, community interest was another important factor in election. It ranked second with 34 respondents. Religious interest and party consideration were not dominant factors during the election. The dominance of candidate’s image/personality in the choice of the candidates brings to fore the fact that the electorate in the state is no longer comfortable with the forces of party and machine politics which before the election of the incumbent Governor have contributed to political crisis in the State. This position appears more acceptable when juxtaposed with the widely held proposition that party identification is the principal determinant of voting behaviour as citizens are largely supportive of the political parties (Suberu, 1991).

Table 5 shows that out of 194 who did not cast their vote during the election, 64 respondents which represents 34.0% asserted that their abstinence from voting was basically their personal decision. As indicated in the Table 5 above most people were disenfranchised because of reasons that were connected to the management of the election.

This Table 5 shown that the incumbent regime prior to the election performed well as asserted by the respondents. From the analysis above, this single factor accounted for 37.5%. This position supports the findings of another recent study. According to Nwanegbo (2010), since 1999 the administration of the incumbent Governor has performed better than the other regimes in the area of governance and human security. Associated with this factor was the on-going crisis in PDP where many people decamped to other parties as well. Many people are also tired of the undemocratic attitudes of PDP for a long time now. Yet others asserted that the election was rigged in favor of the incumbent regime.


Electoral politics in Anambra state: Sustaining the new political culture. In the context of liberal democracy which has been embraced by most parts of the world since the wake of globalization and democratization, it has been accepted that the conduct of free and fair multi-party elections is a necessary condition for democratic consolidation (Diamond, 1999; Schedlers, 1998). It is through the mechanism of the electoral process that legitimacy which is a necessary instrument for maintaining law and order is sought and obtained by those who aspire to control the machinery of government.

Although, the travails of electoral politics in Nigeria has not been conducive for democratic renewal and democratic consolidation because of both institutional and experiential deficits (Agbaje and Adejumobi, 2006), the recent events in Anambra state as we have already pointed out earlier in this study, points to the fact that all hope is not lost. As manifested in the events of the election the emerging political culture of one man one vote appears to be taking a firm root among the people of the state. This is conditioned by an environment of high level of political awareness. This is a welcomed development but it requires that adequate steps and measures have to be taken in order to ensure sustainability. This cannot be achieved in an environment where the electoral system is not conducive for participation.


This study therefore recommends that serious efforts should be made to orientate and socialize the electorate into the culture of democracy since democracy requires a distinctive set of values and orientation from the citizens (Diamond, 1999). To achieve this, it requires that efforts should be made at the national level to hasten the implementation of the proposed electoral reforms which is widely accepted by most Nigerians as the key to sustainable democracy in Nigeria.


The researcher’s M.Sc Thesis entitled: The 2003 General Elections in Oyo State: A Study in Political behaviour. Department of Political Science, University of Ibadan provided the ideas on which this study is built. Researcher wish to acknowledge with thanks, the help of Professor Rotimi Suberu, who painstakingly supervised the thesis. I also want to appreciate Professors Elo Amucheazi and Israel Okoye for their wise Counsels and Constant encouragement. To my wife Amaka and students who assisted in the field work, I am also grateful. I am however responsible for any errors or omissions.