Frank – Collins Okafor Ph.D
Department of Political Science,
Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka
Anambra State, Nigeria
Email: email@example.com Tel: +2348035004614
Udochukwu Onyekachukwu .A. Ogbaji M.Sc
Department of Political Science
Nwafor Orizu College of Education, Nsugbe
Anambra State, Nigeria.
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Tel: +2348033486531
This study is on the application of Locke’s social contract theory, hinged on the cornerstone of popular consent to the explanation of political development in Bayelsa State within the year under review. The objective of this study was to establish a nexus between consent and the nature of political orientations and the level of political development in Bayelsa State. The study tested the hypothesis that there is a significant relationship between the level of development of political institutions in Bayelsa State and the lack of consent and the subjective orientations of the people. Our findings show that the lack of consent which leads to the absence of a popular mandate, the subjective orientations arising thereof and the low levels of specialization and functionality of political institutions contributes to the problem of political development in Bayelsa State. That is, the absence of popular consensus, the prevailing subjective orientations of the people arising from the failure of successive governments to meet their expectations and their cognitions about the political process is responsible for the low level of functionality of political institutions and as such stalls the political development of the state. We recommend, amongst others that the civil society organizations in Bayelsa state should actively engage in an aggressive issue-based voter education and make adequate preparations for monitoring elections in the state as a way of protecting and promoting the viability of democratic institutions and protecting the public mandate expressed by the ballot.
Background of the Study
The social contract is an implied agreement by which people form nations and maintain a social order. That is, this contact create the state which exist to improve order with the aim of maintaining security, well-being and freedom of man (Ibaba, 2004: 100) Of note is the common position that runs through the postulation of the social contract theories. That the emergence and development of political society is given impetus by the common consent of men to provide for the inadequacies of the existing objective patterns of social relation found in the state of nature; a situation characterized by the absence of codified laws and institutional processes of political relations.
Thus, in the state of nature, men enter into a social contract that creates the state which forms the cradle for its political development. Interestingly, though Marxists do not anchor the political development of the state on a social contract, they see the political development of the state as arising from consent and the collective will to solve the inherent contradictions in social relations (Tubodenyefa, 2010: 9).
Implied in the above is the notion that the development and viability of the institutions of government take rook from tacit or explicit consent of all.
Accordingly, it can be explained that, that which shape development and viability of the political institutions of the state is the consent of the individuals in it. Political institutions of a political community take the form which the consent of majority affects it. According to Locke,
…that which (shapes) any community being
only the consent of the individuals in it, it is
necessary the body should move whither the
greater force carries it which is the consent
of the majority (Locke, 1960: vii, section 96).
At this point, we should not lose sight of the fact that in modern democratic government, this majority consent is given through elections which still remain the basis for popular sovereignty. In other words, elections have come to serve as the medium for the contract which embodies the majority consent that gives government the mandate to move society to develop politically.
Taking reference from the above, the nature of development of political Institutions in Bayelsa State can be explained with a link to the existence of a common will or a contract that supposedly confines the government to operate within the space of political actions based on consent and collective will.
Our interest in this study thus arises from the need to investigate the link between consent as expressed in the nature of elections in Bayelsa State and the existing realities on the nature of political institutions as a means of explaining the political development of the state.
Statement of Problem
Obviously, political development, like other development processes, is centered on man and the political institution he builds to move society forward. As such, it is man’s deliberate efforts that shape his attitudes and the values he places in conforming to the required norms and codes of those institutions. It is in this light that we begin to question existing political realities in Bayelsa State.
So far, since the state creation exercise of 1996 that saw the emergence of Bayelsa as a political entity, we have witnessed four successive general elections which have ushered in governments who supposedly emerged through popular consent.
But from a critical analysis of the Bayelsa situation, there seems to be a divorce between emergence of governments and popular consent; a triangular gap between existing and professed institutions of government, political orientations of the inhabitants and corresponding participatory antecedents that go with these institutions, taking that a politically developed society is one that is structured on a virile civil society, an active political culture and a sound political socialization machinery.
As mentioned earlier, the election of a government into power pre-supposes a contract between it and the electorate, where there exists a genuine contract between the government and the people of Bayelsa State the government obligation should be to ensure the development and viability of the political institution of the State. But contrary to this expectation, existing realities shows that successive government in the state have operated and continue to operate without recourse to the collective will which reinforces the seeming lack of participation on the part of the populace in the political processes which expresses itself in the failure of the government in the state to initiate viable development programmes. A situation, which further distances the people from the government which is supposed to represent supposed to represent their collective will and as such ensure the political development of the state, and by extension ensure the security, well-being and freedom of the state.
Indeed, the need to question whether there exist contracts between the governments and the governed in the state is further heightened when we look at election practices and the institutionalization of rigging in the state, which tends to reinforce the prevailing subjective individual attitudes and values towards electoral procedures.
In this regard, one becomes inclined to question the state of individual on rotations towards the political machinery in Bayelsa State and the perception of their roles in the political processes and overall effect on the political development of the state. This presents a problem that requires study. This study raises the following question:
To what extent has consent and obligation toward political institutions and processes stall political development in Bayelsa State?
Objective of Study
The objective of this study is to establish a nexus between consent and the nature of political orientations and the level of political development in Bayelsa State. The specific objective is:
To determine the extent to which consent and obligation towards political institutions and processes impedes political development in Bayelsa State.
Significance of the Study
This study seeks to provide a scientific base for the nexus between collective consent and the level of development of political institutions in Bayelsa State. In view of the above, the significance in the study becomes evident in several ways. First, the findings of this study will throw light on how the decisions of the existing state of development of political institutions in Bayelsa State is influenced by the nature of the prevailing political orientations. This becomes clearer when we recognize the fact that most Bayelsans are aware of their apathy towards the political process but are yet to recognize the manifest link between this apathy and the level of development of political institutions in Bayelsa State. We believe that the findings of this study will bridge this information gap.
Scope and Limitations of the Study
This study on Lockean Social Contract and Political Development: A study of Bayelsa State (1999-2007) intends to establish a nexus between consent and the nature of political orientations and the level of political development in Bayelsa State and to determine the extent to which consent and obligation towards political institutions and processes impedes political development in Bayelsa State from 1999-2007.
The period 1999 to 2007 was selected because it covers two democratic dispensations with governments that were deemed to have acquired political power through democratic elections. And in theory, such governments will have their legitimacy and authority founded on popular consent and participation.
Thus, this period provides us with the opportunity to evaluate the extent to which consent, participation and political orientation have affected political development in Bayelsa State.
The limitations encountered in the study were with regards to the retrieval of the distributed questionnaires and in getting respondents to complete them within the prescribed time frame. Yet at the end of the exercise, we were not able to retrieve all the questionnaires given to the respondents. Out of the 150 questionnaires, 141 were returned. Second, the study suffered from shortage of finance. A study of this nature requires enough funding if possible from a donor agency to ensure a comprehensive study. Third, the unwillingness of the staff of the local governments to release some basic information needed for the study is another serious problem.
However, it must be pointed out that spirited efforts were made to address some of these limitations. For example, we had to rely on academic journals, research thesis, magazines, newspapers and the internet to get some of the needed data when local government officials were not forth-coming.
The social contract theory will serve as the theoretical framework of this study. In this regard we shall adopt the Lockean perspective of the social contract theory. Locke’s position on the social contract provides an aspect of the rationale behind the historically important notion that legitimate state authority must be derived from the consent of the governed (Locke,1960: vii, section 56). According to Locke:
Men being... by nature all free, equal and independent,
No one can be nut out of his estate and
Subjected to the political power of another
Without his own consent (Locke, 1960: vii, section 56).
Consent thus becomes what Locke uses to underscore the legitimacy of a political or civil society. In his words, where ever any number of men is so united into one society as to quit everyone his executive power and to resign it to the public there and there only is a political and civil society (Locke, 1960: vii, section 89).
Based on Locke’s position on the incorporation of a political society, we shall anchor our analysis of development of the political system on consent, which he consider to be the major determinants of the dynamics of the emergence and development of political society.
We must also make clear that under democratic tenets, in contemporary times, the medium for consent and the means through which governments derive legitimacy is through elections. Through elections, the electorate gives their consent to the emergent government whose programmes for the collective good are in sync with the wishes of the people. Writing on the role of consent and the development of the political institution of a society, Locke noted:
…that which moves any community, being
only the consent of the individual in it, and
It being necessary to that which is one body
to move one way: it is necessary body
should move that Way whither the greater
force carries it which is the consent of
the majority (Locke,1960: vii, section 96).
What is clear from the above is that consent, and in this case given through election which legitimizes governments, serve as the impetus for political development of the state.
Deducible from the above is that the salient characteristics of the processes of governance and the individual orientations to it influence and impact on the level of development of political institutions.
With the above line of thought we want to argue that the level of development of political institutions in Bayelsa State and the practice of democratic tenets in the state is a logical outcome of the lack of consent and the subjective orientations of the people.
For the purpose of this study, both primary and secondary data were used. That is, data generated expressly for this study and such other information extracted from hooks, Journals, Newspaper, Internet and related studies.
For the purpose of testing and evaluating our hypothesis, primary data gathered through fieldwork were carried out in the eight (8) local government areas in Bayelsa State. Our sampling will be done through probability and non-probability sampling techniques. This will include the random sampling and the judgmental sampling techniques. Given the nature of the variables under study and the size of the population, which covers the eight (8) local government areas of the state, two communities will be sampled from each local government area making the total number of communities to be sampled to sixteen (16).
To be selected for sampling will be the administrative headquarters of each local government and one other community. The reason for selecting the council headquarters and one other community is that the council head quarters will cover the need for sampling politically active respondent while the other community will cover up for the necessity of wider coverage.
The sixteen communities selected which automatically covers sixteen constituencies out of the twenty four (24) in the state legislature adds up to 70% of the total area under study.
The local governments and the communities selected are listed below.
In Yenagoa Local Government Area, we chose Yenagoa town and Biseni, in Brass Local Government Area, we chose Twon Brass and Okpoama, in Nembe Local Government Area, we chose Ogbolomabiri and Basambiri, in Ogbia Local Government Area, we chose Ogbia Town ana Otuoke, in Sagbama Local Government Area, we chose Sagbama Town and Agbere, in
Kolokuma/Opokuma Local Government Area, we chose Kaiama and Opokuma, in Ekeremor Local Government Area, we chose Aleibiri and Ekeremor town, while in Southern Ijaw Local Government Area, we chose
Opokuma and Amassoma.
Instrument for Data Collection
The major instrument for data collection is the questionnaire, which was designed to elicit responses from the literate segment of the sample communities. We designed the questionnaire to generate information on issues relevant to the research question. To this end, both closed and open ended format were employed. A total of 150 questionnaires were administered. Out of the 150 questionnaire, 50 were distributed to the selected communities in each of the three senatorial districts in the state. These questionnaires were distributed to these communities based on their population percentages.
Method of Data Analysis
The statistical method for data analysis is the frequency distribution. To this end, the responses obtained from the questionnaires were collated, tabulated and expressed in simple percentages with which we interpret and evaluate our research hypothesis.
The Concept of Social Contract
The social contract describes a broad class of republican theories whose subjects are implied agreements by which people form nations and maintain a social Order. It implies that the people give up some rights to a government and /or other authority in order to create and jointly preserve social order. The social contract theory provides the rationale behind the historically important notion that legitimate state authority must be derived from the consent of the governed.
Thomas Hobbes, John Locke and J. J. Rousseau are the most famous philosophers of the social contract theory. The starting point for their theories is an examination of the nature of man, of the human condition absent from any structured condition. A situation they call state of nature; a state of being where an individual’s words or actions are bound only by his interests or conscience. From this common starting point, the proponents of the social contract theory attempt to explain, in different ways, why it is in an individual’s rational self-interest to voluntarily subjugate the freedom of’ action one has in the state of nature in order to obtain the benefits provided by the formation of social structure. (Burnell, www.wikipedia.com).This presents the notion of a sovereign will to which all members of society are bound by the social contract to obey and respect. It is the definition of this sovereign will that differentiates the social contract theories. What becomes clearer at this point is the fact that the state therefore becomes what man willed, an artifice. This view which is the core of the machine theory of the
state is grounded on the moral conviction that the state is the result of a genuine agreement on the part of individuals (Nwosu, 2006: 163). According to Nwosu,
(it is) a creative agreement which, for the
first time, brings law and order into
existence. It substitutes order for chaos
and extracts from man’s sovereignty
obligation to obey.. .an obligation which
must be understood in the context of
consent given by men (Nwosu, 2006: 163).
The end of the state necessitated by man’s rational choice to escape the inconveniences of the state of nature and its short comings is well articulated by Rousseau when he maintained that:
the passage from the state of nature to the
civil state produces in man a very
remarkable changes, by substituting in his
conduct justice for instinct and by giving
his actions the moral quality that they
previously lacked....and voice of duty
succeeds physical impulses, and law
succeeds appetite.. (Rousseau, 1967: 22).
Rousseau goes further to state that man loses some rights in subjugating himself to the sovereign will of the state, he in turn acquires greater ones in return according to him, man is deprived of many advantages that he derives from nature, he acquires equally great ones in return; his faculties are exercised and developed..his feelings are ennobled, his whole soul is exalted to such a degree that...he ought to bless without ceasing the happy moment that released him from it forever and transformed him from a stupid and ignorant animal into an intelligent being and a man (Rousseau, 1967: 22-23).
The above captures the line of thought of social contracts theories as to the necessity, role and morality of the state. It is at this point that we will examine the views of John Locke.
John Locke’s Social Contract Theory
Locke made use of the social contract to explain that legitimate political authority was derived from the consent of its people, which could be withdrawn when the freedom of the individual was violated or curtailed. Thus, his “Two Treatises of Civil Government” preached and defended freedom, consent and property.
Locke’s explanation of the origin of political society and political power began with a description of the state of nature. A state of nature which was of perfect equality and freedom as regulated by the laws of nature. According to Locke:
To Understand political power right, and
derive it from its original, we must
consider, what state all men are naturally
in, and that is, a state of perfect freedom to
order their actions and of dispose of their
possessions and persons as they think fit,
within the bounds of the law of nature,
without asking leave, or depending upon
the will of any other man (Locke in Gutenberg e-book, 2008.).
From the above, Locke presented the individual as natural, free and becoming a political subject to a government out of free choice. To get out of the state of nature, Locke maintains, men make a contract to enter into civil society; a contract of all with all. It is a social or more truly, a political contract since it establishes political society (Locke, 1960, chapter 11, section 6).
Locke uses the social contract to tell us the meaning and importance of consent to authority and political progress. That the manner in which a political society evolves, take shape and content, is given direction by the acquiescence of its citizens. It expresses how the consent of’ the majority gives shape to the political society that emerges and the nature and development of the political institutions that society propagates to conduct its political affairs.
Going back to Locke’s postulations, once civil society was established, the individuals established a government to act as a judge in the form of a fiduciary power for promoting certain ends, the solutions to the three lacks of the state of nature inclusive. However, Locke describes the process that leads to this in the following manner:
This is done by barely agreeing to unite into
one political society, which is all the
compact there is, or needs be, between the
individuals that enter into or make up a
commonwealth. And thus, that which
begins and actually constitutes any
political society is nothing but the consent
of any number of freemen capable of a
majority to unite and incorporate into such
a society. And this is that, and that only,
which did or could give beginning to any
lawful government in the world (Locke in Petit, 1997).
This way, the obligation to obey the government would depend on the fact that public power was used for peace, safety and the public good of the people. Locke also assented categorically that governments, being only a fiduciary power, can be altered, changed or dissolved legitimately
........when by arbitrary power of the prince, the elections
and ways of elections were altered without
the consent, and contrary to the common
interests of the people (Mukherjee and Ramaswamy, 2007: 204).
What becomes pertinent to note from the above and which logically applies to the Nigerian experience is that the incapacity of the Nigerian electorate to give consent to the government of the state which is presumed to exist for the public good has altered the efficacy of her political institutions and as such tends to stall her political development. Put the Nigerian political development, and in particular the Bayelsa State experience, is mitigated by, the peculiar orientations that run through the electorates, who by one device or the other are unaware of the importance of their consent to the emergence of any government and the basis of the state.
What becomes of essence to us in Locke’s postulations with regard to the social contract is the place of consent. For the state must be founded on consent and the government that manages the state, on trust. And when that government acts untrustworthily it has lost the people’s consent and mandate and must be dissolved.
But what becomes of the political development of a society which in the first instance recognizes that necessity of popular consent but does not in the least provide adequate institutional channels for the interplay of that consent? This will be analyzed further when we review the concept of political development. 0n the three social contract theorists, Locke is closer to Rousseau than to Hobbes. For as Locke believes the contract does not remove the supreme power form the people, so does Rousseau speak of the “inalienable sovereignty of the people.”
The Concept of Political Development
Political development, like every other concept in the social sciences has been subjected to the rigors of the crises of conceptualization. It has also not been spared of the influence from ideological standings between Marxists and Liberal scholars.
However, from a clearly liberal standpoint, political development is seen as the movement of society from one stage usually but not always a primitive one, to a more advanced and complex socio-political system. Modernization scholars who are of this bent see political development as the evolution of societies from traditional forms of political and social organization into modern forms centering on the state (Palmer, 1999:6). David Apter has defined political development as a process which affects choice (Palmer, 1999:6) and where the modernization focus helps to make sense of the choices likely to be at our disposal (Apter cited in Park, 1984:34). To make sense of Apter’s definition we will have picture a political system that has been highly regularized with institutional differentiation, which allows choice in the political system. But even at this, Apter is speaking of a consequence of political development and not political development itself.
However, Dorsey, on the other hand, defines political development as the changes in power structure and processes that occur concomitantly with changes in the conversion levels in social system, whether such conversions change primarily in their political, social and economic manifestation (Dorsey cited in Chilton in www.d.umin.edu/chilton/articles/PI). Dorsey’s conception also helps in identifying the process of political development but not what it is. The analytical shortcomings of the above definitions is that if through it conceptual clarification we can be able to evaluate is causes and consequence, then the concept of political development must be differentiated from them. Same limitation goes with Karl Deutsche’s conception of political development as the process in which major clusters of old social, economic and psychological concomitants are eroded or broken and people become available for new patters of socialization and behaviour (Deutsche cited in Chilton in www.d.umin.edu/chilton/articles/PI). But again, one asks, is political development the only process that can obliterate or change existing socio-political structures?
However, for Huntington, political development takes the shape of a complex of structures and norms regulating the polity. He maintained that it is the institutionalizations of political organizations and procedures which is characterized by their direction and level of adaptability indicated by a long and regular chain of leadership adapting themselves to new challenges to the system (Varma, 1975: 324). Huntington’s conception thus portrays political development in the light of political system moving towards the direction of greater adaptability, complexity, autonomy, and coherence.
However, Almond and Powell define political development in terms of the two main parts of the political system. That is, political structures and political culture. They define political culture “as the pattern of individual attitudes and orientations towards politics among the members of a political system. It is the subjective realm which underlies and gives meaning to political actions (Almond and Powell, 1966: 21).
These individual orientations are the cognitive orientation which is the individual’s knowledge of political objects and beliefs; Affective orientations which are his feelings of involvement, attachment or rejection towards the political system; and the evaluative orientations which are the individuals’ judgments and opinions about the political system.
Now, if we subscribe to the notion that political development clearly arises from and affects individuals, political institutional forms and objective regularized patterns of social relations, then it becomes possible to locate political development in terms of characteristics of individuals and characteristics of institutions (Park, 1984: 46-48)
Almond and Powell’s conception of political development attempts to bridge the gap between political culture (Individual attitudes and orientations) and political structures. From their perspective, when we talk of political development, we refer to two related changes in political culture and political structure (Almond and Powell, cited in Ake, 1979:4). When political culture becomes secularized, individuals become increasingly rational, analytical and empirical in their political actions. Thus secularization affects and enhances structural differentiation. In other words, cultural secularization necessitates the specialization of institutional roles or the establishment of new roles and structures.
In a clear language, we can draw the relationship between political and social consensus, a participatory regime, an active political culture and political development. This link expresses itself in the fact that social and political consent is given basis through participation and participation in-turn enhances participant political orientations or cultural secularization which in-turn enhances structural differentiation. In the words of Almond and Powell, it is through the secularization of political culture that rigid, ascribed and diffuse customs of social interaction come to be overridden by a set of codified, specifically political, and universalistic rules. By the same token, it is the secularization processes that bargaining and accommodative political action becomes a common feature of the society, and that the development of special structures such as interest groups and parties become meaningful (Almond and Powell cited in Ake, 1979:60).
On another plain, what happens to the political development of a society when individual political orientations are highly parochial and subjective? What happens to elections, to party competition: to representation and to the rule of law? And if we are to subscribe to the link Almond and Powell draw between the nature of political culture and political institution as fundamental to political development, what can we say about political development in Bayelsa State?
For it is with this schema and the four concrete area of the nature of Bayelsa state; social force and patterns of political participation and competition, civil society and political order that we can better appreciate how social and political consensus affects the structure and nature of political development in a state like Bayelsa State.
Deducible from the above, the mere essence of political consensus as basis for the political development of society and its institutions in contemporary modern societies can be logically linked to a social contract entered into for the increased secularization of the political institutions in society. Though the differences in circumstances from a pre-political state of nature to an already existing though constantly changing political society is well recognized, we cannot overlook the essence of consent as a basis for the contract which necessitates society to develop into a highly politicized agglomeration of structures and institutions for the order of man and his political relations with other men in the society.
Geography and Location of Bayelsa State
Bayelsa State is located in the heart of the Niger Delta. Accordingly, it represents the most characteristic geology soil, flora and Fauna of the Niger and Benue river basins (Tubodenyefa, 2010:48).
The land area of Bayelsa state describes the geometric shape of a triangle with its apex in the area north east of the bifurcation of the River Niger into the forcados and Nun River system in Sagbama local government area. The north western limit of the state is at the estuary of the Ramos River, a distributary of the Forcados River system. While the south- eastern margin of the state is at the mouth of the Santa Barbara River around Kula. This whole delimitation covers an area of over 12,000 km2 with over 185 km of coastline which describes the arc of the Niger Delta (Oyegun in Alagoa (ed), 1999:31).
The state is geographically located within latitude 040 45 north, 03023 south and longitude 05022 West and 06045 East and shares common boundaries with Delta State on the North, Rivers State on the East and the Atlantic ocean on the West and South (Bayelsa Paradise Revealed, 2006:3). According to official figures from the 2006 population census, Bayelsa state has a population of 1,704.515 people (NPC, 2006). Below is a presentation of the population of the state by local government.
Population of Bayelsa State by Local Government. Source: NPC, 2006
A Brief Profile of Bayelsa State
The notion of states’ creation in Nigeria is underscored by the perception that it is a viable tool for political, economic and socio-cultural advancement for the people of the area. This, no doubt, also underscored the agitations that led to the creation of Bayelsa state in 1996 by the Sani Abacha led military administration.
This notion is paraphrased better by the report of the Justice Ayo Irikefe panel of 1979 when it maintained that:
The basic motivation in the demand for
New states was rapid economic
development all other reasons by state
agitators were in the view of the panel, to
large extent mere rationalizations to
achieve the basic purpose of
development (Amatari and Odondiri in Alagoa (ed), 1999: 236)
The demand and agitations for the creation of what is now Bayelsa state, according to Okoko and Lazarus (1999: 253-256) can be divided into four historical phases which corresponds to four related state movements.
The first historical phase was the Rivers State movement (1953 - 1967) which was when minorities demanded separate states as a means for allaying fears of domination of majority ethnic groups, the demand was for a Rivers State consisting of Brass, Degema, Ogoni, Port Harcourt, Ahoada and the Western Ijaw division from the western region. Even with the creation of Rivers state in 1967, it soon, became clear that the development aspiration of the riverine people could not be met.
This fact gave impetus to the Niger Delta state movement spanning 1979 to 1983. The clamour for a Niger Delta state was a reaction against the fact that infrastructural development was been concentrated in Port Harcourt and other upland areas. Thus, the Niger Delta state was to be drawn from the riverine area of Brass, Yenagoa and Sagbama in old Rivers State; Bomadi Burutu and Ijaw area of Warri in Delta State and the Ijaw areas of llaje-Ese of Ondo state (Okoko and Lazarus, 1999: 254).
The third phase was the agitation for the creation of Bayelsa state to be comprised of the present Bayelsa state and Ahoada in Rivers State. But owing to mutual suspicion, opposition and lack of interest from the elites of both the Bayelsa and Ahoada axis, the agitation failed and did not produce any result.
The fourth phase was between 1993 - 1996 when Gen. Sani Abacha appointed the Sir Mbanefor Committee. In this light, the Bayelsa movement forwarded a memorandum to the committee to create a Bayelsa State comprising of six local government in the then Rivers State; Brass, Ekeremor. Ogbia, Sagbama, Southern Ijaw and Yenagoa (Okoko and Lazarus, 1999: 257).
However, with the approval of the recommendation of the committee, General Sani Abacha announced the creation of Bayelsa State on October 1, I996. Bayelsa” is an acronym derived from the three original local government areas- Balga for Brass, Yelga for Yenagoa and Salga for Sagbama. Bayelsa” is thus composed of the first two letters of Balsa, the first three letters of Yelga and first two letters of Salga. It was these original three local government areas that were sub-divided to make up for the present eight. Brass was subdivided into Ogbia, Nembe and Brass local government area. Yenagoa became southern areas and Sagbama has become Ekeremor by its sobriquet “Glory of all lands’ which is a replacement for “pride of the nation”.
Since its creation, Bayelsa State has had the following administrators and Chief Executives:
Navy Captain Philip Oladipo Ayeni (Military Governor 1st Oct. 1996-28Feb. 1997), Police Commissioner Habu Daura (Acting Governor 28 Feb, 1997- 27th June, 1997), Navy Captain Omoniyi Caleb Olubolade (Military Governor 27th June, 1997 - 9th July, 1998), Lt. Col. Paul Edor Obi (Military Governor 9th July 1998 -29May, 1999). With the enthronement of a democratic dispensation in 1999, the first elected civilian governor of the state was sworn in. Till date, the civilian governors of the state have been:
Chief Diepreye Solomon Peter Alamieyeseigha (First Executive Governor: 29th May 1999-9th December, 2005), Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan (Second Executive Governor 12th December 2005 - 29th May, 2007). Chief Timipreye Silva (Third Executive Governor 29th May 2007 to date).
The periods, between the election and removal of the first executive governor, the ascension of his deputy Dr. Goodluck Jonathan as governor to Chief Timipreye Silva have witnessed political activity that have really destabilized the character and political orientations of the people of the state. The first executive governor Chief D. S. P Alamieyeseigha was impeached by the state house of Assembly on grounds of corruption, and gross misconduct, an event necessitated by the charges brought against them by the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC). The events leading to his eventual impeachment by the State House of Assembly are in themselves studies in politics. Also worthy of such a study and a test for the political orientation of the masses in the state are the events and circumstances leading to the election, annulment and re-election of the incumbent Governor Chief Silva.
Politics and the Nature of Political Institutions in Bayelsa State.
Political institutions in Bayelsa State have been a mix of modern and traditional systems. However, both operate a distinct but functional with the one more or less influencing the other. Other than the secular democratic political institutions in the state, centralized traditional political institutions in the state cuts across the recognized 20 clans in the state. Each of these clans is composed of several communities which confederate to form traditional system of administration headed by a clan head (Ibe - nanawei) (Tubodenyefa, 2010: 59).
One feature worthy of note which makes traditional political institutions of the state somewhat parallel with the democratic state machinery is that ascription to the position of clan head is not hereditary but by election or rotation. It is this feature and the corresponding influence that goes with the position of clan head that has served as basis for the nature of development of these traditional political institutions (Tubodenyefa, 2010: 59).
To understand the nexus between politics and nature of political institutions in Bayelsa state, it stands to logic that we first understand the nature and character of politics in the state. Going by the positions of Claude Ake (1996) and Eme Ekekwe (1996), we argue that the state in Nigerian is privatized and therefore used by the custodians of political power to pursue private interests as against public interests. This phenomenon singularly make state power highly attractive, and the state being the object of political competition, its nature thus defines the character of politics (Ibaba,2005: 60).
All these have major implications on the functionality and development of political institution in the state. From the above, it follows that where the government lacks the requisite legitimacy and support of the populace, there exist an absence of a social contract rather than owe their obligation to the populace, the ruling class is committed to using state institutions for the actualization of private interest and primitive accumulation. In such a scenario, there appears to be an objective nexus between the nature and character of politics in the state and the nature of existing political institutions in the state.
Social Contract, Political Consensus and Political Development in Bayelsa State.
The social contract provides the rationale behind the important notion that legitimate state authority must be derived from the consent of the governed. The people exercise their right to choose their government on the basis of an implicit agreement. With the global wave of democratization and the demand for popular participation, this implicit agreement has been made explicit through constitutions, electoral procedures and other explicitly formulated legal procedures; procedures which serve as instruments for consensus building and collective identity.
What this holds for us is that in contemporary democratic practices, the contract between the government and the governed is made explicit by electoral outcomes based on popular choice. It is this choice which is an embodiment of the general will that gives direction to the development of the state politically, socially and economically.
Evidently, there exists a chasm between politica1 consensus and politica1 development in Bayelsa State. Ours is a chasm created by the antics of a corrupt, selfish and insincere political class. And the resultant effects of these are only so evident in the political process in the state.
This dislocation between popular consensus and the political direction of the state which showcases the absence of a social contract creates room for inactive civil society, one that hardly engages in issue based campaigns, the culture of corruption and political impunity, and political elite that is allergic to the protection of the public mandate through the ballot. This dislocation also breeds a widespread disregard for accountability and transparency, a situation which fertilizes corruption and fosters a culture of violence in electoral contests.
This study will test the following hypothesis:
There is a significant relationship between the level of development of political institutions in Bayelsa State and lack of consent and the subjective orientations of the people.
Discussion and Summary
This study focuses on the application of Locke’s social contract theory medium for the explanation of political development in Bayelsa State, Nigeria. The study attempted to unravel the objective nexus between consent and the development of the state politically. The specific objective of the study was to establish a nexus between consent and the nature of political orientations and the level of political development in the state. In other words, the study attempted to determine whether the lack of consent and obligation towards political institutions and processes in the state impedes political development.
The scope of the study covers the democratic dispensation in the state within the period 1999 to 2007. This period was selected because of the fact that it covers two democratic dispensations with governments that were deemed to have acquired political power through democratic elections, and in theory will have their legitimacy and authority founded on popular consent and participation a fact which provided us with the opportunity to evaluate the extent to which consent, participation and political orientations have impacted on political development in the state.
Locke’s social contract served as the frame work for theoretical analysis. We pursued the logic that legitimate state authority derives from the consent of the governed, a consent implicitly embodied in a contract, one in which in modern dispensations are made explicit constitutional measures and other explicitly formulated legal procedures and which also serves as the motive force for the direction of the state and its development politically.
The study tested one hypothesis that there is a significant relationship between the level of development of political institutions in Bayelsa State and the lack of consent and the subjective orientations of the people.
Data for analysis and evaluation were derived from both primary and secondary sources. Primary data was generated through the use or survey questionnaires distributed to respondents in selected communities in the state. The method for data analysis was the simple percentage with which responses were expressed in frequency distribution tables. An evaluation of our findings will be instructive at this point.
With regards to consent and how it impacts on the nature of politics in the state, the collated and analyzed data exposes a dislocation between popular will and state direction. As the data shows, there is an increasing apathy towards political symbols and processes in the state. Take a situation 92% of the respondents are registered voters yet 90% do not vote during elections; 86% never took part in any form of political activities and worse, none of the respondents have ever met with their representatives in any form of consultation.
What exists is that people either willingly shy away from performing political functions with direct impact on policy outcomes or are never even given the opportunity to do so. There is no means for contributing to social direction. Consent has lost its place as a potent force for actualizing the ends of the state. Consent as it is expressed through the articulation and aggregation of the public interest is uprooted from its place in the pedestal of social and public policies. What such situation portends in a state that is already privatized and used by corrupt custodians of political power can only be imagined. With the state being privatized and politics appearing to be so lucrative, political competition becomes increasingly fierce and violent and the traditional methods of consenting to political leadership are either thwarted or done away with. There is an open war against the growth and entrenchment of democratic norms and principles.
The nature of politics, political competition and accompanying political practice no longer give room for the interplay of populace consensus and legitimacy thereby mitigating the development of political institutions along democratic lines. Emanating from such a political landscape in the state, elections and leadership succession processes have become aberrations, inimical to the processes of democratization in the state. Elections, rather than serve as the umbilical cord that gives life to political leadership in the state, becomes the gully that separates the electorate from their leaders.
Election outcomes are determined and stamped even before Election Day. For example, from our data, 85% of the respondents never voted in any elections within the period under study. With the dislocation between those who go out to vote and official election results, and as claimed by 85.4%, more and more people feel alienated and thus become apathetic to politics in the state. As is observable, the people of the state increasingly lose faith in the processes of the state. Arising from this situation, what spreads among the people of the state is a highly subjective orientation which contributes further to their alienation from the political system.
More so, since leadership succession owes no allegiance to the people nor derives its status from their mandate, it undermines it whenever possible. The electoral institution no longer serves as a channel for popular consent but negates democracy and the development of democratic norms. Deriving from our analysis, it is also determined that the political class in the state in a bid to maintain their hold on power and the power play that ensues from such political competition has engulfed political institutions in the state thus negatively affecting their functionality.
With political actualities in the state, political institutions progressively lose their functionality due to an ever increasing subjective outlook on the part of the masses to political processes in the state. How else do we explain the prevailing orientations where 70% of the respondents expect the least from the government, and 73% attach little or no value or importance to their participation and role in the political processes in the state. All these combine to stall the growth and viability of political consensus, a participatory regime and an active political culture, which are all vital ingredients to democratization and political development and the state. From our evaluation, it is shown that the force for giving direction to the development of the secularization and specialization of political institutions in the state rather than emanate from the consent and mandate of the electorate, are increasingly being influenced by the existing nature of political competition in the state which at best thwarts the development of democratic principles.
And given that political institutions derive their essence from a combination of the existing set of political values and the written and unwritten rules of the political game and given our knowledge of political actualities and the nature of the political process in the state, we are no longer shocked by the level of specialization and secularization of such institutions in the state as party competition the legislature, the electoral system all v1ith differing level of influencing the articulation and aggregation of popular interest, a fact which contributes to the subjective outlook prevalent among the masses towards the political system in the state.
To the lengths with which our analysis allowed us, it is evident that what exists in Bayelsa state is a divorce between the emergence of successive governments and popular consent, a political culture that is highly subject, lack of a participatory regime and a more or less inactive civil society all of which contributes to stall the development of Bayelsa state politically.
The evaluations arising from the analyzed data thereof validate our hypotheses and objectively show that there is indeed a cause-effect relationship between the absence of common consent, the emergent subjective orientations of the people and the low specialization on political institution in the state.
With regards to the research issues raised in the study and the analysis arising from the collated data, we accept the study hypothesis and maintained that there is a significant relationship between the absence of a popular mandate, the subjective orientation arising thereof and the low level of specialization and functionality of political institution and as such low level of political development in Bayelsa state. In other words, the absence of a popular mandate and the subjective political orientations of the people of the state arising from their expectation and cognitions of politics and political processes in the state are responsible for the nature and low functionality of political institutions in Bayelsa state. A situation which accounts for the people of the state existing as a political force that stands only as an externality to the state and its political processes; a political class which is corrupt selfish and runs the state with political impunity and is allergic to the development of democratic principles and a political process that eschews transparency and accountability.
Based on the findings of this study, we make the following recommendations conscientiously believing that they will contribute positively to the political development of Bayelsa state.
- That there is the need for civil society organizations in Bayelsa state to actively engage in an aggressive issue based voter education and make adequate preparations for monitoring the forth coming elections in the state as a way of protecting and promoting the viability of democratic institutions and protecting the public mandate expressed by the ballot.
- There is the need for re-orientation on the part of the electorates to overcome the widespread disregard for accountability and transparency of political office holders in the state which fosters the culture of violence in contestations for power.
- We also call for the need to abolish the attachment of incremental financial benefits to political and public office holders which is responsible for the high premium placed on the struggle for the capture of power in the state.
- There is also the need for an increased awareness campaign to enlighten the electorate in the state about the importance of their role and participation in the political process.
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