Politically Motivated Campaign Songs and Voting Behaviour: Reflections on Tiv Campaign Songs in the 2015 Elections in Benue State, Nigeria.

AuthorKachii, Ver-Or

Politics can be strengthened by music, but music has a potency that defies politics. Nelson Mandela Introduction

Politics is an activity that has gradually become basic and fundamental to the survival of every society. Societies all over the world are therefore deeply involved in politics. Indeed all human societies practice politics in different forms; there is the politics of ideology, politics of religion, politics of ethnicity, academic politics and others. The most controversial category however is, party politics. Added to this, every society in the world has a particular spectrum of politics. In fact at each stage in the life of any society, new political tactics evolve; new strategies are developed and planted with hopes raised in the people. In Nigeria, issues of politics remain a do or die affair with political candidates employing different strategies towards ensuring victory.

In the early periods of Nigerian history, Nigeria witnessed rapid developments because of the efforts of her founding fathers. Nigeria was governed with a deep sense of rational thought by selfless leaders who had the attitude of positivity and of nationalism. The ambition and efforts of such leaders like Nnamdi Azikiwe, Obafemi Awolowo, Tafawa Balewa, and Sir Ahmadu Bello fought the British colonial government which paved way for the declaration of Nigeria as an independent sovereign state in October, 1960. The declaration of independence led the search towards selfless leaders who would take Nigeria to the 'Promised Land'. The search for leadership resulted in series of Coup and counter Coup d'etats beginning from 1966 to 1976 when the period of military dominance paved the way for a democratic transition. The new democratic system that was supplanted gave room for the growth of party politics in the country. Political parties were found ranging from National party of Nigeria (NPN), Nigeria People's Party (NPP) and Great Nigeria People's Party (GNPP) etc. These numerous parties, founded alliances as enunciated by Egwugwu who opines that,

Politics of regionalism and ethnicity were re-introduced by the presidential system of government to develop political norms, practices and culture that could be national in out-look. (Egwugwu, 2004:135) The politics of regionalism as posited by Egwugwu became the disturbing bane of Nigerian politics. The ideological centeredness on self-interest against the communal interest of the people resonated in the political arithmetic of most emerging leaders.

The focus of this paper is however far from appraising the political developments in Nigeria but rather to assess politically motivated campaign songs and whether they impact voter's choice and election outcomes. Of concern will be an analysis of selected Tiv campaign songs and whether they influence election outcomes or not. The theatrical atmosphere and elements which these songs connote will also be looked at. To begin this paper however, it is imperative to understand the history and political structure of Benue State, North central Nigeria.

Brief History and Political Structure of Benue State: North Central Nigeria

The historical events which ultimately culminated in the creation of the present day Benue State started in 1967. In that year, the Yakubu Gowon led government provided the road map to the creation of the then twelve states of the federation. The Benue/Plateau State was among the new states created and they became fully functional on April 1, 1968 (Ukpoju, 2003: vi). Eight years later, particularly in 1976, there was further split which gave birth to the present Benue State. With the recommendation of the Justice Ayo Irikefe Panel on the creation of additional states in Nigeria, Benue State came into being on February 3, 1976. Then, the Igala speaking part of the then Kwara State (otherwise known as "Kwara overseas") was excised. They were merged with the former Benue province (now separated from Benue/Plateau State) to form the new Benue State. Colonel Abdullahi Shelleng, was appointed as its first Military governor.

Ukpoju (2003:11) believes that the creation of Benue State was a compensation given to the Tivs and Idomas for the overwhelming support they gave to the ruling Northern people's congress (NPC) during the first republic. Subsequent upon that year, the state was split into thirteen Local Government Areas. With the creation of Kogi State in 1991, the Igala speaking people of Benue State were ceded and merged with another group from Kwara State to form the present Kogi State.

Today, Benue State comprises of two major ethnic groups-the Tivs and the Idomas. There are a total of twenty-three Local Government Areas in the state namely: Ado, Agatu, Apa...

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