christian apathy and political participation in nigeria

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Chapter Two

Literature Review

2.1       Concept of Political Participation

Arriving at a consensus on the true meaning of political participation has remained unattainable as new conventions are being added to the subject matter on seasonal bases. Scholars have however attempted to conceptualize the meaning of political participation in different ways as reviewed in this chapter.

In literal terms, political participation is the involvement of every member, organization and groups in a nation in the entire political process. Political participation is the process through which the individual plays a role in the political life of his society and has the opportunity to take part in deciding what common goals of the society are and the best way of achieving these goals (Adelekan, 2010). The individual is central in this system and can exist as a sole entity or part of a group. The political setup is not complete with the leaders in governance but the people which are core aspect of the society in any political system especially democracy. The leaders does not decide what the people wants, it is the people that decide what they need at any given point in time. Thus, the people do not only decide the national values but decides who should govern them. Akamare (2003) clearly defined political participation is an aspect of political behavior and it focuses on the way in which individuals take part in politics. It is a voluntary activity and one may participate directly or indirectly. It is central to note that political participation is not by compulsion. Forcing someone to participate in an electoral process for instance is tantamount to breach of the electoral act. The individual as a free moral agent is at liberty to participate based on his or her choice. More so, he or she can determine the degree of participation, directly or indirectly; it is thus common to see people turn out for voter registration and refuse to turn up for voting.

In another perspective, Awolowo and Aluko (2010) stressed that, the essence of political participation in any society, either civilized or primitive, is to seek control of power, acquisition of power and to influence decision making. Political participation is a means of contributing ones quota to the political system and overall development of the nation. In Awolowo and Aluko’s perspective, political participation is viewed from the point of view of wanting to lead or govern the people. The perspective and scope of political participation is wide and can be viewed from two ends; the desire of the individual to select who governs them and the desire of other individuals to govern the people. In the later, the focus is to seek control of power which may be bent on some social, political, economic, personal or ideological motives and in a way, influence decision making. Approaching political participation from the standpoint of the group, Awoleso (2014) defines political participation as ‘voluntary activities shared by members of a society in the selection of their rulers and directly or indirectly involves in the formation of public policies’. The individual in this light is seen as a member of the society, the bigger conglomerate of individuals who will at the end of the day be governed by their rulers.   Political participation involves the citizens taking part in their political system thereby contributing their quota in the political system and the overall development of the nation. To further buttress this point, Falade (2014) describes political participation as an aspect of political behavior which focuses on the way individuals take part in politics. It encompasses a wide range of political activities such as voting, contesting elective post, belonging to a political party, holding public office, attending political rallies, and meetings and so on

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