PARTY SYSTEM AND NIGERIA
Chapter One: Introduction
1.1 Background of the Study
The development of political parties in Nigeria dates back to the days of the struggle for political independent in the late 1940s, when the nationalists were at the pre-independence and post-independence periods. In the pre-independence and the early post independence periods, political parties in Nigeria were not ideologically based. Rather, they were regionally based and woven around individual politicians who they saw as their mentors. In the last ten years, however parties were registered based on the exigencies of the time. This was the scenario until 1998; the need arose for parties that could usher Nigeria into a new era of democracy after over fifteen years of military rule. Historically, political parties in Nigeria have developed and still play a vital role towards the realization of the democratic objectives. Indeed, the last fifty years have seen an evolution of various political parties. From 1991-1993, Nigeria practiced a two-party system, with the government establishing the Social Democratic party (SDP) and National Republican Convention (NRC). The military government later proscribed
the parties after annulling a presidential election in 1993. But Nigeria returned to democratic rule in 1999.
The restoration of democratic government in 1999 led to a new approach to party politics in Nigeria. The procedure for registering political parties was liberalized, thereby, opening up the political space for mass participation in political activities in the country. Today, there are more than fifty registered political parties in Nigeria, even though only few of them have not been able to win any election. The few political parties that have dominated the political space to the point that fears are being expressed that the country was drifting towards a one-party state. Opposition parties are beginning to cross to the ruling party both at the federal and states levels.
Nigeria, like many other African countries, has had its fair share of democratic challenges, but it has also recorded some achievement over the years. There have already been calls across the country for some adjustments and improvements on the way political parties are run and managed, in the years to come. Many have argued that Nigeria must necessarily adopt the methods that will guarantee the rights of its citizens to elect leaders of their choice as provided for in the country‟s constitution.
As Nigeria consolidation its democratic framework and mechanisms, the multi-parties in Nigeria, need to exemplify a new level of commitment to the yearnings and aspirations of the people for more fundamental and sustainable development.
The recently 2011 general election in Nigeria really had some sets backs and it really brought the world attention towards our political system. It also leads to them in asking some questions concerning our democratic system [voice of Nigeria on Thursday April 18th, 2013].
1.2 Statement of the Problems
In a multi-party system, political parties, being the main tool of political development in every existing and irrespective of their various ideological bends, different political orientations and victory potentials, they are still allowed to partake in political competition for the control of machinery of government and also uniting of the people. In every modern society, political parties are viewed to be an agent of unity, peace and integration etc. in that society, but despite the above conception, multi-party
system still holds some questions that deviate from the above. Therefore, it is to this end that we now ask the following questions.
1. Is there any relationship between multi-party system and political development in Nigeria?
2. What are the political implications of multi-party system in Nigeria?
3. Does multi- party system ensure democratic consolidation in Nigeria?
1.3 Objectives of the Study
The broad objectives or aims of this research work are simply to know the meaning and contributions of multi-party system in Nigeria political development. And these specific objectives are as follows:
1. To find out the relationship between multi-party system and political development in Nigeria.
2. To access the political implication of multi-party system in Nigeria.
3. To access whether the existence of multi-party system ensures democratic consolidation in Nigeria.
1.4 Significance of the Study
This research work will be significant in the following ways:
Firstly, it will help decision making organs, institutions to determine the basis for political party formation in Nigeria in order to achieve National integration and political development.
Secondly, invaluably, it will contribute to academic knowledge as regards to function of political parties to political development.
Furthermore, it will create awareness and inspire a sense of responsibility on members of political party on the role expected of them to achieve good governance and political development.
1.5 Literature Review
It will be a very difficult task to complete this research work and arrive at a justifiable conclusion without reviewing works of other scholars in this field of study. Since such a review will provide an insight into various aspects of the problems and similarly provide adequate theoretical background. It is through such reviews that it would help us to critics‟ previous study and the way in which the present day will help in providing solution to the problems. Multi-party system has been conceptualized in
many ways and views. Clearly speaking, it is one of the political systems found in democratic or federal states of the world. Many scholars had made various efforts to explain the meaning of multi-party system and how it relates to political development.
According to Obikeze (2004), Multi-party system is “a scourge to the political growth of any nation”. To him, multi-party is a reflection of the division that exists within the society and the extent of diversity. This means that once the nation allows a multiple party system to be in operation, that it extends diversity and within the society, the citizens will bring ethnicity in politics. He went further to state that, the voters have the confusion of which party to join and who to vote for, because choice is problematic as there is slim ideological difference among the parties. In this case, we found out that the above problem cause political apathy. Yes! It made groups within the society to be apathetic in the sense that an average political Nigerian man will not interested in the political activities if this choice is not the government. The same scholar ended his argument and analysis with this assertion, multi-party system does not create an avenue for long term planning as a party policy of the co-operating parties must be considered.
According to Rodee et al (1957), it was stated that “the reason of multiple parties is the persistence of deep cleavages in a political society caused by difference in nationality and religion divisive forces are often inflamed by irreconcilable element within the nation or by external revolution any moments”. This means that in most of the democratic states like Nigeria, it is because of the diversity and differences in ideology that engendered the feeling of ethnic politics.
La Palombara and Wemer (1966), claim that “the traditional classification between two party system and multi-partism is not sufficiently meaningful” they maintained that the4 number of political parties in a political system is not essentially relevant, but competitiveness of parties is very important. This is essentially true about multi-parties in Nigeria. In the fourth republic, one-party, a People‟s Democratic Party (PDP) dominated the political seats in the country. Therefore, looking at the result, the People‟s Democratic Party (PDP) won majority of the seats. The above authors viewed a multi-party system as one in which over an extended period, the same political or coalition of such parties dominate or hold governmental power.
According to Larry Diamond (2009), in an interview by Zainth Economic Quarterly Magazine, this excerpt reads thus, calling a political system a democratic does not mean it is good or admirable system or that we need not to worry much about imposing it further. It also simply means that if a majority of the people want change in leaders and policies and are able to organize effectively within the rules, they can change. This is just an appraisal of the political system that is practiced in Nigeria, but we should not dwell in this conception of majority participation and promoting political decay instead of development. If people can organize political party as a democratic state (within the rules). It can be granted, but a strong one that will hold water to foster political development and not a weak organization that continued to divide and tearing the nation apart.
According to Okpata (2000), multi-party system is a group system that exist where there are usually several parties with nearly equal strength. Political interest and historical experience play dominant role in adoption of this system. Multi party system in this understanding, means that the ideology, strength, interest, history, experience etc. All these matters a lot in operation of multi-party system. The problem with this practice of multi-party system in Nigeria is that most of political parties that exist in the fourth
republic lack the above attributes mentioned. In fact most of the parties were of non-ideological type and that is not of development in Nigerian politics.
Eme Awa (1993) opined that “the system could be multi-party only in the sacrificial sense of it. In this case, only one party (always the same ones) wins elections, thereby enlarging the famous doctrine of alternating parties that could hold power. Consequently upon this, a nation may be subject to adherence. Multi-party system was also argued by Awa to often establish parties on ethnic grounds.
According to Omo Omomji (2008), in his seminar presentation about paries and politics in Nigeria, he said “I am aware that parties should poses certain characteristics and that they are meant to perform certain functions”. The issue is that the political parties in Nigeria are still in search of a role, hence since 1999, the role of political parties is still fluid. In many cases, this so-called political parties since 1999 have become a major part of the problem in Nigeria. The dispersal of partism support and organization in multi-party may have several others negative implication. For instance, Ferguson and Mc Herny (1967:218) pointed out that:
The disadvantages of having many parties is that, the multi-party system produces
instability, confuses the electorate with a multitude of alternatives, represents local groups and factions and in action. It would make continued functioning of the electoral system (and integration of diverse ethnic and socio-economic group) virtually impossible.
Moreover, there is the guanine fear that any multiplication of separates tribal groups. As Weiner and La Palombara (1966) observed, frequently in heterogeneous societies operating a multi-party system, the political parties re-often asserted with the various fragmented cultures. In such, a case the parties have no intention of facilitation integration but aim instead at reinforcing loyalties to the sub-cultures with which they are identified.
Satori (1996) points out that “multi-party system is the most insecure and less viable option to political development”. He also points out that not only that the multi-party system cannot profit the stimulation of a responsible opposition, but also that, it is often paralyzed by cabinet instability and by the presence of anti-system parties which replace competitive politics with irresponsible outbidding under these condition, according to Satori (1996:175)
The multi-party system is more an agent of disintegration than an instrument of aggregation and integration and the outcome is sheer immobility, mal- integration or
disorderly change, than is an ideologically motivated, unrealistic sequence of abrupt changes that are likely to be successful.
What could be derived in the above assertion is that a developing pluralistic society in search of national integration (as an attribute of political changes and instability, nor can it afford increased polarization of a great number of cleavages that already existed in the society. This was why multi-party system had failed repeatedly in Nigeria as a mechanism for fostering political stability and political development.
According to Daniel Learner (1950), he opined. “The passing of traditional societies, modernization of middle east” equates political development with political modernization.
W.W Rostow (2008) also treated political development as typical phenomenon of the industrial society. He was of the opinion that the industrial societies are the patterns setters of political development for other societies. Edward Shills (1991) opined that political development is a nation state building.
According to Samuel .P. Verma (2009) stated that, the greatest drawback of these studies was that they treated “political development” as
dependent variables, generated by something else, a worldwide wave of modernization, nationalism or democracy and not as an independent or interviewing variable which in its own turn could shape things. Henceforth, political scientist sought to devise alternative meaning of political development.
Gabriel Almond (1990) defined political development as “the increased differentiation and specialization of political structures and the increased secularization of political culture”, effectiveness, efficiency and capability were seen a benchmark of political referred by Coleman (1956) as “Development syndrome”.
1.6 Theoretical framework
The theoretical framework that will best suit this study will be group theory. This theory was adopted because of the strong view of scholar such as Bently (1908) who as of the strong opinion that the interactions of groups are the basis of political life and rejected statist abstractions. In his opinion, group activity determined legislation, administration and adjudication. He also went further to opine that institution approach should not be used for political analysis as these institutions are static as against politics which is
dynamic and full of activities. He argued that politics is a group affair and each group is competing against each other for power. He also added that the pattern of process involving mass of activities and not a collection of individuals. The group emerges from frequent interaction among its individual members which is directed by their share interest. The interest leads to the organization of the groups.
Bently‟s group theory received blessing of scholars like David Truman, Robert Daniel, Grant Mc Connell, Theodora .j. Lewi, Earl Lathans among others. They saw power as diffused among many interest groups competing against each other. Earl Lathan described a society as a simple universe of groups which combine, break and form coalitions and castellation of power in a restless alternation. The adoption of this theory as basis for the examination of the multi-party system and political development in Nigeria is simply as a result of the interplay of forces and struggle for power among various ethnic groups in the Nigerian society which resulted that shortly after independence political parties were formed along ethnic sectional time.
Therefore, the adoption of the group theory, is to examine how the intrigues among the various ethnic groups and the resulting multi-party
system affect generally political activities and in particular development of Nigeria political system.