POLITICAL PARTIES AND DEMOCRATIC CONSOLIDATION IN NIGERIA. PERSPECTIVE OF FOURTH REPUBLIC, 1999 – 2016.
By Amb. Adichie Izuchukwu.
Questions of ‘PARTY POLITICS’ in Nigeria’s Fourth Republic can’t be complete without the following questions:
1) How has party politics played in consolidation of democracy in Nigeria?
2) Are we satisfied with the party politics in Nigeria?
3) What do we really call Political ideology?
Democracy can’t thrive in any nation without a functional political party. The global demand for democracy brought about re-birth in democratic governance in Nigeria. Political party is an integral part of the process of institutionalize of democracy. In a democratic setting, political parties are so important to the extent that neither democracy non democratic society can exist.
There has been a number of functional political parties in Nigeria fourth Republic and this was as a result of political conscious awaken by Sir Hugh Clifford Constitution of 1922 which gave birth to Nigeria National Democratic Party led by Herbert Macaulay since then, many political parties has been in political sphere of Nigeria.
We could remember that those who fought for new-democracy in Nigeria were either dead today, jailed or went to exile. Why? Because, fighting for enthronment of democracy which brought about fourth Republic while we were being ruled by Military was like fighting for independent under British Rule.
In democratic sphere, Political parties is assumed to occupy a special place since democracy depend solely on parties for its survival. In Nigeria Fourth Republic, it has been the opposite., it has been where political parties now depend on democracy for its survival.
The Fourth Republic Party Politics Activities in Nigeria has shown a lot of political parties challenges.
Challenges which includes total absence of political ideology.
Mba, 2006; ‘Ideology is derived from ideas. It is a system of principles of ideas which provides a society with a doctrinal basis for action or evaluation. In other words, it is the guiding star.
Ideology is a 1729 coins tin of French theorist Antoine. It was later used by Destutt de Tracy (1754 – 1836) during the French Revolution as a newly conceived science in opposition to the subject of metaphysic.
The activities of major political parties in Nigeria’s Fourth Republic shows they lack identifiable ideology that serves as a motivating force. They always fail to enlightened their followers, they lack proper strategy required to win an election. For example, in 2015, general election, a vote for APC is a vote to send Jonathan back to Otuoke. A vote for PDP is a vote to reject APC Muslim Party, while in 2013, a vote for APGA our party is vote for Ojukwu. Political parties has chosen to grab power by all means rather than attempting answering questions of developmental problems in Nigeria.
Non viable opposition party in Nigeria has become another head-ache to democratic consolidation. Opposition remains an engine room of democracy, without viable opposition, democracy cease to be. It becomes autocratic!
In Fourth Republic, why people join politics is solely based on what they will gain on politics. In general view, we will agree that opposition parties are weak, and lacks locus standi to stick to their stance on matters that will benefit the masses. Today’s opposition find it extremely difficult to form coalition against ruling government. Well, the issue remains that party is coming together of people with wider and diverse opinion and interest.
We have been battling the ugly activities of god fatherism in Fourth Republic which has rendered the existing party structures ineffective. Godfatherism is a contagious disease every wishful democratic state should avoid. Godfathers most times imposed unqualified candidates to others.
If democracy fails to improve on the lifes of the citizenry it would then be link to political agreement where godfather and godson has agreed to loot the treasury mercilessly. And this becomes mirage in our society. We are witness to godfather and godson battle between Ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo and Ex-President Goodluck Jonathan, President Muhammad Buhari and Sen. Ahmed Tinubu, Ex-Governor Peter Obi and Gov. Willie Obiano.
Another critical issue which has mounted so much challenges to democratic consolidation remains the issue of ‘Party Internal Crisis’
Today, Political parties in Nigeria are being faced with series of internal party crisis . Major political parties are witnessing both national and state leadership crisis. This has made parties to spend more time in reconciliation process than enlightening of their members, while most parties spend their times in various courts others spends their time sanctioning members. Political parties have refused to accept dialogue as a means of solving their internal crisis and this remain unethical to democracy.
Thus, we can authoritatively agree that activities of Nigerian political parties since 1999 to date are quagmire and has revealed that Nigerian political parties did not possessed a clear attributes of political parties such as ideology, party manifestos, as well as viable opposition party. All parties are engaged in intra-party conflict rather than embarked on programs that would benefit the masses and their members. The result of undemocratic conduct of political parties such as candidate’s imposition, unclear manifestos and cross-carpeting remains a risk to democracy.
It is therefore advised that Nigeria political parties should be reformed.
Amb. Adichie Izuchukwu
Writes from Awka