THE ROLE OF POLITICAL PARTIES IN DEMOCRATIC GOVERNANCE IN NIGERIA
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There is a profound paradox about the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Nigeria. The party, which earned the respect and admiration of most Nigerians, in the period between 1999-2007 due to its politics and policies. This work based on direct study and use of secondary data examines the role of the PDP in governance in the period (1999-2007). The work revealed that the PDP government has grossly been disappointing in its performance in the management of the affairs of the Nigerian state. Thus between 1999-2007, Nigerians have suffered deep crisis of expectation as there had been serious erosion, impairment and debasement of the values of governance as reflected in macro economic instability, widespread corruption, deepening democratic crisis, human rights violations, insecurity, frustration, disillusionment and increasing lost of people‟s confidence in the PDP government. Arising from the foregoing, the work recommended among others ways on how to reorganize the PDP for effective governance in Nigeria.
1.1 Background of the study
Democratic governance with its ideal of elective representation, freedom of choice of leaders, rule of law, freedom of expression, accountability etc has become the acceptable system of government all over the world. It is a form of government in which the supreme power of a political community rest on popular sovereignty. According to oyovbaire (1987) democracy as a system of government seeks to realize a generally recognized common good through a collective initiation and discussion of policy questions concerning public affairs and which delegat authority to agent to implement the broad decisions made by the people through majority vote. Thus, in contemporary times, democracy has been referred to as the expression of popular will of the political community through elected representatives. The contemporary democracy according to Raphael (1976) rest on representative government.
Democratic governance in Nigeria has been a different thing when compared to what is obtainable in other part of the world. The respect for human right and the rule law which are the main features of democracy are not visible especially between 1999 and 2007; election rigging and gangsterism is the order of the day that one can hardly differentiate between democratic government and autocracy.
In modern societies, political parties are very essential to political process. They have become veritable instrument or adjunct of democracy in any democratic system. Political parties are not only instrument for capturing political power, but they are also vehicles for the aggregation of interests and ultimate satisfaction of such interests through the control of government. Obviously political parties are crucial to the sustenance of democratic governance. As Agbaje (1999) notes that the extent to which political parties aggregate freely, articulate, represent and organize determines the level of accountability in public life including access to and use of power as well as political performance. Merkel (1977:99) summarized the basic functions of political parties as follows:
a. Recruitment and selection of leadership personnel for government offices
b. Generation of programmes and policies for government
c. Coordination and control of governmental organs
d. Social integration through satisfaction and reconciliation of group demands or the provision of common belief system or ideology
e. Social integration of individuals by mobilization of support and by socialization
Generally, political parties are very essential to democratic governance. It constitutes a central instrument of democratic governance. It provides the means of promoting accountability, collective action, popular participation, inclusiveness, legitimacy and accountability through the integration of their competing principles, ideologies and goals for eventual control of the government in the state. Political parties are the intermediate institution mediating the affairs of both the people and personnel and agencies that exercise state power.
In Nigeria, the political parties usually are formed along ethnic, cultural, geo political and religious lines. In everyday activities of government one notices the fostering of primordial loyalties such as ethnic sensivity and overt projection of other selfish political tendencies as a result, the political class has always remained bereft of viable political ideology on which the nation’s political future could be anchored. The bankruptcy in ideology and vision has reduced party politics to a bread and butter game where monetization of political process is the bedrock of loyalty and support. This has eroded the aim of the democratic system.
Since military disengaged from political power in may 1999, the PDP has dominated governance in Nigeria. After eight years of the party in government which earned the respect and admiration of most Nigerian electorates at the polls due to its programmes and policies, the party is loathed in the country. The average Nigeria encounters frustration, disillusionment and psycho moral dislocation owing to the failure of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) government to deliver the expected dividends of democracy.
The task of this research is to examine the role of the ruling PDP in the democratic governance in Nigeria’s fourth republic between (1999-2007).
1.2 Statement of Problem
The emergence of democratic governance in Nigerian political system in 1999 was a land mark in the political development of Nigeria. After fifteen years of persistent dictatorship, the return of democracy was received with pump and peagentry by civil societies, labour union, civil rights organization etc. Hope was very high in the area of human right which was completely absent during the dictatorship rule.
It was expected that the dividend of democracy would be realized through the political parties which are the means through which the politician reach the public and make their promises and manifestoes available to the people.
This research therefore focuses on investigating the role of Nigerian political parties in democratic governance since 1999-2007 with emphasis on PDP. The investigation would be guided by the following research questions:
1. How does the circumstance leading to the emergence and formation of political parties’ impact on internal democracy in the party?
2. Did the programmes enhance democratic governance in Nigeria between 1999 and 2007?
3. How were these programmes implemented to provide good governance to the people of Nigeria?
1.3 Objectives of The Study
The purpose of the study is to highlight the role of political parties in democratic government with the ruling PDP as a case study (1999-2007).
The study will critically analyze the issues as follows:
1. To examine the circumstance leading to the formation of political party and its impact on internal democracy of the party.
2. To examine the programmes of the party with a view of establishing their relevance to democratic governance.
3. To determine whether these programmes and policies were implemented with a view to enhance democratic governance.
1.4 Significance of The Study
This work has two aspect of significance: firstly, it will theoretically increase the existing body of knowledge in the scholarship on political parties and democratic governance in Nigeria.
Secondly, the research will practically be of immense value to political leaders and policy makers in Nigeria and will also enlighten and educate the masses on responsibility of parties in democratic governance by so doing; it will go a long way in providing practical solution to some of the problems of political parties in Nigeria democratic system.
Equally, the study will serve as a contribution to the measures to be taken to enhance sustainable democracy in Nigeria.
Finally the study will serve as a motivation for further inquiry in the area of political parties and governance in Nigeria.
1.5 Literature Review
A political party can be define as a group of people or an organized group of people who seek to control the government in order to put their ideology or programme into practice . According to Nwankwo (1990), political party can be define as an organized group of individuals seeking to seize power of government in order to enjoy the benefit to be derived from such control. He further opines that a political party exists primarily as an electoral machine for gaining power with coherent philosophy and its deep ideological aim. Therefore, a political party can be summed up as an organized group of people or individuals whose intentions are to control the apparatus of the state if given the opportunity to form government.
Shively (1997) sees political party as a group of officials or would be officials who are linked with a sizeable group of citizens into an organization; the chief object of this organization, is to ensure that its officials attain power or are maintained in power.
Joseph (1979) in his own contribution sees political party as a formal organization whose self conscious primary purpose is to place and maintain in public office persons who will control alone or in coalition the machinery of government.
Heywood (2002) is of the view that a political party is a group of people that is organized for the purpose of winning government power by elections or other means. Heywood points out that four characteristic which usually distinguish parties from other groups are:
1. Political parties aim to exercise government power by winning political office (small parties may nevertheless use election more to gain a platform than to win power)
2. Political parties are organized bodies with a formal card carrying membership. This distinguishes them from broader and more diffuse social movement.
3. Parties typically adopt a broad issue of focus addressing each of the major area of government policy ( small parties, however, may have a single issue focus, thus resembling interest groups)
4. To varying degrees, parties are united by shared political preferences and a general ideological identity.
In simple language, a political party is a group of persons bounded in policy and opinion in support of a general political cause, which essentially is the pursuit, capture and retention for as long as democratically feasible, of government and it offices. In other words, political party is a group that seeks to elect candidate to public office by supplying them with a label of party identification by which they are known to the electorate. A political party is therefore; at least do three things to its members and on lookers:
1. It’s a label in the minds of its members and wider public especially the electorate.
2. It is an organization that recruits and campaign for candidates seeking election and selection into public office.
3. It is a set of leaders who try to organize and control the legislative and executive branches of government.
A political party therefore, is a group of people and an organization like other group or organization, except it is distinguished from any other group by its unique objective which in a democratic settings, is seeking control of government through nominating its candidates and presenting its programmes for endorsement via the electoral process in competition with other parties.
Duverger (1964) emphasized that the general development of parties which tends to deviate from the democratic regime and asserts that growing centralization decision making is increasingly diminishing the influence of leaders upon members on the one hand and strengthening the influence of leaders upon members on the other. Again Duverger, is of the view that we are living in totally artificial nation of democracy forged by lawyers on the basis of eighteenth century philosophical utilitarianism, namely; the conception of democracy as government of the people; by the people providing general happiness for the greatest number. In practice the theory ceases to exist because all government tend to be oligarchic, which shows the domination of the greater number by a few. Therefore, democracy must reflect liberty for the people and for all section of the people. The author is right in opening up or revealing this obscure aspect of democratic parties for analysis, the principal objective of this work is not to study the social composition of the parties but their doctrines.
In their contribution to the study, sklar and Whitaker (1963) survey the role of Nigerian political parties in political and territorial integration, two key analytical variables postulated by the editors in the introduction. According to them, the emergency of political parties in Nigeria serves as an additional cleavage to integrated political system. The emergence of political parties and their leaders appear sectional in the approach to national issues and unity since their loyalty flow in the direction of their ethnic groups and regions. Ultimately their loyalty transcends that of the nation and therefore, they seem unable to forge an integrated political system.
In their own contribution to knowledge, Coleman and Rosbergy (1958) examine the role of political parties in national integration in tropical Africa using the same combination of behaviouralism and structural functionalism as employed by Coleman in his early classes on the background of nationalism in Nigeria. They see the role of political party as instrumental in the functioning and the development of the new African society and the political system of which they are a part. Since Nigeria belong to Africa and has the knowledge that a section of the book contributed by Richard .l. sklar rosbberg’s work is of great importance to us in our presence research. The two scholar opinioned that unlike the relatively stabilize national society of the old, more highly developed countries; there is an almost complete institutional vacuum at the central or national level in the new state of tropical Africa.
Agawal et al (1994). See political party as a voluntary association organized by the persons bound with common interest or aim, which seek to acquire or retain power through the election of it candidate into public office. In modern societies, political parties are distinct from other organization. They rely on permanent structure and organization with define offices and roles which enhance their mobilization of supporters. Also they manifest hierarchical order from the grassroots to the highest level of government. More strikingly, political parties seek to put their candidates into public offices through election in order to realize the conscious objectives, which bond their members. Political parties have become essential to the development of political process. They have become veritable instrument of democracy. In any democratic system, political parties are not only instruments for capturing political power but they are also vehicle for the aggregation of interest and ultimately the satisfaction of such interests through the control of government.
Obviously, political parties are crucial to the sustenance of democracy and governance. As Agbaje (1999) noted that the extent to which political parties aggregate freely, articulate, represent and organize determines the level of accountability in public life including access to and use of power as well as political performance.
James (1983), pointed out that political parties that emerged during the period of the anti colonial struggle, unfortunately were formed along tribal/ethnic lines i.e., the northern people’s congress (NPC) Hausa/Fulani, national council of Nigeria and Cameroon (NCNC) eastern and the action group (AG) Yoruba. The author has it that this has been the trend of party politics which later formed the background of the emergence of political parties in Nigeria’s second republic. Thus, despite all attempts to establish national parties as opposed to the ethnic/region parties in the second republic nearly all the parties, NPN, UPN, GNPP and PAP seemed to posses some elements of national outlook. This assertion was supported by james ojiako’s publication of the result of the 1979 elections which showed how the people voted across ethnic lines narrowing down the study to the contemporary trends in party politics in Nigeria and the behaviors of political parties in the present dispensation, we note that in vibrant democratic state, political parties are not seen as mere platform for contesting elections or political appointments rather their function according to MOS Olisa, should include: Providing political education for their members, Informing members in government offices about public opinion or national issues as well as maintaining as strong ideological base that would ensure its survival in the future elections.
After the 1999 general elections, there was glamour for more political parties which the chairman of the independent national committee approved for the 2003 election with the aim of providing a level playing ground for the parties. Still the aim seems to have been defeated but who knows?
In contemporary times, one of the opposition to Abacha’s self-succession was the G18 which metamorphosed into 9-34 then became the vanguard for the formation of big pan Nigerian party carried out by the independent national electoral commission (INEC), three political parties met INEC’s condition – the PDP , APP (ANDP) and AD. Other parties that were unregistered started to merge with the registered ones. The constitutional right group attributed the failure of the three political parties and the consultant “unholy” alliance. This is perhaps why all the parties presently seem to be unsettled and porous. Never the less the PDP hijacked the realm o affairs by winning the majority of seats in the two federal houses, occupying majority of 36 state governments and producing the president of the nation.
In 2003, 27 more political parties were registered there were first registered on 20th June 2002 and they are; all progressive grand alliance (APGA) national democratic party (NDP) and united Nigerians people’s party. On 3rd December 2002, additional twenty four (24)political parties were registered and they are; all peoples liberation party(APLP) better Nigeria progressive party(BNPP) community party of Nigeria (CPN), democratic alliance (DA), liberation democratic party of Nigeria (LDPN), masses movement of Nigeria (MMN) national action council (NAC), national mass movement of Nigeria(NMMN) national reformation party (NRP), new Nigeria people’s party (NNPP), peoples mandate party (PMP), peoples redemption party(PRP) peoples salvation party(PSP) progressive action congress(PAC) green party of Nigeria (GPN).
Moreover, on 7th December 2002 additional two parties were registered namely; African renaissance party (ARP) and united Democratic Party (UDP). This number came to be because of the challenge of INEC to the court by Gani Fawebimi and leaders of some unregistered parties then. But still in the election, the incumbent government of PDP maneuvered and won almost all the seats in the 2003 election.
The topic of this study and its aim will not be complete without a look at some review of democratic government. In one of its special edition and columnar on Africa’s new democracy, the European Acp journal takes a critical look on how Africa embarked on the part of democracy and now predictable doubts are beginning to toss in not only are people increasingly asking whether the western democratic model is a suitable one for Africa and Nigeria in particular Africa who are European partners are the agents of democracy and they sell it as a commodity of the third world.
According to Lewis (1965), all who are affected by a decision should have the chance to participate in making that decision either directly or through chosen representation. The will of the majority shall prevail.
He posited that, in the first definition of democracy, the man who stands for election represent groups with different ideas, interest or characteristics, and the real contest between these groups. So to exclude the losing groups from participation in decision making, clearly violates the first definition of democracy. He asserts that Europe and France practice class society where single party is appropriate. In Africa and particularly in Nigeria, we practice plural society, which is not just irrelevant; it is totally immoral in consistency with the first definition of democracy. It is also destructive of any prospect on building a nation in which different people might live together in harmony. According to him, the problem with Africa is the principle of plurality which is consequential of differences in tribes, languages, religion, race, in a long tradition of mutual hostility. In fact, people are mutually antipathetic they are historical enemies.
The democratic problem in a plural society remains the creation of political institution which gives all the various groups a single opportunity to participate in decision making. Therefore, a single party which include a representative of all the various groups and encourage full discussion within the party framework would be superior to a competition for power between parties representing different tribes, race or religion, political party as one of the recent inventions of the human race cannot be avoided in any maws democracy because of the masses are to vote, they have to learn how to cast their vote.
The literature reveals that the relationship between political parties and democratic governance is hinged on the historical development of the party and party structure. However, the sweeping wind of democratization since the 1990s has impacted on political processes and party systems. The existing literature appears to have neglected this aspect of the development of Nigerian political parties. Also we discovered that not much has been written on the role of political parties in Nigerian nascent democracy. This study is an attempt to fill this gap. This study seeks to examine some of the political economic factors of transformation of Nigerian political parties, their roles and how these have impacted on democratic governance in Nigeria.
1.6 Theoretical Framework
The theoretical framework adopted in this study is the group theory. The theory was adopted because of the strong view of scholars such as Bentley (1980) who was of the strong opinion that institutional 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 one another for power. The group Bentley, added, is a pattern of process involving mass of activities and not a collection of individual. The group emerges from frequent interaction among its individual members which is directed by their shared interest. The interest leads to the organization of the groups.
Bentley’s group theory received the blessings of scholars like David Truman, Robert Daniel; grant McConnell, Theodora J. Lewis, 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 alteration.
The adoption of this theory as basis for the examination of the role of political parties in a democratic governance in Nigeria is as a result of the inter play of forces and struggle for power among different political parties which are formed along various ethnic/religious groups in the Nigerian society which resulted shortly after independence. Political parties were formed along ethnic or sectional line.
Therefore, the adoption of the group theory would help us to examine how the roles and activities of Peoples Democratic Party affect generally political activities in Nigeria and in particular democratic governance.
1. The circumstance leading to the emergence and formation of political parties tended to undermine internal democracy and national development in Nigeria.
2. Some programmes of people’s Democratic Party (PDP) tended to be anti Democratic.
3. The implementation of PDP programmes between 1999 and 2007 seemed not to promote good governance.
1.8 The Scope and Limitations of The Study
The scope of this study will cover essentially the role of political parties in democratic governance in Nigeria between 1999-2007. The study will also ex-ray the part played by the people’s Democratic Party (PDP) as the ruling party during the period.
The work is limited to library research and other documented materials.
1.9 Method of Data Collection/Analysis
Data collection: The materials for this study were sourced mostly from written works from libraries and archives they include: text books, journals, newspapers, and magazines. In fact, this research work is mainly based on secondary data.
Data analysis: this analysis of data will be descriptive and historical. It will also adopt a situational approach in the data collected was examined to avoid going out of context. Also, content analysis method will be used to analyze method statements of some elites.
Definition of Concepts
To avoid ambiguity and misconception of terms, it is imperative that a vivid and clear explanation of terms is given.
Democracy as a concept in social science, has attracted varied definitions among scholars for the purpose of this discourse, democracy is a form of government which the supreme power of the political community rest on popular sovereignty.
According to oyovbaire (1987) democracy as a system which seek to realize a generally recognized common good through a collective initiation and discussion of policy questions concerning public affairs and which delegated authority to agents to implement the broad decisions made by the people through majority vote.
The most popular definition of democracy was that of Abraham Lincoln, which sees Democracy as the government of the people, by the people and for the people. This definition is widely accepted.
In the literature of political science, governance has been regarded as nebulous, ambiguous and vague. In this discourse, we have adopted dozie’s definition of the term.
Governance according to Dozie (1999), relates to the totality of processes entailed in the exercise and management of the collective will of a people or group under a defined authority or constitution. Governance is not only concerned with political activities and institutions such as economy, family, and other human congregations. Thus, governance can be regarded as the provision of leadership throughout a given society for the actualization of common good.
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