Multi Party System And Democratic Processes In Nigeria (A Case Study Of The Fourth Republic)

Project and Seminar Material for Political Science

Multi Party System And Democratic Processes In Nigeria (A Case Study Of The Fourth Republic)


The central role played by political parties in the development and nurturing of a virile democracy and its consolidation cannot be overstated. Where democracy survives for a long period of time, it is because political parties, among other vital institutions, are well established, and have played the role expected of them. In Nigeria, the return to democracy since 1999 has ushered in a renewed process of democratization and, thus, heralded another opportunity for the country to launch a new strategy towards democracy, after many years of lost opportunities under a prolonged period of military authoritarian rule. This essay examines the nature and character of party politics in Nigeria and its impacts on democratic governance, essentially from historical perspective. It concludes that to advance the democratic project, the Nigerian public needs to gain confidence in its institutions. The public needs to feel that there are organs of the political system that can guarantee fairness and justice and that are not undermined by wealth through corruption. Common citizens must have recourse to democratic institutions in order to express demands and resolve conflicts.

Chapter One


1.1 Background of the Study

Over the years Nigeria has experienced great change in terms of development in her political system right from the time of fight and struggle for political independence around in the late 1940s; the nationalist as at that then were still at the pre-independence and post-independence periods.

Take the pre-independence and the post-independence periods for instance, the political parties in Nigeria were not ideologically based; instead they were regionally based and kind of woven around individual politicians who most of them saw as their mentors. However in the last 10 years the parties were registered based on the exigencies of the time; this scenario was ongoing until 1998 when the need for parties that could bring Nigeria into a new era of democracy after over a long time of fifteen years of military rule.

History has it that the political parties in Nigeria have developed, playing a vital role towards the realization of the democratic goals.

It is evident that the last fifteen years have seen an evolution of various political parties ranging from 1991 to 1993. They are two main kind of party system practiced in Nigeria with the government establishing the Social Democratic party (SDP) and National Republican Convention (NRC).

The military government later proscribed the parties after the annulment of the presidential election back in 1993; however Nigeria returned to democratic rule in 1999; the restoration of the democratic government as at 1999 led to another method to part politics in Nigeria; during this period the liberalization for the registration of political parties evolved opening up the political space for mass participation in political activities in Nigeria.

The saw to the proliferation of registered political parties in Nigeria ranging between 50 to100 although some of them have really being unlucky in terms of winning the 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 however like many other African countries, has had its share of democratic challenges, but it has also recorded some achievement over the years. There have 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.

1.2 Statement of the General Problem

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.

1.3 Aims and Objectives of the Study

The major aim of the study is to examine Nigerian multiparty system and democratic processes in the fourth republic.

Other specific objectives of the study include;

  1. To find out the relationship between multi-party system and democratic processes in Nigeria in the fourth republic.
  2. To access the political implication of multi-party system in Nigeria in the fourth republic.
  3. To access whether the existence of multi-party system ensures democratic consolidation in Nigeria in the fourth republic.
  4. To recommend ways of ensuring an improved democratic process through multi party system in Nigeria.

1.4 Research Questions

  1. Is there any relationship between multi-party system and democratic processes in Nigeria?
  2. What are the political implications of multi-party system in Nigeria?
  3. Does multi- party system ensure democratic consolidation in Nigeria?
  4. What are the ways of improving democratic processes in Nigeria?

1.5 Research Hypotheses

  1. H0: There is no relationship between multi-party system and democratic processes in Nigeria
    H1: There is no relationship between multi-party system and democratic processes in Nigeria
  2. H0: Multi-party system has no significant on democracy in the fourth republic in Nigeria
    H1: Multi-party system has a significant on democracy in the fourth republic in Nigeria

1.6 Significance of the Study

The research would be immense importance 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.

1.7 Scope and Limitation of the Study

The scope of this study is strictly centered on the examination of the extent of development made by multi-party system in Nigeria political sphere. It also focuses attention on party system the history of political party in Nigeria and political party affiliations. The limitation of the work is quite enormous, since there is no availability of financial support to aid enough material for this study and the short time given for the study also made it difficult to accumulate enough information as possible for the study.

1.8 Definition of Terms


Politics is endemic in a man’s social existence and that is why a Greek philosopher, Aristotle asserted that man is a political animal. Politics was also defined by Prof Okwudiba Nnoli who opined that politics as the emergence of state power, consolidation of a state power and the use of a state power.

Political Party:

A political party is an organized group of individuals, seeking to seize the power of government in order to enjoy the benefits being derived from such control. Furthermore, a political party is a regular and permanent organization of certain number of people concerned with either conquering power or keeping it.

However, a political party is any group, however loosely organized seeking to elect governmental office holders under a given label. So in other words, a political party can be defined as different individuals or people who want to seize government power in order to put their ideologies parties is the seize governmental power.

A Party System:

A party system consists of all the parties in a particular nation and the laws and customs that govern their behavior. It simply means the formation, structure as well as the organization of political parties.


An election is a process of voting and been voted for, for the qualified citizens of any country, thus, qualification may be educational or based on experience in some cases.

An election is the procedure that allows members of an organization or community to choose representatives who will hold positions of authority within it.

Political Development:

Political development can be seen as a process involved in a country’s political change. It is an incident that causes a situation to change or progress, a state in which the developing of something is not yet complete.

Multi-Party System:

Multi-party system simply means the presence of three or than three parties in particular state. A country that has up to three or more viable parties is said to be operating a multi-party system of government. However, a country may have up to three or more parties but will still not be qualified to be termed multi-party system country, it is because, there must be viable strong opposition parties which will lead to formation of coalition government.


Democracy is a Greek word „demos’ which means “the people” and “kratein” means “to rule”. So it is a system of government of the people, by the people and for the people. Also it a system of government whereby citizens of a country have full rights and obligation to participate in governmental policies and decision making.


This is the ability to make people (or things) to do what they would not otherwise have done. In other words, power is the ability to make someone or others conform to your desire or it the ability to act and secure conforming behavior.

Electoral Commission:

This is the body which has the responsibility for the conduct of election in the country, in Nigeria for example, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is typical example of electoral body.


The exhibition open or secret of one preference for a person or a party or a cause-secret ballot therefore is regarded as the necessary condition for the expression of free choice.


This is government by a tyrant. A tyranny behaves like a dictator but in majority cases not in the interest of the people. Tyranny is a bad form of dictatorship.

General Election:

This is a type of election where all the electorate in a country participate at the same time on a given day, to elect representatives into the government.

Chapter Five

Recommendations and Conclusions

Based on the above findings this study recommends that:

  1. Political parties in Nigeria is the lack of political ideologies, philosophy and principles, there has to be what a party is known for, if they are liberals or conservatives, these will help shape the nature people the party will attract. Furthermore it will also impact of their manifestoes and how they will go about executing them. The importance of party ideology cannot be over emphasized therefore there must be clearly spelt out party ideologies for political parties in the fourth republic.
  2. There a serious need for political education among the citizen of Nigeria to remove the roots of ethnicity in the administration of political parties in Nigeria, The citizens should know the dangers of mixing ethnicity and politic so as to prevent chaos in the society. Ethnicity is another major hindrance to democratic development in the fourth republic, which needs to be addressed by constantly educating the populace about their rights so as to prevent them from being manipulated to be a part of ethnic politicking.
  3. There should be measures in place to look into establishing strict internal laws that will govern the affairs of party members and curb their excesses; most of the parties in the fourth republic have stronger men who do not obey the party laws and dictates of the party. Majority of the politicians today misbehave because there are no strict party laws guiding their actions. If the political party manage their own members how can they manage a state or a nation, hence the need for party internal laws to guide their affairs.
  4. There should be conferences among political parties which will lead to the adjustment of political laws and regulation that cautions politicians so as to make them very accountable for their actions in government and if found guilty of mismanagement of funds or abuse of office is liable go to prison. This will ensure that the elected office holders will be responsible for their actions while in the office, and will fast track the growth of democracy in the fourth republic.
  5. Seminars and workshops should be organised as frequently as possible to help the political party officials stay updated with the trend of political party activities which will develop them and the political party system at large. Constant education for the political party members as well will help to breed a new group of enlightened politicians that will cut across all levels of government.
  6. The electoral body that coordinate election (INEC) should be well funded by government to enable them carry out its duties properly without the influence of the government and other external forces. The independence of the electoral body is key to guaranteeing the accuracy election result which is a very important aspect of democracy.

The inability of INEC to carry out its duties has hampered the development of the democratic process in the nation, it also brought social vices to play where politicians rig and stuff ballot boxes as seen in the fourth republic elections.

In conclusion, political party is a group of people who come together in common interest to get political power, multi-party has enhanced the development of the democratic process especially in the fourth republic. However there are peculiar challenges that have hindered the development of Nigeria in the fourth republic, the political elite have come to politics as a money making avenue where they invest in local politicians and expect returns on their investment. The adoption of group theory in this study has helped explain the coming together of people into groups; these groups get involved in political activities which encourages political participation in the activities of the state. All these political activities help to deepen democracy in Nigeria’s fourth republic. This study concludes that multi-party system is very good for the political development of our democracy in the fourth republic and if all the mentioned challenges are address it will enhance democratization in Nigeria.

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