Party Politics And National Integration
1.1 Background of The Study
The rise of political parties as an instrument of national intergration has captured the attention of many scholars in recent times. Their common purpose enables Appadorai (2004:537) to formulate his classical definition of political party as “A political party is more or less organized group of citizens who act together as a political unit, have distinctive aims and opinions on the leading political questions of controversy in the state, and who, by acting together as a political unit, seek to obtain control of the government”. Edmund Burke defined political party as “a body of men united for promoting by their joint endeavors, national integration upon some particular principles in which they are all agreed” (Burke, 1839).
Ostrogorski, (1854-1919) was one of the first students of politics to recognize that parties were becoming vital in the new era of democratic politics. The twentieth century proved to be the century of parties. In West Europe, mass parties battled for the votes of enlarge electorates. In communist and fabist states, ruling parties monopolized power in an attempt to reconstruct society and the people within it. In the developing world, nationalist parties became the vehicle for driving colonial rulers back to their imperial homeland. In all their cases, parties succeeded in drawing millions of with the national political process, often for the first time. The mass party was the mobilizing device of the twentieth century.
In standing between the people and the state, parties became and substantially remain, integral to politics in four main ways.
- Ruling parties offer direction to government, performing the vital task of steering the ship of state.
- Parties function as agents of elite recruitment. They serve as major mechanism for preparing and recruiting candidates for public office. If you want to lead your country, you must first persuade a party to adopt you as it candidate.
- Parties serve as agents of interest aggregation. They transform a multitude of specific demands into more manageable packages of proposals. Parties select, reduce and combine interests. They act as a filter between society and state, deciding which demands to allow through their net.
- The declining extent, political parties serves as a point of reference for their supporters and voters, giving people a key to interpreting a complicated political world.
Political parties are permanent organizations which contest elections, usually because they seek to occupy the decisive positions of authority within the state, unlike interest groups, which seek merely to influence the government, serious parties aim to secure the levers of power in Rod Hague and Martin Harrop (2001:167). In Weber’s phrase parties live in a house of power Weber (1968).
A party may exist primarily as an electoral machine for gaining power with no coherent philosophy, or it may have deep ideological aims. It might also conform to Edmund Burk’s definition of a group agreed “upon a pimple by which the national interest might be served. It is a group publicly organized with the intention of gaining political power in government, to realize certain aims C. A. heeds (1975:124).
National integration is a process which includes among other things, the incorporation of various parts of a society into a functioning whole, the growth of obedience and loyalties of the nation transcending loyalties to its, parts and emergence of shared values and perspectives or consensus. Therefore, Nigerian could achieve national integration if loyalty to the nation transcends loyalties to the parts of state. Nigeria would be a country where all the citizens no matter where you reside could aspire, work and attain his life ambition without hindrance based on regionalism and states.
Party politics came into Nigerian during British rule in the country. As a result of the circumstances of their “birth”, most of the pre-independence political parties in the country lacked national outlook despite the fact that some of their main actors were looked upon as committed nationalists. A possible exception was, however, the National Council of Nigerian Citizens (NCNC) which made a number of concrete attempts to assume a national outlook.
Although political parties in Nigeria under the presidential system wore new labels, the individuals who operated them still retained their old habits. If there was anything new in party politics under the presidential system, it was in the structure of the parties. For example, while political parties under the parliamentary system tended to deepen ethnic differences, the ones under the presidential system cut across enthnic solidarity. But because there was no corresponding change in the political ways of Nigerian political corruption and other vices that typified pre presidential political parties in Nigeria assumed alarming proportions under the new system.
The second republic, in spite of the constitutional provision for the emergence of true national parties, the five political parties that was registered by Federal Electoral Commission (FEDECO) was nothing but the reincarnation of political parties of the first republic. The National Party of Nigeria (NPN) was a re-emergence of the NPC of the first republic, equally, the Nigerian People’s Party, the Unity Party of Nigeria, the NCNC, AG respectively.
IBB lifted the ban on political activities, which had been in place since the 1983 coup, two political parties were established: the center-right National Republican Convention (NRC)and the center-left Social Democratic Party (SDP). Pulse.ng (2018)
Going forward, Abacha’s political madness cost Nigeria a great deal. But that ended on June 8, 1998 when the cold hand of death gripped him in what Nigerians believed to be a decisive moment. Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar prepared way for transition that saw the power returned to the ex-military head of state, Gen. Olusegun Obasanjo as democratically elected president on May 29, 1999.
Abubakar appointed the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to conduct elections for Local Government Councils, State legislature and Governorship positions, the National Assembly, and Presidency. The INEC successfully held elections on December 5, 1998, January 9, 1999, February 20, and February 27, 1999, respectively. For local elections, nine parties were granted provisional registration with three fulfilling the requirements to contest the elections. These parties were the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), the All People’s Party (APP) and the predominantly Yoruba Alliance for Democracy (AD).
The People’s Redemption Party (PRC) promulgated a new Constitution based largely on the suspended 1979 constitution, before the May 29, 1999 inauguration of the new civilian President. The Constitution includes provisions for a bicameral legislature, the National Assembly consisting of a 360 member House of Representatives and 109 members Senate.
Former Head of State Olusegun Obasanjo, freed from prison by Abubakar, ran as a civilian, candidate. PDP won the 1999 presidential election with its flag bearer, President Olusegun Obasanjo. The PDP produced 21 state governors, ANPP 9 governors and AD produced 6 governors. The emergency of a democratic form of government in Nigeria on May 1999 ended 16 years of consecutive military rule. (Vanguard, August 18 2013)
In the study, we shall comparatively analysis two political parties in Nigeria. Our task therefore is to access the attempt made by political parties in the achievement of political integration.
1.2 Statement Of The Problem
Since the return of Nigeria to the paths of democratization, the challenges of consolidating democracy occupy a central position not only in the academic circle, but also in the domains of civil society, public policy and democracy aid industry. This is probably so because sustaining democracy is often a task difficult as establishing it (Schedler, 1998; 2001), if not much more daunting. Moreover, the experience of history demonstrates convincingly the fluctuating fortunes of democratisation in Africa, given the abysmal failure of all previous attempts at democratisation in the continent. Worse still, under the third wave of democratisation, African democracies appear not to have taken firm roots. Indeed, they appear to be under the threats of potential breakdown and/or erosion. Tatah Mentan characterized them as being held together by pins and perpetually under siege by antidemocratic forces (Mentan, 2007). Evidently, the democratization process in Nigeria appears epileptic and inconsistent, beaming new hopes in some countries and instances, and faltering prospects in some others (Osaghae, 1999; Young, 1999; Baker, 2000; May, 2000;Basedau, Erdmann and Mehler, 2007; Journal of African Election, 2007; Menocal; Fritz;Rakner, 2008; Lindberg and Morrison, 2008). The situation is so terrible that one may be tempted to re-echo the sentiments of anti-democratic thought as to the possibility of democracy in Nigeria (see Gilley, 2009).
The deepening crisis of democratisation in Africa seems closely connected to the pertinent issue of multiparty elections and their administration (Omotola, 2009). Effective electoral reforms energises elections by contributing to the building of social capital for the democratization process. For the most part of Africa, however, electoral reforms and therefore, electoral administration has tended to be largely ineffective, becoming democratic liabilities, instead of assets, thereby reinforcing the thesis that elections in Africa are nothing but a fading shadow of democracy(Adejumobi, 2000; Van de Linde, 2001; Lumumba Kasongo, 2005; Obi, 2009). The concept of national integration is the prime political problem facing the Nigerian nation. Many authors and political scientists have devoted time and attention to this problem but it seems to be more increasingly intractable. Political party’s activities because of the determinative role they play in Nigeria and these roles should not always be taken for granted. Since political parties provide a link between the individual and the larger political community, they can be a mechanism for political socialization, mass mobilization and thus for achieving national integration.
National integration in totality may consist of political integration, social integration, cultural integration; economic integration etc. part of the problems of national integration is that initially the colonialists arbitrarily lumped together various groups under the name Nigeria. In fact Nigeria has remained a society where forces of ethnicity, parochialism and religious diversity or pluralism seriously predominate over centripetal forces. The emergence of political parties in the fourth republic entails the formal convergence of various communities with their leaders and members as well as their loyalties behind. In an effort to comparatively analysis two political parties in Nigeria, the following questions are considered fundamental
1.3 Research Questions
The problems to be encountered in this research are:
- How does the ethnic character of political parties undermine national integration in Nigeria between 1999 and 2015?
- Does the non-existence of the nationally oriented political parties affect national integration in Nigeria between 1999 and 2015?
1.3 Objectives of the Study
It is the intention of this research to expose alternative methods of achieving national integration and how political parties can help in bringing about national integration in Nigeria. Therefore, the aims and objectives of this research are as follow.
- To examine how ethnicity in political parties undermine national integration in Nigeria between 1999 and 2015
- To ascertain how the non-existence of the nationally oriented political parties affect national integration in Nigeria between 1999 and 2015
1.5 Significance of the Study
To realize national integration, there must be an organization responsible for the provision of the necessary personnel for the running of government. Here the role of political parties became imperative. It is the function of the political parties to provide the machinery for the selection of personnel of government.
This work aims at perpetuating itself as a viable resourceful and relevant material to lend information to future researchers especially in this chosen field. The significance of this research is as follows:
It will explore the roots of the problem of national integration and proffer solutions and how political parties can help in bringing about national integration. The problems of national integration in this research are the issue of ethno-regional domination, private interest etc. This work would proffer solutions on how these problems could be controlled.
It will act as a guide to researches on how the problem of ethno-regional domination, corruption has hampered on national integration. It would provide solution and alternative ways through.
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