Political Parties And Politics Of Second Term
After sixteen years of uninterrupted thriving of democracy in Nigeria under the steer of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), in the Fourth Republic (1999-2015), Nigerians witnessed an unexpected but desired change of political party at the centre of governance with the victory of the All Progressive Congress (APC) in the 2015 general elections. This paper takes a critical look into this ‘change’, examining the forces and factors that necessitated the clamour for change, as well as the factors that facilitated the arrival of the change and the prospects of Nigerians benefitting from this change. We adopted the documentary research method in the study. Data for the study were collected through secondary means and the analysis was done through critical descriptive method. We argued in a subtly anecdotal way that the tragedy of ‘gun boat’ mentality of the PDP which led to the frustration on the part of the citizens and ‘speed boat’ mentality of the APC which made them take advantage of the bad situation in the country, were two major contributory factors leading to the desire and actualization of power change. Thus, for this change to satisfy the expectations of the Nigerian electorates and be sustained, APC must ensure that it learns from the mistakes of the PDP by placing the interest of the people at the centre of governance. Else, the people become the only instrument for ensuring that the desired products of the change are achieved through the civil society organizations and elections.
1.1 Background of Study
A political party is an association of people who hold similar views about what should be a community or society’s social and economic priorities and come together to establish these priorities by gaining control of the machinery of government (Derbyshire & Darlyshire, 1991:13a). Modern political parties, whose predecessors were cliques and factions, are products of the eighteenth century onwards. They display three essential features; one, a permanent structure and organization; two, an authority to represent people, whatever or not they are( card carrying) members of the party, based open elections; and three; an intention to form a government or participate in government.
Political parties have an important role to play in a democracy. In fact, it is mostly through them that two important attributes of democracy, free and fair elections and right to run office (Dahl, 1989:221) can be actualized.
Since Nigeria’s independence in 1960, there has not been much practice with party politics in the country. This was due to largely to the incursion of the military into the political realm beginning only six years after independence when major Kaduna Nzeogwu staged the first military coup. Prior to this time, there was party politics in the first republic and some of the parties that completed for political power were the Action Group (AG), National Council for Nigeria and the Cameroons (NCNC), and the Nigeria People’s Congress (NCP) (Sklar, 1983). Later, between 1979 and 1983 during the second republic, the political parties that completed were National Party of Nigeria (NPN), The Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN), The Nigeria Peoples party (NPP), The Peoples Redemption Party (PRP), and The Great Nigeria Peoples Party (GNPP) (Ayeni and Soremakun, 1958; Faldla & Ihonvbere, 1985).
Under President Ibrahim Babaginda’s transition to civic rule programme(1984-1993), and after several attempts at party formation, outside the preview of government, the bitched Third Republic was saddled with two government established and registered parties-The Social Democratic parties (SDP), and the National Republican Convention (NRC). During General Sanni Abacha’s regime (1993-1998), there also attempt at party formation with The United Nigeria Congress Party (UNCP), The Congress for National Consensus (CNC), The Democratic Party of Nigeria (DPN), The National Centre Party of Nigeria (NCPN) and The Grassroots Democratic Party (GDP) participating in that regime’s transition programme (Lipsat, 2000).
Within inauguration of the Fourth Republic in 1999, three political parties were formed and it was through the platform of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Alliance for Democracy (AD), and All Peoples Party (APP) that the politicians contested for election in various states o the federation. These political parties, as political institutions, are very critical to success and sustenance of democracy considering the widely held view that indeed, Nigeria as only undergone a handover from military to civic rule and that the transition to democracy proper is only now beginning. (IDEA, 2000).
Unlike the 1999 elections that ushered in the Fourth Republic, the 2003 general elections presented another opportunity for transition from one civilian government to another. In that election, about 29 political parties contested for elective post, which was unprecedented in history of election in Nigeria. The electoral body that oversees the elections was the Independent Electoral Commission (INEC) and was chaired by Maurice Iwu (Aderemi, 2005).
The 2007 polls individual by the same regime and the first ever civilian- civilian transition in the political history, lack of preparedness on the part of the Independent Electoral Commission (INEC) and the acrimonious inter and intra-party squabbles, it was clear that the elections were jinxed from the outset. Also, the 2011 elections was not an exception. It was a similar experience. The 2015 general elections was the fifth and most competitive elections since transition from military rule in 1999. For the first time, the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP) was challenged by a new unified opposition party, the All Progressive Congress (APC), which was formed in February, 2013 by the four biggest opposition parties. The emergence of the APC prompted political realignment across the country resulting in a head-to-head electoral competitive between the two main parties. Apart from PDP and APC, 25 small parties participated in the elections (Henry 2015). Eventually, the APC won the presidential election and it establishes the government that is currently piloting the affairs of the nation. Of course, the achievements is seen or perceived different. While some argues that the APC president has done creditably well, others disagreed.
The study therefore, gives an insight into the 2019 Presidential election in Nigeria. It will unveil how the PDP and the APC draw attention to the importance of credible elections
1.2 Statement of the Problem
Nigeria’s return to civil rule and democratic system of government is a relief to many political observers and any (academic) exercise that will contribute to improving the quality of her democracy is to be enthusiastically welcomed. This study is one of such attempts to examine a critical institution in any democracy –the political party- with a view to improving political parties and sustaining democracy in Nigeria. Thus, the centrality of political parties contest for political power in true democracies recommends this study. The study is also important since it is expected to be educative for the general public about what to expect in the forthcoming 2019 presidential election, which is the second term of the APC government in Nigeria.
Mindful of political parties as crucial institutions of democracy whose impact and activities may make or mark democratic aspirations and development, especially in developing multi-ethnic states like Nigeria, the postulations into APC 2019 presidential election shows the efficacy of the opposition in democratic governance. In other words, there is an urgent need to sharpen party opposition accountability, transparency, equity and justice. Of course, since 2015, there have been different agitations on the expectation of Nigerians from the APC government. All the ‘change mantra’ has not been positively seen in the entire fabric of the society. This raises various issues, agitations, lamentations and epitome of frustration.
Related to the issue of political parties are the instruments (usually documents) through which parties articulate their perceptions of community priorities and make promises, on the basis o which they woo voters during elections via manifestoes. A manifesto consists of a statement of policy issued by a political party in the form of election address to constituents (Craig quoted in Bello-Imam, 1991). It is the basis on which political parties differentiates themselves. Thus manifestoes determine to a great extent, citizens electoral behavior and the fate of political parties during elections.
Therefore, the study seeks to make a critical investigation on the achievements on the APC-led government and postulate on the likely happening in the 2019 Presidential election.
1.3 Research Objectives
The general objective of the study is to analyse political parties and the politics of second term of the APC. In this respect, the specific objectives include the following;
- To analyse political parties and their manifestoes especially in relation to the basis of their formation and their rule in the substance of democracy.
- To examine the development process and operation or activities of the APC in order to prognosis into the 2019 Presidential election.
- To critically analyse the contents of the APC manifestoes that brought them into power in 2015.
- To identify any problem, if any, inhibiting the effective or efficient delivery of the electoral promises in 2015,
- To make recommendations towards the consideration of APC in the 2019 general elections, in order for them to sustain democracy in Nigeria beyond 2019.
1.4 Research Questions
- What is the basis of formation and rules of the political parties’ vis-à-vis their manifestoes in the substance of democracy?
- What are the development process and operation of activities of the APC in an attempt to prepare for 2019 presidential election?
- What is the content of the APC manifestos that brought them into power in 2015?
- What has been the effective and efficient delivery of the electoral promises in 2015?
- How can the democracy be sustained in Nigeria beyond 2019?
1.5 Scope and Limitation of the Study
The scope of the study is to examine and assess the performance of APC –led government of General Muhammad Buhari since 2015 till date. It also postulates and prognosis into likely outcome and unfolding reality of the APC presidential election for the second term bid
1.6 Research Methodology
This study employs secondary sources of data collection to get the requisite information; the content analysis of relevant documents to the issues under consideration will be done. Thus, journal articles, textbooks, newspapers, magazines, internet materials and related materials will be adequately used to analyze the issue under review.
1.7 Outline of Chapters
- Chapter One introduces the essence of the study in providing a Background to the study, Statement of the research problem, Research objectives, Research questions, Literature review and Theoretical framework.
- Chapter Two focuses on the Literature review and the theoretical framework.
- Chapter Three examines the formation of APC, the party manifestoes, and the political philosophy of the party, the party leadership and membership, the composition of the national and state leadership.
- Chapter Four borders on the APC presidential victory in the 2015 election, Appraisal of the achievements, Performance of the party at National and State level, insights into 2019 Presidential elections; Party internal Democracy.
- Chapter Five rounds up the discourse in form of Summary, Conclusion, Recommendations.
1.8 Definition of Terms
The activities associated with the governance of a country or other area, especially the debate or conflict among individuals or parties having or hoping to achieve power.
To become, or cause something to become, stronger, united and more certain
An election is a formal group decision-making process by which a population chooses an individual to hold public office
Conclusion and Recommendations
History was made in the 2015 general elections in Nigeria as an opposition party won the presidential election and a sitting president; Goodluck Jonathan congratulated the president-elect even before the announcement of the results. Though the elections were conducted under a heated atmosphere of suspense and suspicion in all corners, it ended on a happy note as the desires of majority of Nigerians were fulfilled. The PDP lost the presidential election to the APC as a result of the frustration Nigerians have witnessed under the PDP leadership and governance system. The current victory of the APC is however going to face a lot of challenges as Nigerians have a lot of expectations from the APC. The APC needs to be wary of this challenge and work hard to fulfil their promises to Nigerians otherwise they will face strong criticisms which may eventually lead to their downfall just like the PDP did. Civil society groups, NGOs, trade unions and all Nigerians must act as watch-dogs over the APC to ensure that this achieved change and the benefits expected from it will not elude them.
In an effort to restructure governance in Nigeria and bring about the dividends of the change which Nigerians desired and set in motion, the APC must consider some of the following recommendations.
Nigeria is a federal state composed of many ethnic nationalities subsumed under states and local governments. The principles of true federalism need to be fully functional in Nigeria if the fighting and bickering over the resources of the country will be brought to a stop. The APC must therefore ensure that equity and transparency are upheld. The federal government must be able to grant full autonomy to the states and the local governments and allow them play the grassroots role which they are created for both in management of resources and otherwise.
Related to the above is the principle of separation of powers which has suffered a lot under PDP. The APC led by Buhari must allow the different arms of government to act independent of the executive arm of government. This will make way for smooth intergovernmental relations in the country thereby reducing constant clash of governments of different levels and their agencies as well as hitting up the polity.
Furthermore, the issue of corruption and financial crimes need not be over stretched.
Corruption has been the bane of Nigeria’s development. The Buhari administration should fight corruption with strong political will without exceptions to the rule. Nigerians must be able to follow the procedures for this fight in order to ensure that it is a credible fight.
Again, the Rule of Law must be allowed to take its course in governance. Most Nigerians argue that because Buhari is a retired soldier, he tends to have little respect for the constitution and legal procedures. The Buhari administration must therefore prove this insinuation wrong by ensuring that the laws of the country are not trampled upon. The constitution remains the supreme law of the land and must be respected always. Necessary sections of the constitution also require amendments to make it suit the Nigerian people and environment well. Buhari-led administration should also think along this line.
More so, insecurity in Nigeria has grown to a very alarming rate. The rate has become very worrisome that no day passes without one hearing of deaths of people in different parts of the country. Kidnapping and suicide bombing has been on the increase. This has affected foreign direct investment and economic activities in the country. As security forms part of the APC agenda, Nigerians are waiting to see the achievement of this agenda.
The state of power/electricity and economic development in Nigeria has been low. It is true that international organisations and some countries have been projecting the country as a fast growing economy. The truth remains that Nigerians have not felt the positive impact of these projections. The APC government must employ all arsenals within its reach to ensure that electric power becomes available to Nigerians as this will help fix a lot of other problems in the country including unemployment and improve the country’s economic development.
Related to electricity is the issue of unemployment in Nigeria which has been increasing annually as a result of lack of jobs and lack of political and economic environment that encourages entrepreneurship. A lot of Nigerian youth graduate from the higher institutions annually and join the labour market seeking for employment for years without getting any. Many of those who are due for retirement in the ministries, parastatals and agencies refuse to retire and falsify their ages thereby creating a glut in the system. The Buhari led administration having recognised the need to tackle this menace, should match words with actions as Nigerians expect a lot from his administration in the regard.
Finally in our recommendation is the need for public participation in the policy process in Nigeria. The APC and President Buhari should recognise that without the support of Nigerian people, they would not have won the 2015 general elections. Thus, they should always consult with the people in making critical policies that affect the majority of Nigerians. Policies should also be people-centered and not for the interest of the elite. Democratic governance is known to be a governance philosophy that puts the people at the fulcrum of its functioning. With this expectation met, the people will give more support to the APC government both now and in future elections.
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