The Role Of Political Parties In Issues Of Free And Fair Election In Nigeria: A Case Study Of PDP And APC

Project and Seminar Material for Political Science

The Role Of Political Parties In Issues Of Free And Fair Election In Nigeria: A Case Study Of PDP And APC


This study unfolds the contributions of political parties in issues and challenges of free and fair elections in Nigeria with specific focus on Kogi State 2011 gubernatorial election. The study through the understanding of the typologies of political culture and political participation as frame work of analysis focuses on the concepts: political mobilization and education, party primaries and interparty contest as units of analysis for discussing the Nigerian electoral process. The study thus argued that the low turnout of electorates during elections which was less than 50% of registered voters during the Kogi State gubernatorial election is an indication of the poor mobilization and educative function of political parties which poses a major challenge to free and fair elections. The study further stated that, party primaries in the Nigerian state, especially in major political parties as manifested in Kogi State is often characterized by electoral manipulation and thereby adversely affecting aggregative function of political parties. This tends to have a far reaching implication on interparty contest as political environment in most cases is charged with divisiveness, party indiscipline, thuggery, ballot box snatching to mention a few.

Chapter One


1.1 Background of the Study

The history of elections in Nigeria can be traced back to 1922 as was conducted by the British Colonial government in response to the pressures of the nationalists who were agitating for greater participation in the colonial administration. Subsequently, Nigerians were offered the first opportunity to occupy certain political offices. Though the franchise was restricted and representation limited, it was nonetheless an achievement for the nationalists who were struggling for the enthronement of democratic order as a pre-requisite for greater participation of the people in the process of governance. After 1922, several other elections were conducted in different parts of the country to elect leaders at national, regional and local levels. However, it was the 1959 General Elections that paved way for the emergence of Nigeria as an independent state. Since then, various elections have been held either in transition from one civilian government to another or in transition from military regimes to civilian administration.

Organizing a free and fair elections in an emerging democracy such as Nigeria has been viewed as a challenging process that needs functional input from democratic bodies such as the political parties, the electoral body, the electorates as well as the political entities whose activities are geared towards controlling the machinery of government (Omodia, 2011a). Free and fair elections has also seen viewed as the mechanism that oils the democratic process which enables for democratic stability, and maturity (Ibodje and Dode 2007; Omodia 2011a). From the perspective of this paper, relating the first conception of free and fair elections to the latter as stated above, is indicative of the fact that although functional inputs are needed from political elites, the electoral body, electorates, political parties and in the Nigerian environment, to a great extent security agents, it is important to note that the structure, pattern and functioning of political parties tend to affect the institutions mentioned above. According to Omodia (2009) the structure of political parties: masses, elitist/cadre and mass-elite could vividly impact on the freeness and fairness of the electoral process in that: an elitist dominated process would lead to excessive monetization of the electoral process, experience the manipulation of the masses by the political elites for selfish and class benefits, an ineffective and restrictive political mobilization of the citizenry for voter registration and enhanced political participation in voting, a non-issue based political education that will not enable the electorate to make informed electoral decisions among others. The implication therefore is that it is important to accentuate that, the role of political parties in a competitive environment is of utmost importance to ensuring free and fair elections. This is because parties are expected to regulate the activities of their members by ensuring that they keep to rules specified by electoral body for hygienic contest. This is coupled with such other functions as; political mobilization and education of electorate, instilling confidence in the electoral process through an open and transparent conduct of party primaries, making sure that parties are represented at polling booths and collation centres by party agents among others.

The conception of free and fair election is an embodiment of a joint process where the people are the driving force and determinant of political representation or the outcome of the electoral process. In other words, the conception here is not only for inter-party elections to be free and fair especially in new democratic states of Africa, but, the need for electoral activities to be centered on the people in such a way that it would aid the emergence of political leaders at the intra party level, aid informed political decisions at the polling booth and where the people’s choice would be the major determinant of electoral contest. In order to achieve the above, political parties are expected to effectively perform the function of political education, political candidates or parties are not supposed to be restricted to access to mass media or any other functional means of political campaign, a candidate or party is not expected to be unduly financially advantaged through the use of state fund, the electoral body is also expected to be independent in such a way that it could effectively discharge the functions of transparent voter registration exercise, collation and declaration of electoral results among others.

1.2 Statement of the Problem

Nigeria, a country with different ethnic groups and corrugated different political agendas ranging from the individual perspective to the political parties. The menace with Nigeria electioneering process is the wheel to be on power at all cost irrespective of the interest of the people, every political party that is on power want to retain power for their selfish interest, while doing this, they map out strategies that will enable them to rig the election either by crook or hook, this things are not mostly peculiar with the Nigeria system alone but is common due to the fact that most of the leaders even come out openly to declare their stands to fight with their last breath to win election.

Political malpractice has taken a new formation in the history of Nigeria, most of the country’s religious leader are now praise singers of politicians, they have ignore their vows and responsibilities to the people by preaching the gospel which proffers rather to rain encomium on politician(s) who come to their congregation for thanks giving to God. Instead of religions leaders playing their role of lordship over these politicians, by chastising any dubious person that warrant such in other to cleans the society from bad eggs. Thus, the focus of study is to unfold the role of political parties in enhancing free and fair elections in Nigeria with specific focus on Kogi State Gubernatorial Election of 2011.

1.3 Objectives of the Study

The sole aim of this research is to examine the role of political parties in issues of free and fair election in Nigeria, the researcher intend to address the following sub objectives in the course of the study;

  1. To examine the contributions of political parties to sustaining a free and fair election in kogi state.
  2. To examine the performance of INEC in the management and conduct of 2011 general elections in kogi state.
  3. To examine the level of success recorded by political parties at the end of the elections in kogi state.
  4. To determine the problems associated with conducting a free and fair election in kogi state.
  5. To proffer solutions to the problems and challenges mitigating against free and fair election in Nigeria.

1.4 Research Hypotheses

The researcher formulated the following null and alternate hypotheses to guide the study;

  1. H0: there is no significant relationship between political parties and conducting free and fair election in kogi state.
    H1: there is a significant relationship between political parties and conducting free and fair election in kogi state.
  2. H0: INEC does not perform any management role in conducting a free and fair election in kogi state.
    H2: INEC performs management role in conducting a free and fair election in kogi state.
  3. H0: There was no free and fair election during the 2011 gubernatorial election in kogi state.
    H3: There was a free and fair election during the 2011 gubernatorial election in kogi state.

1.5 Significance of the Study

The following are the significance will be achieve at the completion of the study;

This study will educate the general public on the activities of political parties with specific focus on the management role of 2011 general election in the state with a view of ascertaining the success and problems associated with free and fair election.

To political parties’ leaders and members, it will serve as a mirror of reflection on the need to represent not imposing representatives on the masses. The need for a credible election to be conducted, where every votes cast can be accounted for even in the nearest future.

This research will be a contribution to the body of literature in the area of the effect of personality trait on student’s academic performance, thereby constituting the empirical literature for future research in the subject area.

1.6 Scope and Limitation of the Study

This study is limited to the role of political parties in conducting a free and fair election, with specific reference to the 2011 general elections conducted in kogi State. It will also cover the successes and challenges associated with the 2011 general election in the state.

In the course of the study the researcher encountered the following constraint;

Financial Constraint

Insufficient fund tends to impede the efficiency of the researcher in sourcing for the relevant materials, literature or information and in the process of data collection (internet, questionnaire and interview).

Time Constraint

The researcher will simultaneously engage in this study with other academic work. This consequently will cut down on the time devoted for the research work

1.7 Definition of Terms

Political parties:

A political party is a group of people who come together to contest elections and hold power in the government. The party agrees on some proposed policies and programmes, with a view to promoting the collective good or furthering their supporters’ interests.

While there is some international commonality in the way political parties are recognized, and in how they operate, there are often many differences, and some are significant.


This is an acronyms for Peoples Democratic Party in Nigeria.


This is an acronyms for All Progressives Congress in Nigeria.


Independent national electoral commission is an independent body that is saddle with the responsibility of voter’s registration and conduction of elections in Nigeria.


An election is a formal decision-making process by which a population chooses an individual to hold public office. Elections have been the usual mechanism by which modern representative democracy has operated since the 17th century. Elections may fill offices in the legislature, sometimes in the executive and judiciary, and for regional and local government. This process is also used in many other private and business organizations, from clubs to voluntary associations and corporations

Credible election:

The legitimacy of democratic government is established, in large measure, by genuine elections, and they are much more than what happens on Election Day. A genuine electoral process requires an open pre-election environment in which citizens can participate without fear or obstruction; political parties, candidates and the media can operate freely; an independent judiciary functions fairly and expeditiously; and electoral authorities operate impartially. Since its earliest days, NDI has been working with partners around the world to help ensure that elections reflect the will of the people.

1.8 Organization of the Study

This research work is organized in five chapters, for easy understanding, as follows.

  • Chapter one is concern with the introduction, which consist of the (background of the study), statement of the problem, objectives of the study, research questions, research hypotheses, significance of the study, scope of the study etc.
  • Chapter two being the review of the related literature presents the theoretical framework, conceptual framework and other areas concerning the subject matter.
  • Chapter three is a research methodology covers deals on the research design and methods adopted in the study.
  • Chapter four concentrate on the data collection and analysis and presentation of finding.
  • Chapter five gives summary, conclusion, and recommendations made of the study.

Chapter Five

Summary Conclusion and Recommendation

5.1 Introduction

It is pertinent to note that this research was aimed at examining the role political parties’ plays in sustaining peace and harmony during general elections in Kogi State, thus the topic “the role of political parties in issues of free and fair election in Nigeria”.

In the preceding chapter, the relevant data collected for this study were presented, critically analyzed and appropriate interpretation given. In this chapter, certain recommendations made which in the opinion of the researcher will be of benefits in addressing the challenges associated with electoral violence in Nigeria.

5.2 Summary

This study the role of political parties in issues of free and fair elections in Nigeria with specific focus on Kogi state from functional perspective of political mobilization and education, the conduct of party primaries for the purpose of instilling confidence in the electoral process as well as the fairness of inter-party contest. Thus, the mechanisms for enhancing free and fair elections in the Nigerian state with specific focus on the role of political parties was anchored on the above stated factors.

This study argues that political parties are well placed in enabling functional inputs into the electoral system through political mobilization and education-which would aid electorates to make informed political decisions or through a well-functioning aggregative mechanism that would check dysfunctional politicking.

From the comparative studies done in the literature review of this research so far, it is clear that Party Politics is conceived as political acts and principles directed toward the interests of one political party or its members without reference to the common good. Party politics is therefore mainly for the benefit of the party members. This is even more so where corruption and nepotism are the motivating factors for forming such political parties and seeking elective offices. The first hypothesis concludes that there is a significant relationship between political parties and conducting free and fair election in kogi state, while the second hypothesis concluded that there was a free and fair election during the 2011 gubernatorial election in Kogi State. The researcher had no time to argue how valid the second hypothesis was, based on his interview with INEC official from the state.

5.3 Conclusion

In Nigeria’s still-fledgling democracy, political parties are important for performing system maintenance functions such as maintaining decorum through the promotion of a free and fair election. Although free and fair election is generally viewed as the process of voting and making such vote count. Yet, the Nigerian Political parties have been high jacked and privatized by money bags who appear in the guise of godfathers and godmothers. This is now a sociological phenomenon so powerful to the extent that they can abrogate, manipulate or subvert the electorates will during elections. As such, there is hardly any level playing field for the electoral politics.

The argument of this research is that democratic activities and processes in the Nigerian state are antithetical to free and fair form of democratic representation because of elitist manipulation which throws-up political leaders that are not true representatives of the people. This no doubt constitute a major challenge to democratic survival in the Nigerian state which could be checked through informed political education on the part of the civil society, the academia and the citizens themselves through experience acquired in political participation that span over a period of time.

The researcher concludes that for party primaries to be free and fair there is need for political parties in the Nigerian state to be restructured in such a way that parties would encompass people of like minds and the aggregative mechanism of the party structure is functional to the extent that party positions are integrative of the people. This could be achieved when parties are people oriented in formation, operation and goal rather than being elitist and excessively monetized in operation.

5.4 Recommendations

  1. INEC needs to explore the use of various platforms to initiate dialogue with relevant stakeholders to generate useful debate. It would also require rigorous sensitization of the electorate around the need to accept the outcome of the vote as the legitimate representation of the aspiration of the majority of Nigerians; while not taking lightly any polling contestations.
  2. Nigeria’s government should clearly demarcate the boundaries between government and political party activities. Merging the two confers undue advantages on the ruling party, disproportionately skewing the political playing field against the opposition.
  3. The government should also take steps to ensure that all political parties, especially the biggest ones, conduct their electioneering with decorum, based on issues and devoid of foul language and blackmail tactics. The parties should also honor the peace accord to which they willingly subscribed. This requires appealing to their supporters to eschew all forms of violence before, during and after the elections.
  4. The Nigerian CSOs could do more to intensify efforts to push for positive reforms in the country’s electoral processes. Regular interventions by the Nigerian Civil Society Situation Room, a coalition of leading CSOs which includes the Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre (PLAC) and Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD), among others working on governance and democracy related matters, is particularly noteworthy. Their periodic advocacy activities and media briefings on preparations for and issues relevant to the electoral process should be more sustained. There is also potential for them to intensify voter education for enhanced citizen participation and chances of maintaining peace.
  5. Political mobilization and education by political parties should be an ongoing activity which is not restricted to election periods. As a matter of fact, political mobilization and education should encompass a process whereby policy decisions could emanate from the grassroots through party structure as well as a device through which party members are fully aware of governmental decisions, policy alternatives, as well as the reasons why policies should be supported or otherwise.

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