1.1. have tried to define democracy. In

1.1.   overnment and Politics  

1.2.   History and Evolution of democracy in Nigeria

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1.3.   Political
Participation in Nigerian Democracy

1.4.   The
Nigerian Political Party system

1.5.   Conclusion

 

 

Introduction

Nigeria is a Federal Republic modeled after the United
States, with executive power exercised by the president and with influences
from the Westminster System model in the composition and management of the
upper and lower houses of the bicameral legislature. However, the President of
Nigeria is both head of state and head of government, and of a multi-party
system. Nigerian politics takes place within a framework of a federal,
presidential, representative democratic republic, whereby Executive power is
exercised by the government. Legislative power is vested in both the government
and the two chambers of the legislature, the House of Representatives and the
Senate. Together the two chambers make up the law-making body in Nigeria called
the National Assembly. The highest judiciary arm of government in Nigeria is
the Supreme Court of Nigeria. The National Assembly serves as a check on the
executive arm of government.

 

History and Evolution of democracy in Nigeria

 

Democracy
as a concept in social science has no clear-cut definition. Many scholars at
different point have tried to define democracy. In the words of F.C. Asogwa
(2005), “it is the government of the people. It may be either direct, or
exerted by popular assemblies or by plebiscites on all legislation, or direct
or indirect exerted by representative institutions.” 

Democracy
can also be defined as a system of government where people participate in
governance, directly or indirectly through their elected representatives. The
most popular definition of Democracy was that of Abraham Lincoln, as “the
government of the people, for the people and by the people”. This definition is
widely accepted.

The
history of Nigeria’s democratization began at independence with the adoption of
democratic institutions modeled on the British Westminster parliamentary
system. Under this system, the Prime Minister who was the leader of the party
with majority seats in the parliament was the substantive Head of government at
the center (federal) while the President was a mere ceremonial Head. From
independence onwards, Nigeria has been grappling with the task of entrenching
the culture of democracy in governance through its provisions in the
independence constitution of 1960; and the Republican constitution of 1963.
These constitutions have prescribed the British-modeled Westminster
parliamentary system for the country.

According
to Linus Ugwu Odo (2015), after independence, the new political elite had the
duty of not only institutionalizing the democratic process but for developing a
political culture, which would buttress the inherited institutions from the
British colonial authority. There were therefore, high hopes at independence of
Nigeria emerging as a fertile and large field for the growth of democracy and
good governance in Africa. However, by the end of 1965, it became obvious that
the future of democracy and good governance in the country had become bleak. In
January, 1966, the military aborted the new democratic experiment in a bloody
coup d’état. As Linus records, the military subsequently, held on to power for
almost 33 years after the 1966 coup except for some flashes of civil rule
between 1979 and 1983; and 1987-1989. In 1979, Nigeria adopted the Presidential
system of government modeled after the American system in preference to the
British parliamentary system.

 

 

 

 

Political
Participation in Nigerian Democracy

There
is no country on face of the planet that does not, every work towards the harnessing
the full potentials of democracy. Since the Nigerian First Republic, the
democratization process in Nigeria has been at best jumbled. The inconsistencies
of our colonial past and our incessant failures to evolve a political structure
devoid of the outright opportunism and lack of vision of most of the
post-colonial political elite.

The
collapse of the First Republic was a direct consequence of the failure to work
out a sustainable political philosophy or ideology (A.A. Ujo 2000).
The political parties usually are formed along ethno-cultural, geo-political
and parochialism, irredentist sentiments and geo-political exclusivism. Ujo
also expressed that even in our present dispensation, one notices the festering
of primordial loyalties such as ethnic sensibility and overt projection of
other selfish political tendencies. The political class has always remained
bereft of viable political ideology on which the nation’s political future
could be anchored. This bankruptcy in ideology and vision has reduced political
parties to a bread and butter game, where monetization of the political process
is the bedrock of loyalty and support. This erodes the aim of the democratization
process.

Nwankwo
(1993) remarks that democratization is a process of political renewal and the
affirmative acceptance of the logic of elitism and parochialism. In this light,
political parties in Nigeria must as of historical expedience and dialectical
imperative represent an articulate and objective expression of the ideological
world-outlook and beliefs of the various groups in it (Nwankwo, 1993). If all
went as it ought, parties are to bear the stamp and identity of the people.
Democratization is basically related the organization and concretization of the
people.

 

a.       Political
parties in the first republic

It is
theoretically impossible to carry on a study of the political system in Nigeria
without venturing on a voyage of historical discovery.  As observed by Achebe (2000), “politics is
like a drama with the world as the theatre.”  It is obvious, that our proper understanding
of the correct political parties will depend on how they were formed in the
past. But before doing this, it may be necessary to summarize the definition of
the concept political party.

 

In Nigeria, as in other
budding parts of budding Africa under British and French rule, Nationalist
pressures quickened the pace of constitutional advance which in turn stimulate
the development of political parties. Achebe recounts that the rise of
Nationalist movement in Nigeria following the advent of colonialism, not only
generated political consciousness and awareness within the country especially
among the educated elites, but also led to demands for independence as well as
constitutional change and the subsequent emergence of political parties within
the nation. However, the introduction of Clifford constitution of 1922 which in
effect introduced the elective representation in the legislative council for
Lagos and Calabar, with three and one seats respectively, hastened the
formation of political parties. The parties that emerged, limit their
activities within the urban areas and were elitist oriented.