Nigeria’s 18 political parties are major and major stakeholders in the electoral process. They are the main beneficiaries of elections in which they field candidates and contest elections for electoral offices.
Nigerian political parties do, to some extent, meet the classical definition of political parties. They are largely organized by people who think alike. They contest elections and field candidates. They envision special purpose vehicles and platforms to recruit leaders who then proceed to contest elections. They promote certain forums and programs. And they provide the voter with a number of candidates from which to choose.
To some extent, they follow Maurice Duverger’s iron law: in addition to the synthesis or alliance between a one-party system and an electoral system, we have, in our season, also observed a one-party system consisting of two parties, namely the All Progressive Congress ( The APC) and the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) have so far emerged as the hegemons in the political arena.
In addition to playing the role of pedestrians above, and most of the time in violation, our political parties have fallen short. And his failures are so great that Uber theorist, DuVarger, author of the 1951 classic, The Political Parties, will regret his intellectual diligence, if not turned in his grave.
Our political parties are so ideologically empty and directionless that someone once referred to them in derogatory terms as rallies. With perhaps the exception of the People’s Redemption Party (PRP), which has trampled a continuing pro-people ideological trajectory, virtually all of our parties are not based on some lofty or evocative idea.
A seasoned lawyer reportedly wrote the formations and manifestos of three major political parties in 1989 as he moved from one to the other in discontent. The leaders of the three parties did not care that the constitution and the manifesto looked alike! No wonder a disgruntled politician can switch from party to party without hesitation or feeling that he is committing political apostasy.
Although Nigeria’s political parties write and give their own constitutions and manifestos, they hardly respect them.
The letters and spirits of these otherwise sacred documents are seen, at best, in violation. When it suits the parties, these documents are closed outright. This explains why valid primaries are rarely held. Or if a parity of one is held, the highest bidder or deepest pocket is awarded the ticket. Sometimes, candidates are arrogantly imposed by the party machinery.
If candidates are imposed by political parties, there is impunity, then little attention is paid to good governance or the distribution of democratic dividends.
The welfare of the old political office is greater than that of the voter. As a result, people’s well-being is rarely considered. Infrastructure is hardly made available and the preoccupation of the office-bearers is self-enrichment and reckless loot of the public.
The result of this insensitivity and irresponsibility to the plight of the people is the path we have reached. Nigeria today is not only on the verge of state failure, it is lagging behind in every department of national development.
While in other climates political parties engage strongly with and educate voters, particularly with regard to the functioning of the political and electoral systems, these important functions have since been carried out by the independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the National Orientation Agency (NEC). NOA) is omitted. ) and civil society organizations (CSOs).
True, the Electoral Act mandates INEC to conduct voter and civic education and to “promote knowledge of sound democratic election procedures”. But in other jurisdictions, this difficult task is not left to the Election Management Body (EMB) and its other partners.
Political parties have an important role here. In the last US presidential election, we saw how Democrats and Republicans outperformed themselves in engaging and mobilizing voters. In addition to overwhelming the media with messages encouraging voters to cast their votes for their respective candidates, they also carried voters to polling units, for good measure!
It would have been enough if our political parties were simply abandoned and lukewarm about voter education. Unfortunately, we have seen situations where political parties have worked diligently and collectively to weaken the EMB.
Shortly after the enactment of the Elections Act 2022 and the release of the timetable and schedule of activities for the 2023 general elections, which were literally set in stone (due to their being under the core provisions of the Act and the Constitution), political parties There was unanimity in campaigning for extension/adjustment of time limits as they pertained to the conduct of the primaries.