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  • pages: 65
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Formation Of Political Parties And Ideology In Nigeria: Comparative Analysis Of APC And PDP


A political party is an organised group of people with a sui generis label and possibly an acronym that, primarily recruit, train and field candidates to be elected to vacant public offices by eligible electorates through the constitutional means of periodic election. As an agent of democracy, party ideology remains an essential feature. Reason being that a party’s manifesto is drafted based on the adopted ideology which its candidates, if elected, would execute for the greater good of the country. In the Nigerian State, this has not always been the case from the colonial to the post-colonial era. Hence, this informative research examines critically the origin and proliferation of political parties in Nigeria, studying closely the first generation political parties that began with a good ideological footing in the 20th century to most of the 21st century political parties in the country which are ideologically barren. Embedded in this study is an exposé on the incursion of the military in Nigeria’s politics which curtailed the development of political parties and the consolidation of democracy in the country. A major finding of mine was that there is a protracted dearth of ideology in political parties as indicated by most parties’ ideologically-unguided manifesto and the defection of their members to another party since the fourth republic began on the 29th of May, 1999. For this study, the historical approach was adopted with the qualitative method of secondary data collection.



Project Topics




1.1 background to the study

With the spread of democracy in Africa and Nigeria in particular, the formation of political parties have gathered more momentum. Political party is sin qua non to electoral democracy and one of most complex and critical institutions of democracy is political party. The decades of 1990s witnessed what Huntington called the third wave of democratization for Africa (Omotola, 2009: 1), political parties are makers of democracy and neither democracy nor democratic institutions are thinkable without political parties. The functions and responsibilities of political parties in a democratic society cannot be over-emphasized. In fact political parties are not just serving as platform for electing public office holders but also performing the roles of opposition as well as watchdog to the government of the day. They not only perform functions that are government related, such as making government accountable and exercising control over government administration; and electorate related functions such as political representation, expression of people’s demand through interest articulation and aggregation as well as structuring of electoral choices; but also linkage related functions, playing an intermediary and mediatory role between the government and the electorates.

Unarguably, political party is a fundamental political institution in the actualization of democratic regime and the major concern now is to examine the determination of the extent to which political parties in Nigeria contribute in the consolidation of our nascent democracy through ideological disposition. However, the role of political parties in the emergent political experiments in the country has raised more questions than answers. One can easily pose the questions; does political party in Nigeria have ideology at all? Nigeria’s political parties have many similarities than differences, the only visible difference being their names. It is sad we lack the opportunity to vote in terms of party ideology rather; we vote for personalities. This is because the best they could do in the absence of party Ideology is to look for the candidate of their choice. Political parties during the days of the Late Chief Obafemi Awolowo’s Action group (AG), for instance, were social democrats, and when you voted AG, you would be sure to access free education if the group won the election. Today we lack parties that prioritize the needs of the citizens. The conflict between All Progressives Congress (APC) and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is a reality check about our political status as a country. The poverty of ideology has been spreading like hurricane in Nigeria since the inception of the fourth republic. When individuals that make up parties in Nigeria are not driven by any political ideology then the issue of party ideology becomes a mirage. People are desperate to achieve their political objectives at the detriment of ideology; politicians change parties almost on daily basis. The case of former president Atiku has been generating sleepless night among the scholars and keen watchers of Nigerian political happening; he has demonstrated high level of indispline, lack of ideological disposition right from 2007 till date (Oyenuga, 2014:12), the recent concluded 2015 general elections was another clear demonstration of poverty of ideology.

Immediately after the emergence of General Mohammed Buhari as the new President of Federal Republic of Nigeria, thousands of people if not millions have changed from People Democratic Party to All Progressive Party not only that, within the All Progressive Party now there are five blocs with their divergent opinions and background that cannot make the party to be driven by any meaningful ideology. We have five governors who defected from PDP to APC because of their egocentric and ethnic chauvinism, former members of CPC as well as ACN, ANPP and some members of APGA. Even if all these individuals have any ideology to dispose it will definitely result to ideological collision because there were no basis and proper marriage between the defectors and the new party.

 1.2 Statement Of Research Problem

Political parties have long been recognized as essential components of representative democracy. Indeed, it is difficult to imagine how the governance of modern states could be accomplished without meaningful political parties. By organizing voters, aggregating and articulating interests, crafting policy alternatives and providing the basis for coordinated electoral and legislative activity, well-functioning political parties are central not just to representative government but also to the process of democratic development in transitional democracies like Nigeria.

Parties perform a number of essential functions that make democracy in modern states possible. Ideally, they represent political constituencies and interests, recruit and socialize new candidates for office, set policy-making agendas, integrate disparate groups and individuals into the democratic process, and form the basis of stable political coalitions and hence governments. Collectively, this means that political parties are among the primary channels for building accountable and responsive government.

Beyond these functional activities, parties also provide a number of deeper, systemic supports that help make democracy work effectively, for instance:


They mediate between the demands of the citizenry on the one hand and the actions of the government on the other, aggregating the diverse demands of the electorate into coherent public policy.

However, the fundamental thrust of this research study is to unravel the causes, nature and trends of political party and party system development as key structure of the democratic political institutions in undermining or strengthening the electoral process in Nigeria. This is, no doubt, indispensable considering the conception that functional political party, especially in a multi-party system tends to enhance the quality of the democratic process in terms of democratic representation and political participation through effective political education that also enhances and provides functional support for the electoral process (Dinneya, 2006; Bello, 2008). In other words, it could be argued that a strong electoral process cum democracy exists when there is strong parties and party system which manifest the tenets of democracy both at the intra and inter party levels.

However, these deficiencies in party and party system development in Nigeria, vis-à-vis their impact and effects, are so widespread that they have become a central concern in the body polity of the nation, to the extent that they are increasingly seen as a threat to stable democracy within the Nigerian state.  The recognition of such impediments to democratic development has spurred growing attention, both domestically and internationally, on how stronger, more capable political parties can be evolved, sustained and developed in Nigeria.

Based on the research problem discussed above, the objectives of this study are:

The fundamental question is this? What is the situation for Nigeria? Put differently,

  1. Do Nigerian parties have ideology?
  2. How has its ideological condition shaped and influenced the course of party politics in the country?

1.3 Objectives Of Study

The main objective of this study is to determine the formation and ideologies of political parties in Nigeria; a comparative analysis of APC and PDP. Specifically the aim of this study are:

  1. To examine if nigeria political parties have ideology
  2. To examine how the ideological condition shaped and influenced the course of party politics in the country

1.4 Research questions

  1. Do Nigerian parties have ideology?
  2. How has its ideological condition shaped and influenced the course of party politics in the country?

1.5       Significance Of Study

This study is important because its findings will help beam the searchlight on the factors and dynamics shaping political party development in Nigeria. The findings will provide the basis for understanding the intricacies embedded within political parties and other electoral   institutions as they affect citizen’s participation in the political process.

Secondly, the study will add to the reservoir of knowledge in the areas of political party development and party polities as they affect a country’s democratic endeavour.

Thirdly, the research study will be a stepping stone for further research into political party related issues and perhaps, as well as, the ways the parties themselves are formed that make them the albatross of elections.

Fourthly, the study will contributes in no small measure in the understanding of the various institutional designs as they affect the development of political parties and party systems in Nigeria.

Fifthly, if the findings of this study are accessed by policy makers, they will surely provide impetus and data that will ensure the formulation, evolution, and development of vibrant, strong and viable political parties in Nigeria.

Finally, it is the researcher’s hope that the study will make good readership piece for scholars, students and others who are interested in political party and party system related issues in our contemporary world.

Literature Review

One of the most valuable studies of the period covered by this project is by Ujo. This book is an accurate documentation of the elections which took place in Nigeria, February 1999 and a description of the political parties which took part in these elections. Though not a book of basic research in the sense that the focus is on documentation rather than analysis, yet its value as a documentary record goes beyond telling us what happened and how.

According to the writer, election is one of the yardstick through which democratic governance can be measured, thus, he emphasized on the documention all the actors and the activities involved in the electoral process because, for him, this approach advances the frontiers of knowledge both of election and of character of democratize party government that ultimately emerges, furthermore, the author asserts that the understanding of electoral processes of the future cannot be done if we understand merely and solely what happened in the past, because the past electoral processes can serve no more than as a guide to the electoral processes of the future.

Ugo’s Second Book, which focused on the Nigerian political parties is very insightful for a student of Nigerian Politics familiar with Richard earlier study. In line with Sklar Ujo’s treats the evolution, structure and characteristics of Nigerian Political Parties.

We have already made reference to the work of Richard Sklar in the context of political development in Nigeria during the final decade of British Colonial14. This study is based on the analysis of the social composition and construction of these Political parties which stood at the fore-front of the nationalist movement for independence.  Coleman and Rosberg examine the role of political parties in national integration in tropical Africa using the same combination of behaviouralism and structural functionalism as employed by Coleman in his earlier classic on the background to nationalism in Nigeria.

Writing specially on Nigeria, Richard L Sklar and C.S. Whitaker Jr., Survey the role of Nigerian parties in political and territorial integration, two key analytical variable postulated by the editors in the introduction for them, the emergence of political parties in Nigeria serves as an additional cleavage to integrated political system, largely because of the diverse cultural groups, the emergent political parties and their leaders appear sectional in their approach to national unity, since their loyalties flow in the direction of their ethnic group and regions ultimately their ethnic loyalty transcends that of the nation, and, therefore, they seen unable to forge an integrated political system.  For Ball, modern politics and government are impossible without political parties.18 He regards political parties as a structure within the political system that performs many functions. Among the function are those of communicating the wishes of the electorate to the government; to inform the electorates on important political issues and allowing for wider participation by more people in a political system. This definition is in line with James Coleman’s analysis of integration as the bridging of the elite-mass gap as well as the gap between the governors and the governed.19 Allan includes as functions of political parties, the unifying, simplifying and stabilizing the political process. He is of the opinion that parties act as the highest common denominator and as such are not sectional in their outlook, despite the claim forwarded by the advocates of non-party government.

Parties bring together sectional interest, overcome geographical distance and provide coherence to sometimes divisive government structure. The Democratic Party America, for instance, has long acted as a bridge linking together though with difficulties, the southern conservatives and the world. Parties have been similarly important in various nations. In France, for example, the fresh radical parties gave parliamentary coherence to a loose group of locally based notables whose only element in common have consisted of anti-cathdicity and anti-Marxist platform.20 In Germany also, the German Christian Democratic Party (CDP) has equally acted as the bridging of the gap between protestants and Catholics.21 Even in Great Britain, the structural bridging function of parties exist in their efforts towards the unity of Cabinet and the House of commons22.

Finally, Anwamnu, made a comprehensive review of governance in African Politics. According to him, governance is all about how people are ruled, and how the affairs of the state are administered, and regulated. Candel-Mills and Serageldin (1992:303) maintain that governance refers to a nation’s system of politics and this function in relation to public administration and law.23

Governance has three dimensions according to Boaninger (1992: 268 – 269) these are political, technical and institutional. Political dimension involves the establishment of objectives and the exercise of leadership, the technical dimension refers to the constraints imposed by natural resources, levels of education, man power skill and installed industrial capacity. The institutional and managerial dimension refers to the ability to get things done.

Therefore, good governance depends on the extent to which a government is perceived and accepted of legitimate committed to improving the public welfare and responsive to the needs of its citizens, competent to assure law and order and deliver public services.

Finally, the experiment in most African Countries proves cases of abuse of power by leaders who have negative attitudes towards leadership, citizen’s welfare and overall development. All these must be taken care of for in the African continent to advance forward.


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