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The dissolution of a number of political parties in Nigeria into one party- the All Progressive Congress (APC) in 2013 ahead of 2015 election re-enacted an already existing trend in Nigerian politics referred to as politics of merger of political parties. This research examines this trend in Nigeria’s past and present political dispensations and concludes that the present merger of these political parties into APC may not likely provide Nigerians alternative to the PDP governments that have ruled the country for 14 years now, because of some obvious reasons. The paper recommends that given the level of primordialism and selfish partisan interests in Nigerian politics, the only way to establish an alternative government to the PDP rule is through a constitutional amendment that would entrench only two party systems with limited opportunities for cross-carpeting by politicians. This would make the two parties have equal balance of power equilibrium to govern Nigeria interchangeably.
1.1 Background of the study
Mainstream rhetoric in Nigeria media and popular discourses of the polity is often centered on the claim that Nigeria is “consolidating its democracy”. The evidence on the ground, however, contradicts this claim (Momoh, 2013:1). It is perhaps most appropriate to liken the relationship between political parties and the sustenance of democratic rule in a particular society to that which exists between the umbilical cord and the fetus (Yagboyaju, 2012:54). Political parties are at the heart of examining the health of any form of democracy (Orji, 2013:1), for example, maintains that ‘to talk, today, about democracy, is to talk about a system of competitive political parties. Their roles and activities are critical in any assessment of democratic practice (Momoh, 2013:1). With the transition to civil rule in 1999 (Signalling the commencement of the fourth republic), political parties had the mandate to produce the right caliber of people to govern (Momoh, 2013:1). One of the most complex and critical institutions of democracy is the political party (ies) (Omotola 2009).
Political parties, like other democratic institutions such as the executive, legislature, judiciary and electoral body, are no doubt vital and indispensible agencies of democratic system of government. The relevance of democratic institutions of which political parties are one, in fostering democratic etiquettes, values, norms, practices and procedures is probably what Schumpeter had in mind when he defined democracy as “institutional arrangement for arriving at political decisions in which individuals acquire the power to decide by means of competitive struggle for the people’s votes” (Schumpeter, 1967:269). In other words, democracy thrives well within an environment with framework of established and registered political parties, electoral body and other political institutions which enforce the standard practices of the system. Indeed, without political parties, the process of enthronement of democratic government would be selective and non-competitive.
Since independence, Nigeria has had four different democratic dispensations described in our political lexicon as the 1st Republic spanning between 1960 – 1966; the 2nd Republic 1979 – 1983; the 3rd Republic 1992 – 1993; and the 4th Republic 1999 – to the present. A republic operationally defined as a self-governing entity based on elected government. In each of these Republics, the governance of Nigeria, at the federal level, has always been dominated by one political party that won election at the inception of the Republic, until the interruption of such dominance by military intervention in politics. One would have expected that in a multiparty democracy like ours, general elections in the country would have been so keenly contested by two major political parties, either individually, or in coalition with other parties, such that different parties rule the country interchangeably. This has not been the case in Nigerian party politics.
Political parties are traditionally the most significant intermediary organization in democratic societies. Students of political parties have commonly associated them with democracy itself (Orji, 2013:1). Political parties, as “makers” of democracy, have been so romanticized that scholars claim that neither democracy nor democratic societies are thinkable without them (Omotola 2009). In other words, the existence of vibrant political parties is a sine qua non for democratic consolidation in any polity (Dode, 2010). It is patently ironic that political parties largely pursue (and profess) democracy outside the gates and resist it within the gates (Ibeanu, 2013:1). Competitive party and electoral politics is expected to deepen and consolidate the democratic transition, which the country embarked upon in May 1999 (Jinadu, 2013:2). Well functioning political parties are essential for the success of electoral democracy and overall political development of Nigeria (Adetula and Adeyi, 2013:3)
Indeed, democracy is unthinkable in the absence of viable political parties. Parties are expected to participate in the political socialization of electorates, contribute to the accumulation of political power, facilitate recruitment of political leadership, and serve as a unifying force in a divided polity (Omotola, 2010:125). The objectives which party regulation seeks to achieve, including the lingering question of internal party democracy, namely the push and pull of struggles to get political parties to respect their own rules and act in line with democratic principles in the conduct of their internal affairs, all remains central to the wider consolidation of democracy in Nigeria (Ibeanu, 2013: 1)
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
The concept of party merger and consolidation of democracy in Nigeria has been an age long trend in the country democratic system. This is because there is no democracy without political parties, and the interest of the party at all time supersede the interest of the politicians, as the party is term “supreme” however in the case of Nigeria, permit me to say that the supremacy of the party is an umbrella word carved out by the privileged few who run the affairs of the party for their own interest. It is on this backdrop that this researched is embarked upon to assess the efficacy of party merger in consolidating democracy in Nigeria.
1.3 OBJECTIVE OF THE STUDY
The main objective of the study is to assess the impact of party merger and consolidation of democracy in Nigeria. However, for the successful completion of the study, the researcher set out the following objectives:
i) To ascertain the relationship between party merger and democracy consolidation
ii) To evaluate the impact party merger in consolidating Nigeria democracy
iii) To evaluate the reason for merger among political parties in Nigeria
iv) To ascertain the benefit of party merger in consolidating Nigeria democracy.
1.4 RESEARCH HYPOTHESES
For the successful completion of the study, the following hypotheses were formulated:
H0: there is no significant relationship between party merger and consolidation of democracy
H1: there is a significant relationship between party merger and consolidation of democracy
H0: there is no significant impact of party merger in the consolidation of democracy in Nigeria
H2: there is significant impact of party merger in the consolidation of democracy in Nigeria.
1.5 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
It is conceived that at the completion of the study, the findings will be of great important to political parties in the country and beyond to aid them in decision making regarding merger and consolidation.
The study will also be of benefit to independent electoral commission in the electioneering process, it is conceived that the study will also be of great value to the media houses, the student, teachers, lecturers, academia’s researchers and the general public. Finally, the study will also be of benefit to the political actors who are the major players in the polity.
1.6 SCOPE AND LIMITATION OF THE STUDY
The scope of the study covers party merger and consolidation of democracy in Nigeria, however the researcher postulate that there are some constrain to the study which are:
Finance: is a major limitation to the scope of the study, as available resources does not allow for a wider scope
Time: the time allocated to the research work is limited because of other academic works
Availability of research materials: material for this work is not readily available as the researcher has to go to the field and source for materials.
1.7 DEFINITION OF TERMS
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. Many political parties have an ideological core, but some do not, and many represent very different ideologies than they did when first founded. In democracies, political parties are elected by the electorate to run a government.
The action or process of making something stronger or more solid.
"The permanent consolidation of peace." the action or process of combining a number of things into a single more effective or coherent whole.
Democracy in modern usage, is a system of government in which the citizens exercise power directly or elect representatives from among themselves to form a governing body, such as a parliament. Democracy is sometimes referred to as "rule of the majority. Democracy was originally conceived in Classical Greece, where political representatives were chosen by a jury from amongst the male citizens: rich and poor
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.
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 (overview, of the study), statement of problem, objectives of the study, research question, significance or the study, research methodology, definition of terms and historical background of the study. Chapter two highlight the theoretical framework on which the study its based, thus the review of related literature. Chapter three deals on the research design and methodology 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.
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