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Background of the Study

The development of political parties in Nigeria dates back to the days of the struggle for political independent in the late 1940s, when the nationalists were at the pre-independence and post-independence periods. In the pre-independence and the early post independence periods, political parties in Nigeria were not ideologically based. Rather, they were regionally based and woven around individual politicians who they saw as their mentors. In the last ten years, however parties were registered based on the exigencies of the time. This was the scenario until 1998; the need arose for parties that could usher Nigeria into a new era of democracy after over fifteen years of military rule. Historically, political parties in Nigeria have developed and still play a vital role towards the realization of the democratic objectives. Indeed, the last fifty years have seen an evolution of various political parties. From 1991-1993, Nigeria practiced a two-party system, with the government establishing the Social Democratic party (SDP) and National Republican Convention (NRC). The military government later proscribed the parties after annulling a presidential election in 1993. But Nigeria returned to democratic rule in 1999.

The restoration of democratic government in 1999 led to a new approach to party politics in Nigeria. The procedure for registering political parties was liberalized, thereby, opening up the political space for mass participation in political activities in the country. Today, there are more than fifty registered political parties in Nigeria, even though only few of them have not been able to win any election. The few political parties that have dominated the political space to the point that fears are being expressed that the country was drifting towards a one-party state. Opposition parties are beginning to cross to the ruling party both at the federal and states levels.

Nigeria, like many other African countries, has had its fair share of democratic challenges, but it has also recorded some achievement over the years. There have already been calls across the country for some adjustments and improvements on the way political parties are run and managed, in the years to come. Many have argued that Nigeria must necessarily adopt the methods that will guarantee the rights of its citizens to elect leaders of their choice as provided for in the country‟s constitution.

As Nigeria consolidation its democratic framework and mechanisms, the multi-parties in Nigeria, need to exemplify a new level of commitment to the yearnings and aspirations of the people for more fundamental and sustainable development.

The recently 2011 general election in Nigeria really had some sets backs and it really brought the world attention towards our political system. It also leads to them in asking some questions concerning our democratic system [voice of Nigeria on Thursday April 18th, 2013].

Statement of the Problems

In a multi-party system, political parties, being the main tool of political development in every existing and irrespective of their various ideological bends, different political orientations and victory potentials, they are still allowed to partake in political competition for the control of machinery of government and also uniting of the people. In every modern society, political parties are viewed to be an agent of unity, peace and integration etc. in that society, but despite the above conception, multi-party system still holds some questions that deviate from the above. Therefore, it is to this end that we now ask the following questions.

Is there any relationship between multi-party system and political development in Nigeria?

What are the political implications of multi-party system in Nigeria?

Does multi- party system ensure democratic consolidation in Nigeria?

Objectives of the Study

The broad objectives or aims of this research work are simply to know the meaning and contributions of multi-party system in Nigeria political development. And these specific objectives are as follows:

To find out the relationship between multi-party system and political development in Nigeria.

To access the political implication of multi-party system in Nigeria.

To access whether the existence of multi-party system ensures democratic consolidation in Nigeria.

Significance of the Study

This research work will be significant in the following ways:

Firstly, it will help decision making organs, institutions to determine the basis for political party formation in Nigeria in order to achieve National integration and political development.

Secondly, invaluably, it will contribute to academic knowledge as regards to function of political parties to political development.

Furthermore, it will create awareness and inspire a sense of responsibility on members of political party on the role expected of them to achieve good governance and political development.


In line with the research question posed for this study, the following hypotheses are hereby proposed.

There is no close relationship between multi-partism and political development in Nigeria.

Multi-party system has negative and positive implications in Nigerian political development.

Multi-party system does not ensure democratic consolidation in Nigeria.


The use of secondary source of data is the main method of data collection adopted in this research work. This method is adopted due to its intrinsic values. The secondary sources adopted in this study includes materials like Newspapers, magazines, textbooks, internet, journals, government publications, official documents etc. which helped us to gain an insight into the origins and development of political parties and nature of their operational patterns in the country. Content analysis as a method of investigation is adopted in this study. This involves reading meaning into materials that are collected for the purpose of achieving reliable and verifiable conclusion.

Scope of the study

The scope of this study is strictly centered on the examination of the extent of development made by multi-party system in Nigeria political sphere. It also focuses attention on party system the history of political party in Nigeria and political party affiliations. The limitation of the work is quite enormous, since there is no availability of financial support to aid enough material for this study and the short time given for the study also made it difficult to accumulate enough information as possible for the study

Definition of Terms

Politics: Politics is endemic in a man‟s social existence and that is why a Greek philosopher, Aristotle asserted that man is a political animal. Politics was also defined by Prof Okwudiba Nnoli who opined that politics as the emergence of state power, consolidation of a state power and the use of a state power.

Political party: A political party is an organized group of individuals, seeking to seize the power of government in order to enjoy the benefits being derived from such control. Furthermore, a political party is a regular and permanent organization of certain number of people concerned with either conquering power or keeping it.

However, a political party is any group, however loosely organized seeking to elect governmental office holders under a given label. So in other words, a political party can be defined as different individuals or people who want to seize government power in order to put their ideologies parties is the seize governmental power.

A party system:

A party system consists of all the parties in a particular nation and the laws and customs that govern their behavior. It simply means the formation, structure as well as the organization of political parties

Election: An election is a process of voting and been voted for, for the qualified citizens of any country, thus, qualification may be educational or based on experience in some cases.

An election is the procedure that allows members of an organization or community to choose representatives who will hold positions of authority within it.

Political development:

Political development can be seen as a process involved in a country‟s political change. It is an incident that causes a situation to change or progress, a state in which the developing of something is not yet complete.

Multi-party system: Multi-party system simply means the presence of three or than three parties in particular state. A country that has up to three or more viable parties is said to be operating a multi-party system of government. However, a country may have up to three or more parties but will still not be qualified to be termed multi-party system country, it is because, there must be viable strong opposition parties which will lead to formation of coalition government.

Democracy: Democracy is a Greek word „demos‟ which means “the people” and “kratein” means “to rule”. So it is a system of government of the people, by the people and for the people. Also it a system of government whereby citizens of a country have full rights and obligation to participate in governmental policies and decision making.

Power: This is the ability to make people (or things) to do what they would not otherwise have done. In other words, power is the ability to make someone or others conform to your desire or it the ability to act and secure conforming behavior.

Electoral Commission: This is the body which has the responsibility for the conduct of election in the country, in Nigeria for example, the Independent National  Electoral  Commission  (INEC)  is  typical  example  of electoral body.

Voting: The exhibition open or secret of one preference for a person or a party or a cause-secret ballot therefore is regarded as the necessary condition for the expression of free choice.

Tyranny: This is government by a tyrant. A tyranny behaves like a dictator but in majority cases not in the interest of the people. Tyranny is a bad form of dictatorship.

General election: This is a type of election where all the electorate in a country participate at the same time on a given day, to elect representatives into the government.

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