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This study was undertaken to evaluate political participation and democratic consolidation in Nigeria with a particular reference to Enugu State. Three objectives and three research questions were formulated to guide the research. The study adopted thematic format in its literature review. The theoretical framework used was structural functionalism and research design used in the study was expos facto design and content analysis was used to evaluate the topic under discussion in line with each objectives. After the analysis the study was able to discover among other things that, the engagement of citizens in public affairs is the benchmark of the liberal democratic system. The availability of participation opportunities and the concomitant enabling process and institutional pre-requisites, allied with positive political orientations to the political system, make it possible for citizens to choose their leaders at elections and also influence the public policy process, and ultimately, the longevity of the democratic system of government. Based on the above findings, the study recommends among other things that, strong political mobilization can help in debasing the overall strategic framework of Primitive Accumulation of Votes (PAV) otherwise known as rigging.
Keywords: political participation, political culture and political consolidation
1.1 The Background of the Study
Democracy is a bargain between the government and the governed. This bargain is made up of two parts – the government’s legitimacy that is, claim of obedience to its laws as well as doing what the citizens want it to do. The second part is the arrangement that regulates this bargain of legitimacy in the competitive political election. The essence of the bargain is to ensure participation in policy making. This participation is the fundamental meaning of democracy. Democracy and political participation are two concepts that are interwoven; none can exist in the absence of the other. The process of establishing a democratic system requires the full participation of the people. This participation may be direct or indirect and must be by the citizens. Participation refers to the different ways in which the public express opinions and ideally exert influence on political, economic, management and other social decisions. For a well-informed participation to occur, a radical transparency though not sufficient, is necessary. It is argued that people most affected by a decision should have the most say while those less affected should have less say. Participation has its objectives from the administrative perspective, to motivate the people and public support building activities. For the citizens, it facilitates useful information exchange regarding local conditions. It enables individuals and groups to influence agency decision in a representative manner etc. Political participation is that activity that has the intent or effect of influencing government action.
It is that aspect of democracy that deals with the political environment. Davies (1963) cited in Unanka (2004:20), defined political participation as “taking part in making the basic decision as to what are the common goals of one’s society and as to the best ways to move towards these goals”. Political participation expresses actions, reactions, interactions and role expectation as one finds oneself as an integral member of a society. It is a known fact that without significant citizen’s involvement, the democratic process falls short of its goals. According to Ogunna (2003:24), political participation can be active, partial or passive.
Democracy, the actualized popular power through political structures that are based on mass participation and political sovereignty, is described by Powell, a well- known American political scientist, as quoted in Cayne (1993:777) as “an implicit bargain between the representative government and the citizens and a specific arrangement which regulates that bargain”. He further stated that a true democracy is that system of government that is controlled by the people through their representatives. True democracy is universally accepted as a system of government that believes in and operates on the principle of law and order, with them as the ultimate repository and regulator of the social norms and practice.
To the authoritarians and other critics, a common misapprehension is that democracies lack the power to oppress and also lacks the authority to govern. 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).
Anchoring on platforms offered by political parties, citizens make demands on the state, support specific policy positions, and participate in public policy making and implementation. Political parties therefore provide the vital linkage between citizens and the state, governors and the governed, and elites and the masses (Lawson 1980). The nature, behavior and performance of political parties and the nature of party relations with other parties, groups, and even the state have consequences for the nature of governance, integration, stability and security (Ikelegbe, 2013:7).
The character and tendencies exhibited by political parties has implications for democratic sustenance in the country (Pogoson, 2013: 5). The political party is a critical, formal, institutional, organizational and mobilizational player in the political process particularly in relation to power, democracy, governance, governments and economy (Ikelegbe, 2013:4). The nature of political parties and the nature of party politics have consequences for the nature of governance (democratic consolidation), integration, stability and security. The performance of political parties in terms of articulation, aggregation, representation and organization are critical to political accountability, communication, democratic consolidation and political stability (Ikelegbe, 2013:4).
1.2 Statement of Problem
Mainstream rhetoric in Nigeria media and popular discourses of the polity is often centred 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 participation 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 participation through 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 calibre of people to govern (Momoh, 2013:1). One of the most complex and critical institutions of democracy is the level of political participation through political party (ies) (Omotola 2009).
Political parties are traditionally the most significant intermediary organization in democratic societies. Students of political science 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).
1.3 Objective of the study
The general objective of this study is to evaluate the Nigerian democracy in the context of political participation especially in Enugu State while the specific objectives are:
1. To find out the extent to which Political Participation has enhance political recruitment in Enugu state.
2. To evaluate political mobilization as a major attribute to effective democratic culture.
3. To examine the role of civil societies and democratic governance in Nigeria
1.4 Research questions
1. Does Political Participation enhance political recruitment in Enugu State?
2. Does political mobilization enhance effective democratic culture in Enugu?
3. Did civil societies engender democratic governance Enugu State?
1.5 Significance of the Problem
This involves both the empirically and the theoretical significance. Empirically, the result of this work on completion will help to address the problem of democracy and political participation in Nigeria. And it will enable the federal government and state government to see how to blend representative democracy and active participation in political activities in Nigeria by allowing them to get involve in political activities without fear intimidation for national development. Hence the need for this study or the problem this work intends to solve is to provide means to increase reasonable political participation in Nigeria polity that is enough to justify our democratic practice and to improve the quality of the polity. In doing this an attempt will be made to expose some of the phenomena responsible of strong political apathy in Nigerian polity like violence, corruption, godfatherism and electoral malpractice etc.
1.6 Scope and limitation of the study
The research is actually prepared to analyze critically and profound a solution to the problem of democracy and political participation in Enugu state, between 1999 and 2016. However, in area of operation, the Nigeria state is the area of grand framework of analysis which Enugu State remains the point of emphasis of the study.
1.7 Research Hypotheses:
To further guide the study, the following hypotheses were put forward for investigation:
1. Political Participation has enhanced political recruitment in Enugu State.
2. Political mobilization has enhanced effective democratic culture in Nigeria.
3. Civil society has not engendered democratic governance in Nigeria.
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