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                                                          CHAPTER ONE


Africa in the Last two decades has been in the struggle for democratization due to Military in incursions and lack of transparency in governance. Where Democracy exists, leaders keep manipulating the Constitution to make themselves life Presidents like Daniel Arab Moi of Kenya, Mobutu Sese Seko of Zaire, Eyadema of Togo, President Paul Biya of Cameroon, Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, and others.

Africa, though has made little political progress in the last few years but she has notoriously emerged as where nothing works. Part of the explanation for this phenomenon is that our actions as a nation are not anchored on a solid philosophical foundation. The  contradiction of our   colonial past and in ability to embrace a workable political system stem from the opportunism and lack of vision of most of the post-colonial political elites. The collapse of our system is a direct consequence of the failure to work out a sustainable political philosophy or ideology.

The political parties usually are formed along ethnic – cultural, geo – political and religious lines. This has not helped the democratization process since it encourages ethnic chauvinism and parochialism, irredentist sentiments and geo-political exclusivities. In everyday activities of government, one notices the festering of primordial loyalties such as ethnic sensibility and overt projection of other selfish political tendencies.

The political class has always remained bereft of viable political ideology on which the continent’s political future could be anchored. This bankruptcy in ideology and vision has reduced political parties to a bread and butter game, where monetization of the political process is the bedrock of loyalty and support. This erodes the aim of the democratization process.

This work also tries to review critically the formation of political parties since independence in Nigeria and how they have failed as instruments in the sustenance of democracy and democratic governance.

Nigeria’s democratization process started with her independence in 1960 when she adopted the parliamentary system of government of Britain, her colonial master. Three ethnic based parties, the National Council of Nigerian Citizens (NCNC), which was Igbo, based political party, and Northern people’s congress (NPC), a Hausa/Fulani political party, ushered Nigeria into independence. Sir Tafawa Balewa was the Prime Minister while Dr. Nnandi Azikiwe was the Ceremonial President.

Nigeria in her Second Republic adopted the American type, “presidential System of government”, by the Military Head of State, Gen. Olusegun Obasanjo who handed over the mantle of Leadership to the first executive President, Alhaji Shehru Usman Aliu Shagari and Dr. Alex Ekwueme as the Vice.After the untimely death of the Second Republic which witnessed yet another military coup headed by Gen. Mohamadu Buhari. The Military ruled from 1983 to 1999 when Gen. Olusegun Obasanjo came to power as a civilian President till date.


Africa’s experience in Democratic Party Government since independence in the 60’s and 70’s reveals a “core” paradox that can be said to be the dominant characteristics of democratic and politics in Africa. Insatiable  thirst for power, wealth and influence for personal and parochial ends rather than as a means of consolidating political and economic independence for promoting societal welfare, laying the foundation for national security, socio-economic and technological transformation.

Although, this paradox is best characterized by Richard A. Joseph’s concept of PREBENDALISM. Yet the concept is limited to an explanation of unprecedented looting of the national economy with the rise of Shagari’s National Party of Nigeria (NPN) under the guise of democracy during the second republic and the consequent fall from office of both the NPN and the democratic government which it sustained.

Since the characteristic feature of the paradox is the uncontrolled struggle for power, wealth and influence for selfish and parochial ends, the critical problem of the present study is not so much to demonstrate the manifestations of the struggle to analyse proffered options with a view to constructing viable theoretical and practical proposals for mediating the struggle and achieving stable democratic order and sustainable development.

The major task of investigation that this project confront is not so much the unraveling of the “Core” paradox (or illusions) of democratize an explanation of why the paradox in the first instance as well as proffering workable mechanism, and policies for stability, development and progressive integration of the component units of the political system into a modern democratic state lying in between liberalism and capitalism.


To asses the inability of the political party as instrument for sustainable democracy, Donal Mathew observed that political decisions are made by men and these decisions often reflect their political orientation and their perception of the task of government. Zik postulates that due to bad government, there was instability in Nigeria and that the root causes of political instability in Nigeria could be equated to circumstances in other.

African, Latin American and African Countries, where the enormities committed by the parties in power had discredited them and created a crisis of confidence in the capacity of those who rule to maintain good government.It may further be necessary to posit that the level of socio-economic development and democratic governance is minored by the character and nature of political parties.

Finally, the main thrust of this work is to show how Nigeria has felt the rape cushions of good governance carried by the English speaking world that has spread since the beginning of the 1990s like a power trial across the globe.


It will acquaint us with the real possibility of political parties evolving in Nigeria (which so many Nigerians believe can only start its evolving process with the advent of democracy and democratic governance).

This study is significant in the sense that it will also help provide more solution to the adverse political problems confronting the nation. Political parties in Nigeria have in one way or another contributed meaningfully to the solving of the problems of democracy. But at another, they appear to be the problem itself, as well as perpetuating the problem themselves. The study therefore aims at examining critically the role of these parties or the contribution of the parties to the problem. By so doing, it will also probe the activities of parties, examine their defects and suggest alternative course. By the end of the research, better and alternative method of achieving democracy and democratic governance would have been suggested as well as the party system for the achievement of this goal.


i.                    The constitution provides a favourable atmosphere for equal participation of political parties in Africa.

ii.        The present political parties have not offered result oriented democracy       needed for socio-economic development

iii.                Election Riggery is responsible for the poor rulership in Africa.


The scope of this study will lay emphasis on political parties and democratic governance in Nigeria especially. The study will look into how viable political parties of the past and present are; the first, second, third and fourth Republic Parties; their rises and failures.

The study will also look into how these parties originate and how they manage the mantle of Leadership. It shall look into the present PDP Government and its Oligarchial tendencies. The 2003 election will not be left out.


To avoid ambiguity and misconception of terms, it is imperative a vivid and clear explanation of these terms is given.


A political party is an organized group of individuals seeking to seize the power of government in order to enjoy the benefits to be derived from such control. They are regular and permanent organizations of a certain number of people concerned with either conquering power or consolidating. Any group of people loosely organized, seeking to elect governmental office holders under a given label.

However, recent studies have sought new perspective from which political parties on one-hand and party system the other may be analyzed for the purpose of proper elucidation in contemporary societies. A prognosis of such empirical studies reveals a linkage between political parties and other contending political forces seeking for power; and to an extent, individuals whose motive borders on personal aggrandizement.

W.E.F. Ward conceives of political party, as a group with common views on certain political means. He insists that the day-to-day concern of politics is fundamentally with means not ends.


Democracy as a concept in social science has no clear-cut definition. Many scholars at different point have tried to define democracy.In the words of F.C. Asogwa, it is the government of the people. It may be either direct, or exerted by popular assemblies or by plebiscites on all legislation, or direct or indirect exerted by representative institutions. Direct democracy was practical in some of the city-states of Ancient Greece; indirect democracy, which is better suited to modern nation states with large populations, was developed in England in the Seventeenth century and imposed on France and North America, as a result of revolutions, in the eighteenth century. By 1850, the majority of civilized nations had adopted democratic institutions.

Democracy can also be defined as a system of government where people participate in governance, directly or indirectly through their elected representatives.

The most popular definition of Democracy was that of Abraham Lincoln, as “the government of the people, for the people and by the people”. This definition is widely accepted.


Government as a concept in social sciences has been variously interpreted by political scientists because it is a concept whose definition hinges on the realms of subjectivity. It means different things to different times and places.

Twentieth century chambers dictionary, defines the Word “govern” to mean “directing, controlling, ruling with authority, determining and administering laws”. Government is therefore institutionalized machinery whose purpose is to ensure peace and stability in any given political system. It is an agency of the state made up of few persons vested with authority and sovereignty of the people. In this connection, it acts as a conduct pipe for the formulation, expression and implementation of the laws and policies of the state.


In formulation, a theoretical framework that will guide this research, the research tends to adopt “ELITE THEORY” as the guiding principle in analyzing the subject matter, “POLITICAL PARTIES AND GOVERNANCE IN AFRICA”. This is because political parties and governance is dominated and decided by the elites. This is why politics is always perceived as the MADNESS OF MANY AND THE GAME OF THE FEW.

The concept of Elitism was propounded as a counter to the revolutionary theories anchored on social class analysis in Europe in the years of facism. The classical exponents of elite theory are two Italians, Wilfredo Pareto, and Caetano Mosca, and Robert Michaels, a Swiss. According to the Scholars, every society is ruled by a small (minority) group of people who posses the attributes that made it possible for them to ascend to the top. Such people are always the best. The elites therefore consist of those successful persons who rise to the top in every occupation and stratum of society. The elites wherever they are generally come from the same class-those wealthy or intelligent.

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