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Power they say corrupt and absolute power corrupt absolutely. The quest for political power has killed the federal character principle in which Nigeria’s democracy was built upon. Democracy is a game of number, where the most populated region tends to have numerical advantage over the less populated region in terms of political appointments and elections. In such a struggle, the weak ones are elbowed out and the strong ones get hold of power. In view of this, the advent of John Rawls‟ “A Theory of Justice” (1971) provides a procedural method of distributing political rights, economic benefits, opportunities, as well as other social goods – like health, shelter and education. The Nigerian Quota System doctrine reflects Rawls‟ theory of „justice as fairness‟, which is intended to provide modalities for the march to nationhood and enthronement of a stable democratic sociopolitical order as against the pschophant, sentiments and mutual suspicion built by ethno-political zones against each other through the nation’s political journey.
1.1 Background of the study
The concept of zoning is a brain child of party politics in Nigeria. Party politics and zoning/power shift are two very important elements of any liberal democracy that no one can brush aside with a wave of the hand in a primordial state like Nigeria. Political party is the platform in which democracy is built upon. Akindele et al (2000) described the importance of the political parties in a liberal democracy when they succinctly posited that: Political parties encourage stability of the governing process because once elected for a fixed term, the government knows its life span at the corridor of power, and the opposition parties too are aware of this. Thus, both the government and opposition would operate along this political axis. Party politics is inevitable in any country operating liberal democracy. The practice of modern democracy would be totally impossible without the existence of political parties. In other words, political parties are indispensable features of democratic societies due to the conglomeration of people with similar ideologies under one umbrella. The existence of political parties within a political system breeds various forms of relationship or co-existence within the polity itself. Political parties are essential for democracy to function, as well as for the promotion of peace and stability and the prevention of violent conflict. The zoning policy/power shift is also important like the political parties in a primordial democratic state like Nigeria. Agbakoba (2011) stressed the importance of zoning in Nigeria when he posited that “the call to abolish zoning seriously underestimates and ignores the complex political character of Nigeria.” He posited further that Nigeria is a federation and also a divided society. Federalism is the only known political system that accommodates divisions and diversity; through zoning/power shift the problem of divided society can be abated. Zoning provides a procedural method of distributing political rights and economic benefits to the citizens as moral agents in any given society, especially, in a democratic set up where there is free economy and individual liberty. This perhaps aims at maximizing the welfare of the citizens, especially the worst off group. It is in accordance with Rawls‟ doctrine of procedural principles of fair treatment that Nigeria adopts the federal character or thezoning system as a formula of distributive justice which aims at achieving a fair play in politics as well as equal distribution of burdens or opportunities and other social goods (economic and social benefits). Consequently, Nigeria consists of several ethnic groups with diverse cultures, languages, religions, socio-political and economic formation as well as administrative styles, social norms, personality types and disproportionate population sizes. Although, federal structure was introduced at the formation of Nigeria to ease governance, but it is not adequate to meet with the demands of such complex composition. Through the course of its history other mechanisms such as Federal Character principle or the Zoning System were introduced and entrenched into the constitution to cater for yearnings and aspirations of the diverse cultures. The phenomenon of zoning is considered a high stake politics in Nigeria’s democracy, “this is because zoning is seen as a mechanism of uniting various diverse people. In the words of Simbine: Zoning formula seems to fit into the heterogeneous and federal nature of the Nigerian state, helping to accommodate all groups as much as possible and therefore reducing complaints of domination and marginalization. To this extent, it helps to make the system more inclusive (of identifiable groups), and therefore more supportive of the democratic culture. Hence, the research posit that, due to the sectional politics and tribalistic sentiments of each geo-political zone the mechanism still promotes the endemic problems of ethno-regional, religious and sectarian bigotry which it is set to address.
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
The zoning principle was adopted by Nigerians in the democratic settings to promote effective and equal representation at the federal and local level. Though many are of the opinion that it is not democratic in nature as such it application in the Nigeria setting has been questionable, as some also posit that it does not give room for the best brains to be elected. It is on this backdrop that the researcher intend to investigate the effect of zoning in consolidating Nigeria’s democracy.
1.3 OBJECTIVE OF THE STUDY
The main objective of this study is to examine the effect of zonal politics and democratic consolidation in Nigeria. But for the successful completion of the study, the researcher put forward the following sub-objectives to be achieved:
i) To ascertain the effect of zoning in Nigeria’s democracy
ii) To ascertain the relationship between zoning and democratic consolidation
iii) To evaluate the impact of zonal politics on national unity
iv) To ascertain the relationship between party politics and democratic consolidation
1.4 RESEARCH HYPOTHESES
For the successful completion of the study, the following research hypotheses were formulated:
H0:zoning does not have any significant effect on Nigeria’s democracy
H1:zoning doeshave a significant effect on Nigeria’s democracy
H02:there is norelationship between zoning and democratic consolidation
H2:there is a relationship between zoning and democratic consolidation
1.5 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
It is perceived that at the completion of the study, the findings will be of great importance to the leaders of political parties in their choice of candidacy or flag bearer during any general elections, the study will also be of great importance to the political office holders in their choice of appointment into their carbinate. The study will also be of great benefit to the researchers who intends to embark on research on similar topics as it will serve as a guide. Finally, the study will be of great importance to academia’s, lecturers, teachers, students and the general public.
1.6 SCOPE AND LIMITATION OF THE STUDY
The scope of the study covers the effect of zonal politics and democratic consolidation in Nigeria. But the research has some constrain to the expansion of its scope, which are:
a) AVAILABILITY OF RESEARCH MATERIAL: The research material available to the researcher is insufficient, thereby limiting the study
b) TIME: The time frame allocated to the study does not enhance wider coverage as the researcher have to combine other academic activities and examinations with the study.
c) Organizational privacy: Limited Access to the selected auditing firm makes it difficult to get all the necessary and required information concerning the activities
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
Democratic consolidation is the process by which a new democracy matures, in a way that means it is unlikely to revert to authoritarianism without an external shock. The notion is contested because it is not clear that there is anything substantive that happens to new democracies that secures their continuation beyond those factors that simply make it 'more likely' that they continue as democracies. Unconsolidated democracies suffer from formalized but intermittent elections and clientelism
Politics is the process of making decisions applying to all members of each group. More narrowly, it refers to achieving and exercising positions of governance organized control over a human community, particularly a state. Furthermore, politics is the study or practice of the distribution of power and resources within a given community (a usually hierarchically organized population) as well as the interrelationship(s) between communities
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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