Political parties have been one of most visible political institution in Nigeria, they have serve as platforms for individual politicians who could not have made it standing on their own, they have help in voters education and organization, thereby inculcating that trait in Nigerians, they have serve as opposition to governments, they have also serve as the voice of Nigerian people, but that is not to say that Nigerian political parties doesn’t have their ills, the level of internal democracy in them are not encouraging, the violence, intimidation, vote buying and some other ills associated with their activities, juxtaposing the above marshalled out points, I can assert that with the ills associated with Nigerian political parties, they have only to a small extent contributed to Nigerian democratic development.
AT FIRST LET US DEFINE POLITICAL PARTY
An organised group of people, leaning to same political ideology and contesting elections with the aim of winning and taking control of a political system in order to implement their ideology.
NIGERIA UNDER MILITARY RULE
Nigeria has been under military rule for many year, which took away power from the people and rest it in the hands of few men wielding rifle, the military rule Nigeria with iron fist, gerrymander the country into a 36 state structure, imposing all manner of decrees on the citizens, and these denied the citizens their rights and freedom to a very large extent.
NIGERIA UNDER CIVILIAN GOVERNMENT
In 1999 Nigeria returned to democracy which comes with party politics, political party is that institution which calls people together, makes promises of what the party will do for the people if voted into power, letting the people understand that the power actually rest with the populace, to an average Nigerian the only thing they know about politics is ”political parties” and ”elections”.
Political parties have help in taking political education to rural areas even to the remotest places, in their quest for votes, they have their party offices in various rural areas, because they want votes to win elections they are forces to organise and politically educate the populace, as the citizens get the education they keep having clearer understanding, and are becoming more democratise, analogically just like what happens between a trader and consumer they both have targeted interest.
In preparation for elections political parties organises party congresses, political rallies, campaigns, these activities comes with town hall meeting, voter education e.t.c. You know because they are looking for votes are bound to talk to the people, when activities like this occurs and reoccurs that democratic consciousness continues to penetrates the people, and people continues to understand their place in a democracy, their rights, privileges and their power.
With political parties in Nigeria fielding different candidates vying for various offices, the voter are thereby provided with choices to choose from, because Nigeria runs a multi party system, it enables the political actors to leverage on any of the party to contest for any office, political parties are also responsible for bringing the people together every election period for purpose of winning elections and that has overtime embeds democratic consciousness in an average Nigerian.
SOME OF THE ILLS IN THE NIGERIAN POLITICAL PARTIES
This work will not be complete without highlighting some of the ills that can be seen in Nigerian political parties, like we tried to define political party at the beginning of this work, political parties should have an ideology, which should be the rallying point and the driving force.
LACK OF PARTY IDEOLOGY
Probing into the Nigerian political parties I cannot find any ideology behind any of them.
People have their different political views, believes and preferences, and if they want to join active politics will register with the political party which it’s ideology suits their political believes, in a developed society when people joins a political party they stays, promoting that ideology which they believe in, the essence is not about them winning election, but is about the party, that’s why you can’t hear that a politician decamped from one political party to another in developed societies, but here in Nigeria decamping from one political party to another is the order of the day, that is because political parties in Nigeria are not founded on any political ideology and the politicians themselves only joined for personal aggrandizement, so the moment they didn’t get it, are already on their way to another party.
Since the the return to democracy in 1999 violence has been part and parcel of party politics in Nigeria, during election incidents of beating up agents of opponent party, beating up of INEC staff, snatching of ballot boxes, snatching result sheets, kidnappings and killings, have often mar elections in Nigeria
LACK OF PARTY INTERNAL DEMOCRACY
Most political parties in Nigeria do not practice internal democracy because their leaders hardly emerged democratically, internal (party)democracy could be defined.. as a system allowing all registered political party members to participate either directly or indirectly in choosing their party leaders, flag-bearers, and other party official… Internal democracy thus connotes political parties giving full expression and unfettered access to their members to participate in the decision making process. It also means running affairs transparently, in accordance with agreed rules, and in a manner that is fair and just…. following this definition it is crystal clear that Nigeria political parties lack internal democracy, the case of the congress of APC River State 2015 and 2019 is one out of many instances
In democratization of any nation political parties plays a very critical role to the successes and failures of any electoral politics, it is the cardinal and an institution of democratization, this work focused on Nigeria political parties, it discussed the positives and negatives sides of the Nigerian political party, it acknowledged that Nigeria was under military rule for a long time and that can be damaging to the psyche of the people, and even the leaders because some the leaders still find it difficult to adapt to democratic tenets, political parties have help in restoring the people’s psyche by constantly reaching out to them begging votes.. which connotes that they cannot rule them by force, and also that without their votes leaders cannot emerge, political parties have help in sustaining our democracy, and I also acknowledge that it has some undemocratic tendencies in it’s dealing, so in conclusion I will submit that political parties have only to a small extent contributed to the development of democracy in Nigeria.