POLITICAL CONFLICT AND CONSOLIDATION OF NIGERIAN DEMOCRACY (A CASE STUDY OF SELECTED POLITICAL PARTIES IN ABUJA)
1.1. BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
It is apposite to state that political conflict is the hallmarks of weakly institutionalize politics. The starkest manifestation of such conflict is armed conflict in the form of civil war. Though elections which are supposed to be a significant pillar in the democratic process of a country with the twin principles of political participation and accountability is precisely in the greatest and most notable violations of the occurrence of this principles.
Everyone wants to win, and nobody wants to lose. It is obvious that for any political critic to say anything considered ‘negative’ about any political office holder, he should be ready to bear the risk of being molested. According to Adekanye in (Alfa & Otaida, 2012), an objective review of the Nigerian political journey would reveal that political conflict has been part and parcel of the country’s history.
What is however new are the metamorphoses of the conflict; which is now in shapes, magnitude and consequences? No country can develop in an atmosphere of rancour and acrimony. Nigeria would have been one of the leading economics of the world but its movement has been anticlockwise due largely to the fact that monumental resources are channelled into security votes, conflict resolution and reconstruction as a result of perennial political conflict:
since political power is the major source of wealth in Nigeria, the contest for political office is always a ‘do or die’ affair (Ake, 1981 & Tenuche, 2011 in Alfa & Otaida, 2012).
From the observations of the above scholars, one is tend to believe that the chief of these factors and probably the most encompassing factor which have continue to bedevil the attainment of democratic consolidation in Nigeria since independence is political conflict. Political conflict has been the bane of the Nigerian democracy since independence.
The ships of the Nigerian first, second and third republics were drawn by uncontrollable political conflict. Now the Fourth Republic is being threatened by day, by political conflict of various shades. What then is this notorious political conflict, how does it occur, what are its manifestations, is it preventable, controllable, how, when and by who?
How is it a threat to democratic culture in Nigeria? Democracy, the most preferred system of government (for its perceived ability to comfort all and sundry) is bedevilled in Nigeria by political conflict occasioned according to some scholars by bad governance.
Democracy, expectedly, is a government of the people by the people for the people. However, this applies in the developed world where democracy is already a product. In Nigeria and other third world countries, democracy is still a process and indeed a means to an end and not yet an end in itself.
For these reasons, scholars of democracies the world over differ in opinion about what democracy represents. Consequently, there are two major groups: the first group sees Democracy as a ‘cherished ideal’ while the second group sees it as mere instrument of oppression. The positivists, looking at democracy from the point of view of the practice in the developed world argues that democracy implies the rule by the people, the triumph of the will of the people, rule of law, egalitarianism, utilitarianism, constitutions, civil liberties and universal franchise.
On the other hand the leftists believe that democracy is poised to destroying order, consolidation, discipline and moral rectitude which aristocracy and oligarchy have always maintained. Through democracy man commits the following offences against one another and the society at large.
The majority’s ambivalence to a comprehensive social justice; political in consolidation, often tending to war and tyranny; the lack of moral virtues, promoted by a politics of ambition popular rhetoric, majoritarianism and general licentiousness; the entrenchment of a few in long possession of offices; the injustices occasioned by a superficial and selfish ethic of egalitarianism; the wide spread pursuit of indolent pleasures; the absence of genuine social or moral aims.
However, be that as it may, democracy has begun in Nigeria and Nigeria must strive to consolidate the democratic culture because of its inherent advantages: – freedom to form and join association, freedom of expression, universal adult suffrage, the eligibility of citizens to seek political office, the right of political leaders to compete freely for votes and support, the existence of alternative sources of information, free and fair election and accountable government.
In this study therefore, attempts are made to determine what is meant by political conflict, its causes, its objectives, its consequences on governance and the relationship between Political conflict and the attainment of Democratic consolidation in Nigeria. The paper concludes that political conflict is a serious problem bedevilling the attainment of democratic consolidation in Nigeria.
1.2 STATEMENT OF PROBLEM
However, since the return of multi-party democratic governance in 1999, Nigeria has continued to grapple with the problem of national unity, such that she can be described as nation with tripod stand, made up of three blocks, the North, the West and the East that are in a perpetual state of wobble (Ogundiya, 2011).
While Political conflicts are inevitable in democratic set up, due either to different political ideologies and principles, numbers of such political parties and the nature of such relationships that exist within, between or among them, the functions that political parties play are crucial to democratic sustenance (Tyoden, 2013).
This further means, since political parties are avenues of articulation and aggregation of diverse interests which forms an important part of the working of a political system, conflicts are bound to happen. Unfortunately, while such political parties can maturely and peacefully handle such democratic conflicts, the Nigerian political parties since 2010 do not seem to guarantee peace amongst the people (Aristotle, 2012, Tyoden, 2013).
This idea reflects the view of Maiyo (2008) where he posits that, instead of fostering healthy political competition in Africa, political parties have often helped to fan the embers of conflicts and conflict through divisive and explosive forces.
This fact is not farfetched from what Aleyomi (2014) described as Nigeria’s modern political parties which exhibits three fundamental characters. First, most political parties in Nigeria are mostly centralised institutions with structures heavily relying on figure personalities.
Second, party leaders are not necessarily working towards national but local, religious, regional, or economic interests. Third, parties are usually organised as electoral machinery to capture power for personal gains. It is therefore not surprising that, the democratic regression that Nigeria has been entangled since the return of democracy are largely attributable to undeveloped and fractionalized party system (Omotola, 2009).
Thus, one of the main deficiencies to democratic consolidation process in Nigeria today is lack of proper identification, management and resolution of inter-party conflicts that continue to result into sporadic outburst of conflict with direct consequences on national cohesion and political consolidation (Abbas, 2013, Tyoden, Babatope, 2012).
In view of the above deficiencies, there lies the need to review the role political parties‟ play in inter-party conflict in Nigeria since the dawn of fourth republic with a view to determine how these issues can be better addressed to enhance democratic consolidation in Nigeria’s political system.
1.3. AIMS AND OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
The major aim of the study is to examine political conflict and consolidation of Nigerian democracy. Other specific objectives are as follows;
- To examine the nature of political conflicts in Nigeria.
- To investigate the challenges of democratic consolidation in Nigeria with key emphases to political conflict.
- To examine the impact of political conflict on democratic consolidation in Nigeria.
- To identify the causes of political conflicts in Nigeria democracy.
- To examine the factors in the political discourse that analysts do contribute to democratic consolidation in Nigeria.
- To suggest best ways to enhance mutual political conflict/relations towards achieving democratic consolidation.
1.4. Research Questions
- How is the nature of political conflicts in Nigeria?
- What are the challenges of democratic consolidation in Nigeria with key emphases to political conflict?
- What is the impact of political conflict on democratic consolidation in Nigeria?
- What are the causes of political conflicts in Nigeria democracy?
- What are the factors in the political discourse that analysts do contribute to democratic consolidation in Nigeria?
- What are the best ways to enhance mutual political conflict/relations towards achieving democratic consolidation?
1.5. Research Hypothesis
H0: Political conflict does not have influence on democratic consolidation in Nigeria.
H1: Political conflict has a significant influence on democratic consolidation in Nigeria.
1.6. Significance of the study
The significance of this timely and topical study is twofold: practical and academic. Practically, this study will be of paramount importance to the elections management bodies in Nigeria especially the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the registered political parties, authorities of the non-governmental organizations especially the Transition Monitoring Group (TMG), the national and state governments as well as the general public for the following reasons:
The study will help highlight the impact of the nature and character of the Nigerian State as well as the ruling elite on the political system and democratic consolidation in Nigeria. The study will enlighten the general public on the inextricable link between free and fair elections and consolidation of democratic practice, as well as the centrality of openness and transparency if free and fair election is to be achieved.
With this study, it is intended that the Federal Government through, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) will be galvanized to carry out a vigorous appraisal of the elections especially in view of the electoral fraud committed by the ruling party, overhaul the relevant sections of the legal and constitutional frameworks pertaining to the conduct of elections with a view to removing all hiccups that pre-disposed the election to fraud, and by so-doing put the necessary machineries in place to enable the body conduct free and fair elections.
Academically, this study explored the efforts of the Federal Government through the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in permanently addressing the endemic problems that are associated with the conduct of credible elections and transition to civil rule in Nigeria.
Hence, by evaluating the nature and character of the Nigerian State and the ruling elite vis-à-vis the perpetration of electoral fraud in elections in Nigeria as well as the relevant sections of our legal and constitutional frameworks that assisted in the perpetration of electoral fraud in any of the elections in Nigeria,
the study will not only synchronize with existing enquiries to form a dependable pool of literature in this area, but will also serve as a convenient starting point for further studies in the analysis of the interface between Electoral reforms and consolidation of democracy in Nigeria.
1.7. Scope of the study
The study is restricted to political conflict and consolidation of Nigeria democracy, a case study of selected political parties in Abuja.
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1.8 LIMITATION OF STUDY
Financial constraint– Insufficient fund tends to impede the efficiency of the researcher in sourcing for the relevant materials, literature or information and in the process of data collection (internet, questionnaire and interview).
Time constraint– The researcher will simultaneously engage in this study with other academic work. This consequently will cut down on the time devoted for the research work.
1.8 DEFINITION OF TERMS
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.
Democracy: Is a system of government where the citizens exercise power by voting. In a direct democracy, the citizens as a whole form a governing body and vote directly on each issue. In a representative democracy the citizens elect representatives from among themselves.
Political Party: Is defined as an organised group of people with at least roughly similar political aims and opinions that seeks to influence public policy by getting its candidates elected to public office.
Conflict: This is an attempt to outwit or completely subdue other individuals or groups by means that may separate from informative order, industry conflict.
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