Intra-party politics and the future of democracy in nigeria onyishi, anthony obayi university of nigeria

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The Future of Democracy

Democracy, is a concept that needs to be clearly comprehended by both the key political players and other citizens. Dahl (1989 in Gberevbie 2014:135) identifies the existence of high level of civil liberties, political pluralism, political participation that provides the choice for the electorate to select candidates in a free and fair elections, as a condition for a society to be regarded as democratic Similarly, Badru (2005, 77-101), states at length:

Democracy represents, first and foremost, an increase in citizen’s political equality in terms of their popular participation in the society.

He argues that democracy is a system of government that enables both leaders and the citizens to be conscious of what is required and accomplish it for the betterment of that society in terms of political, social and economic development (Gberevbie 2014:135). These definitions imply that authoritarian method of running democratic institutions, such as political parties would impede the cause of democracy. Which brings us to intra-party crisis. At the centre of it all is how to choose the executive members who will run them and candidates who will bear their flags in inter party elections. This is still a very rudimentary level of democratic evolution, yet it is fraught with seemingly intractable crises. If wrong and objectionable candidates are selected by parties, in flagrant disregard of democratic procedure and rules, it would not only generate crisis within the party but also rub off negatively on the quality of alternatives that the electorate is presented with. Since independent candidacy is constitutionally prohibited, electorate apathy might result. Experiences of the 2003 and 2007 general elections showed large scale apathy by Nigerian voters: imposition of party candidates and large scale rigging of the voting process, including outright writing of results by agents of political parties, were widely reported (see Ggberevbie, 2014, Ojiefor 2007, Usman 2007, Oluwaseun 2012). We have noted earlier that these anti-system conducts were outgrowth of crises that brewed from within the political parties. This situation is sustained by the glaring weakness of key institutional guards of democracy: the police, the judiciary, the legislature, the election management body, the constitution and the civil society. Let us briefly examine how their interplay makes the democratic process in Nigeria to wobble.

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