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  • Background to the Study

In democratic societies, political parties are indispensable voluntary and informal associations of society, where people share commonly understood values, customs and attitudes to their roles in politics. They are products of and operate within economic structures, and in a context of interests that are affected by and respond to the accumulation and distribution of goodwill and resources, including the wealth of society. As instruments of collective actions, political parties are the creation of the political elite in a bid to control the resources and personnel of government in order to implement an ideology or a political program. In competitive political systems, parties are organized by politicians to win elections; in authoritarian systems, parties are organized to affect the attitudes and behaviours of the population. In both instances, an organizational structure must be forged, money must be raised, cadres recruited, officers elected or selected and procedures for internal governing established and agreed upon (Suleiman,2011).

In competitive multi-party politics, the party that is elected to form government seeks to enact into law a number of policies and programs (oftentimes consistent with the party’s manifesto). Opposition parties are free to criticize the ruling party’s policies, ideas and programs and proffer alternatives. Democratic opposition political parties recognize and respect the authority of government even when their parties are not in power. This is possible because democratic systems are considered to have the values of tolerance, cooperation and compromise. The roles of the opposition parties are essential to democratic sustenance, it means that all sides in the political arena, however deep their xx differences, share the fundamental democratic values of freedom of speech, the rule of law, and equal protection under the law(Suleiman,2011).

The opposition political parties oppose but not obstruct. Both governing and opposition parties nourish and preserve society by helping to transform private or group demands into acceptable public policies. Functional constitutional democratic system is about choice. In such a system, there must be a constant reminder to the populace that there is a viable alternative to the incumbent political grouping that holds the potential of moving the country onto a higher qualitative democratic setting (Suleiman,2011).

Multiparty democracy exists when political participation stems from periodic elections with many parties contesting for votes cast on individual basis with a view to occupying public positions in order to implement certain party manifestoes, parties that lose elections become the opposition parties. The opposition parties then, are essentially “governments-in-waiting”. For a culture of democracy to hold, opposition parties need to have the confidence that political system will guarantee their right to organize, speak, dissent and/or criticize the party in power. In many democratic systems, the opposition parties have often been described as minority parties or parties that do not wield executive power, the parties that act as a check on the government. The opposition parties express the view of a significant section of the electorate and help to ensure that the concerns of the various groups and other interests not represented in the government is not forgotten. The opposition party presents itself as a viable alternative to the ruling party. It may do this by presenting an alternative ideological platform or simply show that it has a greater competence to govern (Suleiman,2011).

1.2 Statement of Problem

In portraying the crises inside Nigeria political parties, a useful methodological course will be to provide indicators of crisis situations. One is visible alteration within the ranks of party membership at all levels of the federal structure. The second is high turnover in the election and/or appointment of members of the executive committees of political parties. A third indicator is the breakup of parties and subsequent formation of factions. The fourth manifestation of party crisis is rampant defections across parties. Because the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) had held sway at the National center and overwhelming number of states – in fact at times as many as 23 states out of 36 states more reference will be made to it.  We shall however focus on party crises at the state and federal levels in view of the large number of local and ward chapters of all the parties. The PDP has since 1999, had more than its due share of crises, having had a spectacular rate of turn-over in its National Executive Committees. For instance, during the first term in the presidency of the PDP which lasted only 4 years, the Party had more than 3 National Chairmen – Chief Solomon Lar, the pioneer chairman, Chief BernabasGemade Chief AuduOgbe. It was ditto for other key officers like the national secretary. The states and local governments had their own due share of unusually high turnover. This trend was reproduced in other two major parties – the AD and APP. Through the second tenure – 2003-2007, there was even higher rate of turnover, as the souls of all the parties were virtually seated in the pockets of the political chief executives depending on the level of government in the Federal structure at which a party holds political sway – for the PDP it was at the Federal, State and local levels. For the AD it was the six states of the South West – Lagos, Ogun, Oyo, Osun, Ondo and Ekiti and this only for one term of office 1999-2003; because from May 2003 the President who is also of South West extraction, had tricked all the Governors of the AD into a deceptive pact that turned out to be mommental political suicide. And so the AD almost fizzled out of the country’s political, landscape as the PDP swept five states leaving only Lagos, where the Governor, Bola Tinubu had displayed delectable smartness and never yielded his political constituency to President Obasanjo’spolitical trap.

The crises in the leadership of so many chapters of almost all the parties, had provided ready-made excuse for party members who are enamored of party flirtation in search of greener political pasture. Hence, the political lexicon of Nigeria soon became saturated with “defection”,“decamping”, “cross-carpeting” etc. Such cases have become legion and they apply to all the political patties. What is more, between 2007 and 2011 general elections not less 60 political parties mushroomed and about 25 appeared in the ballot papers of the 2001 General Elections.

Right from the inception of the present Republic, Politicians have shown no qualms about moving in and out of political parties, depending on their perceptions of political advantage; the First Senate President in this dispensation, Senator Evans Enwerem, was originally the governorship candidate of the All People’s Party (PPP). In Imo State (Mbah 2011:6). But he lost his bid to bear the flag of his party for the subsequent general election. He decamped to the PDP before the general election; upon offer of senatorial ticked by the Party leadership. He did not only win election to the senate but was also rail-roaded by Chief Obasanjo’s Presidency and the national leadership of PDP to the Senate Presidency. In Plateau State, AlhajiAlhassanSbaibu, for a relatively frivolous reason, decamped from the All Peoples’ Party (APP) and joined the PDP in 1999. As a compensation, the President appointed him member, Northern Nigeria Development Company (NNDC). In Cross River State,not less than severe prominent APP and AD members cross-carpeted to the PDP. Another striking decamping during the Obasanjo regime was that of his Vice–President, AlhajiAtikuAbubakar. He was a foundation member of the party, having played active role in late Musa Yar’Aduah’s PDM. He defected to the Action Congress which became the new name of Alliance for Democracy (AD) after an open pitched battle with his boss, the President: contested as the presidential candidate of the Action Congress in 2007 general elections, returned to the PDP in 2011 (Mbah 2011) and ludicrously decamped again from the PDP; became a leading force in the formation of the New PDP and subsequently joined the emergent organizational colossus now known as the All Progressives Congress (APC).intra-party crises, real and contrived, resulted in a spate of defections also involving governors of different party affiliations: the Governor of Bauchi state up till 29th May 2015, Alhaji Isa Yuguda was a PDP member, failed to pick the party gubernatorial ticket in 2007, decamped to now All Nigerian People Party (ANPP), won the election under latter’s platform and subsequently decamped back to his original party, the PDP. The former Governor of Imo state as originally a member of PDP, decamped to Progressive Peoples Alliance (PPA), won election under its platform and almost immediately reverted to PDP; Governor Theodore Orji of Abia State followed the same pattern by changing party identity from PPA to PDP. The Governor of Ondo State, Dr.OlusegunMimiko won his governorship election on the platform of the Labour Party (LP) but later decamped to the PDP. In the North, AliyuShinkafi of Zamfara State (ANPP) and SaminuTuraki of Jigawa State (ANPP) defected to the PDP ( Mbah, 2011:7).

The Nigeria National Assembly is by no means spared of this gale of defections and cross carpeting, as no fewer than 13 Senators and 35 members of the House of Representatives had switched party between 1999 and 2013, when a ‘psunamic’ rapture balkanized the so called Africa’s largest party, the PDP. At the Mini-Convention that the PDP conducted in 2013, seven state governors – Kano, Kwara, Rivers, Sokoto, Adamawa, Niger and Jigawa– with their teaming supporters walked out of the venue, the Eagle Square in Abuja,moved to the Yar’Adua Centre where they addressed a press conference and announced their intention to form a new party to be called the new PDP. After initial running battle with the parent body, and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the n–PDP decide to strike a deal for a merger with the now mega party – the All Progressives Congress (APC). The party eventually won the presidential election in March 2015 and a reasonable majority of state governorship seats. Ever since its inauguration at thecentre the pattern of defection has reversed in its favour. Early August, 2015 a former state chairman of the PDP and leading members of the party in Bayelsa state decamped to the APC at the state party rally that was massively attended by both national regional and state officials of APC plus their teeming supporters/ followers.

In Nigeria, for instance, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), once referred to as the “largest political party in Africa’’, was defeated by the All Progressives Congress at the federal level in the 2015 general elections and it consequently became an opposition party.

Political analysts insist that instead of transforming into a formidable opposition party, the PDP has since been facing myriad challenges. They believe that having ruled Nigeria from 1999 to 2015, the PDP ought to have transmuted into a strong opposition to the APC and be in the vanguard of efforts to strengthen the Nigerian democracy. They, however, note that concerned PDP leaders are now frantically battling to save the party from disintegration, while overhauling it to enable it to provide strong opposition views and alternatives to some of the ruling party’s policies and strategies (Vanguard,2018).
Research Questions

The questions that arise therefore are:

(i) How well has the PDP and APC organized itself as a credible political party in general and as an opposition party in particular?

(ii) In what ways have the leadership crises within the PDP and APC affected its organizational capacity, party discipline and credibility as an opposition party?

(iii) Why has it become increasingly difficult for the APC to provide credible alternative to the ruling PDP?

Objectives of the Study

Specifically, the study intends to:

  1. i) Establish the level to which the PDP and APC has organized itself to make it competitive with other political parties.
  2. ii) Examine how the leadership crises within the PDP and APC have affected the party’s organizational capacity and discipline.

iii) Examine how the has portrayed itself to the electorates as a credible alternative government.

Significance of the Study

There are remarkably few studies on opposition parties in contemporary Nigeria as well as Africa in general.Studies on political parties have typically focused on the parties in power (e.g Van de Walle, 2003) on party systems (e.g., Kuenzi and Lambright, xxv Mozaffar et al. 2003, Randall and Svasand.2002, Manning 2005), or on the general dynamics of electoral competition (e.gBasedau et al., 2007, Salih, 2003).Studies on the opposition in Nigeria since the present dispensation started in 1998 have also tended to focus on the broader category of civil society(Olukoshi 1998), and have mostly ignored electoral competition and legislative politics. There is no documented academic research that has attempted to examine, specifically the activities of the opposition parties at the various levels of government such as at the National Assembly, Federal Executive Council level and among the governors’ forum.

The PDP and APC as an opposition partiesarenot a recent phenomenon and though it has not been sufficiently covered by academic research.Even though studies on the leadership crisis have been discussed mostly on the pages of newspapers and workshops, they have not sufficiently covered the realities of the opposition politics in Nigeria particularly with respect to the study has come to fill the huge academic gap created.

1.5 Scope of the Study

The scope of this study covers the activities of both the PDP and the APC in and out of the National Assembly, before and after elections. Also actions of some prominent members of the parties were also analyzed within the context of the political party leadership crisis from 1999 to 2015. The study also covers the forces and factors that have shaped the formation of the Nigerian state, political parties and the various dimensions that political opposition politics have taken from colonialism to post colonialism.The study also covers the analysis of the characters and forces that had led the party through the path of crisis between 1999 and 2015.

1.6 Limitations of the Study

The study will be limited to the two main political parties in Nigeria which are termed as rival parties; PDP and APC. The study will analyze the leadership crisis of both parties.

Another limitation was based on the fact that there was no enough literature review on work, which lead to delay in the general completion of the entire work.


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