FEATURE ARTICLE

Barth U. Amakihe, Ph.D.Saturday, February 4, 2017
bamakihe@msn.com
Ilisan, Ogun State, Nigeria

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PROSPECTS AND CHALLENGES OF TWO PARTY POLITICAL SYSTEM IN NIGERIA
...THE QUEST FOR A NEW PARADIGM

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he emergence of two major political parties in Nigeria had been advocated as a desirable option by many scholars including the author of this article. The fact is that it will give the Nigerian electorate the options of choosing and voting for either party. Secondly, it will make the political parties not to take the people for granted and work towards better democratic governance. Since the emergence of the All Progressive Congress as the new and rival power to the Peoples Democratic Party, the Nigerian political terrain had solidified than what it was a decade or even five years ago. But it is still not ''uhuru'' or freedom yet.

One of the major challenges of a two party system in a country that had not developed political maturity nor political ideology, as well as political structures, is the incessant dumping of the political party that had lost power. In well-established or developed democracies ideologies propel membership of a political party. In the United States for instance, Liberals and conservatives dominate the two major political parties. As Alex Dazinger, Jane Hinshaw etal (2000), posited, "American Politics has had a two party system almost without interruption ever since". Other political scholars have posited that the "Democratic" and the "Republican" parties in the United States grew after the US civil war. Political analysts have also noted that the make-up of party membership were guided by the philosophical ideologies of the members. But the political environments of the Nigerian political firmament are different.

The political party members of the 2nd decade of the 21st century Nigeria and of the country's 4th Republic, tend to be opportunist, as many of them pursue what some Nigerian political analysts describe as "stomach infrastructure". Poverty alleviation which were easily satisfied by belonging to the ruling party, through which political largesse including unmerited appointments and control of some allocated resources are made available. Secondly party membership in the Nigerian political environment are often guided by "adversary political tactics, and propelled by ethnic and religious sentiments. The 2015 Nigerian national elections brought new insights and possibilities as a result of the formation of the All Progressive Congress by a conglomeration of other political parties together with a splintered PDP Governors.

The ability of the APC to wrestle power from the ruling PDP can be attributed to the 16 long years of the Peoples Democratic Party's hold of the Federal Government of Nigeria which resulted into voter fatigue, hence the APC's change mantra became a reality. Secondly, the stench of corruption, whose odor was perceived by the general population were all blamed on the PDP government. With the Nigerian brand of democratic governance that lack party ideology, the sustenance of the desired two party systems hinges on the performance of president Buhari and his ruling APC party as well as the ability of the opposition party the PDP to remain strong or remain the bride in waiting. The incessant dumping and crossover of party stalwarts into the ruling party, weakens the democratic development of the nation. The emergence of two party system in the country will also stem corruption when the citizens have the options of voting out non performing political parties, as was the case in 2015 when the ruling political party were ousted. Instead, political party members should remain within their parties and work to strengthen them and become party government in waiting.

This equilibrium will be strengthened and maintained by the Courts staying focused and delivering judgments in electoral tribunals, and without fear or favor, and in tandem with the constitution of the land in adjudicating electoral malpractices. As the nation marches forward to future election cycles, and as the nation's voters discover that they can throw out non-performing parties and their governments, the prospects of the two party system in Nigeria becomes reality.

In view of the above, party officials and party organizers must develop and inculcate desirable values and ideologies that promote peace, order and even development of the entire country. In addition, these parties must include ideological frameworks that might enable voters to identify with their aspirations and vote in their direction. Such party platforms as restructuring of the economic and political structures within a strong or weak federal government in Nigeria, as well as party goals and manner of acheiving these objectives, must be clearly stated and made available to all. Realignment of party stalwarts currently going on in Nigeria particularly the crossover of Peoples Democratic Party members into the All Progressive Congress, can be excused on the ground that the formation of these two major political parties in Nigeria are less than twenty years old. As these parties grow and consolidate with discernable manifestoes and agenda, future dumping of parties, more especially, sitting elected party legislators must be discouraged. The issues raised above are acheivable when justice and equity are enthroned all over the country. Nigeria deserves better from its leaders

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