This article deals primarily with the political parties of the First, Second, Third and Fourth Republics of Nigeria. Unlike the nationalist parties of the colonial era whose primary objective was decolonisation, the overriding objective of the post-independence parties was to win political power.
Whether or not they use this power for the common good is another thing. It is, however, difficult to draw a clear line of distinction between the two sets of political parties as some of the nationalist parties even operated after independence. In a few cases, some of the new parties traced their origin to the past. The formation, objectives, achievements and problems of these parties are now considered in turn.
We discussed in details the NNDP, Nigerian National Alliance (NNA) and the United Progressives Grand Alliance (UPGA) which were created after the political crises of 1962 as distinct from the-parties established during the colonial era.
The military also had a deep suspicion of parties and civilian politicians regarded as agents of disunity and fragmentation. For example, while inaugurating the Constitution Drafting Committee in October 1975, the Head of State, GeneralMurtala Mohammed advised that “ ”. To the government, if an alternative could be found to political parties, so be it. Unfortunately, the CDC found no such an alternative and we were back to square one.
Perhaps, because of its aversion to party politics, the military government imposed some strict conditions for the registration of parties including the following:
The names and addresses of party officers must be registered with the Federal Electoral Commission (FEDECO)
Party membership must be open to every Nigerian regardless of his place of origin, religion, ethnic group or sex.
The constitution of a political party must be registered with FEDECO and every alteration must be reported within thirty days.
A political party’s name, emblem or motto must not have any ethnic or religious connotation and it must not even create the impression that its activities are confined to a part (rather the whole) of Nigeria.
The headquarters of a party must be situated in the federal capital (now Abuja) and It must have established branch offices in at least two-thirds of the states of the federation and its organisation must effectively penetrate into the local government area.
This elaborate system for the registration of parties was to ensure that only parties which reflect the national character of Nigeria were registered. There was no room for parochial, sectional, ethnic or religious parties as we had in the First Republic.
Based on these requirements, only five of the 53 political associations that sprouted up after the ban on politics was lifted on 21st September, 1978 were registered as political parties. The successful parties were the Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN), National Party of Nigeria (NPN), Nigeria People’s Party (NPP), People’sRedemption Party (PRP) and Great Nigeria People’s Party (GNPP).
Contrary to the expectation of the military government, the five parties were relatively wealthy and their leaders were all prominent politicians of the First Republic. The parties were mainly reincarnation of parties of the First Republic.
This palty was formed by Mallam AminuKano, who was both the party’s national chairman and the presidential candidate. PRP was a minor party and succeeded in winning Governorship election in only two states (Kano and Kaduna).
In the aborted Third Republic, the Babangida Administration introduced a two-party system after initially experimenting with multi-party system. The Federal Military Government contended that the system was “to prevent undue polarisation of political activity and unconstructive opposition in government”.
By creating two parties, the government intended to “reduce and domesticate competition into two camps of alternative political persuasions”. ,
Thus, in line with the report of the Political Bureau, the military government created two political parties which were wholly funded by it. The Social Democratic Party (SDP) and the National Republican Convention (NRC) were the two political parties registered and approved by the Federal Government for the Third Republic.
As said before, several political activities were packed into the eleven months transition programme of the Abdusalami AbubakarMilitary Administration. A major plank of this programme was the registration of political parties. At the end of the registration exercise, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) registered only three political parties, namely, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the All People’s Party which was later renamed as All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) and the Alliance for Democracy (AD).
But with the passage of Electoral Act 2002 by the National Assembly and the liberalisation of the party registration process, more political parties were registered by INEC in readiness for succeeding general elections.
The registration of parties by INEC is now a routine affair. The registered political parties in Nigeria number about 63 by the time of the April 2011 general elections although the Independent National Electoral Commission has decided to delist from funding political parties, a move which would likely whittle down the number of parties.
Some of the leading parties are:
Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)
All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP)
Alliance for Democracy (AD)
National Conscience Party (NCP)
National Democratic Party (NDP)
All Progressives Grand Alliance (A_PGA)
Movement for Democracy and Social Justice (MDJ)
Masses Movement for Nigeria (MMN)
People Mandate Party (PMP)
Progressive Action Congress (PAC)
All People’s Liberation Party (APLP)
Better Nigeria Progressive Party (BNPP)
Green Party of Nigeria (GPN)
Justice Party (JP)
African Renaissance Party (ARP)
Democratic Alliance (DA)
United Democratic Party (UDP)
People Redemption Party (PRP)
Nigerian People’s Congress (NPC)
Community Party of Nigeria (CPN)
Party for Social Democracy (PSD)
Liberal Democratic Party of Nigeria (LDPN)
People’s Salvation Party (PSP)
New Nigeria People’s Party (NNPP)
Nigeria Advance Party (NAP)
National Reformation Party (NRP)
New Democrats (ND)
Nigeria People’s Conscience (NPC)
Movement for the Restoration and Defence of Democracy (MRDD)
We’ll only discussed the three parties registered in 1998 in this article. The parties are the PDP, ANPP and AD which with the notable exception of the AD remain some of the dominant parties in Nigeria even today. More importantly, the three parties appear, to be representative of the parties in Nigeria which are generally not ideologically distinct. In addition, the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) which is the leading opposition party will be discussed.
Opposition was initiated by parties against colonial government, e.g. Richards Constitution of 1946. The constitution was seen by party leaders as containing “obnoxious laws” which, was subsequently removed in the 1951 Constitution.
Thiswas provided through rallies and newspapers e.g. West African Pilot, Comet, Lagos Weekly Record and Nigeria Tribune owned by some of their leaders. This enlightenment exposed the masses to some of the deficiencies of colonial constitutions.
Formation of Governments
Governments were formed by various parties in their various regions under the 1951 Constitution. The development formed the basis for self-government in 1957, 1959 and independence in 1960.
Leaders were selected by the parties to attend constitutional conferences e.g. the Ibadan Conference of 1951, 1953 and 1957 London Conferences for the attainment of political independence.