In the book, theoretically and in written form, Nigeria makes use of a multi-party system of government which allows the populace to vote in mickle ways for the party of their choice. The system allows the establishment of numerous numbers of the party but in action, practically and in realistic manners: Nigeria operates a voodooed two-party system of government which allows only two forms of a party in government. Democracy, as a valid system of government, agitates for and thrives on the pluralistic opinions of people because it is made by the people for the people to satisfy themselves. Multi-Party system of government, freedom of expression free and fair elections and Choices are the key factors behind the wall of democracy but our unlimited choices of a political party have diverged into only two where choices are limited. Choose between fry pan or glowing fire is the only option left in choosing a political party in Nigeria.
Nigeria started with a good step towards attaining a believe of true democracy in the First Republic, with the establishment of various political parties such as National Convention of Nigerian Citizens, NCNC, the Action Group, AG, Midwest Democratic Front, MDF, and Nothern People Congress, NPC, just to mention view of them. This didn’t last enough before it was aborted in the 1966 coup, an unconstitutional way of changing government. Moving into the Second Republic when Alhaji Sheu Shagari of the National Party of Nigeria, NPN was handed power to by General Olusegun Obasanjo in 1979. A number of political parties were established then also effectively. Unity Party of Nigeria, UPN, Great Nigeria Peoples Party, GNPP, Nigeria Advance Party, NAP, Peoples Redemption Party, PRP, and the Nigeria People’s Party, NPP among others won the election of representatives.
In the Third Republic, General Ibrahim Babangida established the Two-Party system in Nigeria. He established and registered two political parties: National Republican Convention, NRC and the Social Democratic Party, SDP. The third Republic has gone but Babangida’s party system still lives in Nigerians’ memories. Since the beginning of the Fourth Republic, three parties registered and contested, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, All Peoples Party, APP and the Alliance for Democracy, AD, where PDP won massively and emerged as the winner and showed itself as a true People’s party then. Ever since then, only two political parties are ruling the country. Chances are not given to a new set of political parties but only two political parties are recognized by the people. If a student is giving a chance to mention the political parties in Nigeria, the student will only mention the two prominent ones before others. Since the beginning of the Fourth Republic till this present moment, there are only two political parties in power: the People’s Democratic Party and the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) which often changes its name for tactically planned political reasons.
Should there be more functioning political parties in Nigeria, the desperation of the duo political parties in power would have been limited. They control almost every aspect of the country. They have almost all the councilors in the country. No third force has been able to give them a headache in contesting for Local government chairman: they control nearly all the local governments in the country. If a politician wants to succeed and triumph in his political affairs in Nigeria, he must belong to either of the two parties. Party switching among members of the political parties knows no limit. Among the thirty-six states in the country: 19 states are being controlled by All Progressive Congress (APC) and 16 by his counterpart People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and only 1 by All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA). In the 2019 general election, over 90 political parties registered but only two were known to the peak. In House, out of 360 seats, 217 is for APC and 115 for PDP while in Senate, out of 109, APC 64 seats and PDP 45 seats. Had it a third functioning political party, the desperation of the candidates of those parties would have been limited.
Judging by the 2019 generally election statistics, new political parties were formed including Omoyele Sowore’s African Action Democracy which is not even close to half of the votes cast for APC and PDP only Felix Nicola’s Peoples Coalition Party is up to a hundred thousand votes. None of those mushrooming political parties challenge the duo ruling parties in any election, they are just adding to the number of political parties on the paper. Should we have more effective political parties, the elections would have been fair enough because they all the figures to share almost equally. With the reference to last month’s concluded gubernatorial election in Kogi and Bayelsa, only those two parties were voted in. As a matter of fact, APC won the two elections: Yaya Bello and David Lyon won in Kogi and Bayelsa respectively. APC had a total of 406,222 votes and PDP189,704 votes and Natasha Hadiza Akpoti of SDP was able to get 9,482 votes: the margin has always been there and not even a close assured one.
It is time to give a chance to the rest of the political parties in power before it goes out of hand. The electorates can only identify two parties’ logos easily and not others. Even the old ones believe that only two parties exist as people would ask them APC or PDP, they don’t regard others as political parties but only names on the list. The menace of the confusion of the two political parties cannot be overemphasized, proper measures should be taken. We need the original Multi-party system in Nigeria and not a Two-party system in disguise.
Tosin Adesokan wrote from the Faculty of Education, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife. He can be reached on firstname.lastname@example.org.