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Democratic Decay or Democratic Autocracy? Party Primaries and the Challenges of Democratic Consolidation in Nigeria 1999–2019

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Anonymous Power


The presence of political parties in any polity is considered not only as one of the hallmarks of liberal democracy but also as a major catalyst in the democratization process. However, the relationship between democracies and the democratic character of their parties seems to be inversely related. Nowhere is this notion truer than in the nascent democratic experience in Nigeria. Almost every political party in Nigeria is in crisis as a result of the negation of democratic practices in the choice of either party executives and/or choice of candidates for elective positions. All manner of mechanism are crafted to thwart democratic processes especially in the choice of candidates for elective positions ranging from exorbitant fees for would be contestants, national executives veto power to nullify primaries, impose candidates or disqualify candidates with winning potentials. The fallout of these undemocratic practices unleashes several negative consequences ranging from intra party fractionalization, legal tussles, incessant membership defection and explosion of new parties. These have adverse implications for democratic consolidation in Nigeria. This chapter interrogates the character of party primaries in Nigerian Political parties from 1999. This chapter argues that the incessant tendency by parties to jettison established formal processes for candidate selection in preference of imposition and anti-democratic practices has created a unique form of party organization in which the parties are not institutionalized and stable organizations that can help the process of democratic consolidation. The consequences of these undemocratic practices to democracy in Nigeria, the chapter notes, are voter apathy arising from lack of confidence in the electoral process, intra-party crisis which complicates the conduct of election and intra-party fractionalization which breeds political violence. This chapter recommends the strengthening of the electoral management body with necessary provisions to regulate the internal management of parties so as to ensure that parties adhere to the formal and constitutional procedures that will ensure institutionalization.

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Obianyo, N., Alumona, I.M. (2022). Democratic Decay or Democratic Autocracy? Party Primaries and the Challenges of Democratic Consolidation in Nigeria 1999–2019. In: Ibeanu, O., Okoye, I.'., Alumona, I.M., Aniche, E.T. (eds) Anonymous Power. Palgrave Macmillan, Singapore.

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