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Two-party Or Multi-party System, Which Way Forward Nigeria?

There has been a debate at many levels on the type of party system Nigeria should adopt in order to achieve a better democracy in the country.

The House of Representatives have rejected the 2-party system likewise some top politicians with the arguement that it negates the law of freedom of association. This arguement i see as selfish on the part of the politicians because Nigeria has been practising this multi-party system and it has not yielded any good result other than producing one stong party and numerous weak ones. It is also a way the politicians get their own portion of the national cake as they recieve allocations from the federal govt.

In my opinion, a 2-party system which can produce 2 strong political parties is what Nigeria needs at this time. 2 parties that can compete favourable with each other, or a multi party with a maximum of 3 or 4 political parties should be adpoted.

Nigeria is not yet mature for this present multi- party system and it has continued to make a caricature of our democracy.

We just need one other strong party, a party that can compete intensely with PDP. If not, PDP will continue to rule this country and continue to swallow up some other weaker ones until we have a one party system which is dangerous for this nation.

The politicians have said their own, but what do the youth of this country think?

Your contributions will go a long way in enlightening some of us.

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19 answers

Presently Nigeria has a multi-party system. During the history of its independence Nigeria has flipped back and forth from democracy to military government and even tyranny by Sani Abacha and others. In these days all the rules and the president of the country are elected by people. Despite the fact that some folks criticize the authorities for corruption (a fair claim) and other issues, the life is much better this way. Nigerian community does not need a change in its political constitution, but rather in people’s mentality. Because no ruler (regardless of how good or bad he is) can change how people think, feel and consequently how they live. Such promises are unrealistic and only smart and socially responsible generation of Nigerians can change that country for better.

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am a bit relieved seeing some of the points.

Two-Party or Multi-Party system, Good electoral process is the answer.

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I disagree totally. I think, to start with, Nigeria seems cursed with leaders that are bereft of ideas. Our leaders are experts in policy flip-flops and this explains why they always go back and forth on issues; they remind me of the lazy workman who prefers to blame his tools for his incompetence. We have had restrictive party systems at different points in our political history (two parties, three, four, and five). Indeed, we tried the two-party system during the Third Republic (SDP and NRC) and the experience was not so positive. There was so much bad-blood within the parties arising from the competition for party tickets for different elective positions. In fact, why there wasn't an outbreak of full scale political assassinations during that era was because the military were in charge then and did not leave room for much internecine conflicts among the political class. Thee problems continued into the present fourth republic when we had a three party system (PDP, AD, and the then APP). The bitter experience arising from that era is still fresh n our memory; it was for this reason that the judiciary gave a landmark judgment (in the suit instituted by the late Gani Fawenhimi) permitting the formation and registration of multiple parties. If we make the mistake of reintroducing a restrictive party system now that the democratic space has opened up more than ever before, then that would be a recipe for disaster: the politically motivated murders we witnessed in the recent past would be child's play compared to what would happen during election seasons.

The reason why a two-party system cannot work is not far-fetched. We all know that political parties in Nigeria do not have a sufficient degree of what is commonly referred to as “internal democracy”. In other words, the determination of which aspirants would be nominated as party candidates for elective positions is almost always left for a few (or single) party leader(s) to decide. An outstanding example of this was the imposition of Umaru Yar’ Adua on the PDP by OBJ as the presidential candidate for the election in 2007. Of course there were several other aspirants who felt they more qualified and that they would have won the ticket if there had been credible and transparent primaries. Two of such candidates, i.e. Atiku Abubakar and Orji Kalu exercised their democratic rights by opting out of the PDP to contest the election under the platform of the AC and PPA respectively. What if we had a two-party system, would this have been possible? This sort of imbroglio is even more pronounced in gubernatorial and legislative elections. If there had been a two-party system in place, we may not have had governors like Theodore Orji, Olusegun Mimiko and Peter Obi – all of whom won elections with parties that are not so ‘grounded’ as it were. The truth of the matter is that adopting a two-party system, apart from being a negation of the democratic right of freedom of association, will amount to a constriction of the political space – which will reduce options, inhibit positive competition, and thus promote desperation and uncontrollable conflict within the ranks of the two parties.

Having made the foregoing points, I must also admit that the multi-party system comes with problems of it own – especially the huge cost the government incurs in financing the parties, most of which exist only on paper (husband & wife parties), and have never won even a councillorship election. The solution to this problem is very simple. Rather than abolish the parties and institute a two-party system, stricter measures should be set down for parties to qualify for state funding. For instance, parties would need to have functional secretariats in at least 18 states of the federation, and produce at least one individual holding elective office in at least half of these states. With this sort of framework in place, all the ‘face-me-I-face-you’ parties would fizzle out and only the serious parties would survive. Indeed, the current norm of state funding for political parties could even be jettisoned altogether!

We must also understand that two-partyism is not the panacea to a ‘one party state’ which we fear the PDP’s dominance could lead to. Indeed, the PDP’s supposed dominance of the political space is a function of the defective electoral process, and the party’s awesome rigging machinery which is probably the largest and most ruthless in the history of mankind. If we manage to achieve electoral reform, and future elections become more credible, free and fair, the PDP’s macabre hegemony will whittle away – making way for other parties with more popular candidates. You don’t need a two-party system to achieve this; all you need is free and fair elections.

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a multi party system is the best, it gives nigerian politicians the opportunity to sell themselves on any platform , what we shld be looking at is for nigerian politicians to see wisdom in coming together to form coalitions which are powerful, these coalitions shld then become powerful party entities.but nigerian politicians are not united.

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I think the gains of the 2-party experiment by IBB seem overrated. We are not developed enough to limit political ideology to just two strands like IBB did and still have meaningful development. Had IBB not annulLed the elections , it sure would have been a matter of time for the opposition to thin out into irrelevance. The NRC men would have decamped en masse to the ruling party as the juicy contracts would have been too tempting to overcome in the name of political ideology.

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i believe its not only Nigeria that has different ethnicities making up a nation. So the problem may not be ethnic, but something may not really understand. Like greed, unresolved differences.

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The number of party is not the problem.

The problem is we are multi-nation country.

Each nation that makes up Nigeria will always want to be President since all power is concentrated at the center.

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Well another problem is that the two party system as it is used in the US for example are identified with an ideology. Democrats with liberalism, higher taxes for middle class/rich people. pro-immigration, pro-abortion, pro-anything lol, then the Republicans who are basically the opposite. This is usually not the case.

But anyways Nigerian parties are not associated with any political ideology and neither are they committed to the furtherance of any issue except stealing as much as they can, although it could be pointed out that they are divided across ethnic lines.

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The best way is to create a system that nullifies all the present loopholes and abuses affecting the present situation.

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lol

Another dimension to it.

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wirinet

That was a briliant idea coming from u. I have stated that govt funding political parties is still one of the reasons some of our politicians still cling to their very weak parties even with out any hope of winning any free and fair election.

If a free and fair is guaranteed in Nigeria, the issue of how many party system will not be a problem.

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@wirinet thank you so much. Money is one of the strongest motivators of forming political parties in this country. If we remove the reprieve the government has been giving them we will see the real number of parties that genuinely want to be of service to this country. I totally agree with you.

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You cannot decree parties, just as you cannot decree the number of companies or associations in a country. We keep chasing after shadows while avoiding the substance. Parties would drastically reduce to less than 5 if the following steps are taken;

1. Stop government funds to parties. Is is not abnormal for government to fund privately created parties?

2. Organized free and fair election. No body would waste his money forming parties if he cannot have a reasonable chance of winning an election.

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In my opinion, a 2-party system which can produce 2 strong political parties is what Nigeria needs at this time. 2 parties that can compete favourable with each other, or a multi party with a maximum of 3 or 4 political parties should be adpoted.

@poster, like Lar said in his defense of PDP when it came into power it had the purest of intents. I personally do not support a two party system for all the reasons that have been given as its benefit. Did we not have a two party system during the Babangida regime? Did it work for us then? Was there less corruption, nepotism. and godfatherism?

Even the world super powers, Britain, USA and France do not practice two party systems and these are Nigerian Political role models!! It will not be realistic to say of course that corruption and its sisters and brothers will cease to be in existence just because there are multi-party system or two party system but it will be realistic to aim for a situation where it is in the minimum.

However, with a two party system monopolising Nigeria will be an easy thing. Currently, we have the 'inner caucus' borrowing the words of Lar who determine the fate of Nigeria to the extent of determining who should rule or not. Their excuse, a section of the country complained that it has not been allowed to rule the country since inception so to be seen to be fair the Northern zoned the country to the south in the person of our very much acclaimed OBJ. Now it is an issue of should the North not be allowed to complete their tenure or not? In what civilized society to find these happening?Where the presidency of a country is determined by a group of 'fat, sweaty, pot bellied, bad breathing quarter to go' men?

For the first time in the history of these great country we have a president that is young agile, healthy looking , presentable, well spoken by the standard of the past presidents and very good looking if I may add, and was the VP and by right should be the president and someone some where is busy trying to ZONE the country away from the people's choice!!!

Do you see what will happen in a two party system where the same group of men(because of course it will be the same group of fat men who will form these parties) sit together in the name of rubbing minds to move these country forward and come up with a candidate they have 'zoned' out for us to go through the process of voting. A charade in the name of voting!!! They may even come up with a better I idea of rotating the presidency between them!!!

Agreed we are not yet matured politically for some of the things we want to delve into but we are getting matured as we go along. As we are not matured enough to handle the multi-party system so are we not matured enough to handle the two party system!!

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Very interesting contributions, pls keep it coming.

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I think d multi party system is still better but with some modifications, we can hav as much as 500 parties contestin @ local govt levels but @ d state level only parties dat hav control of substantive local govts would be eligible to participate, then @ d national level no regional party wld participate as only parties with presence in d 6 geopolitical zones wld participate, so a party dat has 3 states in a region won't b able 2 contest 4 presidential elections but a party dat has 1 in each region wld be allowed 2 contest, so after all d parties hav done their home work frm d LG levels nd improve @ d state levels den the nid 2 merge nd talk constructively amongst parties wld be inevitable even d PDP wld b broken dis way because d pple wld rily b d ones dat hold d power!

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Frankly speaking i don't see much advantage in a two party system, i sense it is much likely to add to our problem rather than solve to it.

A two party system, while it might help to reduce the staggering levels of electoral rigging, as well as keep the government focused, and aligned within objectives, has some downside which cannot be waved aside.

The system is much more likely to increase "god-fatherism" in the long run, and rather than have talents at the helms of politics, we are much likely to be blessed with folks who see leadership as a business and have only been able to move up the ladder through family connections.

Either way, it is difficult to really come to terms with an ideal permanent solution to the political debacle of the country called Nigeria

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I would prefer a two horse race

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still waiting for the opinions of our future leaders on this issue.

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