Academic journal article Journal of Pan African Studies

Contending Issues in Political Parties in Nigeria: The Candidate Selection Process

Academic journal article Journal of Pan African Studies

Contending Issues in Political Parties in Nigeria: The Candidate Selection Process

Article excerpt

Introduction

Elections in Nigeria cannot be thought of without political parties as there is no provision for independent candidacy in the country's constitution. Political parties remain the only platform in Nigeria for democratically elected leaders to emerge. The idea of political party's candidate selection process enjoys unrivalled eminence in political discourses and analyses in Nigeria. However, party primaries and conventions are mere platforms of voice affirmation of elite's consensus, which most times renders candidate selection process less credible. The process through which candidates emerge is often fraught with controversies, which often lead to violence and litigation. In fact, a greater percentage of those that emerge from party primaries are products of imposition, consensus and compromise (Egwu, 2014: 193). Emerging through consensus is not an aberration neither is it undemocratic but it becomes a problem when it is orchestrated by the party's godfathers who see themselves as the owners of the party.

Internal party democracy is one issue which the parties have to contend with. An assessment of the process of emergence of candidates in political parties therefore, becomes necessary to identify the democratic deficits inherent in Nigeria's parties. Focusing on the three main political parties in Nigeria - the All Progressives Congress (APC), All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the assessment is based on a two dimensional approach of party candidate selection, and political inclusion. Assessment of these parties was done within the following contexts: level of internal party democracy; presence of party rules on selection of candidates; doctrine of party supremacy in the selection process; use of elections to select candidates; consensus politics in the selection process; and finally, the inclusiveness of party dimensions of gender, age, and disability status. The main question the study seeks to answer is: are party selection processes in Nigeria governed by party rules and procedures?

Methodology

There are two main approaches to doing a research of this nature, namely - quantitative and qualitative. Quantitative research uses numbers and statistical methods, and seeks measurements that are easily replicable by other researchers whereas, qualitative researchers are interested in gaining understanding/insights into problems (King, Keohane and Verba, 1994). Qualitative approaches are widely used in disciplines where the emphasis is on descriptive analysis rather than on prediction. Since the study seeks to explain how political parties in Nigeria select candidates for general elections, the choice of qualitative method is appropriate. The preference for this method stems from the fact that a qualitative research allows for the study of motives and causal relationships. Additionally, the method aids in the understanding of why certain actions are or are not taken.

Some of the fundamental methods relied upon by qualitative researchers include in-depth interviewing, and document review. To observe directly parties' selection process is not possible since the authors do not belong to any political party in Nigeria and the timing of the work did not fall within the time frame of party primaries, conventions or congresses. Hence, the reliance on primary sources such as one-on-one interviews with party leaders. External stakeholders such as members of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), especially those who are well informed on party politics in the country, and officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) are not left out. These individuals have been carefully selected for interview on the basis of the positions they occupy in their respective parties or organisations.

The authors conducted a series of one-on-one interviews with prominent politicians, including party leaders from APC, APGA, and PDP. …

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