Indiscipline in political parties is antithetic to democratic consolidation and good governance in Nigeria. This article looks at the reasons and provides examples of actions of indiscipline in political parties in Nigeria and recommends that: the party must be superior to all its members, funding of the party should never be on individualistic principles, the party constitution must be strictly adhered to; the principles of democracy should be embraced by the parties and its elders; and above all, proper party education must be given to all the members of the party. The paper concludes that urgent and prompt steps must be taken to check the ugly trends of indiscipline in political parties in Nigeria in order to prevent the truncation of the democratic process by the military as before.
Without good governance - without the rule of Law, predictable administration, legitimate power, and responsive regulation, no amount of funding, no amount of charity will set us on the path of prosperity.
- Kofi Aman (cited in UNDP 1997:20)
In the movement for Nigerian national independence, political parties led the way. Their origins lay in a multitude of associations that were devoted to community improvement, political reforms and racial liberation. At the time of independence in 1960, four political parties were firmly established on a broad territorial basis. Each one incarnated a distinctive political idea (Sklar, 1963:xiii)
Political party is an organized and registered interest group, the members of which have reconcilable ideas on how the state should be governed, who seek to capture the machineries of government by constitutional means and govern according to their ideas. (Azelama, 2002:99). According to Lapalombara (1974:509), a political party is a formal organization whose self-conscious, primary purpose is to place and maintain in public office persons who will control, alone or in coalition, the machinery of government. Political parties in the view of Ball (1986:73) are organized groups whose major objective is to gain control of and exercise state power either solely or in cooperation with others.
According to the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary of Current English "Indiscipline is a lack of control in the behaviour of a group of people" (Homby, 2000:610). Therefore, party indiscipline refers to the violation of the entrenched fundamental principles, rules and regulations guiding the conduct or behaviour of every member of a political party at all times. And any deviation from these principles, rules and regulations ought to be punished accordingly, irrespective of whoever is involved.
The word "control" means power or authority to direct, order or restrain members of a collectivity, so that they can be, become, or cause to be under authority, restrain, in order, and work properly (Hornby 1974:188). Therefore, "party control" refers to the means of regulating, restraining, keeping in check and in order, members of a political party at all times, so that the goals of the party can be realized. Effective party control refers to a situation where the party has absolute control over its members, and members obey and adhere strictly to the party principles, rules and regulations. But unfortunately, this does not exist in political parties in Nigeria at least for now.
Democracy which derives from the Greek word democratia is defined by Collins Dictionary as government by the people or their elected representatives, control of any organization by its members, a political or social unit governed ultimately by all its members, the practice or spirit of social equality, the common people as a political force. Therefore, democratic consolidation refers to a situation where democracy strives and becomes enduring. It is a situation where democratic practice is able to stand the test of time, and it is being improved upon. …