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INTERNAL PARTY DEMOCRACY AND POLITICAL STABILITY IN NIGERIA, A CASE STUDY OF PDP IMO STATE BETWEEN 2007 AND 2016
1.1 Background to the Study
There is no universal definition of the concept of intraparty democracy (internal party democracy), although many scholars agreed on some basic principles of electivity, accountability, transparency, inclusivity, participation, and representation.( Jeroen 2011) “Internal party democracy means that the party’s should be formed “bottom-up” and that the internal distribution of power should be marked by dispersion at different levels, bodies and individuals rather than by the concentration in one organ”.Cular(2004) Unlike most definitions of democracy at the level of political system, the definition of internal party democracy does not mean a state that can be distinguished from other forms of internal party order. It is rather about the scale by which we can measure the extent to which a party is democratically organized and eventually compare among other parties.
According to Salih (2006) internal party democracy “Implies support for the general interest of the party membership, the public and the state. It means that party structure and organisation are participatory and inclusive, essentially vehicles for the exercise of nascent democratic leadership and values”. There are two identified essential instrumental elements of intra-party democracy. The first group involves the organisation of free, fair and regular elections of internal positions as well as candidates for the representative bodies. While the second group involves equal and open participation of entire members and members’ group in such a way that interest are more or less equally represented. It is imperative to analyze actual practice by political parties in order to determine whether they adhere to the practice of internal democracy. Three levels of observations are determinable for the purposes of this analysis. These are legal requirements, party regulations, and actual practice. In Nigeria, these analyses will be carried out with reference to the Electoral Act 2010, (as amended), the Constitutions of the political parties and the actual conducts of the political parties during their various parties primaries conducted prior to the April 2011 general elections.
Political parties are one of the institutions that are carriers of democratic principles in any organised society. Thus, there are a number of ‘institutional guarantees’ that parties have to fulfil if they were to effectively meet what is expected of them in a democracy. One of such institutional requirements is internal (intra-party) democracy. As Magolowondo (n.d) points out, this very important institutional dimension is lacking in many political parties, particularly in emerging democracies. But the question is, what is Internal Democracy? Drawing on Scarrow (2004) study on ‘Political Parties and Democracy in theoretical and practical perspectives; Implementing intra-party democracy’, internal democracy is a very broad term describing a wide range of methods for including party members in intra-party deliberation and decisionmaking. It is democracy within the party and the extent to which a party subscribes to and abides by the basic and universal democratic tenets.
As Tyoden (1994) argues, hardly is a political system adjudged democratic without the central placement of political parties in its political process. This is because political parties are the major vehicles for the expression of an essential feature of the democratic process. In this case, however, inter and intra party relationships are vital because they determine the health and resilience of the party system and by extension the fate of democracy and the nature of the political system itself. In similar vein, Mersel (2006) asserts that various democracies in recent times have faced the problem of nondemocratic political parties, a situation where most parties only focus on external activities, neglecting internal planning and organisation. He argues that in determining whether a political party is nondemocratic, attention should be given to party’s goals and practices. This is so because some parties often ignore essential elements such as their internal structures.
Internal party democracy aims at developing more democratic, transparent and effective political parties. It identifies specific challenges in the internal management and functioning of parties and party systems. These include; candidate selection, leadership selection, policy making, membership relations, gender discrimination and party funding. From this outcome-oriented perspective, parties’ organizational structures should be judged above all in terms of how well they help the parties choose policies and personnel that reflect the preferences of their broader electorates. Another important effect of intra-party democracy in line with the assertion of Gosnell (1968) is that it provides necessary vertical linkages between different deliberating spheres and horizontal linkage between competing issues. The elements which are instrumental to intra-party democracy cannot be over-emphasized in having effective and working internal democracy. First and foremost, it involves in organizing free, fair and periodic elections of internal positions, as well as candidates for representative bodies. The second entails equal and open participation of all members and member groups in such a way that interests are equally represented.
The interplay between parties and democracies should reflect the parties’ adherence not only to democratic goals and actions but also to internal democratic structures (Mersel, 2006). Internal democracy aims at developing more democratic, transparent and effective political parties. It identifies specific challenges in the internal management and functioning of parties and party systems. These include: candidate selection, leadership selection, policy making, membership relations, gender, minorities, youth and party funding. It is in light of the above that the present attempts to investigate the internal party democracy and political stability in Nigeria, a case studyPDP Imo state between 2007 and 2016.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
Maintenance of internal democracy, through the process of selecting candidates among political parties in Nigeria, particularly in the People‟s Democratic Party has remained a vexed issue (Akubo & Umoru, 2014). Consequently, After decades long colonial rule and military rule it was expected that the new democratic dispensation would create an avenue for the maximization an true embracing of democracy and it’s principles in the country.
The trend remains an overt reliance on structures of political parties to aid in the achievement of such democracy; since political parties are dividends and makers of democracies, it is expected of them to not only aid in achieving the needed democracy in the country, but also ensure that they maintain democratic principles within themselves. In essence, political parties were seen as the purveyors of the democracy, because they themselves exude democratic principles among members. Hence, the achievement of these roles is largely hinged on the capability of the party to foster internal unity, relations, democracy and cohesion. However, although these political parties theoretically befit constitutional qualities and prospects ascribed to them, enhancing internal democracy remained a herculean task in practice; they have been bereft of proper adherence to their respective constitutional party structures, particularly in the process of selecting candidates and conducting its primaries.
Such discrepancy has sparked odious high level of instability that has enveloped the system over the decades. Necessitating the need to identify and explain some of the constraints of Nigerian parties towards promoting political stability and upholding the democratic principles internally and externally.
1.3 Research Questions
The following research questions were formulated:
- How has the lack of internal party democracy contributed to the intra party conflict in Imo state PDP between 2007 and 2016?
How has the absence of internal