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The Futility Of Two-Party System In Nigeria

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Basically the countries that are known to be operating a two-party system are United States of America, Japan, Jamacai, Hundaras and to a large extent, United Kingdom, Great Britain. But even in these countries, small parties still exist. Such parties are restricted not by legislation but by their capacity and modes of operation.

In other words, they do not have national presence. Here, you have two parties emerging and becoming strong such that when there is need for election people are now faced with the choice of just the two parties at the national and state levels.

In Nigeria, section 40 of the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria has guarantees freedom of participation to every individual. Subject to INEC recognising any political party and looking at section 221 and 227 of the constitution they spell some regulations which INEC can impose on parties.  These have been tested in court but that is not my brief.

In other words, INEC has been given the regulatory power. It registers, regulates and also supervises political parties. That is why we have over 50 political parties.

Historically in Nigeria, this is the first time. We are going to have that number of political parties. From the first election in 1959 which ushered in the independent government, we had a few political parties – the National People’s Congress, the Action Group, the United Nigeria Congress and the rest. A few, not more than six.

The second republic which was Alhaji Shehu Shagari-led government had a few political parties as well namely  National Party of Nigeria, (NPN) the Unity Party of Nigeria, (UPN) the Great Nigeria People’s Party (GNPP)  and a few others which did not have national spread.

As could be seen, even in the first Republic, the fight was straight between the NPP and AG, other parties like the UNDP teamed up with  Action Group, whereas the NPC and NCNC teamed up in coalition or quasi coalition.

Now in the second republic, the NPN was of majority but some how, it had quasi coalition with the NPP led by Nnamdi Azikiwe. The UPN was left to stand on its own as the principal opposition party.

In the botched third republic that is the diarchy ran by General Ibrahim Babangida, what emerged was a two party system. They were the National Republican Convention (NRC) and the Social Democratic Party (SDP). The experiment of that time cannot be assessed at this moment because it was a diarchy and the election that would have allowed us to assess that regime was aborted or annulled by that government. So we cannot fully assess the advantages and disadvantages of a two-party system in Nigeria.

Historically, Nigeria has been operating a multi-party system even though limited to a very few number of political parties. This is the first time we are experimenting with more than five or six political parties. The question one would ask is, “Is that beneficial? And I believe that is why the debate at the National Assembly is hot. Because on one side of the divide there are people who are saying that “yes, two-party system is the answer”,  and on the side, there are people who are saying “This is the first time we’re having it so, good in terms of expanding the political sphere and allowing people to operate, so two-party system, No”.

There is also a middle course group which is insisting that we can allow multi party system but let us go back to the old system of having a least five or six and then with a caveat; independent candidature so when you juxtapose all these arguments vis-à-vis our historical background you will realise that we are still young in our democratic experiment.

The countries officially practicing a two-party system have advanced democracy. For instance, the Japan constitution of 1946 has not created a two-party system.

Infact it is only in Nigeria to the best of my knowledge that the issue about creating a political party is provided for in the constitution. In Afghanistan there is a general right for every citizen to form a political party or belong to a political party. There is no regulation of any kind. But the only condition is that the political parties must not be based on tribe or ethnicity and must not have foreign affiliation.

When you consider the fact that Afghanistan is a monolithic society in terms of the fact that the 2004 constitution of Afghanistan made it the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, you will consider that even in such monolithic society, they have allowed multi-party system to operate.

Nigeria is too large, too multi-ethnic, too multi-cultural to just have two parties. Japan is a monolithic society as well. They speak one language basically but that they are targeting two-parties may be because of their cultural background. But if you look at United States of America uptill today if there is a need to include another state in America they will emerge at the mercy of the constitution.

The constitution provides that states may still be incorporated, into the union if the need arises. Even though they are practicing a multi-party system, they have restricted it to two-party not by legislation but by evolution, by growth. They have allowed as many political parties as possible; but by evolution based on ideologies, two schools of thought have shaped the Republicans and the Democrats Parties.

The Democratis are considered to be for the poor, the deprived and the immigrants. So when they are campaigning they campaign along this line.

The Republicans are called the grand old party because they are conservative in nature. They are believed to be for the rich and also believed to be anti-immigrants. This extenuating circumstances apply to some extent to Nigeria but, not all. We have more people in this country but we don’t have immigration as an issue. But we don’t have ready ideologies that is why you see some body decamping today to one party and coming back again.

In Nigeria, there is no ideological frame work of any of  the political parties. So, we cannot effectively practice two-party system, at least for now. It could come up tomorrow, it could evolve. Legislating into a two-party system does not enjoy my support. But I will toe the middle line.A two party system is not ideal in Nigeria. I believe that about 10-party system is okay.

No matter the  ideological school, culture or tribe, you must necessarily find a space to operate within this 10-party structure. And again, I will add that I am in support of independent candidature so that if per chance you discover that you cannot fit into any of these political set ups, then you run as independent candidate

Sebastine Hon is a legal practitioner and a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN).

 

Sebastine Tar Hon

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Alleged Anti-Party, PDP Reps Demand Damagun’s Resignation

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Ahead of the National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), a coalition of PDP federal lawmakers has demanded the resignation of the party’s acting national chairman, Umar Iliya Damagun, over alleged anti-party activities.
The lawmakers are calling for Damagun’s removal by the NEC, along with further sanctions, should he fail to resign.
Accusing Damagun of working to hand over PDP structures to the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), the lawmakers are urging his resignation to allow for a North Central person to emerge as acting chairman, pending the party’s convention as stipulated by the party’s constitution.
They threatened to leave the party if the alleged doctored list of Local Government Caretaker Committees in Rivers and 10 other states, which they claim is filled with APC members and loyalists, was not nullified.
Speaking at a press conference in Abuja, Ikenga Imo Ugochinyere, the spokesperson for the group and member representing Ideato Federal Constituency of Imo State, stated that they cannot remain in a party whose activities are determined by another political party.
The lawmakers alleged that the list of Caretaker Committee members in Rivers State was doctored in favour of former Rivers State governor, Nyesom Wike, and APC members who have defected from the PDP. They also accused Damagun of not doing anything to halt the plot to impeach Rivers State governor, Siminalayi Fubara, despite allegedly being fully aware of the details.
According to Ugochinyere, based on the PDP zoning formula, it is the turn of the North Central to produce the party’s chairman, and called on North Central leaders to present a credible replacement for Sen. Iyorchia Ayu.
They called on PDP stalwarts such as former Senate President David Mark, Muazu Babangida Aliyu, Senator Abba Moro, and Bukola Saraki to rescue the party from being sold to the ruling APC.
Additionally, the lawmakers urged the PDP NEC to review the party’s sources of finance, investigate allegations of pro-APC supporters funding the party, and set up a committee to investigate all acts of anti-party activity since 2023, with appropriate sanctions to cleanse the party.
When contacted via phone call, Damagum refused to comment when The Tide source inquired about his reaction to the allegations levelled against him by the lawmakers. He simply hung up his phone after our source introduced himself, told him the reason for the call, and refused to pick up subsequent calls.
On his part, the National Publicity Secretary of the party, Debo Ologunagba, promised to get back after going through the allegations but did not as of the time of filing this report. He also did not answer several calls subsequently to his phone line.
Also, efforts to speak with the Deputy National Publicity Secretary of the party, Ibrahim Abdullahi, were unsuccessful, as he did not pick up the call.

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LG Polls: PDP Wins All In Bayelsa

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The ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Bayelsa State has swept the local government election conducted by the State Independent Electoral Commission last Saturday.
The PDP won the chairmanship position in all eight local government areas and all the councillorship positions in the 105 wards, according to the results announced by the commission in Yenagoa on Sunday.
The major opposition party in the state, the All Progressives Congress (APC), shunned the poll as it did not field candidates.
In Yenagoa LGA, the BYSIEC’s returning officer, Wisdom Soreh, declared Buloudisiye Ndiwari as the winner of the chairmanship election after he polled 56, 103 votes.
The returning officer for Sagbama LGA, Prof Abiodun Adelegan, declared Alice Tangi as the winner.
She polled a total of 51,543 votes.
In Ogbia LGA, the returning officer, Tams Deiduomo, declared Golden Jeremiah, who polled 42,462 votes, as the winner.
The returning officer for Southern Ijaw LGA, Ebi Stanley-Udisi, announced Target Segibo as the winner, garnering 36,326 votes.
In Nembe LGA, the immediate-past Commissioner for Agriculture, David Alagoa, polled 11,829 votes to win the election as declared by the returning officer, Prof Festus Akpotohwo.
In Kolokuma/Opokuma LGA, the returning officer, Prof Apuega Arikawei, declared Lelei Tariye as the winner with 27,823 votes.
Also, the returning officer for Ekeremor LGA, Prof Joseph Omoro, declared Onniye Isaac as the winner with 35,177 votes, while in Brass LGA, Febo Lucky of the PDP was declared the winner by the returning officer, Prof Joseph Omoro.

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Diri Expresses Satisfaction With Conduct Of LG Poll In Bayelsa

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Bayelsa State Governor, Senator Douye Diri, has commended the state independent electoral commission(BYSIEC) for the organisation of the state’s Local Government election at the weekend.
He also said reports available to him indicated that the polls were generally peaceful across the state.
The Governor spoke to Journalists shortly after casting his vote at 10.15am alongside his wife, Dr Gloria, at his Kalamaowei wari unit 4 ward 6 in Sampou community, Kolokuma/Opokuma Local Government Area of the state.
He expressed the optimism that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) will emerge victorious in the 105 wards of the eight local government areas as it was the only party with wide acceptance and vigorously campaigned across the state ahead of the election.
“PDP enjoys the support of the people and judging from the outcome of the November 11, 2023 governorship election, our party will still take the upper hand.
“As you have seen, the voting process was peaceful and seamless and l think if this is the way it is in every other unit and ward, then we expect a peaceful and successful Local Government election to usher in a new leadership at the third tier of government.
“So far, we’re very pleased that there is no report of security breach across the state. At the last security council meeting, l charged the security agencies to be part of this electoral process and to ensure that security of the state was not breached.”
Responding to a question on why the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state did not participate in the election, Diri said only the faction led by Dennis Otiotio under the control of Chief Timipre Sylva boycotted the poll and that the party had more than one faction.
He added that the reason for their action was best known to them.

Ariwera Ibibo-Howells, Yenagoa

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