With the 2023 presidential election days away, all players have laced their political boots and INEC has the whistle on its lips, ready to blow for kick-off. The candidates are in their final warm-up, and the political parties are on the bench, coaching with strategies. The voters have gained entrance with their PVCs and they are in the stands, actively participating. Finally, the match is about to begin; welcome to the 2023 Presidential Elections.
The upcoming presidential election promises to be one that has never been witnessed in the democratic sphere of Nigerian politics, as it represents the first time since the Fourth Republic that a closely contested, multiple-horse race would suffice.
Constitutionally, Nigeria practices a multi-party system; one that permits the participation of two or more political parties in every election. However, over the years, the presidential election has ultimately been a match-up between two political parties.
ELECTIONS SINCE 1999
The 1999 presidential election was a closely contested affair between the PDP and the AD. The next presidential election in 2003 saw the introduction of more political parties into the electoral system, however, the election was principally a two-party contest between Olusegun Obasanjo, seeking re-election with the PDP against Muhammadu Buhari of the ANPP. The 2007 election was yet another two-horse race between the PDP and its flagbearer, Umaru Yar’ Adua, and the ANPP with Muhammadu Buhari. The 2011 election was ultimately a showdown between the PDP against the CPC, with their respective candidates Goodluck Jonathan and Muhammadu Buhari. The build-up to the 2015 election saw the merger of Nigeria’s three largest opposition parties – the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), and the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) along with breakaway factions of the PDP and the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA). This merger saw the emergence of a new political party, the All Progressive Congress (APC), which won the 2015 election against the incumbent PDP President. The party also sought and won re-election against the PDP in 2019.
This trend seems to be a non-ending cycle of what is ultimately a two-party system; a cycle that has dictated the scheme of things within the polity. The Nigerian electorate has also demonstrated in some quarters, their desire to support other candidates outside the ones provided by the PDP and APC, which creates a lot of uncertainty in the outcome of the 2023 election. With renewed hope to break the two-party cycle by emerging candidates such as Peter Obi of the Labour Party (LP) and Rabiu Kwankwaso of the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP), can we finally see a crack in the dual-political party stronghold?
The Two-Party System in Nigeria
The two major political parties in Nigeria are the All Progressive Congress (APC) and the People’s Democratic Party (PDP). These two parties have shared power since 1999, and it has become increasingly clear that their interests are often not aligned with the needs of the people. The lack of viable alternatives has led to voter apathy and disinterest in the political process. The people have become disillusioned with the political class, which they view as self-serving, cosmic, and corrupt. The dominance of the two major parties has led to a lack of accountability and transparency, which has contributed to the lack of development and progress in Nigeria.
The Need for a Third Force
The emergence of a third force in Nigeria is essential for the development of the country’s democracy. The third force will provide a viable alternative to the two major parties and break the monopoly they currently hold. The emergence of a third force will provide the people with more choices, and this will increase voter participation and interest in the political process. The third force will also serve as a check on the two major parties and ensure that they are held accountable for their actions. This will lead to a more transparent and accountable political system, which will ultimately result in the development and progress of Nigeria.
The Formation of a Third Force
The formation of a third force in Nigeria is not an easy task, and it requires the collaboration of like-minded individuals who are committed to the development of the country. The third force must be made up of individuals who are not part of the traditional political class, but who are committed to serving the people. The third force must also have a clear vision and mission, which is to provide a viable alternative to the two major parties and to promote the development of Nigeria.
The third force must also have a solid organizational structure, which will enable it to compete against the two major parties. The organizational structure must be decentralized, with the third force having a presence in every part of the country. The third force must also have a strong communication strategy that will enable it to engage with the people and promote its vision and mission. The third force must also have a strong fundraising strategy that will enable it to compete with the two major parties.
The 2023 presidential elections have provided a glimmer of hope for a third force in Nigerian politics. However, the other major political parties are doing all they can to shut down this emerging force. The need for more political parties is becoming more apparent, as more parties’ leverage will reduce the control of the major political parties in making critical decisions that should be more people-oriented. Breaking the two-party system in Nigeria is a complex task that requires a concerted effort by all stakeholders. However, it is achievable if Nigerians concertedly follow these steps:
- Promoting Electoral Reforms
- Building Strong, corruption-proof Institutions
- Neutralizing the theory of ethnicity and religion from politics
- Encouraging Youth Participation
- Strengthening Civil Society
- Promoting Political Education
- Bridging the communications gap between political parties and the electorate
- Avoiding usury by political parties and their agents
In conclusion, breaking the two-party system in Nigeria is crucial for the growth and development of the country’s democracy. It will provide the people with a variety of options, reduce the control of the major parties over the electorate, and ultimately encourage accountability from public office holders.
-Writer: Oche Anejo-