PARTY DEFECTIONS AND DEMOCRATIC CONSOLIDATION IN NIGERIA 2015-2019: AN APPRAISAL

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ABSTRACT
This study analyzes party defections and how it influences democratic consolidation in Nigeria from 2015 up till 2019. Two theories were examined in relations to this study; the elite theory and political development theory but the elite theory was adopted majorly in the study. The underlying assumption of this theory revolves around the division of the society into the majority and the minorities, with the minority allocating and deciding for the entire community, this minority are known as the elites. This has made the society to be influenced by the interests of these individuals because they determine for the entire community and only involve in activities that will enhance their political powers and wealth. They use political parties as a means to their ends and dump any party that makes their chances seem bleak to the detriment of the majority. This study made use of normative orientation method in data analysis, using descriptive design to analyze data derived from secondary sources. Facts gathered in the course of test of hypotheses reveals that the country cannot accommodate diversities because of wanton defections thereby making caricature of democracy in Nigeria. The study also reveals that when the ideological base of parties is not strong, it tends to yield weak democracy. Also lack of internal party democracy has made party bigwigs to impose, and decide for the party who is to contest an election, which act as a cog in the wheel of democratic consolidation in Nigeria. Thus the study recommends that laws must be enacted to sanction not just the legislative arm but also the executive arm of government against unwarranted defections. Also defectors should be barred for at least Four years from contesting an election once they defect without substantive reasons and evidence.

CHAPTER ONE
INTRODUCTION
1.1 Background of Study
The practice of carpet-crossing, defection or party switching appears to have become an undying attribute of party politics in Nigeria. Carpet crossing by Nigerian politicians is dated back to the First Republic particularly in 1951, a decade to Nigeria’s independence in the defunct Western Regional House of Assembly. They was a wave of carpet-crossing exercise when several members of the defunct National Council of Nigeria and Cameroon (NCNC) led by the late Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe decamped to the Action Group (AG), which was led by late chief Obafemi Awolowo, this was to deny Dr. Azikiwe and his party, the majority in the Western Region House of Assembly, which he needed to form the government in Western Region (Adejuwon, 2013). With that decamping, AG was able to form the Government in the region. Also, in that same first Republic, another Premier of that same Western Region of Nigeria, Ladoke Akintola left the then Action Group in a crisis rooted more in personality clash but explained as personal principles and his conviction to advance the Yoruba race into the Nigeria’s mainstream politics to form the Nigerian National Democratic Party (NNDP) and enter into an alliance with Nigerian National Alliance (NNA). Subsequent republics are not exempted from defections and carpet-crossing. For instance, in the old Ondo State during the Second Republic, Akin Omoboriowo, and the then Deputy Governor of United Party of Nigeria (UPN) led government of Michael Ajasin defected and joined the National Party of Nigeria (NPN) to become its gubernatorial candidate (Okparaji, 2010).
To examine the long history and the consolidation of the trend in Nigerian political system, one would observe that party defection has become an increasingly permanent feature in the Nigerian democracy experience. In fact, for almost two decades now since the country returned to democracy (1999), party defections and political instability are the greatest challenges confronting Nigerian democracy (Mbah, 2011). The usual practice in the past has been for politicians to defect to other parties with the promise of election tickets if they fail to secure party nominations during their own party’s primaries. Some who felt disenchanted or denied of a level playing ground, defect to participate in the election with some still having the intention of returning to their parties. This has been the practice during election periods especially since 1999. The most recent major defection before the 2015 election and those that occurred prior to the 2019 elections happens to have heralded an irreconcilable stance of major political gladiators in the PDP and APC. That of PDP was in August 2013 under Kawu Baraji when a splinter unit was formed (New PDP). That of the APC was in 2018 (RAPC), The RAPC chairman, Buba Galadima, on Wednesday, July 4, 2018 announced that they had broken away from the ruling party, citing the failure of the APC to promote good governance as reason. These act, typified the degree of dillusionment among the party bigwigs in the APC and PDP.
The case of mass party defections is now a popular phenomenon in the Nigeria political system. As was seen, the recent massive party defections in Nigeria and the muzzy struggle that characterized the act were very fierce and intense, almost cutting the breath of the party politics in Nigeria. Indeed, the situation in the other parties, especially the party they defected to is not in any way better. There seems to be absence of internal party democracy in virtually all political parties in Nigeria which will lead to the question of ideology.
Following from the above, it is important to note that party defections are not exclusive character of one party in Nigeria. It is a general practice. Thus, the magnitude of the current defections and its impacts on the body polity raises fundamental questions on the manifestation of the trend and democratic consolidation in Nigeria. Evidently, it shows a clear indication that the phenomenon has the capacity of either derailing Nigerian democracy or reinforcing opposition with the capacity to provide a guide for democratic consolidation. In fact, its persistency, ubiquity and growth could provide a bleak future on the sustainability of party politics in Nigerian political system. It is within this context that the study examines the causal relationship between party defection and democratic consolidation in Nigeria.
1.2 Statement of Problem
Since 1999, when the current democratic dispensation began, Nigeria has witnessed a plethora of defections by politicians. The defection rate is widely believed to be more than any other time in the nation’s political history (Baiyewu 2012). Party defection is not a strange phenomenon in Nigeria; it characterized previous republics, though at a minimal and reasonable level. Today, reasons for this (Party Defection) are not far-fetched as supposed loyal party activists do this with reckless abandon as if this is a new virtue for relevance in party politics. Party defection is always organized with fanfare just as defectors adduce it to ‘being marginalised by former party’ or ‘craving for a platform to move the interest of the people to the desired end’, or moving from darkness to light, or being betrayed by the ruling party or with the usual quote ‘I cannot live among enemies’. In Nigeria, cases abound where a politician defect to four different political parties within one or two years, still repeating these monotonous but mundane excuses, yet incredibly, with admiration from the receiving party on each occasion. State and federal legislators elected on the platform of a particular party have also found value in mainstream politics as a way of defecting to the ruling party, thereby giving the impression that it is a taboo to be in opposition party in Nigeria. It is on these premises that the following questions are raised:
1.3 Research Question
What are the factors that lead to party defections in Nigeria?
Have parties in Nigeria acquired the strength to create the needed balance that would make Nigerian democracy strong?
What is the nexus between party defection and democratic consolidation in Nigeria?
What are the ills that party defections pose to consolidated democracy in Nigeria?

1.4 Objectives of the study
The main objective of this research is to bring to bare the effects of party defections on democratic consolidation in Nigeria.
Subsidiary objectives of the research are as follows:
To expose reasons why there is the usual occurrences of party defections especially at the peak of elections in Nigeria
To analyze how the constitution provisions for party defections in Nigeria have been faulty.
To explain who actually benefits in the act of party defections in Nigeria.

1.5 Research hypotheses
Party defection tend to impact on democratic consolidation in Nigeria
Strong party base tends to be imperative to strong democracy
Weak internal party democracy tends to influence democratic consolidation in Nigeria
1.6 Significance of Study
This study comprises of theoretical and empirical significance. The theoretical significance of this study is that it examines the implications of the2015-2019 party defections on democratic consolidation in Nigeria. Theoretically, the study findings further reaffirms the call for a paradigm shift, the need for political parties to adhere seriously to the principle of internal democracy-cum-various mechanisms to resolve party crisis. Following that line of thought the study enriches the existing stock of literature or expands the frontiers of knowledge through its findings, therefore serves as a source of data/material to those scholars who may be interested in further studies in this area.
The empirical significance of this study will be of immense benefits to Nigerian government, legislature, political leaders, party leaders and politicians so as to bring to their knowledge the ills that numerous defections poses to the democracy which the country was supposed to uphold.
Lastly, the findings of this research will serve as reference documents for further research in the field.
1.7 Scope/limitations of study
The study focuses on the effects/problems of party defections on democratic consolidation in Nigeria. It also exposes those factors that led to party defections by majority of political actors within the time frame of 2015 and 2019 elections, and their implications on consolidating democracy in the Nigerian society.
Despite the importance of this study, it has faced several limitations which are listed below
Lack of relevant literature especially on the 2019 elections which would have helped to enhance the study.
Time constraints stand to be another problem.
Financial constraints was also another problem
Though this has not contravened the originality and authenticity of this study

1.8 Definition of Terms
Political party: these are organized group of people who come together to pursue specific policies and objectives with the motive of taking control of state power, by acting together as a political unit.
Party Defection: defection could be seen as an act of swapping. Thus party defection is the act of switching from party to another.
Democracy: this is a form of government that has to do with the involvement of the people, in the governing process of their society directly or indirectly through their elected representatives. For a government to be described as democratic, the following tenets should be observable within the polity; supremacy of the law, equality before the law, maintenance of the basic and fundamental rights, free and fair periodic elections, tolerance of opposition, transparency and accountability in governance, freedom of press, high political participation, protection of minority rights and disadvantaged groups and a strong institutional system of checks and balances.
Democratic consolidation: this could be defined as a deliberate political process that requires habituation to the norms, tenets and procedures of democracy within a polity, in such a way that the citizenry accepts it and works together towards ensuring that the uncertainty of its existence is greatly narrowed down.

PARTY DEFECTIONS AND DEMOCRATIC CONSOLIDATION IN NIGERIA 2015-2019: AN APPRAISAL