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The study examined internal party democracy and political stability in Nigeria, a case study of PDP Imo state between 2007 and 2016. Documentary method of data collection was adopted. Qualitative description method based on content analysis was used as a method of data analysis. This work is predicted on the theoretical framework of elite power theory propounded by Vilfredo Pareto. The study found out that the activities of godfatherism in Imo state PDP has led to violence and electoral irregularities. It also found out that the lack of clear cut politics and candidate selection resulted to the decamping of PDP members to APC in Imo state. Finally the study recommended that political parties should embrace and encourage the practice of internal democracy as by so doing would reduce the activities of the party elites (godfathers) within the party and also ensure democratic consolidation.


Title page                                                                                          i

Certification                                                                                                ii

Approval Page                                                                                  iii

Dedication                                                                                         iv

Acknowledgement                                                                                      v

Table of Contents                                                                             vi

Abstract                                                                                            ix


1.1     Background of the Study                                                                  1

1.2     Statement of the Problem                                                                  5

1.3     Research Questions                                                                 6

1.4     Objective of the Study                                                             7

1.5     Significance of the Study                                                         7

1.6     Hypothesis                                                                                     8


2.1     Internal Party Democracy                                                       9

2.2     Political stability in Nigeria                                                     17

2.3     Gap in Literature                                                                     21              


                                     METHODOLOGY                                              23

3.1     Theoretical Framework                                                           23

3.2     Research Design                                                                      26

3.3     Method of data collection                                                      26

3.4     Method of data analysis                                                        27


4.1     The Lack of Internal Party Democracy has led to Intra-Party                              Conflicts in Imo state 2007-2016                                            30

4.1.1   Introduction                                                                                     30

4.1.2 Lackof Intra-party conflicts in Nigeria                                              30

4.1.2   Causes of Lack of Internal Democracy                                  33

4.1.4. Intra-Party Conflicts in PDP, Imo state                                   34 History of Intra-Party Conflicts in Nigeria                                     34        Intra Party Conflict in PDP in Imo state                        37

4.1.5   Brief history of   Electoral   Violence and Irregularities in                                  Nigeria’s 4th Republic                                                               38        Electoral Violence and Irregularities in PDP Primary                       Elections in Imo State                                                  43

4.2     The absence of internal party democracy and defect of PDP            Gubernatorial elections in Imo state 2007-2016           45

4.2.1   Introduction                                                                                    45              

4.2.2 Historyand Emergence of Godfatherism in Nigerian Politics   45 in Imo state politics                                         53 Impact of godfatherism on democratic governance               56

4.2.3 Decamping of PDP party members to APC                                      58

4.2.4  Insensitivity to Supporters by PDP                                        59

4.2.5   Inability to control its stalwarts                                                      60


5.1 Summary of Findings                                                                           62

5.2 Conclusion                                                                                  64

5.3 Recommendations                                                                       67

References                                                                                         68




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:

  1. How has the lack of internal party democracy contributed to the intra party conflict in Imo state PDP between 2007 and 2016?
  2. How has the absence of internal party democracy accounted for the defeat of the PDP at the polls during gubernatorial elections in Imo State between 2007 and 2016?

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