Tuesday, August 21, 2012



There is no gainsaying the fact that the contemporary situation in the Niger Delta region is worrisome and pathetic. The Niger Delta region of Nigeria is riddled with development crisis consequent upon environmental changes, land degradation, destruction of qua culture, conflict, poverty, growing segment of disenchanted populace, and the consequence of youth restiveness and militia upsurge. Such bodies as the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP), Ijaw Youth Congress (IYC), Egbesu Youth, and the Niger Delta Volunteer Force (NDVF), are all seen to typify southern minority responses to environmental degradation, political marginalization, and economic underdevelopment of the Niger Delta. This paper focuses on, and examines the motive behind the current Niger Delta insurgency. One might be inquisitive to ask: Why is there constant sporadic or intermittent crisis in the Niger Delta? Why is the Niger Delta region of Nigeria not developed? What factors accounts for its current backwardness? Why did militancy ensue in the region? To what extent has the rationale for the militants’ agitation been achieved? What could be the way forward in the Niger Delta crisis? These are some of the questions and problems this paper seeks to answer and solve. Essentially, the nitty-gritty of this paper is to critically analyze and dispassionately evaluate the factors responsible for the Niger Delta fracas, and to suggest possible ways through which the crisis in the region could be quelled. In order to achieve the stated objectives, this paper is divided in to four sections. Section one, which is the introduction, deals with the main idea by which the topic is backed. Section two deals with the conceptual clarification of terms, and the theoretical framework that will guide the paper. Section three examines the rationale behind the Niger Delta crisis, while section four encompasses the conclusion and recommendations.


 The current conflict in the Niger Delta ensued in the early 1990s over scuffles between the foreign oil corporations and a number of the Niger Delta’s minority ethnic groups who felt they were being exploited, particularly the Ogonis and the Ijaws. Ethnic and political fracas has continued throughout the 1990s and persists as of 2007 in spite of the transition to democracy and the election of the Obasanjo’s government in 1999. The struggle for oil wealth has fueled violence between the myriad of ethnic groups, culminating in the militarization of almost the entire region by ethnic militia groups, as well as the Nigerian Military and the Nigerian Mobile Police Force. Quite a number of scholars and activists have given attention to the environmental conditions and problems of the Niger Delta with a view to highlighting their major causes and advocating remedial measures. The Niger Delta region is vulnerable to various forms of environmental pollution. It is established that the beginning of oil exploration and production in the 1950s marked the beginning of extensive environmental pollution (Niger Delta Report, 2001:11; Human Right Watch, 1999:45). Mineral exploitation has left devastation consequence not only in the Niger Delta, but also in other parts of Nigeria such as the Jos-Plateau where Tin and Columbite had been mined for years and the Coal mines of Enugu. But never has the problems associated with mineral exploitation assumed such proportion with dire consequence as in the Niger Delta. Over the years, the region has been exposed to series of oil spillages having long-lasting damaging impact on the human, land, and the ecosystem. Other forms of threatening pollution arise from gas flaring (a form of oil and thermal pollution), drill cuttings and mud, effluents and oil, and industrial wastes which are injected into land and streams. These various forms of pollution have had wide implication for the livelihood, health, and well-being of the region (Osuntokun, 1993:3; Human Right Watch, 1999:95; Onosode, 1999:44; Iyayi, 2000:72). Indeed, oil spillages are the commonest and most extensive form of pollution experience in the Niger Delta. This arises at blow outs at production sites, leakage of pipelines due to failure resulting from obsolescence, operation and maitenance errors, and of course, sabotage by bunkerers (Omoweh, 2005:19; Osuntokun, 1999:30). However, it is viewed, the fact remains that there occur devastating spillages, majority of which have nothing to do with vandalism or sabotage. According to the official estimate supplied by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), approximately 2,300 cubic meters of oil are spilled annually in about 300 different incidents. This however, cannot be the real figure, given the fact of what Human Right Watch (HRW) refers to as Under-reporting; hence, the actual figure is much greater. According to the statistics gathered from the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), between 1976 and 1990, a total of 4,835 incidents, spilling at least 2,446,322 barrel (79.7 million US gallons, i.e. 776 of spillage) were lost to the environment (Human Right Watch, 1999:59). Another estimate has it that between 1960 and 1976, 1.07 million Barrels of oil was spilled. The largest oil spill occurred in 1998 when at least 2,000 barrels of oil was spilled from Texaco facility destroying 340 hectares of mangroves. Department of Petroleum Resources estimated a different figure of more than 400,000 barrels as being spilled in the same incident (Human Right Watch, 1999:60). The trends continue till date. In the final analysis, the impact of various oil spills cannot be overestimated. In some places, people have complained of river water, even sunk boreholes as tasting of paraffin. Imoubere’s discovery of 1987 was that ground water around Port Harcourt area contained 1.8mg/l as against 0.1mg/l as recommended by World Health Organization, that is 18 lies greater than the recommended (Okechia, 2000:8). Again, Nigeria has the worst record of gas flaring all over the world. According to findings, 75% of total gas production in Nigeria is flared and close to 95% of the associate gas, a by-product of crude oil extraction from reservoirs. This is compared with countries such as Libya (21%), Saudi Arabia (20%), Iran (19%), Mexico (5%), Britain (4.36%), Algeria (4%), former USSR (1.5%), USA (0.6%), and Netherlands (0%) (Iyayi, 2000:168; Chika, 1977:74; Ihonvbere, 2000:100; Human Right Watch, 1999:72). Consequent upon this grave environmental situation, a great concern has been shown by various Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) globally, as well as International Organizations. The consequential effect of gas flaring which cannot be ignored is health related. Hitherto, unknown ailments have developed. This is not peculiar to the flare alone but also other forms of pollution including industrial waste (Haruna et al, 1999:227). Mutation is also a common feature, some of which are congenital. Cases of congenital abnormalities have been reported in such communities as Islemo, Okrika, Umuechem nand Olashi region. Other cases include babies with one or one-and-a half, or no nostrils and mutilated lips. Some other common illnesses include cough, bronchitis, asthma, sore eye and throat, itchy skin, short breath, weakness, cancer, stroke, etc with a high degree of vulnerability among communities directly exposed (Iyayi, 2000: 175). A number of other forms of pollution indirectly connected with oil exploration affecting the environment sanity of the Niger Delta have been identified. These are sometimes mostly ignored or unrecognized forms. Among these are light pollution (with drastic effect on nocturnal animals as well as hunting activities), industrial waste, pollution (extreme heat) which leaving most adults to go half nude during the day to maintain body homeostatic, and efforts resulting from oil infrastructure development like canal dredging, road built for access to oil facilities, seismic lines, etc. All these contribute to environmental and natural hazards. At these times, seismic lines destroy mangroves and other vegetations (Durotoye, 1999:30-31). From the foregoing arguments, with the commencement of oil exploration and production, the Niger Delta peoples’ means of self-reproduction and source of livelihood have been affected which in turn, has a telling effect on the cost of living and within which the ethnic conflict and violence in the Niger Delta has emerged.


 The Niger Delta, simply put, is the oil producing region in Nigeria. In other words, all states recognized by the Federal Government as oil bearing are regarded as the Niger Delta. These include Abia, Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Cross River, Delta, Edo, Imo, Ondo, and Rivers States. The Niger Delta is indeed, a region of boundless wealth cum social and economic opportunities. The Niger Delta region, which comprises 9 of the 36 States of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is the world’s third largest wetland coming after the Mississippi in North America and the Panatela in South America respectively. It covers an area of about 70,000 square kilometers and account for 7.5 percent of Nigeria’s land mass. It is noted for sandy coastal ridges barriers, brackish or saline mangroves, and fresh water, permanent and seasonal scamp forests, as well as low land rain forests. The estimated population of the region is about 25 million, comprising over 40 different ethnic groups, speaking 250 different dialects across about 3010 communities. The predominant occupations of the people are farming and fishing. Since oil was first discovered about five decades ago, the area has grown to become the main source of foreign exchange for the whole country. Over the period 1978 to date, more than 90% of the nation’s export earnings have on the average, been generated from the region’s oil resources. Yet, the Niger Delta remains the least developed area of the country in physical, social and economic terms. Since the 1960s, oil has taken over the main resource base of the nation. Consequently, the Niger Delta has attracted some major oil exploration and production companies in the world. Unfortunately, while these companies became richer from the region’s oil resources, the Niger Delta region became poorer, raising peculiar issues of both human and physical development.


 In order to enhance the theoretical meaning, relevance, and focus of this paper, which forms the pivot and proffer direction on the search for a panacea to the problems this paper seek to solve, the Frustration-Aggression Theory is adopted. The orientation basis for the frustration –aggression theory is psychological. The basic postulation is that aggression is always a consequence of frustration. More specifically, the proposition is that the occurrence of aggressive behavior invariably presupposes the occurrence of frustration and vice versa; that the existence of frustration always culminates in, or translates to aggression. The frustration aggression theory was jointly popularized by Dollard John, Doob Leonard, Miller Neal, Mowrer O.H., and Sears Robert in their Seminal Work, “Frustration and Aggression” published in 1939. The work drew inspiration, succor, and influence from the work of the renowned psychologist, Sigmund Freud, who is a major exponent of the Instinctual Theory of Aggression, for it is in his work that the most systematic and extensive us of frustration-aggression argument was made. True to observation, it may sometimes not be self-evident in that frustration may not immediately lead to aggression. From lessons learnt from social living, nonetheless, the act of people suppressing and restraining their overt aggressive reactions does not imply annihilation or elimination of such tendencies, rather, they are temporarily compressed, delayed, disguised, displaced, or otherwise deflected from their immediate and logical. The relevance of the discussed theory argued that the frustrated individuals or groups in the Niger Delta, due to environmental degradation and other myriad of assorted problems in the region, may resort to breaching socially accepted norms and exhibit defiant behavior, make vociferous demands, threats, and ultimately, violent destruction of lives and property.


The circumstances which culminated in the event that led to the agitation by the Niger Delta people and the ultimate eruption of the insurgency by the militants in the region are highlighted and dissected below:

1. Poverty and Deprivation of the Means of Livelihood: The government of Nigeria has made hundreds of billions of dollars of oil revenue in the last 40 years of oil production in the Niger Delta. Despite this huge amount of money, the local people remain in abject poverty and deprivation as they lack the basic necessities of life such as water and electricity. The region, according to Mukagbo, Cable News Network (CNN) anchorman for Inside Africa, “is a region where time seems to have stood still and where people live the most meager of existences, living them bitter and angry from not having benefitted from the black gold that makes Nigeria Africa’s largest producer”. In a nutshell, deprivation and poverty amidst its plenty oil and gas resources accounts for the agitation by the Niger Delta people for resource control.

 2. Environmental Devastation: The social and environmental costs of oil production in the Niger Delta have been very extensive. They include destruction of wildlife and biodiversity, loss of fertile oil, pollution of air and drinking water, degradation of farmland, and damage to aquatic ecosystems all of which have caused serious health problems for the inhabitants of areas surrounding oil production. It is ironical that environmental regulations which are common practice in developed nations are often not followed due to lack of power, wealth, and equity of the affected communities. As a result, oil companies often evacuate inhabitants from their homelands, further marginalizing them. The system of oil production in Nigeria is skewed in favour of the multinationals and government elites who are direct recipients of oil production revenue. As a result of environmental damage brought about by the activities of the oil companies, environmental problems like erosion, flooding, land degradation, destruction of natural ecosystem, fisheries depletion caused by dredging and toxic wastes into the rivers, etc are common phenomenon in the region. The local people can no longer take to farming and fishing which are their common occupations.

 3. Lack of Development and Unemployment: The Niger Delta region is underdeveloped in all its ramifications despite the fact that it is the bread basket of Nigeria. Taking a look at the economic dilemma of the region, it is so evident that away from the main towns, there is no real development, as there are no roads, no electricity, and no running water. The underdevelopment is so severe and the youths of the region are the hardest hit by this lack of development. This accounts for why many of them have resorted to militancy in an effort to focus national and international attention to their plight. Despite all the claims by the oil companies to be involved in the development of the region, it is to the contrary. The pervasive underdevelopment made Whittington (2001:12) to note that “The government and oil companies have profited by hundreds of billions of dollars since oil was discovered. Yet, most Nigerians living in the oil producing region are living in dire poverty. Also, the anger of the people of the region, especially the youths, derives from merely that the other parts of the country, sometimes the arid regions, are built to the standards obtainable in the developed world. They have bridges built over dry land and less traveled roads, while most of the Niger Delta communities are only accessible by boats and seriously in need of bridges. Away from that, unemployment is very high among the people of the region as oil companies do not hire their employees from the region that produces the oil, but from non-oil producing region in Nigeria. Majority of the youths in the region are unemployed. They do not benefit from the presence of the multinational corporations operating in their communities. Less than 5% of the people in the Niger Delta work in these companies, women from the region in oil companies are less than 1%. A majority of the beneficiaries are from other parts of Nigeria.

 4. Distortions in the Social and Economic Fabric of the Local Societies: The oil companies introduced major distortions in the social and economic fabric of the local societies. According to Hutchful (1985:112), “Shell and other oil companies have perpetuated regional and class inequalities by creating oil colonies in local areas where oil executives live quite lavishly in comparison to the impoverished conditions of the local communities”. Because the oil industry requires highly-skilled workers, local villagers are either forced to migrate to the urban centres after being economically displaced, or to become low-skilled workers dependent on the oil company. These structural changes in the economic life of the local communities have often generated bitter conflicts, as the issue of unemployment and participation in the oil industry has divided different segments of the communities often along ethnic lines. Other structural effects of the oil industry are rural depopulation, disintegration of the peasantry, and urban marginalization.

5. Human Rights Violations: Violations of the human rights of the local populace can be cited as one of the factors responsible for militia upsurge in the Niger Delta. Oil companies like Shell, Chevron, Agip, Mobil, and other western oil companies have been very unkind to the people of the region. The human rights of the people are constantly violated by security forces at the behest of the companies. Perhaps, few examples of military and security activities carried out in the past might help to buttress this assertion. For instance, in attempt to suppress the Isaac Boro rebellion in 1966, Nigerian troops terrorized the entire communities including raping of innocent women. Boro was considered to be a threat to the free exploitation of the petroleum resources in the Niger Delta. In 1987, the Iko community in Akwa Ibom State was extensively brutalized by a team of Nigerian Mobile Police Force at the request of Shell. In 1992, at the insistence of Shell, some youths were killed in Bonny during a peaceful demonstration against the activities of the oil company. In January 1993, the crisis over environmental pollution and economic marginalization from the oil industry reached its peak when 300,000 thousand Ogonis protested against Shell Oil. This organized protest was followed by repeated harassments, arrests, and killing of Ogonis by Federal Government Troops. On January 11, 1999, Ijaw women who were engaged in a peaceful demonstration on the marginalization of their people in Port Harcourt was violently tear-gassed, beaten, stripped, and detained by a combined team of policemen and soldiers. Also, the Warri wars of 2003 were allegedly instigated by the activities of some oil companies and the Nigerian Naval Officers. The people of the region viewed all these as assaults and marginalization because they belong to ethnic minority groups in the Nigerian Federation.

 6. Bad Governance and Corruption: The Niger Delta region is riddled with bad governance and corruption on the part of government officials both at the State and Local Government levels. It has been argued that if government officials in the region have judiciously utilized their monthly allocation to better the lots of the ordinary people through the creation of jobs, and embark on infrastructural development of the region, the situation would have been better than this current sorry state. Rather, the jumbo monthly allocations are spent on trivial and frivolous things that have no corresponding bearings on the life of the people.


Ample efforts have been made by the Federal Government of Nigeria to arrest the adverse conditions of the Niger Delta people. With the dawn of democracy in 1999, the Niger Delta people felt a glimmer of hope for improvement to their pitiable and lamentable conditions. True to this, one of the earliest move of the Obasanjo Administration was the setting up of a Commission to find lasting solutions to the protracted developmental and environmental problems if the Niger Delta. In 2000, the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) was established but fully commenced operation in 2001. The NDDC Board at its inaugural meeting in 2001, adopted a two-pronged strategy, namely, the design of a Regional Master-Plan and Interim Action Plan in defining the objectives of the Commission. The NDDC Act also transferred all assets, funds, resources, and other movable and immovable property of the defunct Oil Mineral Producing Areas Development Commission (OMPADEC) to NDDC. Since over 1,200 projects of the defunct OMPADEC were at various stages of completion, the NDDC Board decided to complete over 600 projects that were viable. These projects formed a major component of the Interim Action Plan pending the completion of the Master Plan project. The Interim Action Plan was, therefore, first and foremost designed to promote and encourage conflict resolution and risk management programmes. The essence was to create an investment friendly atmosphere which will attract both foreign and local investors to the region to accelerate its development process while awaiting the completion of the Master Plan. In sum, the NDDC, within its years of existence, has been able to carry out it omnibus mandate in order to improve on the development crisis in the Niger Delta region. It is envisaged that in the next 15 years, the Niger Delta region will be the most pleasant, most peaceful, and most prosperous region in Nigeria if the Master Plan is implemented. Apart from the above, the Yar’Adua Administration came in and granted amnesty to all repentant militants. However, irrespective of the amnesty, pockets of militant activities still persist in the Niger Delta region. The Niger Delta youths (militants), who arose (ostensibly) to fight for resource control and freedom from marginalization, ultimately divested the real or actual motive behind their struggle as they delved into kidnapping and oil theft (bunkering) which has caused more damage to the region and its people. Between 2006 and 2008, kidnappers and hostage takers pocketed ransoms of over 100 million dollars. The Vanguard report of 27th March, 2009, reported that about 680,000 barrel per day (bpd) of oil was being lost to oil theft, while about 1.3 million bpd was being shut in for 6 months. The value of oil revenue lost through spillages and bunkering by militant youths in the Niger Delta between January and September 2008 was about 20.7 billion dollars. Consequently, the motive behind the struggle by the Niger Delta Militants have not been achieved as the struggle has been reduced from promoting the overall interest of the people in the region, to personal or individual gratification of the avaricious interests of militant groups involved in the struggle.


In this respect, we hereby recommend that:

1. The Federal Government should fulfill the economic, social, and cultural rights of the minorities and indigenous people of the Niger Delta by providing adequate basic infrastructure and social services.

2. The government should create jobs for the teaming army of youths in the Niger Delta region which would be a more serious way of dealing with the oil security challenge.

3. The government should review existing land and environmental legislation, including the Mineral Act of 1958, the Land Use Decree of 1978, and the Petroleum Decree of 1969 in order to ensure proper environmental maintenance.

4. The Federal Government Should establish independent mechanism for monitoring the performance of oil companies as regards their contribution to development in the areas where they operate, and ensure that the activities of Transnational Oil Companies and their Nigerian Affiliates comply with international human right and environmental standards.

 Chikor, B. A., (2000). “Appraising The Structural Aspect of The Crisis of Community Development and Environmental Degradation in The Niger Delta” in Osuntokun Akinjide (ed) (2000). Environmental Problems of The Niger Delta, Lagos: Fredric Ebert Foundation.

Durotoye, B. (2000). “Geo-Environmental Constraints in The Development of The Niger Delta Area” in Osuntokun, A. (ed) Ibid pp. 26 – 36.

Idornigie, P. O., (2000). “Niger Delta Development: History and Appraisal of Legal Regime” in Tasie, G. O. M., (ed) Journal of Niger Delta Studies, Vol. 2, No. 1.

 Ihonvbere, J. (2000). “A Recipe for Perpetual Crisis: The Nigerian State and The Niger Delta Question”, Ikeja: CDHR. Iyayi, F. (2000). “Oil Corporations and The Politics of Community Relations in Oil Producing Communities” in Raji et al, eds, ibid pp 151.

Onosode, G. (1999).” Environmental Management and Sustainable Development in The Niger Delta” in Osuntokun, A., ed, ibid, pp 11-25.



The existence of vibrant political parties is indispensable for the sustenance of democracy in any polity. In Nigeria’s first and second Republics, political parties were regionally based, and their activities led to the collapse of those democratic experiments. This paper explores a paramount aspect of Nigeria’s democratic project from 1999 to 2010, and the role of various political parties in facilitating the sustenance of democracy in the country. The paper posits that there is a direct relationship between the character and conduct of a country’s political parties and the degree of democratic sustenance in that country. Basically, this paper argues that seven years into the country’s current democratic experiment, Nigeria has scored low when placed in a similar matrix with countries that are heading towards stable and sustainable democracy. This paper is informed by the roles political parties play in the sustenance of democracy in Nigeria. Some research questions that were posed form this are: Is democratic competition fully at play in Nigeria’s 4th and 5th Republics? Does the structure and organization of the political parties reflect a true democratic order? Are there any perceived inadequacies in the political parties in Nigeria? Are opposition parties alive to their responsibilities in the country? It was argued that the opposition parties in nigeria which ought to serve as alternative parties form which the electorate should choose if they so decide have been strategically weakened through the overt and covert strategies of the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP), and the lack of total commitment on the part of politicians to the national course. This paper ultimately argue that more than 90% of the political parties in Nigeria are fragile entities, hence, they have only developed shallow roots in the society, and concludes on the note that Nigerian political parties have failed in the democratic responsibilities of aggregating social interests, representing specific constituencies and serving as intermediaries between state and society.


Myriad of scholars in the field of political science heave maintained that the pertinent institution in a democracy is the political party. Democracy exists where the principal leaders of a political system are selected by competitive elections in which the greater parts of the population have the opportunity to participate. As a matter of fact, the condition of the parties in a political system is the best possible evidence of the nature of any democratic regime in its original formulation. Democracy means direct and popular participation in the affairs of the polity. This was thought to be the right of every freeborn citizen in those days. With the rise in population and the accompanying spatial expansion, direct democracy has become encumbered and representative democracy has, for centuries, become a feature of democratic societies. Political parties’ organization in Nigeria and elsewhere have been known to be the vehicle through which various interest groups seek to attain power to achieve their perceived societal goals as spelt out in their manifestoes. Generally, parties are usually fashioned in a way as to prepare the organization for an eventual ascension to power through the proper articulation of the need of the society. Nigeria, though has made little progress in the last few years, the country has notoriously emerged as where noting works. Part of the explanation for this phenomenon is that our actions as a nation are not anchored on a solid philosophical foundation. The contradiction of our colonial past, and the inability to embrace a workable political system stem from the opportunism and narrow vision of most of the post-colonial political elites. The collapse of our system is a direct aftermath of the failure to work out a sustainable political party system based on a coherent ideology. The political parties in Nigeria are formed along ethno-cultural, geo-political and religious lines. This has not helped the democratization process since it encourage ethnic chauvinism and parochialism, irredentist sentiments, and geo-political exclusivities. In everyday activities of government, one notices the festering of primordial loyalties such as ethnic sensibilities and overt projection, or other selfish political tendencies. The political class has always remained bereft of viable political ideology on which the country’s political future could be anchored. This bankruptcy in ideology and vision has reduced political parties to a bread and butter game, where monetization of the political process is the bedrock of loyalty and support. This indubitably, erodes the aim of the democratization process.

SECTION II: Conceptual Clarification and Theoretical Framework. It is a common knowledge that most concepts and terms in the social science discipline are ambiguous in meaning and controversial due to differing angles and perception. Therefore, to remove such complication, major concepts utilized in this paper are generally defined and particularly operationalized to capture the mind, intent, and meaning which the research seeks to impose on them. (a) Political Party: Political Scientists have defined political parties from different perspectives. This may be defined in the words of Ranny and Kenall (1956:1) as autonomous organized groups that make nominations and contest elections in the hope or controlling personnel and policies of government. Josephy La Palombara (1974:323) defines political party as a formal organization whose self-conscious primary purpose is to place and maintain in public office, persons who will control alone or in coalition, the machinery of government. A political party therefore, is a group of persons united by a common interest or ideology and engage in power struggle for the purpose of controlling the machinery of government and public policies. (b) Democracy: Democracy is a term used to describe an idea, process or system of government. As an idea, process or system, democracy entrenches and expand or seeks to entrench and expand the rights, ability and capacity of the people in any community, large and small, from the most complex to the least complicated, to take control of their lives through participating as fully as possible, in discussions and decisions on issues and events that affect them and their community. When such participation is full and direct for all members of the community and in regard of all matters, issues and events such as in very small communities, then direct democracy is said to have been attained. In the modern day, the most prevalent form of democracy at the nation-state level, given its sheer geographical size, population , and complexity, is what has come to be known as indirect or representative democracy. By this, is meant a democracy is which people participate in taking and implementing decisions on the common affairs of the community indirectly through their representative elected or selected for that purpose. Theoretical Framework. In formulation of a theoretical framework that will guide the paper, the Elite theory is adopted as the guiding principle in analyzing the subject matter. This is because political parties and governance are dominated and decided by the elites. This is why polices is always perceived as “Madness of many and the game of the few”. The concept of Elitism was propounded as a counter to the revolutionary theories anchored on social class analysis in Europe in the years of Fascism. The classical exponents of the elite theory are two Italians, Viltredo Pareto and Gaetano Mosca, and Robert Michel, a Swiss. To them, every society is ruled by a small (minority) group of people and who possess the attributes that made it possible for them to ascend to the top. Such people are always the best. The elite therefore consist of those successful persons who rise to the top in every occupation and stratum of society. The elites wherever they are, generally come from the same class, that is, those wealthy or intelligent. Political parties in Nigeria are controlled by very few individuals in the party that have besieged the available posts and positions in the upper hierarchy of the parties. These few influential and powerful individuals who are in the minority make all the decisions while others follows. They are the elites. As rightly observed by Gaetano Mosca, in his work, “The Ruling Class” (1930), that in all societies, two classes of people exist: a class that rules and a class that is ruled. The political parties are dominated by the dictates of the elites while the masses being ruled follow without choice. It was evident that in the 2003 general elections, some governorship aspirants did not campaign, but at last they won; not because of their popularity, but just because the elites want them there. Former Governor Chris Ngize of Anambra Sate is a very good example. Otunba Omisore won a Senatorial, seat while in detention. All these are the handiwork of elitism. Robert Michel’s theory of the elite is focused on organization, particularly political party organizations. He argues that leaders or elites usually take advantage of the fact that the majority of human beings are pathetic, indolent, slavish, and susceptible to flattery. In the case of Nigeria, political leaders take advantage of the harsh economic state of the country, where over 80% of the people live below poverty level. The elites make promises prior to their emergency and distribute “peanuts” to the people in order to set their mandate and support.


 It is commonly held that the survival of the democratic processes is directly linked to the ability of the political party to aggregate freely, articulate, represent, and to organize set limits in the quest for the use of political power. It is equally obvious, however, that for the party system to become capable of discharging these roles efficiently and effectively, certain criteria must be met, including autonomy, complexity and coherence (Ragsdale and Theis, 1977). In this regard, too, Richard Vengroff’s (1993) argument becomes especially relevant. Drawing from the experience of Mali, Vengroff asserted that the degree to which a party system is able to meaningfully contribute of the political process is related to the existence of several factors: the development and maintenance of strong party organization with t he depth and breadth necessary for their operation, and the degree of the institutionalization of the party as indicated by its historical roots, longevity, survival and continuing support. The capacity to meet these conditions is a determinant of their potential contribution to the institutionalization of democratic government. If the above forms the yardstick for the measurement of the state of political parties in Nigeria, it then becomes inescapable to conclude that the key party institutions, to date, have failed to fulfill adequately their functions. Over the years, what became apparent is the lack of proper organization and perhaps, perception of what a party system should be. Indeed, as records of inter and intra-party squabbles show, both in their methods and practices, the political parties have contributed immensely to the crisis that engulf the political system in Nigeria. The rot necessary gets carried into the electoral arena where elections, in particular, have been controversial, often lacking in credibility. To begin with, elections, as instruments through which government derives the consent of the governed, are integral part of democracies. In spite of its utility for the democratic form of governance, however, the mere fact of election does not make a country democratic. Democratic elections, everywhere, are expected to meet certain minimum of competitiveness and inclusiveness. The former, perhaps, is deterministic of how the outcomes of the polls are accepted or not. This much has been shown by the United States Information Agency (USIA, 1991:16) in arguing that: “Democratic elections are competitive. Opposition parties and candidates must enjoy the freedom of speech, assembly and movement necessary to voice their criticisms of the government openly and to bring alternative policies and candidates to the voters. Simply permitting the opposition access to the ballot is not enough. Elections in which the opposition is barred from the airwaves, has its rallies harassed or its newspaper censored are not democratic. The party in power may enjoy the advantages of incumbency, but the roles and conduct of the elections must be fair.” It needs be stated that electoral processes in Nigeria have historically been marred by a lot of difficulties. For instance during the first republic, it was obvious that among other potent factors, the election crisis of 1964 – 1965 and the Western regional election of October 1965, proved the greatest test for the stability and thus durability of the first republic (Lipset, 1998:38). The resultant conflict occasioned by these and the high level distrust between the highly ethnicized political elites not only threatened the functioning of the political system, but also facilities the intervention of the military on January 15, 1966. But while one should claim that the elections that ushered in the second Republic in 1979 were relatively calm, portending little or no danger to the survival of the new government, the same could not said of the one held in 1983, that sought to herald the country’s first civilian organized election since 1965. The 1983 election, essentially, were held in the atmosphere of heightened fears and tensions. Politicians of all inclinations issued threats and counter threats that questioned the continued survival of the ship of state. Not unexpectedly, on the election results were released, reforming the incumbent National Party of Nigeria (NPN) government to power at the centre, all hell broke loose and spates of violence gripped the country. The military struck on December 31, 1983, overthrowing the NPN led government of Shagari in a coup. The 20 Months old Buhari regime that succeeded the ousted government never had a transition programme. It was itself toppled in a palace coup that placed General Ibrahim Babangida at the helms as Nigeria’s new military ruler. In a nutshell, ample attempts were made by successive military governments to install a democratically elected government until 1999, when General Abdusalami Abubakar handed over power to the democratically elected government of Obasanjo. The Obasanjo’s government, at the completion of the first four year tenure, organized the conduct of new elections as the constitution of the country stipulated. The April 2003 elections were meant to subject the incumbent administration at all levels, to public verdict through free and fair elections. The election at all levels was, no doubt, a showcase of election rigging. The elections were rigged beyond imagination and brought very unpopular candidates to power. Sometimes, party candidates that never campaigned for elections won, while poplar candidates voted by the people were thrown out. Little wonder that most Nigerian electorates went berserk on seeing that the election results were not a reflection of the votes cast. It was also glaring that during the electioneering campaign prior to the elections in 2003, political elites under the umbrella of different political parties, distributed rice, salt, money, etc to the people in order to get their mandate and support. For instance, the former Governor Peter Odili of Rivers State was said to have involved in the distribution of textile materials across the various villages and towns in Rivers State, in order to win the peoples’ mandate for a second term. The gubernatorial election in Rivers State was chronically rigged to the extent that the incumbent governor swept over 90% of the total votes. Clearly, at the run up to the 2007 election, things were not any better than the previous one. The obstacles were many and varied. The danger signals included the impeachment debacles in a number of states, the shoddy preparations by INEC, the Obasanjo/Atiku face-off, the spates of assassinations and attempted assassinations of high profile aspirants, the simmering crisis in the Niger-Delta, and the heightened, widely perceived selective indictment of elected officials, etc. Essentially, the electoral process in Nigeria therefore did not serve as a peaceful means to bring about change and neither did it offer the people the chance to exercise their choices in a free manner. It rather reflected a Hobbesian state of affairs where each party was in war with the other party, and was ready to employ any means to achieve political power. Such a state of affairs therefore created obstacles in the smooth functioning of the democratic process. Up till date, the only thing political parties in Nigeria currently do is merely the provision of candidates to contest for elective offices in various capacities. As a matter of fact, in vibrant and ideal democracies, political parties are not perceived as mere platform for contesting elections or political appointments. Rather, they play plethora of roles like educating their members politically, informing members in administrative offices about public opinion on national issues, as well as maintaining a strong ideological base that would ensure its survival in future elections. The current Nigerian political parties, seldom, and in some cases, does not perform there roles. Political parties in Nigeria have no ideology or philosophy. Apart from that, they are formed along ethno-cultural, geo-political and religious lines. This has not helped in the sustenance of democracy as it encourages ethnic chauvinism and parochialism, primordial sentiments, and geo-political exclusivities. These are factors that have inhibited the parties from performing their roles as political parties. Political parties and politicians in Nigeria do not cooperate to ensure the survival and sustenance of democracy in Nigeria. Political intolerance and lack of intra and inter-party democracy has become the order of the day. Not only that, politicians and party leaders have abused democracy and have taken democratization in Nigeria to mean insatiable thirst for power, wealth and influence for personal and parochial ends, rather than as a means of consolidating political and economic independence for promoting societal welfare, laying the foundation for national security, socio-economic and technological transformation. Therefore, it can be said that political parties in Nigeria both the PDP, ANPP, ACN and other parties, by sidelining the national interest and the interest of the people, have not served as true representative of the people. They therefore have swayed the masses away from them and have created obstacles in the legitimization process.

SECTION IV: CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATIONS In the final analysis, we are able to see that the problem lies not in the form or type of government, but the style our leaders adopt in governing the masses. This lies in the fact that the civilian government which resumed on May 1999, till date had little or no credit that could score political points for the ruling PDP and its other political parties opponents, where the same mistakes that were made by the players on the political stage since the days of the first republic are still repeating itself. In conclusion, we should understand that from the days of nationalist struggle to the post-independence era, the practice and procedure of democracy in Nigeria have witnessed one long and often torturous history of political quagmire. We need not therefore search or consult a Seer to tell us that the general insecurity plaguing the country is a savage indictment of our social and political disorder, and it does not offer any message of hope to the future.

(a) While Constitutional Right Project (CRP) believes that there is need to strengthen our democratic institutions, a total overhaul of present electoral laws regulating party registration should commence.
 (b) Due to lack of philosophy and ideology, political parties go against the dictates of their manifestoes. Our political parties should have a clearly defined philosophy and ideology that will enable them conform with the dictates of their manifestoes.
 (c) The linkage between political parties and ethnicity is not in the best interest of the Nigerian people. This is an area where de-linking is appropriate and necessary. This can be made possible if the people have political education. The people should understand their rights, responsibilities, and the role of the State. They should be educated to demand accountability on the part of those elected into office. They should be in a position to recall those who have failed to deliver. A proper understanding of the various political issues will there for prevent them from being used as pawns by the leaders in the name of ethnicity.
 (d) The way political parties are constituted and legitimized have bearing on both the scope and content of democracy in the country as well as on the capacity of government to be responsible and accountable to the electorates. The parties need to be internally democratic and should be interested in deepening the content of democracy in the country.
 (e) The survival and sustenance of democracy is to a greater extent, dependent on the ability of the electoral body to conduct free and fair elections through a transparent process. For this to be viable, the existence of an electoral body which is independent in its function is needed.

 Achebe, C. (1980). Trouble with Nigeria, Enugu: Fouth Dimension Publications. Adebayo, A. (1986) Power in Politics, Ibadan: Spectrum Books Ltd.

 Ake, C. (1981). Political Economy of Africa, New York: Longman. Anifowose, R. (1982) Violence and Politics in Nigeria: The Tiv and Yoruba Experience, New York: Nok.

 Ball, A.R. (1983). Modern Political Parties, London: Macmillan. Duddley, B. (1982) An Introduction to Nigerian Government and Politics, London; Macmillan.

 Duverger, M. (1954) Political Parties: Their organization and activity in Modern State, London: Methuen & CO.

 Geovanni, S. (1965) Democratic Theory, New York: Fredrick Praeyer.

 Sarabjit, K. (2002) “Challenges of Democratic Sustenance in Nigeria”, Being a paper Presented at Centre for Democracy and Development, Lagos, July 5, 2002.