Opposition Party, Political Ideology and the Consolidation of Democracy in Nigeria
Perhaps more than any other thing, the choice of and claims to the practice of democracy as a governmental format by virtually all nations of the world has lent credence to the fact that the world is globalising. The essential feature of democracy which lies in its concern for the participation of the member in the process by which the community is governed, equally gives to each citizen a public office, a place in the sovereign tribunal. The citizen in his political capacity therefore, becomes a public agent, thereby making government not a tool for impulsiveness but the instrument of collective deliberation. Democracy, therefore, is the substitution of the method of mutual consultation and voluntary agreement for the method of subordination of the many to the few enforced from above. Inherent in this is that any form of exclusion from participation becomes a subtle form of suppression. This is what allows for the recognition of opposition party and opposite views which has become an important mainstay of every democratic format. Nigeria has not fared well in respecting opposition and their views. This paper therefore proposes to trace the development of opposition party system in Nigeria from 1960 but will essentially argue that opposition parties have not fared well in Nigerian politics partly because there is no clear cut ideological difference between both the party in power and the opposition.
Democracy is unthinkable save in terms of parties.
E. E. Schattschneider (1942: 1)
Above everything, the people are powerless if the political enterprise is not competitive. It is the competition of political organizations that provides the people with the opportunity to make a choice. Without this opportunity popular sovereignty amounts to nothing.
E. E. Schattschneider (1960: 137)