Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Political disunity

In Nigeria, the cleavages are many and practically none of them are about ideology or policy.

What does that predict about politics in Nigeria?

And when leaders cobble together a political party large enough to be dominant, what happens when a vital element of that grand coalition (like a president's health) fails?

And what does all that mean for the coming presidential election?

Ruling Party in Nigeria Is Fractured by Infighting
An outbreak of public infighting within Nigeria’s governing party this week has exposed how confused the country’s politics remain in the wake of the recent shaky transfer of power at the top, analysts contend.

The ruling People’s Democratic Party, or P.D.P., suspended 19 prominent members this week for challenging the party’s leadership over a lack of openness in selecting candidates for political office and for what one member called a “total lack of internal democracy.”

The squabble hints at the power struggles to come in advance of the wide-open 2011 presidential election. Factions in the all powerful P.D.P. are challenging the rule of the acting president, Goodluck Jonathan, who took over in February from President Umaru Yar’Adua…

Analysts echoed the view that the party dominating political life in Nigeria was an imperfect dispenser of democracy. “The P.D.P. itself lacks internal party democracy,” said Kabiru Mato, a political scientist at the University of Abuja. “They don’t subject themselves to electoral practices.”

Motivating the movement for reform is discontent over the sway that the country’s state governors, over three-quarters of whom are in the P.D.P., hold over the loosely organized party. The dissidents contend that the state governors have become so powerful that they have overtaken the party machinery, a view echoed by some analysts.

“They have their own network of patronage,” Peter Lewis, director of African studies at Johns Hopkins University, said of the governors. “They run independent fiefdoms.”

Mr. Lewis said that the reformers and party establishment both wanted to preserve the party’s power, but he said the latter seemed intent on doing so through traditional means like “manipulating elections” and “increasing patronage.”

The would-be reformers have not suggested giving up. But analysts were skeptical that their movement could change the P.D.P., given its immense patronage machine and well-established electoral machine…

See also:
As Members of Reform Group Insist On Change PDP Suspends Masari, Nnamani, Odili, Wabara from This Day (Lagos)
and
Ogbulafor, PDP Leaders' War Heightens from Vanguard (Lagos)

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