Like many Nigerians, I often find myself wondering why the political process in our country is facing this much challenge. As a nation, we have experienced this pattern many times leading up to and immediately following the election period: Politicians campaign for offices, promising what they know they will never deliver. After they are elected and sworn into offices, that is the last the electorate hear from them until they seek for re-election.
There is no room for ordinary people having a voice in their own government. There is limited room for political debate, which is a central feature of any matured democracy. And most importantly, there is little room for change, progress, development, working electricity, gutters that do not overflow during the rainy season, and affordable education and housing.
One reason for this dilemma is relatively simple, yet rarely considered: We are operating on a flawed party system. The shape of our Parliament and the way elections are conducted impose a political system in which true representation is locked out and the power-hungry political class is locked in.
The party system in any democratic country refers to the way the country is governed by political parties. Nigeria operates more or less on a two-party dominant system, influenced by those of most Western democracies. The problem, however, lies in the fact that Nigeria is quite different from Western democracies.
Nigeria boasts of a diverse population and a wide range of ethnic groups, many of which base their political affiliation on their tribe or region. Nigeria also boasts of a wide range of ideological standpoints and political opinions. For this reason, Nigeria would benefit largely from a truly multi-party system in which power is shared more evenly amongst the parties and the people they represent.
The lack of such representation contributes largely to ethnic conflict, low voter turnout at elections, failure to alleviate poverty, and stagnant human development statistics. Several parties are capable of solving Nigeria’s many problems, but because of our political system, only those two parties are truly given the chance to do so.
The inclusive participation of more active and vibrant political parties in our democracy would help to repair the broken political process and thus, provide more opportunities for the change our country so direly needs. A truly multiparty system would also pose a challenge to the corruption that plagues the country, as parties would seek to expose corruption in other parties as a form of a healthy contest.
Although, not the sole change our dear country requires, a switch to a truly multiparty system would pave the road towards the brighter future we all hope for, one in which representation impacts governance and creates a legitimate policy space in which progress will undoubtedly occur.
May God Bless the people of our beloved Country, Nigeria.
Funmilayo Adetokunbo A-A is a Political and International Affairs Analyst, based in Somerset, England, United Kingdom.