1.1. BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
There is an alarming rise in organised political party defections in Nigeria. Although Nigeria is being hyped as the giant of Africa, the democracy in Nigeria is not practised like in countries such as Ghana, Sierra Leone, Botswana, Tanzania, Liberia, Senegal and Zambia with stable democracies. Nigeria’s democracy is a guided and is a democracy for the few. Political parties organize the terms of elite competition, and thus offer and defend alternative choices to voting citizens. Fittingly, the popular axiom that democracy without parties is "unthinkable" finds expression in this context. Similarly, competition among political actors is only meaningful when it is aimed towards party institutionalization which according to O'Brien and Shomer (2013) is a function of organizational loyalty. In other words, political actors do not just contest for political power they must conform to certain generalized political imperatives. It is this structure and defining modalities for party intra and inter interrelationships that enhance multi-party system in pluralist democracy. Multiparty democracies need multiple parties, where one serves as the ruling party and others as oppositions and alternatives. Conversely, Third World countries such as Nigeria face a major and persistence problem: incessant political defection among elected political actors which tend to impede democratic stability. Party defection, otherwise known as cross-carpeting, party switching, floor-crossing, party-hopping, decamping, canoe-jumping, party-jumping (Mbah, 2011) is a situation where politicians cross from one political party to the other due to myriad of reasons such as personality clash, power tussles, crisis or division within a given party, disagreement on party's position on an issue, realization of one's personal political ambition, and divergent views on the operations of a political party's philosophy or ideology (Hoeane, 2008). However, party defections have become undying attribute of party politics in the present democratic dispensation and have become frequent toward and after election periods. Party switching or defection has assumed a preposterous dimension since Nigeria returned to democratic governance in 1999. Defection has indeed become a routine and part and parcel of political flesh in Nigeria. The spate of party defection has not only threatened the country’s fledgling democracy, but has also rubbished its underlying philosophies. It has further resulted into gross and acute democratic instability in which the country is currently enmeshed. In short, party switching in Nigeria constitutes one of the strong currents of reversal that the country is contending with. The nation’s newspapers are always inundated with reports on party switchers and how they are celebrated at the state Houses of Assembly and the National Assemblies. Party defection aptly described as “political prostitution” is fast becoming the hallmark of Nigeria’s democracy. In part, because the political act of changing parties goes by so many different terms, studies of party switching are difficult to track down and are yet to acquire status as a subfield in party politics (Janada, 2009). Apart from the benefits of studying party switching, researchers have demonstrated kin interest in the factors that precipitate defection and the impact of defection on the stability and consolidation of democracy. Other questions that really bogged the minds of researchers are whether defection is democratic, undemocratic or anti-democratic and the workability or effectiveness of anti-defection laws in curbing party switching and its attendant negative consequences. Traditionally, according to McElroy (2013), party switching is generally viewed as undemocratic behaviour or an “aberration or an indicator of a weak, ill-informed party system, a phenomenon associated with newly emerging democracies or unstable one. However, the general view or reason for switching seems to suggest an autocratic trend and growing tendency towards a one party system in Nigeria. As a result, the aim of this study is not only to come up with an explanatory framework on party switching in Nigeria, but most importantly to critically analyze and proffer workable solutions to the problems of party switching which has become an increasingly permanent feature in the Nigerian democratic experience. Periscoping from historical perspective to situate the present events, the research identifies cases and reasons for incessant political party defection in Nigeria and advances some means of tackling the menace to pave way for democratic stability.
1.2. STATEMENT OF PROBLEM
Political party defection has been a cankerworm that has eaten deep into the fabrics of Nigerian politics. Individuals jump boat at will and at the slightest opportunity or provocation, confusing themselves and the electorate with certain laughable reasons for their actions. This has not only undermined the democratic process, but also resulted to political party factionalisation and disintegration. Consequently, political party institutionalization has suffered a serious corrosion; party switching has also directly stalled the emergence of a formidable opposition party which is the hallmark of representative democracy. Political party defection is a phenomenon that requires and deserves a scientific and objective investigation, not only to point out the main reasons for it but also to ascertain the possible implications it could have on the sustenance of democracy, with the project Nigeria in mind. Prima facie, it would seem that political party defectors in Nigeria do so based on ideological reasons or being that there exist divisions within their hitherto party. But an in-depth look into this phenomenon would reveal that, other personal and selfish reasons could be a major reason for such actions.
1.3. AIMS AND OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
The major aim of the study is to examine party politics, political defection and the stability of democracy in Nigeria. Other specific objectives are as follows;
1.4. RESEARCH QUESTIONS
1.5. RESEARCH HYPOTHESES
H0: Political defection has no significant impact on democratic stability in Nigeria.
H1: Political defection has a significant impact on democratic stability in Nigeria.
H0: There is no significant relationship between political defection and democratic instability in Nigeria.
H1: There is a significant relationship between political defection and democratic instability in Nigeria.
1.6. SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
The significance of this timely and topical study is twofold: practical and academic. Practically, this study will be of paramount importance to the elections management bodies in Nigeria especially the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the registered political parties, authorities of the non-governmental organizations, the national and state governments as well as the general public for the following reasons: This research/study is significant as it aims to provide lasting solution to the problems of party defection which constitute adverse effects on the democratic process in Nigeria. It is also relevant to researchers, policy makers, practical statesmen, students. The study will also contribute to the body and encourage other writers or researchers to carryout similar work in the field.
1.7. SCOPE OF THE STUDY
The study is restricted to party politics, political defection and the stability of democracy in Nigeria, case study of selected political parties in Nigeria, Abuja.
1.8 LIMITATION OF STUDY
Financial constraint- Insufficient fund tends to impede the efficiency of the researcher in sourcing for the relevant materials, literature or information and in the process of data collection (internet, questionnaire and interview).
Time constraint- The researcher will simultaneously engage in this study with other academic work. This consequently will cut down on the time devoted for the research work.
1.8 DEFINITION OF TERMS
Political Party: Is defined as an organised group of people with at least roughly similar political aims and opinions that seeks to influence public policy by getting its candidates elected to public office.
Democracy: Is defined as a political system that is run and controlled by citizens of the country. Democracies are made up of elected representatives and require that governmental measures be voted on by these elected representatives or the people. Democracies are not universal and are implemented and enforced in different manner.
OTHER SIMILAR POLITICAL SCIENCE PROJECTS AND MATERIALS