1.1. BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
Democracy is popularly described as that type of government that seeks to support the full participation of the people in decision making and for the welfare of the general people. It is also a situation where the people’s government is run by the representatives elected by the people as is available in modern democracies. Since the countries today have large populations spread over vast territories, almost all the democratic governments are representative governments. People get themselves represented in the government by participating in the affairs of the government and the most notable participation of the people takes place through elections. Most of the candidates who contest for positions during elections are often nominated by political organizations known as political parties, though some of them contest elections as independent candidates. Though many political parties put up their candidates in elections, participation of the people does not begin and end with elections. They also participate in the process of governance mostly through groups known as pressure groups or interest group. A pressure group is an interest group which exerts pressure on the government or the decision-makers for the fulfillment of their interests. It is important to make a distinction between an interest group and a pressure group. Interest groups may exist without even exerting influence on the government or the decision-makers. But unless a group exerts such pressure to influence or pressurize the authorities in order to achieve the desired objects, it may not be a pressure group.The policy process is influenced by a range of interest groups that exert power and authority over policy-making. These influences affect each stage of the process from agenda setting, to the identification of alternatives, weighing up the options, choosing the most favourable and implementing it. ‘Policy practices are not in fact just a rational search. A crucial aspect of all policy practice is actually and specifically what and who is included. Grindle and Thomas (2012) summarise the wide-ranging debate within political science on interest groups and the exertion of power and influence. Furthermore, the biggest instrument for operation of every government is public policy. Private interest groups and administrative agencies have come to be the principal originators of policy, while legislative groups, along with administrative and private groups, are the major shapers of public policy. The role of private groups depends upon the cultural setting within which they operate and the nature of the policy-making process. An interest group may succeed in shaping public policy when it is able to identify its conception of desirable policy with prevailing attitudes of the public and when it has access to the major centers of policy determination. The ability of a group to gain or exploit access is limited by certain factors which, to a large extent, are not subject to its control. Interest groups plausibly include all intermediary bodies that form the substance of state and society. They mobilize voters in elections, influence the representative process, provide people with various opportunities for participation, disseminate various kinds of information, exert influence on policy making and implementation, and attempt to have favorable information and opinion reflected in decision making. Pressure Groups are distinct from political parties in the sense that they do not seek political posts and they do not contest elections. But one important element that makes them what they are is the function which they play in every political system and more, in a democratic state. This function has to do with being a watchdog to the government, ensuring that the government does not make policies that are arbitrary to their members and indeed, the entire populace in the state. They achieve these objectives through different means like strikes, protests, lobbying, petitions and others.
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
In Nigeria, there are a lot of pressure groups which play different roles in different capacities. (e.g the Nigerian Labour Congress, Nigerian Union of Teachers, Nigerian Union of Journalists, the Trade Union Congress etc). These pressure groups have operated in different areas of the polity and have also contributed immensely. However, though they have been praised in some quarters for their contributions in the political system in general and the policy process in particular, they have also received criticisms by some Nigerians and foreigners. The criticisms against pressure groups have often come on the selfish interest of their members which they most times pursue without considering the macro effect such interest will have on the entire masses and the political system in general. Most times, some of the policy demands which the pressure groups make on the government seem detrimental to the political system if actually implemented. At other times, when the government makes policies that may not be for the good interest of the people, some pressure groups tend to overlook such policies if it does not directly have any negative effect on their members. At other times, the means which they use in pursuing their interest too turn out to cause more harm than good on the polity. The lackluster attitude of the pressure groups in Nigeria have also helped in making it easy for the legislature in Nigeria to make meaningless laws for the country and laws that do not benefit the common man on the street. Thus, pressure groups have received many criticisms in Nigeria on account of their activities and their contributions to the policy process and the political system of the country. Based on the above, this research work looks at pressure group and promotion of democracy in Nigeria.
1.3. AIMS OF THE STUDY
The major aim of the study is to examine pressure group and promotion of democracy in Rivers state. Other specific objectives of the study include;
1.4. RESEARCH QUESTIONS
1.5 RESEARCH HYPOTHESES
H0: There is no significant impact of pressure group on promotion of democracy in Rivers state
H1: There is a significant impact of pressure group on promotion of democracy in Rivers state
H0: There is no significant relationship between pressure group and promotion of democracy.
H1: There is a significant relationship between pressure group and promotion of democracy.
1.6. SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
This study is considered significant because pressure groups exert power and authority over policy-making. These influences affect each stage of the process from agenda setting, to the identification of alternatives, weighing up the options, choosing the most favourable and implementing it. The study would also be of immense benefit to students, researchers and scholars who are interested in developing further studies on the subject matter.
1.7. SCOPE AND LIMITATION OF THE STUDY
The study is restricted to pressure group and promotion of democracy in Rivers state.
LIMITATION OF THE 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.
DEFINITION OF TERMS
Pressure groups: are all groups or associations which seek to influence public policy in their own chosen direction, while declining to accept direct responsibility forruling the country
Democracy: has been defined in various ways by different people including government of the people, by the people and for the people, government with the consent of the governed, and a form of regime that derives from popular sovereignty in which ordinary citizens are endowed with the right and ability to govern themselves.
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