Elections are happening all over Africa. This year presidential elections will or have taken place in Algeria, Central African Republic, Guinea-Bissau, Malawi, Mauritania, Mozambique, Namibia, Tunisia and of course South Africa, where men and women went out to vote this month. Nigeria is not on that list, but our elections are not far off; they will be held in the first quarter of 2015 and the world is looking to see what changes and developments the next elected president and state governors will bring. Since January the two big parties, the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), have been traveling the country telling us what they can do for the Nation.
by Jamie Goode
The opposition APC has to convince voters it represents genuine change, while the ruling PDP will have to persuade voters to stick with the devil they have come to know so well.
The formation of the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC) in February last year represented a landmark event in Nigerian politics. For the first time since the country’s return to multi-party democracy in 1999, the dominance of the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP) looked like it could be seriously challenged.
The APC resulted from the merger of four main opposition groups and is essentially the first challenger party with a national scope. Historically, party politics in Nigeria has consisted of one ‘national’ party and a few others with more regional outlooks. This was the case in the so-called First Republic (1963-6) and the Second Republic (1979-1983). In the Third Republic, the annulled elections of June 1993 were contested by two national parties − the National Republican Convention (NRC) and the Social Democratic Party (SDP) − but these were essentially creations of General Ibrahim Babangida’s regime and were roundly dismissed by critics as ‘test tube parties’.
In the Fourth Republic (1999-now), there have been attempts to create genuine challengers to the PDP. Days before the 2011 elections, for example, some opposition parties tried − and failed − to join forces. Even if they had, the PDP’s march to victory looked all but inevitable.
Now, however, some lessons seem to have been learned. Opposition groups have been able to put aside their differences − at least for now − and form early enough before the 2015 elections to develop an alternative platform from which to woo voters and smooth out any internal cracks before it’s too late.
Read the full article at Think Africa here
Jamie Goode is a freelance analyst. He has lived and worked in Nigeria as well as representing the nation on the Rugby pitch. In 2005 he wrote and presented the documentary ‘This is Lagos’. This article first appeared on Think Africa on 23 APRIL 2014