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The political party system and effective leadership in Nigeria: A contingency approach

Dissertation
Author: Ken Sylvester "SKC" Ogbonnia
Abstract:
Leadership problems have plagued Nigeria since national independence in 1960. The results have been massive corruption, mismanagement of natural and human resources, and the loss of over 2 million lives. Despite abundant literature on leadership and political parties, no work has critically analyzed the various party systems in the context of the Nigerian environment. The purpose of this study was to determine the ideal party system for producing effective leadership in Nigeria. The research questions focused on how the number of political parties could affect democracy and organizational leadership. The qualitative research consisted of reviewing existing electoral data, interviewing 30 leaders, and holding a focus group of 12 different leaders selected from a diverse group of Nigerian socio-political elites. Data analysis included extracting and organizing information from the different cases into a cross-case comparative format and categorizing them into common patterns and themes. The results of the study identified the lack of an effective party system and weak opposition as major contributors to leadership problems. As result, it is recommended that a balanced 2-party system, with full public funding and a truly independent electoral commission, be developed. The presence of a 2-party system could lead to a dynamic legislature, improved checks and balances, and more effective legislative leadership. Nigeria is the world's 6th largest producer of crude oil and strategically important to the continued development of Africa. Developing a vibrant system that fosters effective solutions to long-term problems could have a positive impact on the country and the African continent.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

LIST OF TABLES.............................................................................................................iv CHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTION TO THE STUDY...........................................................1 Introduction..........................................................................................................................1 Statement of the Problem.....................................................................................................2 Background..........................................................................................................................3 Brief History of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.......................................................3 The Advent of Colonialism........................................................................................4 Research Questions............................................................................................................11 Purpose of the Study..........................................................................................................11 Definitions of Terms..........................................................................................................12 Assumptions.......................................................................................................................14 Limitations.........................................................................................................................15 Scope and Delimitations....................................................................................................16 Significance........................................................................................................................17 Summary............................................................................................................................18 CHAPTER 2: REVIEW OF LITERATURE.....................................................................20 Introduction........................................................................................................................20 Leadership: A Critical Analysis.........................................................................................21 Effective Leadership................................................................................................26 Multicultures and Leadership...................................................................................28 Democratic Systems...........................................................................................................33 Political Parties and Effective Leadership...............................................................35 Opposition Party.......................................................................................................37 Party Systems.....................................................................................................................41 Unlimited Party System (1960-1966)......................................................................47 Five-Party Structure.................................................................................................48 Two-Party Model.....................................................................................................50 Three-Party Structure...............................................................................................53 30-Party System (2003-present)...............................................................................54 Independent Candidates...........................................................................................58 Elections.............................................................................................................................61 Summary............................................................................................................................62 CHAPTER 3: METHODOLOGY.....................................................................................64 Introduction........................................................................................................................64 Research Methodology......................................................................................................64 The Researcher...................................................................................................................67 Ethics and Competency......................................................................................................68 Sample and Population......................................................................................................69 Data Collection Procedure.................................................................................................70

iii

In-Depth Interviewing..............................................................................................70 Semistructured and Unstructured Phone Interviews................................................72 Face-to-Face Interviews...........................................................................................72 Focus Groups............................................................................................................73 Existing Data............................................................................................................73 Instrumentation..................................................................................................................74 Data Analysis.....................................................................................................................77 Summary............................................................................................................................79 CHAPTER 4: PRESENTATION AND INTERPRETATION OF DATA........................80 Introduction........................................................................................................................80 Existing Electoral Data......................................................................................................80 Focus Groups.....................................................................................................................84 Interviews...........................................................................................................................92 Summary..........................................................................................................................115 CHAPTER 5: SUMMARY, CONCLUSIONS, AND RECOMMENDATIONS...........116 Introduction......................................................................................................................116 Summary..........................................................................................................................116 Conclusions......................................................................................................................118 Effectiveness of Party Coalitions.....................................................................................122 Funding............................................................................................................................126 Independent National Election Commission..........................................................129 Recommendations for Practice........................................................................................131 Two-Party System..................................................................................................131 Pressure Groups......................................................................................................133 Full Public Funding................................................................................................134 Implications for Social Change........................................................................................138 Recommendations for Future Research...........................................................................139 Researcher’s Reflections on the Study............................................................................140 Summary..........................................................................................................................142 REFERENCES................................................................................................................145 APPENDIX A: CONSENT FORM.................................................................................156 APPENDIX B: INTERVIEW INVITATION LETTER..................................................158 APPENDIX C: FOCUS GROUP INVITATION LETTER............................................162 CURRICULUM VITAE..................................................................................................168

iv

LIST OF TABLES 1 Chronology of Governments, Heads of Government, and Party Systems....................10 2 1959 Multi-Party General Elections.............................................................................48 3 1979 Multiparty Presidential Elections.........................................................................49 4 1993 Two-Party Presidential Elections.........................................................................52 5 2003 Unlimited Multi-Party Presidential Elections......................................................55 6 U.S. Presidential Elections (1959-2004)………………………………………………84 7 Ideal Party System Preference……………………………………………………….113 8 Party Preference by Region…………………………………………………...…......114

CHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTION TO THE STUDY Introduction Nigeria is blessed with abundant natural and human resources, including crude oil, fertile land, and highly qualified manpower. As many have observed, the country has the potential to sustain self-reliance and advancement in all spheres of national and organizational life (Azikiwe, 1965; Ihonvbere & Shaw, 1998; Umez, 2005). Yet it is beset by serious instability resulting from chronic leadership problems, such as corruption, health and ethnic crises. Various efforts to produce effective leadership have failed to yield meaningful results. For example, over the years, the country has adopted several economic and political systems and has experimented with leaders employing different styles. It has also produced numerous interest groups. Yet, a stream of scholarly literature maintains that recent problems are rooted in the nature of leadership structures, particularly political parties—which cleave along ethnic lines (Agbaje, 1997; Ake, 1996; Monga, 1999; Nwabueze, 1993). They argue that tribal parties have hindered the emergence of a strong opposition party, which is critical to effective governance. In a study of political institutions and effective leadership, Dahl (1971) succinctly noted that “any system is in peril if it becomes polarized into highly antagonistic groups” (p. 105). His observations are corroborated by recent remarks by current and past Nigerian leaders that the political party system is responsible for various leadership crises (Adeyemi & Ogbodo, 2005). The challenge becomes more glaring when one considers that petroleum products (controlled by the government) represent 80% of national income and consequently influence most political and economic activities. Scholars (e.g.,

2 Almond &Verba, 1972; Monga, 1999; Nwabueze; 1993) agree that political structures have the potential to determine leadership effectiveness. To Monga, political parties represent Africa’s number one problem because they “constitute the mechanism par excellence of democratic transition” (p. 49). As a result, there is a debate regarding a new political party system (Adeyemi & Ogbodo, 2005; Lohor, 2004; Obasanjo, 2005). The following material includes a statement demonstrating that the problem this dissertation addresses is worthy of study. It is followed by background of the problem, research questions, and purpose of study. This section also includes important assumptions, scope and delimitations, significance of study, and definition of key terms. Statement of the Problem Leadership problems have plagued Nigeria since national independence in 1960. The result has been massive corruption, mismanagement of natural and human resources, and the loss of over 2 million lives, both by generalized ethnic strife and the civil war. But despite abundant literature on leadership and political parties, no work has critically analyzed the various party systems in the context of the Nigerian environment. The role of political parties in effective leadership is indeed well studied (Burns, 1978; Dahl, 1989; Nwabueze, 1993; Tocqueville, 1945; Weber, 1947). Such works conclude that political parties offer people with similar ideologies or interest a platform from which to organize and outline manifestos that mirror the societal needs. The problem is that the Nigerian party system has not been successful in facilitating effective leadership. To determine the ideal party system, this researcher sought pertinent questions from various areas of national development.

3 Background This section is focused on the challenges facing Nigerian leadership. It provides the framework for understanding the background of the country and its leadership problems. The following topics are discussed: a brief history of the federal republic, the advent of colonialism, and Nigeria since national independence. Brief History of the Federal Republic of Nigeria About 1900, British government colonized about 250 Niger ethnic groups into northern and southern protectorates. The two provinces were merged in 1914 to create what is known today as Nigeria. The country currently has a population of about 130 million occupying 375,000 square miles. It drafted its first constitution in 1947; obtained national independence in 1960 with three regions (East, North, and West); became a Federal Republic in 1963 with four regions (eastern, mid-western, northern, and western); currently has 36 states and 774 local government areas; Abuja is the federal capital. The British parliamentary system with multiparty democracy was the system of government adopted immediately after national independence. None of the parties was able to win the desired number of electoral seats needed to form government independently. An ensuing political condition led to social and ethnic crises, including military coups, the Biafran civil war (1967-1970), and chronic leadership problems. In 1966, a clique of soldiers led by Major Chukwuma Nzeogwu took over power in a military coup d’etat, charging government inefficiency, ineffectiveness, and tribalism. The military has ruled 29 of 46 years since independence. Today, Nigeria practices presidential democracy with retired General Olusegun Obasanjo as president.

4 The Advent of Colonialism Colonialism has generated numerous debates regarding national leadership problems. The first indigenous Nigerian president in 1960 and foremost nationalist, Nnamdi Azikiwe, analyzed the role of colonialism and concluded that it had advantages as well as disadvantages (Azikiwe, 1965). While some see it as exploitation and cause of current problems, others perceive it as necessary stage for advancement. Some observers see colonialism (which merged various ethnic nationalities into one nation) as a system of exploitation and blamed it for the chronic leadership challenges (Awolowo, 1947; Ayittey, 1992; French, 2004; Khapoya, 1994; Nkwocha, 2000; Soyinka, 1994). They suggested that its main purpose was to facilitate trade in sub- Saharan Africa. Obafemi Awolowo was one of the founders of present-day Nigeria; to him, “Nigeria is not a nation. It is a mere geographical expression” (Awolowo, 1947, p. 47). In the same vein, the first prime minister of the country, Tafawa Balewa, argued that “Nigerian unity is only a British intention” (quoted in Afolayan, 1997, p. 45). More recent pronouncements have continued to question the viability of the colonial model. For example, President Olusegun Obasanjo, in an April 26, 2005 speech, charged that “the imperialist powers were more interested in creating wealth for Europe than in creating any enduring democratic structures and institutions in African states” (“Obasanjo Blames Britain,” 2005, para. 2). For these scholars and leaders, Nigeria is a product of many independent leaders and ethnic groups that speak different languages, observe different cultures, and were historically in conflict. Furthermore, they argued that while the colonial idea originally might have had good intentions, the prevailing local social conditions and structures were not designed to sustain a nation.

5 This thinking is similar to a study by Kalu (1996) on the impact of ethnic politics on national development. He used a nonexperimental observation of existing Nigerian policies to support the foregoing assumptions. According to French (2004), the colonial masters conveniently merged warring ethnic groups and did “little to prepare the population for the task of running European-style nation state” (p .33). In other words, they never laid the proper foundation for sound national development and unity of purpose. In contrast, Peter Smithers (a key player in British colonial rule in Nigeria) strongly disputed the charge of exploitation, arguing that the merger was intended to create a great nation. At the same time, he admitted that the experiences and the collapse of other unions, such as the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia, now suggest that the conception of a Nigerian state was a mistake (cited in Ajanaku, 2005). At this historical moment, some may ask why the country has not broken into smaller nations, like the Soviet Union or Yugoslavia. But as Umez (2000) asked rhetorically, “Can one plausibly create 250 countries out of Nigeria, each representing a different ethnic group?” (p. 35). Still, even though a previous secession attempt resulted in the 1967-1970 civil war, every constitution or political reform before and after the war has resolved on “one indivisible and indissoluble state” (1999 Nigerian Constitution, p. 1). One could argue, then, that the colonization of Nigeria’s many ethnic groups may be necessary after all. Commentators who adopt this position argue that what some perceive as selfish may have clear antecedents for a greater nation (Afolayan, 1997; Diamond, 1988; Liebenow, 1986). While not entirely disputing the various challenges brought about by

6 colonialism, they point out that Nigeria is not the only country colonized by the British government or where different ethnic groups merged to implement common interests and purpose. For example, it can also be argued that most of the nations are unions of nationalities. The United Kingdom, for instance, represents England, Scotland, Ireland, and Wales, and the United States of America, a union of multiple ethnic groups, was originally a British colony. Yet, even though colonialism might have benefited Britain and failed to integrate Nigerian ethnic groups, some consequences have been positive. First, the colonial leaderships introduced English as the national language in place of over 300 local languages. While skeptics can question this selection, others argue that choosing one native language over the others could have led to mayhem (Mazrui, 1998). Second, colonialism minimized ethnic strife by adopting three administrative regions (anchored by Nigeria’s three major tribes of Hausa, Igbo, and Yoruba). Some have argued that these regions “proved to be a source of tragic ethnic rivalry . . . as leaders from the regions never came together to deal with common concerns” (Gordon, 2003, p. 83). Ayittey (1991), in an in-depth study, also criticized the new regions, submitting that traditional African governments were a system of regions and subregions (ethnic and communal groups) long before the ministrations of colonial authorities. But while these views may be important, there is hardly a nation or large organization that governs its people without a systematic division of people. Moreover, one can argue that the concept of regions is preferable to dealing independently with the numerous groups that make up the country. Given that today’s Nigeria affirms the British proposal to stay as “one nation, indivisible by man,” what are the prospects for effective government? For Umez (2000),

7 a daunting dilemma is that country was more stable during and immediately after colonial rule. “If colonial legacy is responsible for the problems,” he asked, why then has an independent Nigeria not formulated lasting policies that promote national integration and effective leadership? (p. 33). What form of leadership will best harness the society’s potential and maximize important areas such as education, technology, and natural resources? Thus, while this study recognizes the challenges posed by merging various ethnic groups into one nation, it will go beyond the exigencies of Nigeria’s colonial legacy and focus on approaches to dynamic leadership for a united Nigeria. Literature on Nigeria after Political Independence

The survival of the new Nigerian union after merging ethnic groups and subsequent national independence required special efforts on the part of leaders to sustain the wishes of the different nationalities. This section explores political parties as critical to national integration and reviews the challenges of ethnic politics. In widely disparate studies, Azikiwe (1965) and Schlesinger (1992) analyzed development in Nigeria and the United States respectively and wondered about the chances of effective leadership in multiethnic nations. Their analyses concluded that unless there is a genuine and common purpose uniting the various ethnic groups, any resulting government would face insurmountable problems. While Schlesinger identified language (in this case English language) as a unifying factor in building a national American culture, Azikiwe advocated a Nigerian political system where every citizen has the right to belong to any party of their choice and vote and live in any party of the country irrespective of their ethnic backgrounds. Yet, Azikiwe’s concept was broad and did not address the specific nature of the political parties.

8 Many have also argued that politics, particularly political parties, can shape people’s social and value systems (Baker, 2004; Bowler, Lanoue, & Savoie, 1994; Sklar, 1963; Tocqueville, 1945). Bowler, Lanoue, and Savoie supported their viewpoint with a qualitative case study that included a survey of citizens in three multiethnic countries, where they used “the strength of party attachment” to national parties as dependent variable (p. 1,000). In his review of values and U.S. history, Baker (2004) found that “after religious affiliation, the trait that children are most likely to inherit from their parents is party identification” (p. 9A). Richard Sklar conducted one of the earliest and most comprehensive inquiries into political parties in Nigeria. He offered a mixed- method approach, utilizing a combination of interviews with leaders and scholarly documentation to propound that, “Adhesion to the party is virtually automatic for the members of the communal group, so that any one rejecting the party in spirit may be regarded as having already contracted out psychologically” (Sklar, 1963, p. 475, original emphasis). While the foregoing studies concluded that party sentiments permeate the entire national culture, including organizational leadership, they offered no concrete plans beyond an important need to create political organizations with national following. Unfortunately, the result has been multiplicity of parties (including ethnic parties) which are seen as divisive to a national culture. Tribalism has been consistently mentioned in the history of national leadership crises. Achebe (1983) reviewed the situation and observed that the problems are rooted in a social, political, and economic system where all processes are conducted on the basis of ethnicity. Stated differently, it is a society where mediocrity is preferred over excellence for the simple reason of one’s tribe or state of origin. Given the role of political parties in

9 national building, one can argue that the problem begins with the political condition where “Very often, parties are tied to the home regions of their leaders” (Monga, 1999, p. 49). To Sklar (1963), Nigeria’s “missing ingredient for balanced and sustained national development has been political leadership of a consistent integrative character” (p. 42). The relationship between political culture and tribalism becomes more evident when one considers the fact that state-controlled crude oil greatly influences all social and economic activities. Even though some studies have minimized the challenges of ethnic politics, a scholarly consensus has maintained that multiethnic politics has the potential to hinder leadership effectiveness (Ake, 2003; Azikiwe, 1965; Dahl, 1971; Diamond, 1988; Gordon, 2003; Ojo, 2001; Sklar, 1963, 1997). The solution rests with the nature of political leadership after independence. Political associations owed their sympathies to ethnic interests, which led to various crises, including the first military coup and a civil war. As a result, the country has in the past 40 years experimented with military governments, three-party and five-party systems, and the current unlimited party model— all without success (see Table 1). The search for an ideal political party structure continues (Anyagafu, 2005; Chesa, 2004; Lohor, 2004).

10 Table 1 Chronology of Governments, Heads of Government, and Party Systems Period Government Head of Government Party System 1960- 1966 Civilian/Parliamentary Tafawa Balewa Multiparty/unlimited 1966- 1966* Military* Aguiyi-Ironsi Outlawed 1966- 1975 Military* Gowon Outlawed 1975- 1976 Military* Mohammed Outlawed 1976- 1979 Military** Obasanjo Outlawed 1979- 1983 Civilian/Presidential Shagari Multiparty/five-party 1984- 1985 Military* Buhari Outlawed 1985- 1993 Military* Babangida Outlawed 1993- 1993 Quasi- Military/Transitional*** No national govt. formed Multiparty/limited 1993- 1998 Military* Abacha Outlawed 1998- 1999 Military**** Abubakar Outlawed 1999- 2003 Civilian/Presidential Obasanjo Multiparty/three-party 2003-date Civilian/Presidential Obasanjo Multiparty/unlimited Adapted from Ihonvbere & Shaw, 1998, p. 34; and BBC News, 2005, par.40.

*Military take-over of government (coup) **Unsuccessful coup killed head of state ***Unpopular interim national government introduced after the annulment of 1993 presidential elections **** Head of state died in office

11 Every political system has its unique challenges. Accordingly, scholars have condemned the authoritarian nature of the single-party structure, repudiated the divisive tendencies associated with multiparty systems, and questioned the limited freedom of two-party models (Agbaje, 1998; Burns, 1978; Dahl, 1989; Tocqueville, 1945; Weber, 1947). By describing the relationship between political party systems and effective leadership, this study sought to identify the most suitable political party model for Nigeria. Research Questions The following questions address the effect of political parties on leadership in Nigeria: 1. How do multicultures affect leadership? 2. To what extent does freedom of association affect democracy? 3. How does an opposition party impact of a democratic government? 4. How does the number of political parties affect organizational leadership? Purpose of the Study The purpose of this study was to determine the ideal party system for producing effective leadership in Nigeria. It attempted to test the contingency leadership theory in Nigerian’s political party system. That is, the study examined the systems based on the prevailing local conditions. The various governmental structures adopted in national history were modeled after successful democracies in other nations: The failure of a parliamentary system (modeled after Great Britain) during the first republic (1960-1966) led to presidential democracies (1979-1983) and (1999-2005), which are similar to those of the United States (Agbaje, 1997; Gordon, 2003; Ihonvbere & Shaw, 1998). Two recent

12 studies (Ogbor & Williams, 2003; Zagorzek, Jaklick, & Stough, 2004) found common patterns in leadership practices between Nigeria and the United States. There are also strong similarities in the leadership development: both are multi-ethnic societies, witnessed the colonial era and democratic establishments after independence, civil wars, military influence in politics, and interestingly, presidential system of government. Although the African country has produced both transformational and transactional leaders (both in business and political organizations), the various systems and leaders have not been effective. The leadership challenges have led to two important schools of thought. On one hand, a great body of literature has maintained that unlimited freedom of association best promotes democracy. On the other hand, it is believed that limiting political parties could minimize the emergence of divisive ethnic parties (Ihonvbere & Mbaku, 1998). A serious limitation on the scholarly attention to political parties is that it did not investigate the problems based on Nigerian conditions. This researcher analyzed the conditions for producing effective leadership—whether “unrestricted liberty” and freedom to form political parties or limitation of political parties. Thus, the goal was to examine the various party systems and structures and propose the best option to facilitate effective leadership in Nigeria. Effective leadership can occur, if Nigeria can efficiently checkmate her numerous problems--such as mismanagement of resources, corruption, health and ethnic crises. Definitions of Terms Colonialism:A period (1900-1960) whereby Niger-area autonomous authorities were merged into a larger Nigerian nation and placed under the British government.

13 Contingency leadership:A leadership concept based on specific internal and external environment for the attainment of organizational or societal goals. Culture:Encompasses all aspects of the way of life associated with a group of people. It includes language, religious beliefs, customs and rules of etiquette, and values and ideas people use to organize their lives and interpret their social existence (Healey, 2003, p. 42) Effective leadership:The ability to successfully integrate and maximize available resources within the internal and external environment for the attainment of organizational or societal expectations. Effective leader:An individual with the ability to consistently succeed in a given environment and be recognized as meeting the expectations of the organization or society. Ethnic group:A distinctive cultural group identifiable by indigenous and paternal membership to a tribe. Ethnic party:Political party that can be founded by people from different social and cultural backgrounds but targets and appeals to a special ethnic group in furtherance of its interests. The strength of the party relies on its relationship with the ethnic group. Opposition party:An independent political party that is in competition (ideologically and financially) with the ruling party. Tribalism:A reward system in which most social, political, and economic considerations are on the basis of one’s ethnic group.

14 Assumptions This research utilized existing data (such as presidential election results from 1959-2004) in Nigeria with relevant comparisons to the United States of America. That period revealed important political experiences, which can contribute to this research. Furthermore, interviews and discussions were conducted among Nigerian political and business leaders, and a focus group. These leaders were generally recognized as playing critical roles in leadership. It was assumed that an in-depth analysis of their viewpoints and other existing data would offer the framework to achieve the purposes for which this dissertation is designed. A second assumption is that the next 10 years present the best opportunity for drastic change. After a critical review of nonexperimental observations, existing research, seminars and workshops, Ake (2003) wrote that, “The struggle over the political framework that will enable the development project to finally take off is now in progress, and the prospects for development are promising” (p. 159). Today, a democratic government has led to discussion of new political systems. Government is capitalizing on the abundant human resources, appointing qualified individuals to critical areas. For example, a non-partisan, renowned, Nigerian-born technocrat and former Vice President of The World Bank, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala was appointed to head the powerful finance ministry. The recent debt cancellation (of $18 billion by the Paris Club) is a partial testimony that current reforms enjoy both international and local support (Ishiekwene, 2005). A third assumption is that efficient party system is critical for checks and balances and, consequently effective leadership. “Unless the political culture is able to support a

Full document contains 181 pages
Abstract: Leadership problems have plagued Nigeria since national independence in 1960. The results have been massive corruption, mismanagement of natural and human resources, and the loss of over 2 million lives. Despite abundant literature on leadership and political parties, no work has critically analyzed the various party systems in the context of the Nigerian environment. The purpose of this study was to determine the ideal party system for producing effective leadership in Nigeria. The research questions focused on how the number of political parties could affect democracy and organizational leadership. The qualitative research consisted of reviewing existing electoral data, interviewing 30 leaders, and holding a focus group of 12 different leaders selected from a diverse group of Nigerian socio-political elites. Data analysis included extracting and organizing information from the different cases into a cross-case comparative format and categorizing them into common patterns and themes. The results of the study identified the lack of an effective party system and weak opposition as major contributors to leadership problems. As result, it is recommended that a balanced 2-party system, with full public funding and a truly independent electoral commission, be developed. The presence of a 2-party system could lead to a dynamic legislature, improved checks and balances, and more effective legislative leadership. Nigeria is the world's 6th largest producer of crude oil and strategically important to the continued development of Africa. Developing a vibrant system that fosters effective solutions to long-term problems could have a positive impact on the country and the African continent.