Political Parties, Rotational Presidency and the Challenge of Nation Building in Nigeria

Eborka, K. (2016)

Staff publication

Article

This article examines Nigeria’s political parties and the principle of rotational presidency. Nigeria is among several countries in Africa confronted by threats of political instability and social conflicts that characterise most multi-ethnic nations on the continent. This situation in Nigeria is leading political actors in the country to canvass for the adoption of rotational presidency as a potent political arrangement that can guarantee stability among the constituent parts. The article argued that, given the weak nature of political parties in Nigeria, their fragile institutions and the multi-party system, the adoption of rotational presidency is impracticable; and if it is forced to be, it is not likely to be sustainable. The article adopts the historical-descriptive method, and relies on Simon Hug’s System Demand theory for theoretical elucidation. It debunks the claim that rotational presidency will accelerate the pace towards national development, and contends that the idea is a pacifist design likely to further highlight the differences among the component parts and retard the nation’s stride towards socio-economic and democratic advancements. As a way forward, it recommends a single term of five years without necessarily being rotational, and pushes for a system that will allow parties to field candidates from any region on the basis of merit and ability. It also emphasises the need for the institutionalisation of internal democracy in the parties, as opposed to imposition of candidates and fitful tinkering of party rules in favour of particularistic agenda.