Our first issue of 2022, APC and the Dilemmas of a Ruling Party, explores the rise of Nigeria’s ruling party, the All Progressives Congress; President Muhammadu Buhari’s political legacy and Nigeria’s changing political landscape. Purchase the issue here. We ship worldwide.
In under a year, Nigeria will elect a new president, and already the next election looks set to be a historical one. Some context: the 2023 election will be Nigeria’s seventh presidential election since the end of military rule in 1999. In past editions, authors like Fisayo Ajala have argued in The Republic that Nigeria is trapped in a ‘militarized democracy’. It is a debate still worth having—at the very least, one can argue that our shift from military to democratic rule in 1999 was not a clean shift, but a transition that saw us build democratic institutions in the military’s shadow. We need only consider that both Olusegun Obasanjo, our first president following our return to democracy, and Muhammadu Buhari, our current president, had led Nigeria previously as military rulers. Now, ahead of 2023, many Nigerians wonder if the cycle is complete: if we have seen the last of the ‘old boys’ of the military era.
Additionally, the 2023 election could tell us the extent to which Nigeria has a sustainable democracy, at least theoretically. In 2015, the incumbent All Progressives Congress took over the presidency from the People’s Democratic Party, the ruling party since 1999. For Nigeria to have a solidified democracy, political scientist Samuel Huntington would theorize, another party needs to take over from APC in 2023. Abstract as the ‘two-turnover test’ may sound against the realpolitik of APC, essays by authors in this issue make it worthwhile to engage with Huntington’s proposal. PDP, the only practical alternative, many believe, has failed to assert itself as a viable opposition party. The future or failure of APC, it would seem then, lies with the party itself. The big question Nigerians have now is how APC intends to: manage Buhari’s departure while keeping his northern stronghold; prevent APC’s increasingly dubious internal structure from collapsing; and win the 2023 election—all at the same time. Compared to this, the two-turnover test seems like a walk in the park. This, however, is Nigeria—anything can happen.
Afolabi Adekaiyaoja launches the issue explaining the rise, evolution and challenges facing APC, and how these factors may shape APC’s performance in the 2023 election. According to Adekaiyaoja, ‘the biggest challenge to APC holding on to power is not the lumbering opposition, but internal divisions that threaten to destroy the party.’ He equally notes, that ‘Post Buhari, APC will definitely see fierce competition for control from its powerful bloc of governors, many of whom are preparing to contest the presidency in 2023 or seek solace in the senate as a result of being term-limited.’
Ayisha Osori takes a further look at Nigeria’s political party landscape, considering the significance of political parties on the maturity of Nigeria’s democracy. According to Osori, ‘months before Nigeria’s next general elections, society can be summarized with an oxymoronic phrase which borrows from Thomas Hobbes: nasty, brutish, and with unrealized potential.’ She argues that ‘The central organizing goal for political parties in Nigeria is state capture for personal gain. One diagnosis of Nigeria’s challenge with democracy is that political parties lack ideology. This is neither the whole story nor the main problem.’
In our final cover essay, Chukwudi Ukonne provides the necessary historical context behind party politics in Nigeria. According to Ukonne, party politics in Nigeria has had a chequered history. Beginning as simply as associations for ethnic and tribal advancements, political parties evolved (or devolved) into robust and complex systems for the attainment of political, economic and social influence. Ukonne argues, ‘If it is true that at independence in 1960 Nigeria had no pervading national ideology that unified its citizens, then it should come as no surprise that Nigeria’s earliest political parties were equally devoid of ideology and emerged almost entirely on the basis of sectional interests.’
This issue is our first in 2022 and includes feature essays and interviews exploring additional dimensions of Nigeria’s political landscape such as calls for restructuring and Buhari’s presidential legacy. As usual, we encourage our readers to engage with our essays and articles and to provide insightful comments. Readers may send their views directly to the Editor by addressing emails (of no more than 700 words) to [email protected], with the subject, ‘Comment on Xyz Essay’, or ‘Letter to the Editor’ as applies. Comments and letters will be archived and, depending on the quality of the arguments presented, we may reach out to assist in developing your letters and comments further for publishing in the magazine.
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