Nigeria’s Evolving Political Party Landscape Emergent and Key Players, Alliances, Challenges, Cultures and Opportunities

Political parties will determine the results of the next general elections. What is uncertain is the impact of the contestations on the quality of life of Nigerians and the maturation of our democracy.

‘Political parties of the Fourth Republic were bred to be agents of democratic erosion and collapse, rather than strong ramparts for the construction and consolidation of democracy….[T]he road that led…here (to the Fourth Republic) was a long one, stretching back many decades, to the colonial era.’ — Adigun Agbaje

It can seem like mockery to speak of Nigeria’s evolving political party landscape—after all, evolution denotes transformation and metamorphosis, characteristics not immediately associated with the political parties of Nigeria that only change by name, never in form or substance. 

13 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. This is no exaggeration—in 2021, at least 10,366 Nigerians were killed by terrorists, kidnappers or state security, and stories of rapes, beheadings, mass shootings and of people being burnt alive dominated the headlines. The average life expectancy of a Nigerian is 54 years, over a decade less than the regional African life expectancy of 65 and in 2018, Nigeria overtook India as the poverty capital of the world. This picture does not include Nigeria’s low human development rankings nor the resilience and talents of millions of Nigerians.  

What do political parties have to do with this? Everything. 

Politics is the process of organizing how we live together in a society, and political parties are the embodiment of how people organize to direct the government, inform policies and manage a country’s resources...

This essay features in our forthcoming print issue, ‘The Road to 2023’ and is only available to paying subscribers. To subscribe, buy a subscription plan here from $1.99 / month (students) and $5.99 / month (non-students). Already a subscriber? log in.