The existence of vibrant political parties is a sine qua non for democratic consolidation in any polity. In Nigeria’s First and Second Republics, political parties were regionally based, and their activities led to the collapse of those experiments. This paper explores an important aspect of Nigeria’s Fourth Republic politics, which is about the role of the PDP (Peoples Democratic Party) in general and President Olusegun Obasanjo in facilitating the consolidation of democracy in the country in particular. The study posits that there is a direct relationship between the character and conduct of a country’s political parties and the degree of democratic consolidation in that country. The paper argues that seven years into this ‘democratic’ dispensation, Nigeria has not scored high when placed in the same matrix with countries that are heading towards stable democracy. In attempting a discourse of this issue, the democratic theory propounded by Joseph Schumpeter was adopted as the theoretical framework of the study. From this, some research questions were posed that state: is democratic competition fully at play in Nigeria’s Fourth Republic? Are opposition parties alive to their political responsibilities in the country? It was argued that the opposition parties in Nigeria which ought to serve as alternative parties from which the electorate should choose if they so decide, have been strategically weakened through the overt and covert strategies of the ruling PDP and the lack of total commitment on the part of politicians to the national course. The paper further argues that more than 90% of the political parties in Nigeria are fragile entities, hence, have only developed shallow roots in the society, and concludes on the note that Nigerian political parties have failed in their democratic responsibilities of aggregating social interests, representing specific constituencies, and serving as intermediaries between state and society.
Key words: Democracy, consolidation, political parties, military dictatorship, cross-carpet.
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