Party Primaries and the Quest for Accountability in Governance in Nigeria

Iwu Nnaoma Hyacinth


Modern democracy highlights the importance of political parties both in agenda-setting and in displaying party aspirants from whom the electorates must choose. This paper examines the processes of candidate selection against the backdrop of demand for accountability from the political officeholders in Nigeria. Interestingly representative democracy builds on the theory that the citizens are in control of the process through which their representatives are elected but empirical evidence suggests diversities in the selection process. Nigeria has experienced about twenty-two years of uninterrupted democratic rule but each successive electoral period highlights a display of citizen’s discontentment with their representatives. This phenomenon raises a fundamental question about how their representatives were ab-ini-tio selected. There has been a paucity of research on how the conduct of party primaries set the contour for the people-oriented governance in Nigeria. This paper examines a candidate’s selection within parties and its implication for accountability. It argues that the structure of party primaries in Nigeria cannot but empower party bigwigs to impose aspirants that will undermine engendering accountability in governance. It argues for strong institutional mechanisms and civil society’s role to prevent elected representatives from doing the bidding of their godfathers.


Accountability; Democracy; Internal democracy; Party primaries; Party bigwigs

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