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1.1 Background of the study
Democratic governance with its ideal of elective representation, freedom of choice of leaders, rule of law, freedom of expression, accountability etc has become the acceptable system of government all over the world. It is a form of government in which the supreme power of a political community rest on popular sovereignty. According to oyovbaire (1987) democracy as a system of government seeks to realize a generally recognized common good through a collective initiation and discussion of policy questions concerning public affairs and which delegat authority to agent to implement the broad decisions made by the people through majority vote. Thus, in contemporary times, democracy has been referred to as the expression of popular will of the political community through elected representatives. The contemporary democracy according to Raphael (1976) rest on representative government.
Democratic governance in Nigeria has been a different thing when compared to what is obtainable in other part of the world. The respect for human right and the rule law which are the main features of democracy are not visible especially between 1999 and 2007; election rigging and gangsterism is the order of the day that one can hardly differentiate between democratic government and autocracy.
In modern societies, political parties are very essential to political process. They have become veritable instrument or adjunct of democracy in any democratic system. Political parties are not only instrument for capturing political power, but they are also vehicles for the aggregation of interests and ultimate satisfaction of such interests through the control of government. Obviously political parties are crucial to the sustenance of democratic governance. As Agbaje (1999) notes that the extent to which political parties aggregate freely, articulate, represent and organize determines the level of accountability in public life including access to and use of power as well as political performance. Merkel (1977:99) summarized the basic functions of political parties as follows:
a. Recruitment and selection of leadership personnel for government offices.
b. Generation of programmes and policies for government.
c. Coordination and control of governmental organs.
d. Social integration through satisfaction and reconciliation of group demands or the provision of common belief system or ideology.
e. Social integration of individuals by mobilization of support and by socialization.
Generally, political parties are very essential to democratic governance. It constitutes a central instrument of democratic governance. It provides the means of promoting accountability, collective action, popular participation, inclusiveness, legitimacy and accountability through the integration of their competing principles, ideologies and goals for eventual control of the government in the state. Political parties are the intermediate institution mediating the affairs of both the people and personnel and agencies that exercise state power.
In Nigeria, the political parties usually are formed along ethnic, cultural, geo political and religious lines. In everyday activities of government one notices the fostering of primordial loyalties such as ethnic sensivity and overt projection of other selfish political tendencies as a result, the political class has always remained bereft of viable political ideology on which the nation’s political future could be anchored. The bankruptcy in ideology and vision has reduced party politics to a bread and butter game where monetization of political process is the bedrock of loyalty and support. This has eroded the aim of the democratic system.
Since military disengaged from political power in may 1999, the PDP has dominated governance in Nigeria. After eight years of the party in government which earned the respect and admiration of most Nigerian electorates at the polls due to its programmes and policies, the party is loathed in the country. The average Nigeria encounters frustration, disillusionment and psycho moral dislocation owing to the failure of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) government to deliver the expected dividends of democracy. The task of this research is to examine the role of the ruling PDP in the democratic governance in Nigeria’s fourth republic between (1999-2007).
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