The study unfolds political parties and political education in Nigeria with specific focus on Bayelsa state. The methodology used in the study is the survey method. The instrument for data collection was questionnaire. The method of data analysis was based on frequency distribution table expressed in simple percentage. The study adopted the structural – functional approach as it s theoretical framework. The study reveals that political parties have a role in political education, this is because, since the main aim of political parties is to control political power, it therefore becomes important for them to give political education to solicit for the electorates votes and to educate them in their civic responsibilities. The existence of political parties in any political system forms the bedrock of democracy in that society. However, this study shows that there is low level of political education in Bayelsa State due to the inability of political parties to educate the masses. This poses a major challenge to the political system. Consequently, the paper recommends that political parties should embark on massive political education. This should be anchored primarily on the grass root as a means of acquiring support from the masses.
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1.1 Background to the Study
It could be arguably right to assert that Nigeria has made immerse efforts in entrenching true democracy and ensuring democratic culture since independence in 1960. It is extremely difficult to conceptualize a virile modern democratic process in the absence of institutionalize role of political parties as they are means of political socialization and development (Alapiki, 2004).
Anifowose and Enemuo, (2008) contend that, through internal debate and discussion as well as campaigning and electoral competition, parties engage in political education and socialization. Similarly, Paki and Inokoba, (2008) note that, political parties educate, enlighten, integrate and mobilize the people through the use of political debates, campaigns, mass media and local organizations to maintain contacts with citizens that are relatively inactive politically and lead them to the awareness and acceptance of various policies.
However, Ibaba, (2004) Contends that, through campaigns, rallies posters, workshop/seminars and manifestoes, political parties educate citizens on how the political system works.
The issues political parties choose to focus on help to set the political agenda, and the values and attitudes that they articulate becomes part of the larger political culture.
However, in Nigeria, it is hard to think of a political party which genuinely professes, left alone practices a coherent political philosophy because, there is no indigenous Nigerian ideology beyond tribalism and Nationalism. Political parties are built around a commanding personality who offers tribal leadership and is rewarded with uncritical tribal loyalty. Political parties are only aimed at acquiring political power in order to amass wealth for themselves, forgetting the interest of the masses they represent.
In this light, political parties in Nigeria, especially Bayelsa state has failed in entrenching in citizenry the pre-requisite political education, if at all it has successfully done this by self assessment or thinking, it has failed to enforce it and make its impact felt in the country.
This is with the understanding that there still exist low level of political consciousness among Nigerians thereby constituting measure obstacles to effective participation in the programmes, activities and affairs of government. For instance, most Nigerians are often misinformed about government policies, some who participate in elections and other programmes do not clearly understand the issues involved, some vote wrongly because they were told to do so.
At this point, we should not lose sight of the fact that in modern democratic government, majority will is given through elections which still remain the basis for popular sovereignty. In other words, elections have come to express their collective will which give government the mandate to move society to develop politically.
The interest in this study thus arises from the need to investigate how political parties in Bayelsa state have being able to perform the role of political education in enlightening and socializing the people to take part in political process.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
In modern mass democracies, the political parties, their leader and members are constantly facing new issues and they are called to take position in view of a wide range of current day to day development and social change. Therefore, it is indispensible that the political parties take pre-cautionary steps in order to prepare themselves for new challenges and take responsibility within and outside of the party. This is the task of political education.
According to Ikoi, (2011), the recent development in Nigeria with regards to ethnic and religious violence, the spate of bomb explosion, spear headed by the Boko Haram with all their savagery and deadly intents, the high rate of kidnappings, breaches of peace and security breaches clearly indicate that Nigeria has failed at its respectable age to enthrone an enduring political education since independence in 1960.
Since the creation of Bayelsa state in 1996, the state has witnessed four successive general elections which have ushered in government whose supposedly emerge through collective will.
But from a critical analysis, there is lack of political education in the state leading to non-participation of the masses in the activities of government especially during elections, given that a politically developed society is one that is structured on a strong civil society, an active political culture and sound political socialization machinery.
Existing realities showed that successive governments in the state have operated and continue to operate without recourse to the collective will which reinforces the seeming lack of participation of the part of the people in the political process which expresses itself in the failure of the state to initiate viable development programmes.
Indeed, the need to question whether their exist a relationship between the government and the governed in the state is further heightened when we look at election practices and the institutionalization of rigging in the state, which tends to reinforce the prevailing subjective electoral attitudes and values towards electoral procedures.
The referent question at this juncture is:
What is responsible for the low level result recorded by political parties in the role of political education in Bayelsa state?
What is responsible for the non – participatory nature of the people in the political processes in Bayelsa state?
1.3 Objectives of the Study
The objectives of this study are;
- to establish a nexus between political parties and the level of political education in Bayelsa state.
- to know the importance of political education and how it can impact positively on the political development of the state.
- to make recommendations and proffer solutions where their exist any flaws related to the subject matter of the study.
1.4 Scope of the Study
This study tends to establish a nexus between political parties and the level of political education in Bayelsa state and the nature of participation of the masses in the political process in the state between 1999 – 2013.
This period was chosen because it covers democratic governments that were deemed to have acquired political power through democratic elections. And in theory such government will have their legitimacy and authority founded on collective will and participation.
Thus, this period provide us the opportunity to evaluate the extent to which party politics have affected political education as well as the participation and development in the state.
1.5 Theoretical Framework
The structural – functional system served as the theoretical framework of this study. The structural – functional approach look at society as a model whose part work together to promote solidarity and stability.
The approach sees society through a micro level orientation which is a broad focus on the social structure that shape as a whole and that society has evolved like organism.
Nigerian political system is made up of interdependent parts ranging from governmental structures to non – governmental organization such as legislature, executive, judiciary, mass media, schools, universities, political parties, electoral body etc. Each of these sectors has their various functions they ought to carry out which make society work.
Since the aim of political parties in a democratic society is to exercise political power, therefore, it will be necessary that they engage in political education in order to gain support from the electorate. So, political parties in this light are to carry out the task of political education.
Political parties facilitate the involvement of the people in government in various ways. First, it informed the people about the functioning of the political and electoral process. They also formulate policies to govern the country, and when in opposition they keep a check over activities of government in power to prevent acts against the interest of the people.
By performing these functions, a political party enables the people to be politically conscious in government activities which give them the courage to take part in the political process.
In the same manner if other structures for example the electoral body exercise neutrality and efficiency in election management, majority will can be achieved in democratic government such as Nigeria.
1.6 Research Questions
This study is set to provide answers to these research questions:
- Are political parties instruments of political education in Bayelsa state?
- Does the absence of political education bring about non – participation and apathy in government?
- Does the absence of political education bring about ignorance and misinformation in government?
- Can the lack of political education lead to political violence
1.7 Research Methodology
Two methods were used in collecting data for the study. These are the primary and secondary sources. The primary sources of data were the use of questionnaires. While the secondary source was taken from textbooks, journals, articles, government reports etc, that are related to the study.
The sample size of the study was ninety (90) questionnaires which were distributed in three local governments, one in each of the senatorial districts.
The questionnaire format and response mode was a form of fixed-alternative questionnaire structured questions in which respondents are provided with the pre – determined responses from which to choose. The questions were divided into sections A and B. section A focus on the demographic data of the respondent, while section B entails the respondents information on the research topic.
Data collection method was based on the survey research method in three local governments out of the eight local governments in the state.
The method of analyzing data collected through field work was presented in frequency distribution table and expressed in simple, percentage for easy understanding of the sourced information.
1.8 Significance of the Study
This study is significant in the sense that, it will bridge the information gap between lack of political education and the general participation in the activities of government in Bayelsa state.
The outcome of this study will be useful to political party leaders and members on the need to embark on the task of political education because it is only politically conscious citizen that can enhance the development of society.
And finally, this work will serve as a reference material for future researchers in the area of political parties and political education, this is because, it will make authoritative description and will make immerse contributions in this area of study.
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Contains Chapter One to Five, References and Appendices
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