Dialectics on the Constitutional Implications of Party Supremacy in Nigeria

International Journal of Research and Innovation in Social Science (IJRISS) | Volume III, Issue II, February 2019 | ISSN 2454–6186

Dialectics on the Constitutional Implications of Party Supremacy in Nigeria

Naphtali Ukamwa

LL.B(Lagos), B.L (Abuja)(in view), Faculty of Law, University of Lagos, Nigeria

Abstract –This paper interrogates the doctrinal conception and practice of party supremacy in Nigeria. It buttresses the argument that the doctrine of party supremacy has been negatively conceived and practised by Nigerian political elite. This is evident in charismatic-based party as opposed to value-oriented party. Party supremacy in Nigeria is not demonstrative and reflective of the popular will of party members but merely the predominance of party cabals, Chiefs and secretive bodies that constitute themselves into party leadership. Using a constitutional approach, this paper advocates the supremacy of the constitution and sovereignty of the people over party supremacy. It is also submitted that party structure and decision-making must foster democratic doctrine of inclusiveness, a core element of intra party democracy. It is further contended that party supremacy in Nigeria must be practically constitutionally checked and controlled, otherwise the abuse of it will implicitly and explicitly metamorphosed into one party system and the violation of citizens right to freedom of political association, assembly and expression. Most importantly, this paper establishes that hegemonic political party system and the arbitrary rule of godfatherism characterized the last sixteen years of Nigerian constitutional democratic rule which has given rise to the tendency of breeding executive tyranny, lawlessness and negation of the constitutional principle of separation of powers. Therefore, it is acknowledged that party autonomy is an indispensable instrumentality of party institutionalization but a further contention is that it must be subject to practices accustomed to constitutional democracy for the sole ends of good governance and nation building.

Keywords – Party supremacy, executive tyranny, internal party democracy, Nigerian Politics, constitutional democracy.


The evolution of party supremacy in Nigeria is not a nascent concept and is almost as old as the origin of political parties in Nigeria in 1923 pursuance to the bid by Nigerian politicians to consummate the elective principle introduced by the Clifford constitution for the first time in Nigerian political history. Party supremacy was rampant during the First and Second Republics.

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