Principle of Loyal Opposition: The Case of Political Parties in Nigeria’s Fourth Republic

  •  Olu Awofeso    
  •  Paul A. Irabor    


Modern understandings of democracy not only suggest a regime in which those who govern are selected through contested elections, but more fundamentally, a system of government in which parties lose elections. Yet, the mechanism of vertical accountability whereby the people can hold the ruling government responsible depends on parties in opposition providing choices for voters while remaining loyal to the idea of governmental power. Adopting the principle of loyal opposition as the basis of this study in the Nigerian context, we try to interrogate whether the duty to serve as “government in-waiting’’ equally affects how the duty to critique the actions of the government is performed. The study further probed; can a ruling party cope with the criticism of the opposition party? To answer these questions, the study argued that it is tempting not to assume that, the institution of political party is still at its lowest ebb despite the successful democratic transition in Nigeria since 1999, and the alternation of political power resulting in the change of party in government from the People’s Democratic Party to the All Progressives Congress in 2015. These issues have consequences for the principle of loyal opposition and democratic stability in Nigeria.

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