Date of Award


Degree Type


University or Center

Clark Atlanta University(CAU)

Degree Name



Political Science

First Advisor

Professor Robert Fishman


The study examines the records of the Nigerian party systems in creating a propitious or volatile political environment for political campaigns and elections. It brings together the literature and cross-sectional survey data on individual and group political attitudes and behavior, and on the effect of the Nigeria party system on political attitudes of the electorate.

Why is party competition in Nigeria strongly associated with ethnic belonging and why is it accompanied with so much violence? This study explores the question by illuminating and probing the motivations and incentives of the party systems, their patterns of political socialization and mobilization, as well as their impact on the electorate. It also approaches the question by focusing on political culture which defines the context in which changes occur and the style they take.

In the final analysis, the study argues that party identification or loyalty and political behavior are influenced and shaped not just by political culture but also, and perhaps more importantly, by the nature of the party system. It provides cross-sectional data with which to develop or test a causal model of relationships between political structure (such as party system, civic culture of the Nigeria public) on the one hand and variability in the incidence of violence accompanying political campaigns and elections and the variability of the effect of ethnicity and religion on political campaigns and elections.

The findings are compatible with the theories on two-party systems. While the multiplicity of parties in the First and Second Republics had a destabilizing and weakening effect on the political system, the two party framework did not have such an impact. The membership of the two parties in the Third republic cut across ethnic and religious lines and created some political ties that connected individuals and communities in Nigeria and increased their shared interests. All these helped to reduce the incidences of political violence and the effect of ethnicity in political campaigns and voting behavior. They also helped in the resolution or insulation of political conflicts and disputes.

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