Social Democratic Party
The Social Democratic Party of Nigeria, popularly known as SDP, was established as a political party to encompass the ideals of a center left political organization. It was initially one of the products of a democracy project by former President Ibrahim Babangida to have two detribalized political parties, one a little to the left and one for the right. However, during the Nigerian Third Republic it was seen as a moderate party with a flavor for young radical intellectuals and socialists. In its manifesto, it called for concerted efforts to improve the people’s welfare and fight for social justice.
After the banning of 13 prospective parties by the administration of Ibrahim Babangida in 1989. Some of the associations decided to re-align. The People’s Front of Nigeria, People’s Solidarity Party and the Nigerian Labor Party were the three main inchoate groups that emerged to form the core constituency of the new SDP.
The leadership of the party was mostly dominated by Northern Nigerians, with Babagana Kingibe elected party chairman in 1990 over his rival Mohammed Arzika. On the other hand, the electoral strength of the party lain in the Yoruba states and Imo and Anambra states. The party won 57% of the Senate seats in the 1992 National Assembly election, and won 53% of the seats of the House of Representatives in the same election.
The party was largely financed by the Federal Government and a few individuals, such as Shehu Musa Yar’Adua, Francis Nzeribe and M.K.O. Abiola. The first presidential primary election conducted by the party, Yar’adua collated about 480,000 votes dominating his primary opponent, Olu Falae in the first round.
However, those elections were cancelled by Babangida. In second primary election under an adopted system called Option A4, another financier, Abiola (a former member of the National Council of Nigeria and the Cameroons and once a state chairman of the National Party of Nigeria) won the primary election on March 1993, after the first election was canceled. Abiola’s contested the national election which was later annulled, a seemingly coherent legacy of Nigeria’s swivelling and revolving door like historical political landscape.
Among former members, Atiku Abubakar, Jerry Gana, Abubakar Rimi, Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, Umaru Yar’Adua, Abdullahi Aliyu Sumaila, Dapo Sarumi, and Mohammed Arzika later became senior figures in the People’s Democratic Party (PDP).